Each week Release Day Picks profiles new LPs and EPs Team JamBase will be checking out on release day Friday. This week we highlight new albums by The Mountain Goats, Hiss Golden Messenger, Modest Mouse, Lucy Dacus, Hiatus Kaiyote, Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia Band, T. Hardy Morris, Michael League, Sault and Big Atomic. Read on for more insight into the records we have all queued up to spin.
The Mountain Goats – Dark In Here
The Scoop: Dark In Here is the new album from The Mountain Goats, out today on Merge Records. The album was recorded last year at the historic FAME Recording Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The 12-track album was produced by Matt Ross-Spang and follows a pair of 2020 albums, Getting Into Knives and Songs For Pierre Chuvin, the latter of which saw frontman John Darnielle revert back to early Mountain Goats albums by recording alone with only a boombox. While Getting Into Knives, which was recorded in Memphis at Sam Phillips Recording, was said to be “brighter, bolder, marked by rich and vibrant hues” the FAME-recorded Dark In Here came out “quieter, smokier, but more deeply textured and intense.” Renowned session musicians, keyboardist Spooner Oldham and guitarist Will McFarlane, were part of the Muscle Shoals sessions, contributing to several tracks. Darnielle discussed the collaborations on The JamBase Podcast, stating:
We’re all playing together. That’s how we tend to do it. When we bring in other musicians … it’s cheaper and probably more time-efficient to do all the parts and then bring in the ringer and go, “OK, here, play on this.” But it’s fun to play with other musicians. So we try to have a few. If we’re bringing in a guest, even if it’s somebody who none of us are worthy to play with, we want to anyway, and that’s what we did. On several of these tracks was like me, Spooner, Will, [multi-instrumentalist] Matt [Douglas], [drummer] John [Wurster], and [bassist] Peter [Hughes], all playing at once. And that’s the group. And I hope it’s audible. It’s like on “[The Destruction of the] Kola Superdeep Borehole Tower.” We’re all playing at once. It’s so fun.
Hiss Golden Messenger – Quietly Blowing It
The Scoop: Another Merge Records release out today is Quietly Blowing It, the latest from Hiss Golden Messenger (M.C. Taylor). Taylor produced Quiely Blowing It, leading a week of recording sessions at Overdub Lane in Durham, North Carolina. The album features guest appearances by Griffin Goldsmith and Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes, Zach Williams of The Lone Bellow, renowned guitarist Buddy Miller, and vocalist Anaïs Mitchell and producer/musician Josh Kaufman of Bonny Light Horseman. Taylor wrote over 20 songs between March and June 2020, 11 of which made the follow-up to 2019’s Terms of Surrender.
“I went looking for peace,” Taylor stated. “It’s not exactly a record about the state of the world—or my world—in 2020, but more a retrospective of the past five years of my life, painted in sort of impressionistic hues. Maybe I had the presence of mind when I was writing Quietly Blowing It to know that this was the time to go as deep as I needed to in order to make a record like this. And I got the time required in order to do that … I got way more time than I needed, actually.”
Modest Mouse – The Golden Casket
The Scoop: Modest Mouse put out their first new studio album in six years with today’s release of The Golden Casket via Epic Records. The follow-up to 2015’s Strangers to Ourselves was produced by Dave Sardy and Jacknife Lee. Recording sessions took place in Los Angeles and at the band’s Portland, Oregon studio. According to press materials, “the album hovers in the liminal space between raw punk power and experimental studio science, frontman Isaac Brock explores themes ranging from the degradation of our psychic landscapes and invisible technology, to fatherhood. The 12 tracks behave like amorphous organisms, undergoing dramatic mutations and mood swings that speak to the chronic tug-of-war between hope and despair that plays out in Brock’s head.”
Lucy Dacus – Home Video
The Scoop: Singer-songwriter Lucy Dacus released her third solo album, Home Video, today through Matador. The follow-up to 2018’s Historian sees Dacus revisiting and reinterpreting her coming-of-age years in Richmond, Virginia. “So much of life is submitting to change and saying goodbye even if you don’t want to,” Dacus said in a statement. “Now whenever I go to places that used to be significant to me, it feels like trespassing the past. I know that the teen version of me wouldn’t approve of me now, and that’s embarrassing and a little bit heartbreaking, even if I know intellectually that I like my life and who I am.” Lucy enlisted longtime collaborators and friends Jacob Blizard, Collin Pastore and Jake Finch to record Home Video in Nashville, with mixing and mastering from multiple Grammy-winners Shawn Everett and Bob Ludwig respectively. The record also features Lucy’s boygenius bandmates Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker, who contribute vocals on two songs. Lucy previewed Home Video with the opening track “Hot & Heavy” as well as lead single “Thumbs” and more.
Hiatus Kaiyote – Mood Valiant
The Scoop: Australian jazz-funk foursome Hiatus Kaiyote are back with their long-awaited new album Mood Valiant, which is out through Brainfeeder Records/Ninja Tune. The band consisting of vocalist/guitarist Naomi “Nai Palm” Saalfield, bassist Paul Bender, drummer Perrin Moss and keyboardist Simon Mavin last released 2015’s Choose Your Weapon. The gap between releases was due in part to Saalfield being diagnosed with breast cancer while the band was on tour in the U.S. in fall 2018. She returned to Australia to undergo treatment, which included a life-saving mastectomy.
“When you think your life is going to be taken away from you, it makes you think about who you are,” Saalfield said. “I guess after the breast cancer scare I decided that I needed to prove to life that the offering I have is genuine. My only wish is to live and offer my experience of time and beauty.”
Hiatus Kaiyote recruited Brazilian arranger Arthur Verocai to arrange horns and strings for Mood Valiant’s lead single “Get Sun.”
Grateful Dead – Skull & Roses 50th Anniversary
The Scoop: Rhino continues to give Grateful Dead live and studio albums the expanded reissue treatment in celebration of the record’s 50th anniversaries. Out today is an expanded edition of a self-titled 1971 live album referred to by fans as Skull & Roses. The LP’s 11 tracks have been remastered by engineer David Glasser usin Plangent Process Speed Correction on the stereo analog master tapes. Skull & Roses was recorded in March and April 1971 at concerts in New York City and San Francisco. The expanded versions add 10 previously unreleased live tracks from the Dead’s July 2, 1971 show at San Francisco’s Fillmore West.
GD legacy manager David Lemieux, who produced the set, shared the following:
“For the Grateful Dead’s second live album, released two years after its predecessor Live/Dead, the band delivered an equally magnificent, but entirely different, Grateful Dead sound. Whereas Live/Dead was a perfect sonic encapsulation of the band at the peak of their Primal Dead era, Skull & Roses captures the quintessential quintet, the original five piece band, playing some of their hardest hitting rock ‘n’ roll (‘Johnny B. Goode,’ ‘Not Fade Away’), showing off their authentic Bakersfield bona fides (‘Me & My Uncle,’ ‘Mama Tried,’ ‘Me & Bobby McGee’), and some originals that would be important parts of the Dead’s live repertoire for the next 24 years (‘Bertha,’ ‘Playing In The Band,’ ‘Wharf Rat’).
Of course, the Dead were never defined by one specific ‘sound’ and amongst the aforementioned genres and styles the band brought to this album, they also delved deeply into their psychedelic, primal playbook with an entire side dedicated to their 1968 masterpiece ‘The Other One.’ This is one of the most deeply rich and satisfying tracks preserved on an official Grateful Dead album, up there with Live/Dead‘s ‘Dark Star’ and Europe ’72‘s ‘Morning Dew.’ Skull & Roses sounds as fresh today as the first time I heard it in 1985, and as fresh as it was upon its spectacularly well-received release in 1971.”
Jerry Garcia Band – GarciaLive Vol. 16
The Scoop: Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia took the classic Jerry Garcia Band lineup in which he was backed by bassist John Kahn, keyboardist Melvin Seals, drummer David Kemper and vocalists Jaclyn LaBranch and Gloria Jones on the road to play big venues in the fall of 1991. The latest installment of the Jerry Garcia GarciaLive live archival audio series features the group’s debut at the “World’s Most Famous Arena.” GarciaLive Volume 16: November 15, 1991 Madison Square Garden is out today through Round Records and includes the entire concert.
“There was an incredible atmosphere. This was the same place where the New York Knicks played and I’d also seen other concerts there on TV by so many amazing people,” LaBranch told Relix before adding to Garcia, “It was just another show in a great place. The thing I really liked about working with Jerry was we did our shows and we had a good time. Nobody was better than anybody else, we just played our music. It was about the music.”
T. Hardy Morris – The Digital Age Of Rome
The Scoop: Dead Confederate and Diamond Rugs’ T. Hardy Morris returns with the solo effort, The Digital Age Of Rome, out now via the New West imprint Normaltown Records. The follow-up to the critically acclaimed 2018 album, Dude, The Obscure, sees Morris reflecting on the pandemic as well as the political divisions of the past year. After touring Dude, The Obscure, Morris had 13 songs ready to roll. But then the pandemic changed everything and Morris found himself watching the tumultuous world around him sequestered with his family in Athens, Georgia. The new perspective led the singer-songwriter to craft a new 10-song set that would become The Digital Age of Rome, previewed by the title track and produced by Adam Landry (Deer Tick, Rayland Baxter) with Nate Nelson handling mixing duties. Morris also enlisted the help of Drive-By Truckers drummer Brad Morgan, singer-songwriter Faye Webster and more to capture the album, which a press release described as “more direct than Morris has ever been” and “one of his boldest records yet” Unapologetic and brutally honest, it is a necessary diary for an uncomfortable time that continues to unfold.”
Michael League – So Many Me
The Scoop: Snarky Puppy frontman Michael League goes it alone on So Many Me, the multiple Grammy-winning singer, songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist’s debut solo album. League recorded the 11-track LP, which is out today via GroundUP Music, while quarantining at a small apartment in Cadiz, Spain. “I had the idea of creating a textural landscape with really thick vocal harmonies; a mix of Turkish, Moroccan and Kurdish percussion but also of synthesizers,” League said of his concept for the record. “It was very clear in my mind.”
Though the music on So Many Me might not be what fans of his work with Snarky Puppy or Bokanté expect, Michael feels the album is just the right project to put his name behind. “It’s really just an extension of the work I’ve been doing over the last 17 years,” League added. “As is the case with almost every project I participate in, I’m just trying to combine different things I love in order to create something that has meaning to me.”
Sault – Nine
The Scoop: Act fast. Nine, the new album from British collective Sault, is only available for 99 days — and the clock is ticking. While little is known about the mysterious group, what is clear is that they are prolific. The band made their debut in 2019 by releasing a pair of full lengths, 5 and 7. The group, whose songwriting credits include Kadeem Clarke, Dean Josiah “Inflo” Cover, Cleopatra “Cleo Sol” Nikolic and Melisa “Kid Sister” Young, followed those two LPs with another pair in 2020, Untitled (Black Is) and Untitled (Rise). The 10-track Nine features Mike Ofo on “Mike’s Story” and Little Simz on “You From London.”
Big Atomic – Body Politic
The Scoop: Louisville-based jam act Big Atomic features multi-instrumentalist Shannon Vetter, bassist Connor Powell, guitarist Michael Vettraino, drummer Ben Vogepohl and saxophonist Brandon Bell. Today, the quintet releases Body Politic, a four-track EP recorded at DeadBird Recording Studios in their hometown. Big Atomic tackles issues close to the band’s heart on Body Politic such as the continuing fight for racial and social equality. Members of the group took part in regional protests last summer in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. The five-piece gave away downloads of the EP to those who contributed to their GoFundMe campaign, which benefited Change Today, Change Tomorrow — an organization that focuses on providing access to resources, education and community engagement to all African Americans in the Greater Louisville area.
Compiled by Scott Bernstein, Nate Todd and Andy Kahn.