Today’s New Albums: Greensky Bluegrass, Aoife O’Donovan, Brad Barr & More
Keb’ Mo’, Jake Xerxes Fussell, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Goodnight, Texas, Lord Nelson and Rob Aldridge & The Proponents are also among today's new releases.
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 Greensky Bluegrass, Aoife O’Donovan, Brad Barr, Keb’ Mo’, Jake Xerxes Fussell, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Goodnight, Texas, Lord Nelson and Rob Aldridge & The Proponents. Read on for more insight into the records we have all queued up to spin.
Greensky Bluegrass – Stress Dreams
Greensky Bluegrass are back with Stress Dreams, their eighth studio album, out today via Thirty Tigers. The jamgrass quintet once again worked with producer Dominic John Davis and engineer Glenn Brown, who also held those roles on 2019’s All For The Money. Sessions started in the fall of 2020 in Guilford, Vermont and eventually moved to Asheville, North Carolina.
The 13-track LP includes songs written by dobroist Anders Beck and bassist Mike Devol in addition to mandolinist Paul Hoffman and guitarist Dave Bruzza, the two members of the band responsible for most of the material in the past. Stress Dreams came together during one of the peaks of the pandemic and found GSBG assembling with Davis and Brown with few others involved to keep the sessions as safe as possible.
”When we go to the studio it’s ‘summer campy,’ that’s a great way to describe it,” Beck said on The JamBase Podcast. “It’s really fun, it’s also a hell of a lot of work and it’s intense. There’s great triumphs and long days and some failures or whatever. A lot of dynamics but with the five of us and then the seven of us [with Davis and Brown] making records, it’s a really fun vibe and good vibe. We’re pretty much five best friends so we all go hang out and make a record. It’s pretty amazing and fun. We certainly feel lucky to get to do it that way.”
Aoife O’Donovan – Age Of Apathy
Singer-songwriter Aoife O’Donovan returns with, Age Of Apathy, a new solo album and her first since 2016. O’Donovan worked on the project following a move from New York City to central Florida in September 2020. There she connected with Darren Schneider, who taught at the nearby Full Sail University and offered O’Donovan the opportunity to utilize the studio at the recording arts and audio engineering-focused school. With Schneider engineering the sessions, O’Donovan took up residence at Full Sail, allowing students to observe while she tracked the songs that became Age Of Apathy. O’Donovan tapped Joe Henry to produce the 11-song LP. Henry worked entirely remotely from his recording space in Maine. Henry’s frequent collaborators, bassist David Piltch and drummer Jay Bellerose, appear throughout the record. Others who contributed to the album include Henry’s son Levon Henry on woodwinds, Tim O’Brien on mandola and Patrick Warren on piano. Fellow singer-songwriters Allison Rusell and Madison Cunningham remotely contributed vocals to the record as well, with the latter also providing electric guitar on a few tracks.
“I love singing and performing so much that I’ve never really considered myself a songwriter in the same way that some people do,” O’Donovan stated. “But I’m really proud of these songs and the experience of writing them has really given me a new confidence.”
Brad Barr – The Winter Mission
There’s finally a new solo album from Brad Barr nearly 14 years after the release of The Fall Apartment, his solo debut. The Winter Mission, which like The Fall Apartment consists of instrumental guitar pieces, arrived today on Secret City Records. The Slip and The Barr Brothers guitarist was commissioned to prep the 12 tracks on the album by Michael Wolk, the Artistic Director at New York City’s All For One Theater. Brad wrote, recorded, produced and mixed The Winter Mission during a break in touring due to the pandemic. “[It] felt like a gift,” Barr said of Wolk recruiting him to create new music.
“I discovered a magic record a while back: The Fall Apartment by Brad Barr,” stated Wolk in a press release. “I knew Brad was one of the fabulous Barr Brothers – but this was something altogether different – this was Brad’s extraordinary solo instrumental voice. When AFO sought distinctive music to introduce and accompany our events, I thought immediately of Brad. Turns out, Brad was bottled up with brilliant but unassembled solo guitar masterpieces, and my request was all that was needed to uncork them!”
Keb’ Mo’ – Good To Be
Five-time Grammy-winning singer-songwriter and guitarist Keb’ Mo’ released his album Good To Be today via Rounder Records. Keb’ Mo’, the stage name of Kevin Moore, teamed up with a number of notable co-producers and special guests to create the album including fellow multiple Grammy-winners Vince Gill and Tom Hambridge (B.B. King, Buddy Guy) on the producing side as well as guests Old Crow Medicine Show, (“The Medicine Man”) Darius Rucker (“Good Strong Woman)” and Kristin Chenoweth (“Quiet Moments”).
Although some songs date back to the 1970s, like the aforementioned “Quiet Moments,” Keb’ wrote the new material on Good To Be while splitting his time between his adopted home of Nashville and his childhood home in Compton, California. With the pandemic forcing Keb’ Mo’ off the road, he returned to his hometown of Compton where he purchased his late mother’s home, the house he grew up in, and a central theme on Good To Be revolves around the concept of home, exemplified on the title track. “‘Good To Be (Home Again)’ feels like the title track to my life,” Moore said in a press release.
Jake Xerxes Fussell – Good And Green Again
Durham, North Carolina-based guitarist Jake Xerxes Fussell released his latest full-length album, Good And Green Again, through Paradise Of Bachelors. Following two self-produced LPs (2019’s Out of Sight and 2017’s What in the Natural World), Fussell took a similar approach to his 2015 William Tyler-produced self-titled debut, this time recruting fellow guitarist James Elkington to produce the nine-song record. While previous releases concentrated on Fussell’s arrangments of traditional folk and blues songs, Good And Green Again features Fussell’s original compositions with three instrumentals, “Frolic,” “What Did the Hen Duck Say to the Drake?” and “In Florida,” as well as the George Washington-inspired album closer, “Washington.” Elkington also “played a panoply of instruments” on Good And Green Again, along with Fussell’s fellow Durham-based bandmates, upright bassist Casey Toll, pedal steel guitarist Nathan Golub and violin/viola player Libby Rodenbough. Others who provided instrumentation on the album were fellow Durham residents Joe Westerlund on drums, Joseph Decosimo on fiddle (“What Did the Hen Duck Say to the Drake? and “In Florida”) and Anna Jacobson on french horn and trumpet. The album’s opening take on the traditional, “Love Farewell,” is one of the tracks to feature additional vocals provided by Bonnie “Prince” Billy.
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Butterfly 3001
King Gizzard & The Lizzard Wizard presented Butterfly 3001 today through their KGLW label. The LP is a remix album of the Melbourne, Australia-based, genre-blending psych-rockers’ 2021 album, Butterfly 3000. The remix record boasts a different song sequence along with multiple versions of the same track reimagined by different artists including DJ Shadow, The Flaming Lips, Peaches, Scientist, DāM-FunK, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Confidence Man, Terry Tracksuit and more.
“We’ve put off doing a remix album for a long time,” King Gizzard’s Joey Walker said in a statement. “Maybe it was conscious, maybe it wasn’t. But it’s happening now. That’s not to say that Butterfly 3000 makes the most sense to remix. It might seem like the obvious one, but it’s not. Yes it’s electronic. But so is a fridge. Have you tried to dance to Butterfly? It’s hard. It ties your shoelaces together. It’s duplicitous in its simplicity. But Butterfly 3001 expands on this. It also deviates and obliterates. We’re honored to have such esteemed people go to work on these songs. We hope you love this album as much as we do.”
King Gizzard previewed Butterfly 3001 with “Shanghai” (The Scientist Dub), “Black Hot Soup (DJ Shadow ‘My Own Reality’ Re-Write)” and “Neu Butterfly” (Peaches Remix). Of the latter, Peaches (Merrill Nisker) said, “[I] wanted to make this remix sound like a lizard. Slippery wet and scaly dry. Something that wiggles through wide open spaces… with slits for eyeballs…. And danceable.”
Goodnight, Texas – How Long Will It Take Them To Die
Americana quintet Goodnight, Texas spent a good part of 2019 and 2020 writing and recording How Long Will It Take Them To Die, a 12-track studio album released today. Co-founded and co-fronted by Avi Vinocur and Patrick Dyer Wolf, the band’s latest lineup is rounded out by Scott Padden, Adam Nash and Chris Sugiura. Goodnight, Texas’ seventh studio effort came out of sessions held in Cambria, California; San Francisco, California; Livingston, New Jersey and Atascadero, California.
All of the songs are attributed to Goodnight, Texas with the exception of “Solstice Days,” which was written by Vinocur and Alfred Howard. How Long Will It Take Them To Die was mixed by Scott McDowell and mastered by Jonathan Kirchner. Contributors include vocalists Kelly McFarling and Shelbi Bennett.
Lord Nelson – Transmission
Lord Nelson todday released their third studio album, Transmission. Meant to recreate the band’s live sound, Transmission was recorded in a converted barn during sessions held over a few weeks. Those sessions were engineered by guitarist Calloway Jones and collaborator Ivan Barry. Lord Nelson intended to complete the record and tour in support of its release, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced them off the road. The resulting break provided the band with more time to complete Transmission, recording additional parts in various makeshift studios. The 11-track Transmission is Lord Nelson’s first album to include input from three writers and vocalists as Jones and his brother Henry Jones contributed to songs along with guitarist Kai Crowe-Getty. Joining them on the album were Andrew Hollifield and Niko Cventanovich on bass, Johnny Stubblefield on drums and Dave Pinto on pedal steel guitar and harmonica.
Rob Aldridge & The Proponents – Mind Over Manners
Muscle Shoals, Alabama-based Rob Aldridge & The Proponents have issued their sophomore album, Mind Over Manners. The 12-track release was recorded by guitarists Rob Aldridge and Rob Malone (formerly of Drive-By Truckers), drummer Nick Recio and late bassist Stone Anderson, who tragically died from an accidental drug overdose at age 27 in April 2021. Matt Ross, who was Malone’s bandmate in The Fiddleworms, has since stepped in to play bass with the band. Mind Over Manners also features keyboardist Clint Chandler, cellist Caleb Elliott and violinist Kimi Samson, as well as Wanda Wesolowski whose vocals appear on the track “Poor Taste.”
“The first record Stone was still learning how to play the bass,” Aldridge said of Anderson. “His talent and potential was all very much there, but he hadn’t quite figured it all out yet. On this album, his bass playing is just fantastic.”
The band shared the following statement regarding the album’s title track:
“‘Mind Over Manners’ is a response to people who dismiss the Black Lives Matter movement and protests. It asks them, ‘If you’re being honest with yourself about the history of racism and suppression in this country, how can you blame anyone for rioting?’ A call to action for us to listen and learn. The album, Mind Over Manners, takes authentic, risky rock ‘n’ roll; then flavors it with a gritty southern disposition and the soulful musical influences of Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Lyrically, it is a reflection of the human experience. The songs present fresh perspectives on anxiety, racial and political tensions, religion, love, and family.”
Compiled by Scott Bernstein, Nate Todd and Andy Kahn.