Today’s New Albums: Neil Young, Dirty Knobs, moe., John Fogerty, King Gizzard, War On Drugs & More

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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 Pluto Gang, Neil Young, The Dirty Knobs, moe., John Fogerty, The War On Drugs, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Tank and the Bangas, Phoebe Bridgers, Mumford & Sons, Dirty Projectors, Holly Bowling, Tim Bluhm, Lords Of The Drift and The Steel Wheels. Read on for more insight into the records we have all queued up to spin.


Pluto Gang – Better Out Here

The Scoop: Charlotte-based Pluto Gang’s debut album, Better Out Here is out now on Dwarf Planet Records. The six-piece band consists of vocalist Brennan Beck, guitarists Dillon Crawford and Wood Britton, keyboardist Joe May, bassist Pat Rogers and drummer Wilson Smith. They deliver their self described, “high-energy jam soul” across the eight songs making up the debut LP, which was recorded during sessions held in the mountains of North Carolina. London-based saxophonist Alexander Bone contributed to the track “High Tide.” The album was previewed by the singles “Trouble Looks Like Honey,” “Plasmodesmata,” “Wildfire” The band will celebrate the release of Better Out Here with a limited-capacity concert tonight at The Unknown Brewing Company.


Neil Young – Archives Volume II: 1972 – 1976

The Scoop: Legendary singer-songwriter Neil Young released Archives Volume II: 1972 – 1976 a 10-CD, 131-track collection featuring 12 previously unreleased songs and 50 previously unreleased recordings. The follow-up to 2009’s Archives Volume I is made up of live and studio tracks presented in chronological order with the first disc, Everybody’s Alone, culled from recordings made around the time of 1972’s Harvest. The final disc, Odeon Budokan was recorded live during Youngs’s 1976 Zuma Tour with Crazy Horse. Among the never-before-relased songs are “Come Along And Say You Will,” which was recorded between Harvest and 1973’s Time Fades Away with The Stray Gators drummer Kenny Buttrey, bassist Tim Drummond and pedal steel guitarist Ben Keith. Another newly shared song, “Homefires,” from the sixth disc (1974): The Old Homestead, was recorded during the sessions for Homegrown, an album Young recorded in l974 between On The Beach and the Zuma, but “Homefires,” was not included on Homegrown when it was finally issued earlier this year.


The Dirty Knobs – Wreckless Abandon

The Scoop: Nearly 12 years ago, Mike Campbell (Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Fleetwood Mac) took part in a session with guitarist Jason Sinay and the pair forged the musical relationship that led to the formation of The Dirty Knobs. Campbell and Sinay rounded out the band with bassist Lance Morrison and drummer Matt Laug and proceeded to play a handful of gigs in Southern California. Mike Campbell brought The Dirty Knobs into the studio following the sudden and tragic death of Tom Petty in 2017 and today the quartet unveils Wreckless Abandon, their debut album.

The 13-track BMG release was co-produced by Campbell and George Drakoulias (The Black Crowes). Contributors include Mike’s longtime Heartbreakers band mate, keyboardist Benmont Tench, as well as Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Chris Stapleton. “Losing Tom was earth-shattering for me. It was a total shock,” Mike Campbell explained in a statement. “It had felt like we would be playing together forever. For a while it was hard to imagine playing in my own band again, let alone one where I’m the frontman. Tom was always my beacon. But everything I’ve been doing since Tom passed, including this album with The Dirty Knobs, is in the spirit of honoring what we did together.”


moe. – Not Normal

The Scoop: Buffalo-birthed jam act moe. wrote so much material over the past few years it all couldn’t be contained on a single studio album. Not Normal is a collection of five songs that didn’t make it onto This Is Not, We Are, a full-length LP released by moe. in June. The new EP includes road-tested originals “New Hope For The New Year,” “ATL,” “Screaming And Kicking” and “Prestige Worldwide” along with “Pill Vacation,” a song yet to be performed in public. Last night, moe. premiered a “runthrough” of Not Normal filmed in the lobby of Albany’s Palace Theatre.


John Fogerty – Fogerty’s Factory

The Scoop: John Fogerty, daughter Kelsy and sons Shane and Tyler share their collaborative album Fogerty’s Factory today via BMG. The record started out as a fun project the Fogerty family embarked on to reconnect during quarantine. But after an energetic response to videos of the quartet jamming on Creedence Clearwater Revival classics, the family band kept going and released an EP this past summer. The EP eventually blossomed into a full-length album which includes CCR’s “Have You Ever Seen The Rain (recorded live on Colbert) and “Bad Moon Rising” as well as the John Fogerty solo smash hit “Centerfield” (captured in centerfield at Dodgers Stadium for John’s birthday) and apt covers like Bill Withers’ “Lean On Me.”

“There we were, the whole family coming together and producing music with no real purpose other than to share our love of music and family in a very difficult time,” John Fogerty recalled in a press release. “We even re-created the iconic Cosmo’s Factory cover using things we had around the house. Remember no stores or fancy productions were used since nothing was open. It came out perfectly.”


The War On Drugs – LIVE DRUGS

The Scoop: The War On Drugs release their first official live album, LIVE DRUGS, today via frontman Adam Granduciel’s label Super High Quality Records. Granduciel and longtime friend, guitar tech and stage manager Dominic East sifted through 40 hard drives of material to produce the 10-song set. Tracked out to flow like an actual live show, the collection showcases the evolution of the band’s stage staples including an early live version of “The Strangest Thing” from the band’s latest studio album A Deeper Understanding, which carries the raw energy of a tune seeing some of its first paces, or “Eyes to the Wind” which is quite different from its studio counterpart on 2014’s Lost in the Dream.

LIVE DRUGS also contains songs from the band’s early catalog like “Buenos Aires Beach” from their 2008 debut LP, Wagonwheel Blues, as well as choice covers like Warren Zevon’s “Accidentally Like a Martyr.” Additionally, the compilation exhibits the all-important connection between band and audience with the crowd singing along on the extended guitar melody of “Under the Pressure.” “It feels like it’s kind of a reset, to be able to put something out that’s a really good interpretation of the way we interpret our music live,” Granduciel said of the album in a statement. “Even though this recording is from a year of tours, this is really how these six guys evolved as a band from 2014 to 2019.”


King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – K.G. & Live In San Francisco ’16

The Scoop: Australian psyche-rockers King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard have a pair of new releases out today, the studio album K.G. and live album Live In San Francisco ’16. Recorded remotely this year while self-quarantining due to COVID-19, K.G. is the 16th studio album issued by the extremely productive band. Following the path of their 2017 studio LP, Flying Microtonal Banana, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard once again employed a microtonal musical scale on the 10-tracks on K.G.. The band recorded Live In San Francisco ’16 in San Francisco at the intimate The Independent during a tour in support of 2016’s, Nonagon Infinity.


Tank and The Bangas – Friend Goals

The Scoop: New Orleans-based quartet Tank & The Bangas went the EP route for Friend Goals, a collection of six songs out today via Verve Forecast. The band — which consists of frontwoman Tarriona “Tank” Ball, multi-instrumentalist Albert Allenback, drummer Joshua Johnson and keyboardist Norman Spence — recorded the EP at friends’ home studios in Chicago and New Orleans as well as at Allenback’s house. Ball and company are joined by a number of contributors including CHIKA, Duckwrth, PJ Morton, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Jamie Woods, Orleans Big, Anjelika “Jelly” Joseph, Pell, Hasizzle, Keedy Black and Big Choo. Tank & The Bangas abided by local social distancing guidelines while creating the EP, most of which was tracked during the pandemic.


Phoebe Bridgers – Copycat Killer

The Scoop: Singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers collaborated with arranger and string player Rob Moose on the new Dead Oceans EP, Copycat Killer. Bridgers and Moose recorded new versions of four songs featured on Phoebe’s Punisher album, which was released earlier this year. Moose’s credits include work with Bruce Hornsby, Bon Iver, FKA Twigs, HAIM, Kesha, The Killers, Paul Simon and many others.


Mumford & Sons – Delta Tour EP

The Scoop: In 2018, Mumford & Sons hit the road for what would turn out to be nearly three years of touring in support of their fourth studio album, Delta. The band collected six tracks from the excursion for the Delta Tour EP. In addition, Mumford & Sons are issuing the Delta Diaries CD Book Set, which adds four bonus tracks to the mix. The EP features a pair of collaborations: a cover of The Middle East’s “Blood” performed in Stockholm with Gang Of Youths and a version of Sigh No More’s “Awake My Soul” played with Milk Carton Kids in Denver. Also included are covers of the Beatles’ “With A Little Help From My Friends” and Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt” as well as originals “Blind Leading The Blind” and “Slip Away.”


Dirty Projectors – Ring Road/5EPs

The Scoop: Dirty Projectors finish off a year-long series of EPs with the release of Ring Road, the last installment of a five-EP cycle that began in February. Today, the band also issues 5EPs, a collection of all 20 songs featured on their 2020 Domino Records releases. Each of the first four EPs features a different member on lead vocals with Maia Friedman showcased on Windows Open, Felicia Douglass showcased on Flight Tower, Dave Longstreth showcased on Super João and Kristin Slipp showcased on Earth Crisis.

Ring Road is a full band affair in which Friedman, Douglass, Slipp and Longstreth team with drummer Mike Johnson for four songs. Meanwhile, 5EPs presents all 20 songs in their continuous, chronological order. “I think for me, to find a way to explore a bunch of different styles at once seemed exciting,” Dave Longstreth told EW.com. “And then to do that while also giving everybody in the band a platform seemed way more interesting than just to make another album.”


Holly Bowling – Seeking All That’s Still Unsung

The Scoop: In 2016, pianist Holly Bowling released Better Left Unsung, a triple-LP featuring classical solo piano arrangements of the music of the Grateful Dead. Bowling has now issued Seeking All That’s Still Unsung, a collection of nine new GD interpretations. Included within are instrumental arrangements of such Dead classics as “St. Stephen,” “China Cat Sunflower,” “The Eleven” and “Sage & Spirit.” Holly also offers the complete “Weather Report Suite” and “Lost Sailor”/”Saint Of Circumstance” pairing, among others.

“With this being my second album of solo piano Grateful Dead music, there was a sense of trying to look for what I hadn’t said on the last album,” noted Holly Bowling in a press release. “After a few more years of exploring these songs in the solo piano context, I felt free to take more liberties with how I approach the arrangements and improvisation. The album keeps the exploratory energy of a live performance but accomplishes things that would be impossible outside of the studio, including the use of overdubs and exploring piano-on-piano improvisation as a conversation with my own playing.”


Tim Bluhm – Hag Heaven

The Scoop: The Mother Hips’ Tim Bluhm honors Outlaw Country great Merle Haggard on Hag Heaven, his fourth solo album. Bluhm co-produced the 11-track Blue Rose Music release with Mark Adams. The pair brought together session players Dave Zirbel (pedal steel), Megan Lynch Chowning (fiddle), Aidan Collins (bass) and Daryl VanDruff (drums) to contribute to Hag Heaven. “A few months prior to recording Hag Heaven, Bluhm and I finished Loaded With Lefty: A Tribute to Lefty Frizzell, employing nearly the same cast of characters that are on Hag Heaven,” explained Mark Adams. “We sketched out the process for both albums with the same criteria: only songs written by the Artist would be considered, with deep respect for the original recordings.” A portion of proceeds from Hag Heaven will benefit the Blue Rose Foundation, which provides pre-school scholarships to children from financially disadvantaged families.


Lords Of The Drift – The Arecibo Message

The Scoop: Supergroup Lords Of The Drift brings together guitarist Tim Showalter of Strand of Oaks, bassist Arjan Miranda of Black Mountain, vocalist David Bason of Barfbag and War Orphan and guitarist Tomo Milicevic formerly of Thirty Seconds To Mars. “Lords of the Drift represents four people getting together to find a language to describe the infinitesimal and eternal,” Showalter told Brooklyn Vegan. “There is a sense of comfort that comes from facing head on the overwhelming nature of existence.” Their debut album, The Arecibo Message, was produced and mixed by Miranda. It is made up of one 30-minute track that is composed of three movements: “Act 1 – Earthmakers,” “Act 2 – Geomancy” and “Act 3 – The Golden Ratio.” The album’s title is taken from a 1974 experiment conducted by Frank Drake, Carl Sagan and others that sent an interstellar radio message to a cluster of stars in outer space. “We were all big fans of [Earth’s 1993 debut album] Earth 2,” Bason told BV. “We wanted to make a record with the same basic three movement structure that left you feeling like you’re levitating once you got through the whole thing,” David said. “Arjan did a really good job of getting that across in the mix … This is what space sounds like.”


The Steel Wheels – Everyone A Song, Vol. 1

The Scoop: At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Harrisonburg, Virginia-based bluegrass-rockers The Steel Wheels launched the “Distance Together” project, allowing fans to commission songs and musical greetings. The band, which is made up of guitarist Trent Wagler, bassist Brian Dickel, fiddle player Eric Brubaker, multi-instrumentalist Jay Lapp and percussionist Kevin Garcia, came up more than 60 new original compositions as a result of the “Distance Together” project. The band took nine of those songs, written for a variety of life experiences, and recorded them for Everyone A Song, Vol. 1. The band also prepared an accompanying podcast, We Made You A Song, which is distributed by NPR and WMRA. “Maybe I was dreaming of being an essential worker,” Wagler said of the project that led to the album. “It made me ask the question: what’s essential about music? It’s the connection. The understanding. The beauty and magic of melodies that transcend us with the words that say, ‘You there, I see you, and you see me, and doesn’t it feel good to not be alone in the world?’ That’s what art has to offer. Especially right now. And planting real stories right in the middle of it kind of pushed aside any other pretense or distraction about being cool or whatever.” As an example, Wagler explained the genesis behind “Florida Girl (Work For It),” stating:

Josh and Joanna’s relationship was a little more work than most. A mutual friend introduced them when Josh was living in Seattle and Joanna in Florida. Although not from Florida originally, Josh’s family quickly teased Josh about his relationship with the “Florida Girl.” They eventually took turns flying across the country for visits before getting married during the pandemic. This song was a surprise for their wedding reception.


Compiled by Scott Bernstein, Nate Todd and Andy Kahn.