Sam Beam has been blessedly prolific since releasing The Creek Drank the Cradle, his debut as Iron & Wine, in 2002: In addition to six official studio albums and a bunch of EPs, he's released several long-form collections of home recordings and rarities, as well as EP- or album-length collaborations with Calexico, Jesca Hoop and Band of Horses' Ben Bridwell. In fact, Beam's catalog is deep and rich enough that some of his best songs get buried — take, for example, the nine-minute masterpiece "The Trapeze Swinger," which he'd once relegated to the soundtrack for the 2004 film In Good Company.
In other words, when Beam releases a six-song EP of outtakes — as he's about to do with Weed Garden, recorded during the sessions that produced last year's terrific Beast Epic — the news isn't as minor as it sounds. Not only is Weed Garden a consistently powerful extension of Beast Epic, but it also marks the first studio release of one of Beam's live staples: "Waves of Galveston." That Ghost on Ghost outtake has been cropping up in performances for years, dating at least as far back as a 2013 session for The A.V. Club, but it benefits enormously from a new full-band arrangement that's crisp and lovely, spare but sweet.
Weed Garden is out August 17 via Sub Pop.