Welcome to the fifth edition of GOÃ¢ÂÂs Ã¢ÂÂ10 to Watch,Ã¢ÂÂ in which we shine the spotlight on 10 of the most exciting, innovative and talented musical artists who are either performing in the greater Portland area or have deep ties to Maine and are making waves nationally. As with past attempts at compiling this list, the process was extremely tricky, because there are so many worthy acts from which to choose. To narrow it down, we focused our criteria on artists who have broken through or could be headed that way in the coming months. These are acts that live and breathe music, and it shows. So download their tracks, buy their CDs or see them live Ã¢ÂÂ just do something, because we guarantee you wonÃ¢ÂÂt regret it.
LADY LAMB THE BEEKEEPER
Aly Spaltro, who performs under the name Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, had better be wearing shades, because both her present and her future rival the brightness of the sun itself.
Her latest CD, Ã¢ÂÂRipely Pine,Ã¢ÂÂ was released nationally just a few weeks ago on BaDa Bing Records, and it seems the entire indie music world is swooning over it. Spaltro, a Brunswick native now living in Brooklyn, N.Y., recently played a sold-out CD-release show at Space Gallery in Portland, and her current tour will take her all over the United States and likely beyond.
Not since Ray LaMontagne has a Maine singer-songwriter gotten this much attention. And seeing that sheÃ¢ÂÂs only 23, we can expect to watch a long and diverse career unfold from one of our own. Ã¢ÂÂ Aimsel Ponti
NORTH OF NASHVILLE
North of Nashville started as a side project for the two principal members of the Portland-based Americana band This Way. But the duo of Jay Basiner and Andrew Martelle has proven so successful that theyÃ¢ÂÂve shuttered This Way and are concentrating solely on North of Nashville, a cross between Waylon Jennings and Mumford & Sons.
During the winter, the duo played sold-out shows in Brooklyn, N.Y., and a nearly sold-out show in Boston. TheyÃ¢ÂÂre touring across Maine and the region through May, and will release their first full-length CD, Ã¢ÂÂLive @ the Rack,Ã¢ÂÂ this week. As the title suggests, it was recorded at the famous Sugarloaf hot spot. Ã¢ÂÂ Bob Keyes
THE GHOST OF PAUL REVERE
Describing itself as a Ã¢ÂÂholler folk bandÃ¢ÂÂ and having influences that span from Doc Watson to Led Zeppelin, The Ghost of Paul Revere formed in Portland in summer 2011. In case you havenÃ¢ÂÂt noticed, thereÃ¢ÂÂs something of a trend right now toward bands rocking out with traditional folk instruments (see Mumford & Sons), and Ghost fits that bill, with members counting banjo, mandolin and harmonica among their musical arsenal.
The band members say they like to play Ã¢ÂÂnon-traditional interpretationsÃ¢ÂÂ of traditional American music. Their first EP, Ã¢ÂÂNorth,Ã¢ÂÂ came out last summer, and rose to No. 15 on the Bull Moose Music chainÃ¢ÂÂs local music chart for 2012. This year, theyÃ¢ÂÂre planning their first multi-state tour and a full-length album. Ã¢ÂÂ Ray Routhier
Most of us first heard Anna Lombard sing when she was with Gypsy Tailwind and Ã¢ÂÂSo LonelyÃ¢ÂÂ was all over the radio in 2008. Still more of us know her with her current band Anna & The Diggs.
While that band is still very much going strong, Lombard is keenly focused on her upcoming solo debut, Ã¢ÂÂHead Full of Bells.Ã¢ÂÂ It was recorded at guitarist Adam AgatiÃ¢ÂÂs studio in Brooklyn, N.Y., and at The Studio in Portland, where she worked with Jim Begley. The mixing will be in the very capable hands of Jonathan Wyman.
LombardÃ¢ÂÂs goals are to promote and tour in support of the record this fall. Ã¢ÂÂ Aimsel Ponti
It seems patently unfair to label a band that has been around since the 1990s as one to watch. But the truth is, good things are happening to Portland band Phantom Buffalo right now that warrant its inclusion on this list.
Phantom Buffalo has just released its fifth full-length album, Ã¢ÂÂTadaloora,Ã¢ÂÂ and itÃ¢ÂÂs been getting rave reviews. ItÃ¢ÂÂs a bit of a narrative jaunt, telling a story about the people and history of a mythical place called Tadaloora. The band plays mostly in the Northeast, but isnÃ¢ÂÂt afraid to venture out. Ã¢ÂÂ Bob Keyes
Join a hardcore rock band and see the world. That could be the slogan for PortlandÃ¢ÂÂs Cruel Hand, a band that blends all sorts of ear-splitting genres, from New York hardcore to West Coast thrash.
After several years of touring and building a fan base, Cruel Hand is already well-known to hardcore fans, and has released three albums. In 2012, the band toured the world Ã¢ÂÂ literally, doing first a U.S. tour with Stray from the Path, then continuing to tour in Europe, Australia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.
The five-piece band just got back from a West Coast tour that included parts of Mexico, and in May, it will head out on a globe-trotting tour once again, this time to Peru, Chile, Argentina and Brazil. Ã¢ÂÂ Ray Routhier
SARA HALLIE RICHARDSON
Last year, Portlander Sara Hallie Richardson released the gorgeously crafted album Ã¢ÂÂRestless,Ã¢ÂÂ which spilled over with stunning vocals and experimental angles. The video for Ã¢ÂÂWhat Would It Be LikeÃ¢ÂÂ is a piece of art all on its own, and has been heavily viewed on YouTube.
RichardsonÃ¢ÂÂs current focus is on performing, and sheÃ¢ÂÂs hoping to put together a tour. SheÃ¢ÂÂs also looking to integrate video and other means of sharing her music with the masses.
As for a follow-up to Ã¢ÂÂRestless,Ã¢ÂÂ Richardson has been writing up a storm and looking into recording options. SheÃ¢ÂÂs also been collaborating with Suzanne Nance, a radio host on MPBN, as they look for community outreach events to promote the importance of the arts in Maine and beyond. Ã¢ÂÂ Aimsel Ponti
Zach Jones recently ditched us for California, but you canÃ¢ÂÂt take Maine out of a Mainer. The guitarist and singer-songwriter released his latest CD, Ã¢ÂÂThings Were Better,Ã¢ÂÂ last summer. He recorded it locally, and tapped MaineÃ¢ÂÂs deep well of musical talent to help out in the studio.
Jones, who may be best known as the guitarist for As Fast As, has shifted between the coasts for some time now. HereÃ¢ÂÂs hoping he finds what heÃ¢ÂÂs looking for. Ã¢ÂÂ Bob Keyes
Trent Gay has been rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist for Paranoid Social Club for three years. The band is in the midst of its second national tour, and will drop a new record called Ã¢ÂÂThe Listening PartyÃ¢ÂÂ in June.
Meanwhile, Gay continues to co-host freezingprocess.net, a weekly podcast about Maine music that has sported such impressive guests as Bob Ludwig of Gateway Mastering, rapper Spose and The Fogcutters big band. Gay also did a side project just for fun recently called The Rancourts with a number of other musicians. They recorded at Halo Studios with Jonathan Wyman, and the songs reside on bandcamp.com.
Additionally, GayÃ¢ÂÂs been playing shows with Anna Lombard during the past few months that showcase both artistsÃ¢ÂÂ work, and will continue to do so. HeÃ¢ÂÂll be heading into the studio with Lombard soon to record some of his songs as a collaboration. Ã¢ÂÂ Aimsel Ponti
THE OTHER BONES
The Portland-based trio The Other Bones call their music Ã¢ÂÂelectronic soul.Ã¢ÂÂ The name makes sense, given that the band uses loop samplers, synthesizers and effects processors to put out a big, soulful sound for just three people. TheyÃ¢ÂÂve recorded with producer Jon Wyman, whoÃ¢ÂÂs perhaps best known for his work with other local bands such as Rustic Overtones, Sparks the Rescue and Dean Ford.
The Bones, featuring Loretta Allen on vocals, has a sound that has been compared to Adele and Passion Pit, among others. This spring, the trio will be touring Maine, New England and the East Coast. They plan to have an album out by late summer. Ã¢ÂÂ Ray Routhier