Names change, but the vibe remains the same.

Portland’s music scene remains vibrant and fluid, with a lot of new faces and new players.

Since 2008, it’s become part of our winter routine to present 10 bands or musicians worth paying attention to in the year ahead. Coming up with candidates is a breeze. Narrowing that list to 10 is a drag.

The musical styles represented span the gamut. Artists who have made this list in the past range from blues guitarist Samuel James to rapper Spose; from sunny singer-songwriter Marie Moreshead to the heavy metal band Dead Season.

But those that do make the list share something in common: They all have that special spark that makes them stand out from the rest; that makes people recognize that, no matter whether they hit the big time or not, there is something about them that deserves attention.

This year’s group, chosen by Staff Writer Bob Keyes and GO contributors Aimsel Ponti and Mike Olcott, may not represent the newest or hottest local bands, but they’re music makers who have the potential to go far.


A protege of his good buddy Spose, Cam Groves is a Wells-based rapper and hip-hop artist. He released his first mixtape “We Smoked It All” with Spose in 2009, and last year moved up to the national scene. His first EP, “Hope Something Cool Happens,” will be available Tuesday on Preposterously Dank. Learn more at (B.K.) 


Lady Lamb the Beekeeper (aka Aly Spaltro) may have recently moved to New York, but we’re definitely keeping her on our radar. She was recently the darling of the Boston Music Awards with an impressive live performance. With her poetic verse and huge voice, Lady Lamb is playing for keeps. Her latest album is “Mammoth Swoon.” Check her out at or (A.P.)


This is an interesting band. Based in Portland, these guys take the long-ago created work of Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley and set his words to hard-rocking music. They play hard, they have fun, and they’re inspiring a large and vocal following. A CD is due this winter. The band includes Brant Dadaleares, vocals; Andy Beavis, guitars; Sean Libby, guitars and vocals; Ryan Fleming, bass; and Mark Sayer, drums and vocals. Check them out on Facebook at: (B.K.) 


As you tend more and more toward dreaming of long August days, add the windows-down, summer-cruising country of The Mallett Brothers to the soundtrack. Drawn from all over the performing spectrum — hip-hop, funk, reggae — the band has coalesced under a common gritty vision. Rustic tunes such as “Blackmoon” are for fist pumpin’ and stompin’, preferably with a boot heel. The self-titled debut had a formidable run in the No. 1 slot at Bull Moose, and the band is chomping at the bit to complete the follow-up. Go to for a taste. (M.O.)


An eight-member music/dance collaborative led by Chriss Sutherland, OLAS draws inspiration from traditional and modern flamenco and infuses it with a healthy blend of American folk, rock, Arabic and Afro-Cuban sounds. “La Perla” was released last year, featuring Sutherland’s fierce vocals and internationally sourced instruments like the cajon, oud and ney. OLAS is also known for the rhythmic handclapping known as palmas and shoe-clicking percussion called zapateado. See the band March 25 at the annual CeleSoiree event in Portland and check it out at (A.P.) 


Gifted fiddler and chanteuse Amanda Gervasi cut her teeth on a plum opportunity with the accomplished folk troupe Gypsy Tailwind. When the gig ended, rather then suffering any kind of ill will, Gervasi boldly took her new path, using her experience on a debut of rare depth, 2010’s “Merry the Ghost” ( The songs on MTG are darkly hued affairs, often punctured by a sharp, rousing fiddle. Gervasi has come upon an unrivaled crew of players to drop a perfect mandolin run here, a jaunty stand-up bass line there. Look for some electric crunch on the next record — Gervasi’s boldness to take risks is growing as she gets more attention. (M.O.) 


An indie-folk duo, Arborea consists of husband and wife Buck Curran and Shanti Curran. Their music is ethereal, haunting, and at times shockingly beautiful. The duo recently announced that it had signed with the Oregon-based label Strange Attractors Audio House for the release of “Red Planet,” due out in April. Visit the Web at for more information. (B.K.) 


Spencer Albee is back on the list again fronting a new band. (His School Spirit Mafia made the list last year.) A self-titled CD dropped earlier this year on Paper Empire, and it features “Tea and Cocaine,” which has gotten good play on WCYY. It’s a high-octane, pop-soaked sensation of a song that you’ll be singing along to before it’s over. Space Versus Speed’s lineup consists of Albee, Nate Nadeau, Jamie Colpoys, Neil Collins and Walter Craven. Hear and learn more at (A.P.) 


This is a rap/hip-hop trio based in Waterville that has built a strong following during the past two years. The group describes its style as “new vintage” — innovative rhymes and vocal arrangements with “golden era” production styles. ED performs Friday at Curva Ultra Lounge in Orono, with Cam Groves. Check them out on Facebook at (B.K.) 


There’s a point in every band’s career when they write as though preparing for bigger rooms. So it is with The Lucid’s self-titled third record (, where monster guitars echo into the universe and rotating stars come through in drum patterns. (See review.) The Lucid took its loosely woven eclectic sound and tightened it with confidence. Now, shocking turns in songs like “Heliogram” feel like the work of a master conductor. Look for big spacey pipes, strident guitars and over-the-top drums to be echoing through Congress Street for at least the rest of the year. (M.O.)


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: