If you’re scrambling to finish your holiday shopping, consider giving the gift of local music. Home-grown CDs make great stocking stuffers while supporting the grass-roots music community, and therefore the local economy.

Here are my fave Maine-bred albums from 2011 to get you started. Each is available online and at Bull Moose Music stores:

• Marie Moreshead, “Marie Moreshead” (self-published): I fell in love with Marie’s voice from the moment I popped this into my car stereo and heard her Jewel-like coo on the lead track, “In My Dreams.” Tortured vocalists are a dime a dozen these days, especially in the singer-songwriter genre, so it’s refreshing to have someone like Moreshead serve up a sunny disposition on tracks such as “Love Yourself” and “Smile.” Even when she’s singing a song with biting lyrics, i.e., “Thought I Knew You,” the Portland native does so to a skip-along, finger-plucking beat. If you want music that will make you smile, this is it. Moreshead recently relocated to Los Angeles; here’s hoping she does some gigs in her home state in 2012.

• Whitcomb, “Crown Park” (self-published): Playing old-school metal with an epic prog-rock feel could easily go off the rails into embarrassing retro land, but Portland’s Whitcomb pulls it off with aplomb. Combining Ozzy-era Black Sabbath with a modern alt-rock sensibility, this debut CD segues from acoustic blues to train-roaring thunder rock with ease, showcasing the band’s versatility. Whether you love metal, prog or just a good head-banging experience, this is a good buy.

The Mallett Brothers, “Low Down” (CDBY): This may sound like sacrilege to Mainers, but I’ve never really liked Ray LaMontagne’s music. So when someone’s sound is described as “alt-country,” I cringe, because so many local musicians have tried to copy Ray’s soft-singing mountain-man style. This sophomore album by The Mallett Brothers doesn’t do that – at all. Instead, it’s a good old-fashioned, barn-burning hoedown with lightning-quick banjo picking, dueling guitars and just enough twang to classify it as “country rock” without sacrificing the “rock” part.

Various artists, “Greetings from Area Code 207, Volume 8” (Cornmeal): I’m cheating a little with this one, because it was released in November 2010, but until “Volume 9” comes out, this is the best sampler of recent Maine-spawned music you’ll find. You’ll find a little bit of everything here, from hip hop (Spose) and alt-rock (Holy Boys Danger Club) to pop (Amy Allen) and blues (Nick Curran and The Lowlifes). It even has Ray LaMontagne, but he’s playing with Rustic Overtones, so it’s all good. 

Deputy Managing Editor Rod Harmon may be contacted at 791-6450 or at:

[email protected]


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