Now that we’re starting to pull sweaters out of our closets and watch the leaves turn, I need to play a little catch up with a couple of worth-your-time summer releases from Maine artists, as well as a single released just after the autumn equinox that also offers something to look forward to this fall.

Stray Bikes is the solo musical project of Andy Porta, the drummer for reggae and ska band Zeme Libre. In a few months, he’ll be releasing an EP called “Luna.” The first single, “Home,” dropped on Sept. 25. The track clocks in at under two minutes, and every second is sublime.

Porta sings and plays guitars and drums on the shimmering, gorgeous song, which also features Ron Porta on bass, Seth Nicholson on strings, backing vocals from Kayla Anderson and additional guitar from Rob Peralta. The whole EP is about Porta’s daughter, Luna, who was born two years ago, and the many emotions and experiences he had through the process of becoming a father, like these:

I never felt this love before
Driving down this highway
I felt the core of my body, my mind and every part of me
I will come home and show up with love

You can purchase “Home” at straybikes.bandcamp.com, and all proceeds will be donated to Black Lives Matter causes and the Fireweed Collective, a nonprofit that offers mental health education and mutual aid. While on Bandcamp, I saw another track, called “This Far,” a tender-hearted, acoustic soundscape released in 2019 but destined for the “Luna” EP.

Alice Limoges’ “It Stole Myself From Me” album cover. Image courtesy of the artist

***

Back-tracking to the middle of July, singer-songwriter Alice Limoges released her latest album, “It Stole Myself From Me.” It’s home to eight acutely personal songs that document what Limoges experienced with bipolar disorder, the isolation of a bad relationship, and temporarily not being able to play music while she recovered from a hand injury.

Originally from Rockport, Limoges spent several years in New York City attending SUNY Purchase, then several more years developing her sound, which melds folk, rock and jazz. All told, it took about six years to make “It Stole Myself From Me,” as Limoges navigated life and crafted the songs. The finishing touches on the album, like mixing and mastering, were done remotely because of the pandemic.

“No One Underneath,” a semifinalist in the 2019 International Songwriting Competition, tackles the manipulative relationship she endured, as well as the three years she was unable to consistently play her guitar. The song is intense and soulful.

So I’ve been fleeing like a whitetail from the hunter
They’ll skin me down to my last bone
They’ll shake me hard and rattle my heart
Say “Who was with me in the dark”
But I got no self left to be

In “Daydreams,” Limoges is at the piano, with a string quartet behind her, singing about what she referred to in a press release as “the dualistic reality of those split in two by bipolar disorder.” The song is dramatic and chilling but also riveting and potent.

Somewhere inside my soul is pure
But that section’s been obscured
Life wears away like seaglass wrestling with the sea

As I worked my way through the rest of the album, it left like reading someone’s diary, but not in an invasive way. It’s more like an invitation from someone who is not hiding from their truth, but instead has found a way to capture and share it through her music.

Album cover of “A Killer Named Sugar” by Renée Coolbrith.

***

In August, Renée Coolbrith released her debut full-length album, “A Killer Named Sugar.”

I can’t remember when I first became a fan of Coolbrith’s music, but it may have been by way of the song “Future” from the 2015 OHX album “Places + Secrets” on which she’s a guest vocalist. It’s a synth-heavy, hypnotic tune, and her vocals are big and far-reaching.

Since then, I’ve enjoyed the heck out of Coobrith’s various projects and collaborations, like Pretty Sad, Dearing and Odd Couple. She also released the chill and dreamy tune “Silkworm” in 2017.

In a press release for her debut album, she said the concept for the record is dark, sinister and nostalgic, with a rock edge and sad soul industrial accents. Over the course of 10 tracks, she delivers all these things with the help of musicians Kris Rodgers, Luke Mallett, Charles Berry, Evan Haines, Caleb Sweet and Joe Harding.

Coolbrith worked with producers C$ Burns, Darryl Collins and Andrew Mead. The fruit of everyone’s labor paid off in spades, with tracks like the in-your-face “Sister Asylum,” the ferocious takedown of “Small Cities” and the honeyed, bittersweet “Kiss in the Sky.”

Also, good call on Coolbrith’s part to include the track “$ugar,” originally recorded by Odd Couple, a project she was involved with a couple of years ago. The song sounds like a circus invitation to a sassy sideshow.


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.