I’m here to put a skip in your step and to add some musical silver linings to your life this week by telling you what some Maine musicians have in store for the year.

I reached out to several of them to find out what their release plans are for the coming year and what inspired their recent songwriting and music-making. The pandemic certainly influenced some of their material, and some artists are crossing into different genres with their new material.

Drive by Todd is the midcoast-based alternative rock trio that just released the song “Aubergine” last week. The band formed in 2013 and comprises drummer Peyton Clark, guitarist Jake Nagy and vocalist/bassist/rhythm guitarist Joanna Grierson. Grierson described the new tune as “a dreamy ’90s acoustic rock-inspired ode to the tumult and joy of long-term love and commitment … about finding the balance of give and take, knowing when to hold on and when to cut your losses.”

After listening to it a couple of times, I already have a feeling this is going to end up being one of my favorite Maine songs of the year. Find Drive By Todd at facebook.com/drivebytodd and on Instagram @drivebytoddband.

Saco-based singer-songwriter Doug Kolmar will be releasing his fourth album, “So Said Life,” on Feb. 22.

Kolmar said that much of the record reflects living in the pandemic as well as social upheavals of 2020 and 2021, and that themes of isolation abound.

The album features him on vocals, guitar, mandolin and bass; Jud Caswell on 12-string guitar, bass, melodica, saxophone and percussion; vocalist Janice O’Rourke; cellist April Reed-Cox; percussionist Colin Kolmar; bassists Mike Burd and Sheldon Byrd; Eleanor Caswell on French horn; and organist Ben Hunsberger.

Assuming the pandemic doesn’t mess things up, there will be an album release show at Frontier in Brunswick on Feb. 25. Listen to a few preview tracks at dougkolmarmusic.com.

One of last year’s standout songs was from Portland-based pop-rock artist Xander Nelson. “In Time,” as I myself said, is perfect power pop. So I was thrilled to hear that he’s got another new tune slated for a spring release.

Nelson described the track “Lonely” as a darker, blues-inspired song that tackles the feelings of loneliness and existential dread we all face, even when it’s hidden behind the biggest of smiles. Nelson sent me the song and what he said rang true. It is indeed bluesy and, as the kids say, sure does slap.

The song features Nelson vocals and guitar, Manny Urgiles on guitar, Conor McGrory on bass and drummer Chuck Martin. Find Nelson at xandernelsonmusic.com.

Peter Galway, based in Rockland, will be releasing his next album in the late spring, a project he called “particularly organic, Costello-Cohen-Petty-Fagen-Springsteen inspired.”

Under the name Peter Galway & The Real Band, it features him as songwriter and lead vocalist, and he also plays bass, keyboards and percussion. The rest of the band is Andrea Re on vocals and percussion, Dark Wainer on guitar and Joe Wainer on drums. There are also a number of guests.

Galway’s been at it for decades so, incredibly, this will be about his 30th release.

Also, it just so happens that Galway is married to singer-songwriter Annie Gallup who told me she’s got a single up her sleeve that is soon to be released called “Harvey Moved To Queens.”  I consider Gallup to be, hands down, one of the state’s finest songwriters, so I can’t wait to hear her latest work. Find Galway at petergallway.com and Gallup at anniegallup.com.

Connor Garvey. Photo by Lauryn Hottinger

Portland-based Connor Garvey is a singer-songwriter of the folk-rock persuasion, but with his next album, “Another End of a Year,” coming out this spring or summer, he’ll be leaning more into Americana and rock.

“A focus on songwriting remains but the textures to bring it out have deepened,” said Garvey.

His band is Pete Morse on electric guitar, Dan Boyden on drums and percussion and Colin Winsor on bass. Guests are Ben Cosgrove on piano and organ, Eric McDonald on mandolin, and Sorcha Cribben-Merrill on harmony and backing vocals.

Garvey sent me an advance of the track “Water to the Well,” and it’s a fantastic, bittersweet tune about just trying to get by and encouraging someone to recognize their self-worth.

Garvey said the album is darker in tone and subject than much of his previous work and that the songwriting and production are the best he’s ever done.

“I’m immensely excited about this project coming through in its mature form and yet still a seedling just coming into the world. Themes of letting go, of being let go of, trusting in the path to reveal itself as it needs to, and areas of hidden hope fill out the song.” Find him at connorgarveysongs.com.

The Worst. Photo by Joe MacFadzen

Portland punk-trio The Worst released its debut album “Jane Doe Embryo” in 2017, and its new one, “Yes Regrets,”  is due to be released on June 3.

The band said the album deals with addiction, depression, recovery, redemption, salvation and remorse, all through the brutally honest lyricism of band leader Brooke Binion.

Along with Binion on lead vocals, guitars and keys are band members Will Bradford on vocals, bass, guitar and keys and Craig Sala on drums and vocals. The album, which also features members of Morphine and The Distillers, was recorded at Chillhouse Studios in Charlestown, Massachusetts, and at a number of remote home studios.

Fans got a preview in the fall of 2020 when a video for the album’s title track was released. Once the pandemic loosened up, they were able to finish the rest of the album. Find The Worst at solo.to/theworst.

Portland’s Love By Numb3rs this week started recording sessions at Waterhouse studio on Peaks Island for a full-length album slated for a July release.

The indie-pop/Americana/soul/roots act is made up of core members Anna Lombard on vocals and keys, Jonathan Roods on bass, pedal steel, guitar, percussion and Moog (synth), and Dan Connor on vocals and guitar. Other players on their recorded work and in their live shows are Josh Dyum and Zach Jones on electric guitar and drummer Gary Gemmiti.

Previous releases are the full-length “Parachute” in 2020 and last year’s EP “Colours.” Lombard said that the new record delves into experimental and psychedelic vibes with elements of R&B, soul and world music set against narrative songwriting. Find their music at lovebynumb3rs.com.


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