I know we’re only in January, but my money’s already on this being a spectacular year for Maine-made music.

I’ve gathered details from several local artists who have either just released new music or will do so soon and am thrilled to be sharing what I’ve learned about four of them in particular.

From reggae to modern rock, bluegrass and beyond, there’s plenty to be excited about, listen to and buy.

Cover of the Zeme Libre album “Take Me Alive.” Design by Luke Dubois of Biloba Creative Design


Portland-area based Afro-fusion/reggae/ska band Zeme Libre is releasing its fifth album, “Take Me Alive,” on Jan. 31.

The band, formed in 2015, is Andrew Yankowsky (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Phil Mantis (bass), Tim Washburn (lead guitar, vocals), David Butts (keys, horns, vocals) and Andy Porta (drums, vocals). Guest percussionist Adam Vinciguerra played on all the songs, and you’ll hear Jason Ward from Rustic Overtones playing baritone sax on the title track.


“We’ve focused it all on ska/punk and reggae tunes; short and sweet and to the point,” Butts said about the album. I couldn’t have said it any better, especially with “Wash ‘Em Out.” “You will never see me waiting/You will never lay your body down,” sings Yankowsky as an electric guitar buzzes like a chainsaw and drums bang like thunder. The bass is fully weaponized as well, and I was singing along before the end.

“Slow Down” has more of a funky, reggae groove.

The title track, with Ward’s sensational horn, squishes along a happy, mellow path before the engine gets revved, then eased up on. It’s a self-contained, five-minute party.

Yankowsky told me that the band took the fall off from playing live shows to work on the album and is in the process of booking shows for this year.

“Take Me Alive” will be available at Bull Moose, zemelibre.com, bandcamp.com and live shows, as well as on streaming platforms.

Chris Muccino (bottom) and Sheridan of Human Moods. Photo by Kevin Travers



Portland-based indie and modern rock band Human Moods released its debut self-titled album on Black Friday Record Store Day (Nov. 25) and made it available to streaming platforms on Jan. 10.

Human Moods, formed in 2021, is vocalist Sheridan (Forest City & Friends, Heart Shaped Rock, Tribal Iris) and guitarist/keys player Chris Muccino (Forest City & Friends, Endless Interstate, Liquid Daydream). On the album, you’ll also hear drummer Mike Chasse, bassist Greg Goodwin and backing vocalist Pete Giordano.

The album comes out of the gate swinging with the moody “Four Walls.” “I’ve written this a hundred times/Submerged myself in pain for you/I don’t want to live in my past or your past/It consumes the future too,” sings Sheridan in a brooding voice that is anguished yet empowering.

I was quickly mesmerized by the track “Gold (Au).” With piano, bass and drums, the song has a hypnotic energy to it with the lines, “Somebody told me something familiar/You need to break it down and build something better.” You know how some songs give you that buzzy feeling in your chest? This is one of them. There’s a gravitational pull to it that won’t let go, and you don’t want it to.

There are four other songs on the album, and they’re all absolute bangers. It’s obvious these musicians have all been at it for years because this is a first-rate release that in my humble opinion is worthy of national attention. Find it at Bull Moose and on streaming platforms.

Human Moods is headed back into the studio this month and plans to release more music in the spring. A show celebrating both releases is in the works for July.


Lisa Redfern. Photo by KDB


Bath-based singer-songwriter Lisa Redfern plans to release a dozen singles throughout the year. She’s about to record one called “Step Out of Line,” inspired by people she knows personally or knows of who have left their hetero marriages after falling in love with their friends of the same gender. Redfern sent me a demo of the song, and with her acoustic guitar, lovely vocals and astute lyrics, the song is outstanding and makes it clear that she’s a true ally to the LGBTQ community.

You can see Redfern performing live on Jan. 21 as part of the Swans Island Sweet Chariot Music Festival at the Rockport Opera House. Redfern also said she’s planning a mini tour of Scotland for the fall and is writing a one-woman theatrical show centered around her songs and stories. She’s also teaching ESL through songwriting to immigrants and asylum seekers at Portland Adult Education.

The World Famous Grassholes is a bluegrass act out of New Gloucester. The band is Heather Kahill on fiddle, Merrill Marsh and Sam Pfeifle on guitars, Flann O’Brien on the stand-up bass, and Field Rider on banjo and harmonica. You’ll hear all of them singing on various songs.

The band is headed into the recording studio at the beginning of February to work with producer Jonathan Wyman, known for the 2021 release “Death by Rock and Roll” from The Pretty Reckless. The full-length album will include originals the band has penned over the past two years along with a cover of Harry Styles’ mega-hit “Watermelon Sugar.”

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