Maine-made album reviews, April, May and June 2012

Every three months, I write about new albums from Maine bands – ones that I wasn’t able to get to in my regular columns, like my reviews of the new albums from Spose, Fogcutters and the Rugged. Like what you read here? Click through to buy albums and support your local musician.

When Particles Collide – Pop Pop Bang Bang!

Bangor’s number one rock duo has spent the better part of this year recording and mixing their debut LP in New York, and the work they put into it shows. “Pop Pop Bang Bang!” is a brisk, razor sharp collection of road-tested songs, clocking in at around 30 minutes that breeze by like a hot pink, pop-punk moped. Guitarist/vocalist Sasha Alcott and drummer Chris Viner work together like a machine, each riff and drum line and vocal cue fitting into a neat little package, from the shoutalong chorus of “Straight Girls” to the elastic groove of “Moles.” It’s smart, it’s passionate and it’s an irony-free piece of rock n’ roll fun. Check back in the next few weeks to buy your copy.

Theodore Treehouse – S/T

I loved TT’s first album, “Mercury: Closest to the Sun” more than most albums that have come out of Maine in a long time. Their self-titled EP is a more than worthy follow up. Fusing a sense of whimsy with a seemingly inborn ability to write irresistible melodies, it’s hard to name a band to compare them to – The Kinks? Deerhoof? Modest Mouse? Late 60s Stones? There’s a little bit of everything in there. It’s all the things I love about indie rock; delightfully odd, complex but not inaccessible arrangements, and fundamentally solid songwriting. As an added benefit, they’re absolutely fantastic live. Highly recommended.

Darien Brahms – Dogwood

In a just world, Darien Brahms would be a much bigger, more well-known artist. But as it stands, she’s been a mainstay of the Portland scene for 20 years, and her latest album, “Dogwood,” is classic Brahms – tough and eclectic, anchored by her expressive alto and unique guitar work. She’s always straddled a line between Lyle Lovett-like groovy twang, and the specific kind of weirdness that David Byrne or David Bowie might project; a country-blues swagger, with an art-punk’s sensibility. Check out the tracks “Big Red Flag” or “Veni Vidi Vici” and you’ll understand exactly what that means.

Sunset Hearts – Deco Tech

There are, what, 25 people in Sunset Hearts? 50? Just kidding – there’s nine, all of whom have played in and around Portland for several years, in bands like Marie Stella, Huak and Hi Tiger. This is pop music, washed over with a shimmering electronic sheen, like Cut Copy or Hot Chip, or the grandaddies of electro-pop, New Order. The “Deco Tech” EP is almost too short – after five tracks of precise-yet-emotional songs and three remixes by local artists, it’s over. It makes you a little sad. It’s awfully pretty, and it begs to be remixed further and played over speakers during a summertime dance party.

The Other Bones – Hinges

Where Sunset Hearts occupy a more ethereal kind of world, the Other Bones play a harder, funkier version of electro-pop. They’re a little Kanye, a little house music, and they have a great vocalist in singer Loretta Allen. “Hinges” is another EP that is extremely satisfying, and over too quickly. It’s also one of the more successful albums to come out in  Maine this year, hitting the iTunes electronic charts in its first few weeks out. Bangor native/producer Andrew Mead and guitarist Eric Bruce fuse epic, club-worthy beats with Allen’s dynamic diva voice into a sound that’s both old and new school.

Did I unintentionally overlook you? Email me at eburnham@bangordailynews.com and I’ll see what I can do to fix it!

Emily Burnham

About Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native, UMaine graduate, proud Bangorian and a writer and editor for Bangor Metro Magazine, the Weekly and the Bangor Daily News, where she's worked since 2004. She reports on everything from local bands to local food to all the cool things going on in the Greater Bangor area. In her quest for stories, she's seen countless concerts and plays, been lobster fishing, interviewed celebrities, hung out with water buffalo and played in a ukulele orchestra. She's interested in everything that happens in Maine. Albums for review are accepted digitally only; please no CDs.