At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, I’ll go right out and say it: this year was the best year for Maine music I’ve ever experienced, in nearly 15 years of following Maine bands. Sure, I’ve said similar things in other year-end columns, but this year I mean it. I’ve been lucky enough to spend part of almost every week this year listening in-depth to a new album from a Maine band, and I’ve never been more impressed. Really, I mean it. Really.
I’ve done this year-end playlist now for four years in a row, and I’ve never had such a hard time whittling the list down to under 90 minutes (I have to set some parameters, or else I’ll be working on this thing for days). This playlist spans genres from electronic and pop to post-hardcore and psychedelic, and spans geographic regions from Portland to Bar Harbor. It’s really good. It’s got something for everybody, and I mean that. Really.
I think one of the the things that we have to remember as lovers of music both live and recorded is the fact that every place — in the U.S., in Canada, in Europe and South America and Asia and Africa and everywhere in the world — has its own little music scene. And everyone is doing some sort of variation on what we’re doing here in Maine, be it a metal band from Thailand, a blues band from Saskatchewan, a hip hop artist from Brazil, a songwriter in Russia or an indie rock band here in Maine. Maybe there will never be another Elvis Presley or Michael Jackson, and maybe the larger music industry (with the exception of Her Holiness Adele) is in a long, painful collapse, and maybe traditional centers of creativity like New York and San Francisco will eventually be too expensive for any emerging artist to live there (which is why they should come live here in Maine, hint hint). But there will always be people making music, playing it live, recording it and trying to make a little scratch off their art — and now we can do that more easily and affordably than ever before. Maybe we’re in our own little corner of the world and we have to work harder to be heard, but as far as Maine music goes, we’re better than we’ve ever been. And that’s certainly something to be proud of. I mean that. Really.
PS: Yes, that is a picture of my dog, Iggy, for the cover art for this playlist. Cute, isn’t he? So cute.
Spencer Albee – Why Am I a Fool? (Portland)
Weakened Friends – Won Yet (Portland)
Jeff Beam – Auspicious Minds (Portland)
Ghosts of Johnson City – Down in the Willow Garden (Portland)
Seepeoples – Used (Portland)
Mallett Brothers Band – Light Along the River (Portland)
Bennett Konesni – Footprints in the Snow (Belfast)
Chris Ross and the North – Annabelle (Ellsworth/Bangor)
Armies – Chemistry (Portland)
Dean Ford – Get Messy (Portland)
Earth Person – Everything Changes (Unity)
Cupido – Smothered Out (Bangor)
Lunch Cult – On Time (Portland)
Worried Well – Psych 101 (Portland)
Johnny Cremains – Oswaltz (Dance of the Patsy) (Portland)
When Particles Collide – This Town (Bangor)
Street Sity Surf – Shoestrings (Portland)