In 2000, Portland-based record label Cornmeal Records released its first “Greetings From Area Code 207,” a compilation of the best music from Maine bands. Since then, the label has released seven such volumes. The eighth volume in the series comes out Nov. 18, and this year it features two discs of songs from 31 bands and artists — erring on the side of radio-friendly and mostly from southern Maine, sure, but that’s OK.
Hey, there’s a live version of Ray Lamontagne performing “You Are the Best Thing” (a song near and dear to my heart) performed with Rustic Overtones. It’s worth buying just for that, even though you’ll also get an excellent cross-section of some great music from our fair state. Anyone curious about what exactly the scene is here in Maine, but who doesn’t quite know how to get a handle on it would do well to pick this one up. It’s a crash course in Maine music. Here are some of my personal favorites from the compilation, which will be available at Bull Moose Music stores and online at www.cornmealrecords.com. Get the album for yourself and make your own decision.
www.amyallenmusic.com Her song “Love Fool” is on the album, and you’ll be forgiven if you listen to it and have no idea that you’re hearing an 18-year-old who graduated from high school in Portland six months ago. Singer, songwriter and guitarist Allen, who has been collaborating with bluegrass band the Jerks of Grass and singer-songwriter Jason Spooner, has a little bit of the precocious, sensitive Taylor Swift vibe going on. It’s not all pop, though, as clear influences of Feist and Joni Mitchell shine through as well. Allen is definitely one to watch out for.
Travis James Humphrey
You may have seen this Houlton native in venues all over the state — he’ll play at Hollywood Slots in Bangor on Nov. 12 and 13 — so if you’ve seen him live, you know he’s a powerhouse. It’s rollicking, good-time country music that’s equal parts Brad Paisley and Garth Brooks, with just a dash of Jimmy Buffett thrown in for good measure. His song on “207” is a spot-on cover of Dick Curless’ Maine country classic “Tombstone Every Mile,” off his album, “Dirty Beautiful World,” which was recorded with fellow Maine country phenom Johnny Hiland. Maine country fans simply have to check him out.
If you’ve listened to WCYY in the past six months, you have heard Spose, the southern Maine rapper who’s poised to hit the big time. And with good reason: The guy is a clever, insightful, hilarious wordsmith, like an indie-rock Eminem. On “207” he’s contributed an as-yet unreleased track titled “Pop Song,” about the perils of dealing with newfound fame. Out of the whole pack, he’s got my vote for “Most Likely to Succeed.” I will not be surprised if he is seen on Letterman or Leno in the next year.
The Loblolly Boy
The most invigorating out of the somewhat snoozy singer-songwriter pack, the Loblolly Boy, aka Luke Kalloch, is currently living in Austin, Texas, but is a proud Mainer through and through. His passionate lyrics and vocal delivery are hard to resist, bringing to mind both Ryan Adams and the Avett Brothers. It’s music perfect for cold winter mornings in Maine.
I love Marie Stella because they make me feel like I’m a freshman in college again, listening to girly punk rock and having pink hair. Their terrifically fun, fuzzy power-pop is led by the truly wonderful vocalist Sydney Bourke, and their contribution to “207” is the catchy blast of rock, “Lonely is Better.”
So what if Darien Brahms has been doing her thing for a long time? She’s still better than most. She’s a fantastic guitarist and arranger, a soulful vocalist and a smart lyricist. Her song on “207,” “Something To Be Said,” is a syncopated, groovy unreleased track with some killer horns and fun, unison vocals.
For information on “Greetings From Area Code 207,” visit www.cornmealrecords.com.