Face the Music: Pair music lovers on your list with these new local releases

I send tidings of comfort, joy and safety your way as we’re now knee-deep in the holiday season. I’m also going to send you out shopping.

From digital releases to CDs, vinyl, all sorts of apparel and a sleigh full of other goodies, every local musical act that you love has stuff for sale that would find a comfortable home in the stocking of someone you know. So, consider this a musical Whitman’s Sampler of gift suggestions for the music lovers on your list. Which should mean everyone, because who doesn’t love music?

And although 2021 was better than 2020 for sure (thanks, science), the local music community is still recovering and can use your support. So pour yourself a glass of eggnog and put on some holiday tunes (I’ve got The Fogcutters “Jingle These Bells” EP playing in my ears as I write this), and start clicking away.

Toby McAllister merchandise. Photo by Toby McAllister

Singer-songwriter Toby McAllister from the pop punk band Sparks the Rescue released a solo EP called “Daydreamin’ ” last week, and all five tracks are excellent. You can shop for it on CD at tobymcallister.com, where you’ll also find some nifty stickers, T-shirts and a poster.

Speaking of brand new music, on the day after Thanksgiving, roots and bluesman Samuel James dropped an instrumental holiday album, which can be digitally gifted on Bandcamp (samueljames2.bandcamp.com). It’s an excellent gift for fans of phenomenal guitar work. It would also make a solid addition to your own repertoire of holiday music, which surely needs some refreshing.

Weakened Friends’ album “Quitter” on colored vinyl. Photo by Aimsel Ponti

Rock band Weakened Friends released its latest album, “Quitter,” on Nov. 19 and celebrated with a huge, sold-out show at Portland House of Music on Dec. 3. It was there that I bought the album on peach and white marbleized vinyl and then ran up to Sonia, Annie and Adam to have them sign it, because of course I did. Head to weakenedfriends.com, where you can order a copy on vinyl or CD and can also snag a cap and T-shirt.

Indie-folk act GoldenOak put out the album “Room to Grow” at the end of June and, woah Nelly, it’s tremendous, especially the songs “These Old Shoes” and “Ash.” Pick it up on CD or vinyl and snag a cool T-shirt at goldenoakband.com/store, where you’ll also find tote bags, stickers and their previous releases.

Sara Trunzo music and stickers. Photo by Sara Trunzo

Singer-songwriter Sara Trunzo released the EP “Cabin Fever Dreams” on Sept. 24. It was produced by Rachael Moore, who has worked with the likes of T Bone Burnett, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. Guest musicians include Dave Cohen (Reba McEntire, Wynonna Judd) on keys, Adam Ollendorff (Kacey Musgraves, Keb’ Mo’) on pedal steel, Lex Price (k.d. lang, Neko Case) on bass, Jamie Dick (Allison Russell, Lake Street Dive) on drums, Kris Donegan (Lee Brice, Molly Tuttle) on guitar and Tiffany Williams on background vocals. Head to saratrunzo.com to shop for “Cabin Fever Dreams,” along with her previous releases and some nifty stickers designed by Maine artist Hallowbone.

Singer-songwriter Laurie Jones  released the album “Dark Horse” on Oct. 22. The entire thing is solid, and “That Summer” is among my favorite local songs of the year. Find it at Bull Moose locations or head to lauriejonesmusic.com.

Mainer Jeff Badger has been collaborating off and on with New Yorker Blair Wells for more than 20 years under the moniker Custardpaws & Mr. Freezy. Earlier this year, they released the album “Window Weather.” Heavy on fabulous synth beats and with an electronica dance vibe, this album rules! “Secret Friends” is a standout track, as is “In the Air.” I’ve only listened to the album once but, wow, it’s an absolute trip. In October, the album became available on heavy-weight orange vinyl with a gatefold cover and artwork by Badger. You can find it at Bull Moose in South Portland and Scarborough and in Portland at Electric Buddhas, Enterprise Records and Abraxas. Shop from home for it at custardpawsandmrfreezy.bandcamp.com/merch.

Speaking of Bull Moose, head there to find every album from pop-rock band An Overnight Low on CD for just $2.97 throughout the holiday season. The discography is comprised of  “Euston,” “Piccadilly,” “Waverley,” “Connolly, Part One” and “Connolly, Part Two.”

For the person on your list who wants to improve their guitar or drum playing skills, musician Rob Duquette is offering what he’s calling Hand Harmonies music lessons. They’re open to all levels, from beginners to seasoned players, and lessons are suitable for ages 10 and up. Sessions run for six weeks. For the lowdown, head to musicandmagic.org/lessons.

On the venue front, Portland House of Music has a magnificent array of offerings in its online store, including T-shirts, hoodies, leggings, tote bags, neck gaiters and glassware. Shop early and often at phomesweetphome.com.

The Chocolate Church Arts Center in Bath has ornaments, hoodies, T-shirts, books, blankets and CDs at chocolatechurcharts.org/shop. I bought a hoodie last year, and let me tell you, it’s one of the coziest things I own.

Over at the One Longfellow Square online shop, you’ll find a place to buy gift certificates that can be used to buy tickets to any future show. Head to onelongfellowsquare.com/gift-certificates to make a live music lover very happy.

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