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Here’s a good problem to have: so much new music, so little time to absorb it all. I’ve chosen five titles worthy of your consideration in rock, blues, country, and folk-pop released within the last two weeks.

We may not always notice them, but wild things are unrelentingly growing and creeping around us. Even the most securely constructed edifice of the unnatural world has elements of nature growing on, around or through it.

That notion of wildness being found in the most ordinary places – and how the two interrelate – is at the heart of pianist Ben Cosgrove’s fourth studio LP “The Trouble With Wilderness,” a beautiful and fascinating instrumental concept album that celebrates the certainty of nature’s presence in the most unnatural spaces.

The Boston-based Cosgrove has deep ties to Maine and says he plans a return to Portland soon where he feels most at home although in a normal year his home could be just about anywhere.

For a decade prior to the Covid lockdown Cosgrove performed about 200 shows per year around the country.

“It’s the lifestyle that works best for me,” Cosgrove says. “I really get a lot out of talking to a room full of people every night and being able to move around and live lightly. I’m not great at sitting still so the last year has been a bit of a challenge.”

With a veritable boatload of music titles being issued each week from new and established artists alike, I intend to increase the frequency of these review columns to round up some recent and forthcoming standout releases. This week, we have new albums of note in rock, country, alternative, and Americana/roots.

Broken heart? There’s an album for that. For many songwriters, music is sometimes the best therapy, and that’s especially true when the songwriter has weathered a personal crisis. Watershed breakup albums like Bob Dylan’s “Blood on the Tracks,” Beck’s “Sea Change” and Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” were all born from relationships gone south, no doubt brutal to endure, but each resulted in high art.

The new studio album from prolific Maine-based singer and songwriter Joel Thetford materialized from similarly dark circumstances with results akin to those aforementioned musical milestones. “January Heartbreak,” out April 19, is his most powerful work to date.

Maybe Neil Young knows something the rest of us don’t. He seems to have amped up his already voluminous archive series of previously shelved studio albums and unreleased concerts like a man racing against time. One of the latest entries is a November 1990 tour warmup gig with Crazy Horse representing what many fans consider to be among the band’s best-ever nights onstage. “Way Down in the Rust Bucket” is two-and-a-half hours of the finest electric Neil Young available, and that’s saying something.

The 1990 studio LP “Ragged Glory” – due for an archival overhaul, expansion and reissue later this year – marked a true return to form for Young and his long-serving barn-rock collaborators in Crazy Horse. The album contained (arguably) his best batch of songs since 1979’s “Rust Never Sleeps,” and it arrived in the middle of a new golden era of great Neil Young albums that signaled his return to Reprise Records after his 1980s wilderness years with Geffen. Remember when Geffen unsuccessfully sued him for delivering work “uncharacteristic of Neil Young?” It was sweet to watch Neil stick it to them by handing Reprise knockout LPs like “This Notes For You” (1988), “Freedom” (1989), “Ragged Glory” and its subsequent tour document “Weld.”

Even better than “Weld” is “Way Down in the Rust Bucket,” culled from three sets performed on November 13, 1990 at The Catalyst, an 800-seater in Santa Cruz, CA, that’s long served as a favored home base for Neil to warm up before a tour.

Tuesday, 30 March 2021 22:23

10 Questions for Chris Ross, 10 years later

Written by Mike Dow

My first interview with singer and songwriter Chris Ross appeared in these pages 10 years ago this month. We’d met up at The Thirsty Whale in Bar Harbor on a Saturday for a freewheeling conversation centered on his debut album, “The Steady Stumble,” that soon morphed into a marathon dialogue about his decision to pursue music full time.

During that first interview, Chris shared illuminating stories about his influences, playing music, traveling, and the many colorful characters he’d encountered, some of whom I later learned wound up in his songs. The impression he left was of a fiercely intelligent young musician bursting with talent, a wicked sense of humor, and a deep hunger to have his music exposed to a vast audience.

There was a time when success in the music industry hinged on the caliber of a record company’s promotions team. Tasked with taking their bosses’ latest investment to the top, these label reps could make or break a career. Iconic record company promo man Dave Morrell’s fourth volume chronicling his many years of music industry adventures and misadventures, “Run Out Groove: Inside Capitol’s 1980s Hits & Stiffs,” covers the decade he spent at the legendary label with astonishing tales of success, failure, hilarity and cruelty.

Morrell’s time at Capitol Records, from 1980 to 1990, was a rollercoaster ride that included dealing with career breakthroughs for bands including Crowded House and Duran Duran, working with legacy artists like Paul McCartney and Bob Seger, and helping some artists, like Bonnie Raitt, reach a new level of success.

Morrell also had to work internally with a few Capitol kooks whose eye-popping antics earned them nicknames in his book such as “Mr. Hollywood,” “Cattle prod guy” and “Psycho Johnny.” Morrell recalls every shocking instance of their absurdity with hilarious clarity and says some of his former co-workers have been in touch after reliving those years through his book.

I have a feeling we’re in for a deluge of new music titles as artists everywhere prepare to release the fruits of their lockdowns in hopes they’ll soon be able to take the stage in support. Here are a few recently released LPs that should not be overlooked in the pending flood.

Wednesday, 17 March 2021 13:19

Maine’s music scene – one year later

Written by Mike Dow

Maine’s music scene is still quiet one year after the start of the pandemic but there are signs that things are beginning to move in the right direction, according to some of Maine’s music-makers and presenters.

It’s hard to believe that more than a decade has passed since the greater Bangor area’s entertainment landscape was transformed by the rise of Waterfront Concerts and Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion.

To celebrate this milestone, The Maine Edge is asking readers to share their picks for the 10 best shows presented at the venue since it opened. One winner, selected at random, will receive a prize package including ticket vouchers to exchange for an upcoming show of the winner’s choice courtesy of Waterfront Concerts.

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