January 27, 2010 § Leave a comment
January 27, 2010 § Leave a comment
New Burning Hearts 7″ single Night Animal has been released by Shelflife Records. A-side Night Animal is a new song and b-side is Jori Hulkkonen’s remix of A Peasant’s Dream. You can listen to Night Animal also on their myspace or on the label website.
January 26, 2010 § Leave a comment
The second Valley Below album Dog Day has been out for a few days. It’s a really good album as well. There’s 6 songs from the album on their myspace, if you want judge yourself.
January 26, 2010 § 1 Comment
January 21, 2010 § Leave a comment
Great news for The Avett Brothers fans. Timothy Seth Avett’s three solo albums are now available. Well have been since the beginning of january, but I’ve been too busy compiling that albums of the year list. Anyway, today I finally spent a lot of time listening to the five videos that are on his website and ordered two of these records he released under the name Darling (I will eventually order the first one as well). I especially fell in love with this heartwarmingly beautiful song called In Your Light.
January 20, 2010 § Leave a comment
Epilä’s debut album Avohakkuu hits the stores and your heart today on 20th of january. It will be released by Terra Recordings. Epilä might be a new band, but you might know some of the good people in the band from their previous pop groups such as Cartoon Tree, Jadecroon, Guava. Avohakkuu is a very fine album albeit it might be too radio friendly for the hardcore indie purists.
Captain Cougar’s second album Of Dreams Long Gone was released last week by Pinetree Records. I haven’t heard the whole album yet, but based on songs they have on their myspace, the line-up changes didn’t alter the quality and their music still sounds wonderful.
Hooray! I’m extremely excited, because TV-Resistori is finally releasing new music. A free digital single Voi ei, ei voi olla totta will be released on 27th of january by Fonal Records. Hopefully an album will follow later this year. Anyway, more about this on 27th of january when I’m able to give that download link.
January 15, 2010 § Leave a comment
The way too long albums of the year 2009 list goes on. Here are the places 40-21. Now let’s continue to the top 20:
20. Daisy: Daydream (Elements, 2009)
Whenever I listen to Daisy, I’m thinking of whether I should tell them they are pop geniuses or slap them in the face and tell them to get a grip. Their sound palette is just so fucking awful and absolutely wonderful at the same time. Eventhough I do generally prefer more “stripped down” pop music, there’s no way of denying that Daisy has again created a mighty fine pop fantasy.
19. Carolyn Mark & NQ Arbuckle: Let’s Just Stay Here (Mint Records, 2009)
Little over a year ago I became a huge NQ Arbuckle fan and bought all of his/their records. Now NQ Arbuckle has teamed up with another canadian folk artist Carolyn Mark to create this marvellous album. Carolyn Mark is such a great singer and songwriter that I might end up buying her earlier material as well, but there’s still no way of denying that my favourite songs are the ones where mister NQ takes the lead role. Especially Officer Down, Saskatoon Tonight and Downtime are just stunning.
18. Dawes: North Hills (Ato, 2009)
This is the real last minute entry. I just bought it three days ago and thought I don’t include it at all no matter how good it will be. But then I started to listening to it and started to like it more and more and in the end I just didn’t have the heart to leave it out. Part of me would like to lift this even higher on the list, but I suppose it’s hard to tell is this just the early excitement or a long lasting love affair. I’m fairly confident that the magic will remain. Think of The Band, Laurel Canyon. Well think of good music with great vocals and amazing harmonies.
17. El Goodo: Coyote (Grease, 2009)
Just like The Higher State, also El Goodo is a bit stuck in the past. But also in a very good way. This second album Coyote from these Welch masters of psychedelic pop has gotten a lot of “air time” in this household. It’s just so extremely enjoyable stuff that ranges from psychedelic delights to the oh so gorgeous garage pop of Be My Girl. The debut already had some great moments, but now things work wonderfully throughout the record.
16. M. Ward: Hold Time (Merge, 2009)
Despite some fabulous songs, I was little dissapointed with Post-War as a whole (well at least at the time when it came out, I might need to give it another go), but on Hold Time M.Ward returns back to greatness. End Of Amnesia probably still remains as my favourite album, but this is certainly the kind of M.Ward that I love.
15. Wilco: Wilco (The Album) (Nonesuch, 2009)
The finest Wilco album since Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. I didn’t really like Ghost Is Born, Sky Blue Sky was already a big step back to right direction and now Wilco (The Album) sends them back where they started and they are again one of the finest bands in the world. Hopefully that more experimental phase that already started on Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and went too far (for me) on Ghost Is Born don’t take control anymore. I don’t mind if that side stays on as a flavour as long as things remain song-orientated. One Wing is such a perfect song.
14. Cheap Star: Speaking Like an Elephant (Z&Zoe Records, 2009)
I got interested because half of it was produced by Jon Auer and the other half by Ken Stringfellow and I remain interested because the songs are wonderful. Cheap Star is a french (power) pop group and their debut album Speaking Like an Elephant became one of my favourite pop albums of the year. It’s influenced by the things that I love the most, so it’s no wonder that the end result is also something that I love.
13. Janne Laurila: Kultaisia pisteitä (Ranka, 2009)
Janne Laurila changed the language to finnish and released his solo debut. I admit that I was a little bit worried about my own reactions. Was I going to love this as much as his earlier work? Thankfully I worried for nothing and Kultaisia pisteitä was and is a marvellous album. “Why would just changing the singing language take away all that talent, you stupid fool”, I probably should shout to myself. The song material is wonderful throughout the record and it’s definitely the best set of lyrics he has so far written. Of course there’s this silly and extremely minor problem that it almost sounds too good to my ears. But it’s not like people should record albums through a telephone line just in order to completely satisfy indie pricks like yours truly.
12. Deer Tick: Born On a Flag Day (Partisan, 2009)
I finally believed 8raita staff (the finest record store in the city/country) who have been recommending this band for a long while. Wise decision on my part because I badly fell for Deer Tick’s second album Born On a Flag Day (and also bought the debut earlier this week, the debut might be even better btw). One of the reasons why it took me so much time to check them out was that I wasn’t sure about the vocals. It seems ludicrous now, because it didn’t took me much time to fall for that a bit rough and unique voice and nowadays the vocals are a big part of the charm. Deer Tick is certainly one of the better americana/country bands out there at the moment. Especially if your sick of overpolished country sounds and want to hear something that has character and some rough corners and still holds a lot of beauty inside, Deer Tick is a perfect choice.
11. Richmond Fontaine: We Used To Think The Freeway Sounded Like a River (Decor, 2009)
Richmond Fontaine’s latest isn’t the easiest album, but it’s a very rewarding one. The song Maybe We Were Both Born Blue is a huge favourite of mine and definitely in the top 10 if I decide to make a top songs of the year list. The lyrics here are again brilliant. It’s no wonder because the frontman Willy Vlautin is also an author and have written two wonderful novels (I especially recommend Northline.. oh and new novel Lean On Pete is out in the shops in february).
10. The Micragirls: Wild Girl Walk (Bone Voyage, 2009)
I’ve always liked them, but I certainly didn’t expect to fall for their new album as badly as I did. The reason why I did fell in love with it is that The Micragirls have become much more versatile and have added a lot of pop sensibility to their high energy garage rock. Wild Girl Walk is a marvellous record and contains some of my favourite songs of the year (like Summer’s Gone).
9. Justin Townes Earle: Midnight at the Movies (Bloodshot, 2009)
Justin Townes Earle outclassed his father this time around. Steve Earle’s Townes Van Zandt cover album wasn’t that inspiring, but his son created a wonderful record. Justin Townes Earle is great at mixing traditional country and modern americana and has become one of the finest country/americana/folk singer-songwriters at the moment. I don’t think any of of the songs would rise to my imaginary top 20 songs of the year list, but it is a very strong, enjoyable and convincing album as a whole.
8. The Rollstons: Gauguin’s Trunk (Brunamosse IF, 2009)
The Rollstons made another great album. I listened to this one an awful lot last spring and it almost became a good luck charm to me back then. If you want to know more, JYP’s playoffs started poorly and then when I drove to the next home game I just happened to listen to this one while driving. Well JYP won and because I’m extremely superstitious (or just fucking stupid.. as if my own actions would anyway change the result of the game) I listened to this album everytime I drove to the following games and after a lot of games and over 4000 km of driving a car, JYP won the championship. However, the reason why Gauguin’s Trunk is in the top ten isn’t because I relate it to some of the best memories I have. It’s here because it’s a fantastic album. The finest stuff they’ve done since the early days.
7. Austin Lucas: Somebody Loves You (Suburban Home, 2009)
This was a really late entry to this list. Two weeks ago I didn’t even know the name, but this was an instant love affair. Austin Lucas has a punk background, but nowadays he is also into rootsier stuff and have created such a magnificent album in Somebody Loves You that most country singer-songwriters should be jealous. Sometimes the vocals remind me of Richard Buckner, sometimes they don’t. Always it sounds like an amazing album.
6. Brendan Benson: My Old, Familiar Friend (2009)
I do like The Raconteurs, but Brendan Benson as a solo artist is at least twentythree times better. Therefore it was really great to get a new solo album. Especially because it turned out to be so awesome. Not that I doubt it at all. One Missisippi and Lapalco were almost perfect and Alternative To Love at least really good. Hopefully we don’t need to wait for the next solo album as long, because Brendan is certainly a future hall of famer when it comes to power pop singer-songwriters.
5. Haruko: Wild Geese (Bracken Records, 2009)
Haruko is Susanne Stanglow, a young german folk singer-songwriter. Wild Geese is her debut album and what a beautiful album it is. She didn’t have the luxury of spending hours in a big studio, but she was more than capable of creating something magical and moving with these home recordings. I’ve spent a huge amount of time listening to this and I still find it thrilling. I’m just completely addicted to the overall feel of the record and all the songs are either marvellous or at least really really good.
4. Cats on Fire: Our Temperance Movement (Johanna Kustannus, 2009)
The best finnish album of the year didn’t make it to the podium, but Cats on Fire certainly made a fantastic record. It’s been so wonderful to see Cats On Fire become so widely adored and respected all around the world (..in the indie pop community). Kudos to them for all the hard work. Our Temperance Movement is a second pretty much perfect “five hearts” album in a row. Well actually they haven’t taken one wrong step after The Seelonce Mayday demo. It’s been all gorgeous and long may it continue. What a band!
3. The Duke & The King: Nothing Gold Can Stay (Loose, 2009)
The latest The Felice Brothers album didn’t make the list, because I didn’t love it as much as their previous work. This new project by ex-Felice Brother Simone Felice on the other hand is absolutely wonderful. Nothing Gold Can Stay is lyrically strong and contains heartbreaking storytelling wrapped into beautiful americana, folk and even country-soul songs. Nothing Gold Can Stay contains 10 songs and about 6-7 of them are either perfect or near-perfect. This one would probably have most songs on my imaginary best songs of the year list, but because there’s a few “only good” tunes as well, The Duke & The King has to settle for the bronze medal this time around.
2. The Avett Brothers: I and Love and You (American, 2009)
The Avett Brothers have been my favourite band for the past two years and therefore it almost hurts to drop this to the second place. It took me quite some time to make that decision, but in the end some serious soul searching revealed that if I’m honest I have to admit there is one album that I enjoyed even more than I and Love and You. This doesn’t mean that The Avett Brothers’ major label debut isn’t a brilliant record. It most certainly is. I do miss the banjo, but the new piano-driven direction suit me fine as well because they are still the finest songwriters out there. Maybe the ideal The Avett Brothers album would be half of this new material and half of the older rootsier material. Hopefully that will be the case on their live set at Debaser Slussen, Stockholm on 28th of march. I’ve got the tickets and I’m really looking forward to see my favourite band live.
1. Bobby Emmett: Learning Love (Self-released, 2009)
And the album of the year award goes to… Bobby Emmett. He is a Detroit-based musician who used to play in a great band called The Sights. After The Sights, he was bored and decided to make a solo record. And what a record it turn out to be. Hooray for boredom! Bobby Emmett’s debut album Learning Love is the real surprise of the year. A stunning power pop album. Perfect from start to finish. I just love every song on the album. He recorded Learning Love in his home studio with vintage equipment because “if you want to sound like the Beatles, Badfinger or Big Star you need to use the same mics and mixing boards they did” (a quote from this Metro Times article). Therefore it has a lot of that 70′s feel going on, but the closest comparison that I can think of is still Sloan. However, also those 70′s power pop bands like Cheap Trick, The Raspberries and Big Star do come to mind occasionally. But let’s stop that pointless namedropping for now. The reason why this is my album of the year, isn’t the fact that it was influenced by bands that I love. Thankfully a lot of bands still are influenced by 70′s power pop, but only a few of them can create such an amazing album as this. Learning Love is highly melodic, incredibly catchy and Bobby sings like an angel. The material ranges from straightforward melodic rock’n’roll to beautiful pop ballads and every song is a winner. It’s probably one of the finest power pop albums of the whole decade and I’m totally in love with it. Heck, I should even buy second copy for myself, because the postal journey from USA to Finland had been a little rough for the beautiful digipack case last time. Learning Love is extremely and monstrously highly recommended album if you have any interest in power pop and Bobby Emmett fully deserves the album of the year 2009 award.
January 13, 2010 § Leave a comment
This is a work in progress. I will update this page during the week and the whole list should be really before the end of the week. Anyway, here we go. One Chord to Another’s way too long albums of the year 2009 list.
40. The Munsons: Go With The Flow (Mufarang, 2009)
Tokela and Tommi Viksten went to Woodstock and recorded this beautiful album on Levon Helm’s studio. The big highlight of the album is their gorgeous remake of ZZ TOP’s Rough Boy. Hopefully one day they decide to make their own material, but these great versions of (mostly) old country, rockabilly, blues and 50′s rock’n’roll songs will do just fine for the time being.
I let this one pass me by when it was released, but about 3-4 weeks ago I thought I need to give it a chance. A very good decision, because I think it contains some really wonderful songs. The first half is pretty fabulous and the rockers Good and However Long stand out as my favourites. Nothing that I haven’t heard before there, but damn it just sound so good and incredibly enjoyable. The latter half is a bit less inspiring to me, but altogether ex-drive-by-trucker Jason Isbell has done really well with his new band. I prefer the material that is more rock and country instead of soul, but I suppose that’s just a personal preference.
38. Puumaja: Meriselityksiä (Quiet Life, 2009)
Maybe I haven’t listen to this one quite as much as some other albums on this list due to the fact that I already knew a lot of these songs beforehand. However, years haven’t made songs like Täydelliset kasvot and Ilon pilkkuja any less perfect and it’s a great thing that Puumaja’s debut album finally saw the light. If you enjoy things like Red House Painters and aren’t afraid of the beautiful finnish language, climb to the tree house and spend some restful time under the gentle guidance of Puumaja.
37. Yo La Tengo: Popular Songs (Matador, 2009)
Yo La Tengo is a bit difficult band for me because in general they are a bit too experimental for my taste, but they do have a certain pop sensibility that really appeals to me. This means that most of their albums have stuff that I really love and stuff that I don’t really care for at all. Popular Songs is no exception and therefore it’s a bit tricky to decide the place for this one on this list. The better half of it could be in the top 10 and the weaker half shouldn’t even be on the list. But as long as the albums have this much amazing material on them, I will keep on buying them.
36. Rose Melberg: Homemade Ship (K records, 2009)
Rose Melberg’s new solo album Homemade Ship is another lovely treasure. The song material might be slightly less marvellous than on the previous masterpiece Cast Away The Clouds, but there’s so much to enjoy here as well. Moon Singer and Things That We Do are the ones that I love the most, but everything sounds again oh so adorable, warm and beautiful.
35. Tinted Windows: Tinted Windows (S-Curve, 2009)
Tinted Windows made a great pop blast. The lyrics won’t win any poetry awards and Adam Schlesinger and James Iha have written better songs in the past, but the album is catchy as hell and it feels damn good to listen to it so what’s there not to like. And well Nothing To Me is a pretty perfect slice of Big Star-ish power pop if you ask me.
34. Dave Rawlings Machine: A Friend of a Friend (Acony Records, 2009)
Dave Rawlings stepped under the spotlight and this pretty amazing album saw the light. How about that Method Acting / Cortez The Killer double? Ain’t that one incredible cover song (well two cover songs glued together). Dave Rawlings Machine is so good that I almost want to complain that they are too professional. After all, I’m a bit more used to digest my country music with slightly rougher corners.
33. Kaspar: Kaspar (Inspiration Recordings, 2009)
A beautiful and moving folk album inspired by the life of Kaspar Hauser. In terms of overall quality, this probably warrants a higher place. Everything sounds pretty much perfect, but it’s a little heavy as a whole. Not that everything should be easy to digest, but this does require a bit of time and effort from the listener. But I suppose it’s a good thing that John McGregor and the Hakkarainen brothers forces simple pop fans like me to pay attention. A great album that isn’t for everyday use in this household, but when the time is right it reaches the core of my heart.
32. Cheap Trick: The Latest (2009)
After all these years, Cheap Trick is still going strong. Rockford was a very fine album indeed and The Latest follows the same path. I know some are even more thrilled about The Latest than I am. For me it’s not album of the year caliber, but it is a great rockin’ power pop album full of gorgeous songs. Oh and the verse of Everyday You Make Me Crazy sounds like Ben’s Diapers…
31. Cosmobile: Making Do (Fullsteam, 2009)
Cosmobile might not stylewise be totally my cup of tea, but it’s still often better to taste something unique and inspiring instead of some old yellow lipton. Making Do is their second full-lenght and it does get out of my comfort zone occasionally, because it’s a bit more twisted and rhythmic than what I’m used to. But it hardly matters because most of the material is extremely convincing.
30. Burning Hearts: Aboa Sleeping (Shelflife Records, 2009)
Burning Hearts is Jessika Rapo and Henry Ojala. You might know them from great pop bands Cats On Fire and Le Futur Pompiste, but this time they wanted do something different together. They succeeded in their quest pretty well. I Lost My Color Vision is one of the finest pop songs of the year and the rest of it is almost equally great (well apart from The Galloping Horse which is a reason why skip button was invented).
Pants Yell!’s latest almost flew under my radar, but in december I noticed that this great indie pop group had an album out on Slumberland Records. Received Pronunciation is again a delightful release. Just nine songs and 26 minutes, but that’s a perfect one time dose of these sweet pop songs about everyday life. Especially Rue de la Paix is a really wonderful song.
28. Camera Obscura: My Maudlin Career (4AD, 2009)
I’m a long time Camera Obscura fan, but somehow it took me a while to fall for My Maudlin Career. It required a few spins on my cd player, but my patience soon paid of and in the end it proved to be another great Camera Obscura album. Not their finest hour though, but especially the opening four songs are all marvellous. The rest might not reach the same level, but there’s nothing to complain about either. It’s a very fine pop album.
27. The Shazam: Meteor (Not Lame, 2009)
Awesome rockin’ power pop The Shazam returned and dropped this pop meteor into our hands. Like I said on the earlier review, Meteor does contain about 3 songs that I don’t like at all. However, the rest of it is SO AWESOME that it easily qualifies to the list. Catchy hook-filled power pop that also takes the “power” part of the term seriously. A most welcome comeback.
26. The Higher State: Darker By The Day (13 O’Clock Records, 2009)
Let’s rewind the clock back to late sixties. The Higher State is heavily influenced by 60′s west coast and are able to capture that sound quite perfectly. It’s almost like listening to some lost Byrds tapes. Obviously someone could argue that why don’t you just listen to the real things and forget the new bands trying to find that same magic. But I personally love 60′s influenced pop music. I suppose it comes down to songs and The Higher State are certainly able to write great songs.
25. Alela Diane: To Be Still (Rough Trade, 2009)
Alela Diane created an amazingly beautiful folk album To Be Still. Take Us Back and Every Path are such a magnificent songs and the whole album is full warmth. I really should dig deeper into music like this, because the last few years have shown that artists like Alela Diane can move me deeply. Perhaps a good start would be to finally buy the earlier Alela Diane album.
24. Dinosaur Jr: Farm (Pias, 2009)
And then something completely different. Dinosaur Jr. doesn’t need an introduction. They do what they do and they do it pretty damn well. Their second album after the reunion Farm doesn’t bring anything new to the table, but it is another great album from the band.
23. Samae Koskinen: Elossa (KHY Suomen musiikki, 2009)
Samae Koskinen’s second solo album Elossa is a great album and easily makes the cut. Sister Flo’s latest didn’t make it eventhough the quality was equally high (it just wasn’t totally my kind of record and this list is very subjective, Tragician’s Hat on the other hand would probably make the top 3 if I decide to make a list of best finnish albums of the decade). Oh and everyone should see the live performance of Samae Koskinen ja Hänen Taikabändinsä. They are so brilliant and neither of the solo albums can completely capture that same magic.
22. Chad Price: Smile Sweet Face (Suburban Home, 2009)
Chad Price is better known as the lead singer of the punk group All and alt.country outfit Drag The River, but he is certainly able to cut it as a solo artist as well. Smile Sweet Face is his solo debut and it’s a very fine album. Maybe that one killer song is missing, but the quality of the songs stays high throughout the record. His wonderful lyrics are a big part of the charm as well.
21. Magnolia Electric Co: Josephine (Secretly Canadian, 2009)
Magnolia Electric Co’s latest album Josephine was a concept album that paid tribute to their bassist Evan Farrell who passed away in december 2007. It’s not the easiest albums to listen to and sometimes the sadness is starting to get overwhelming. Therefore Josephine might not be an album that I listen to on a daily basis, but it sure is a beautiful and moving piece of music. In case you are wondering where is the Molina & Johnson album, I haven’t bought that one yet.
Ok.. it looks like this will turn out to be extremely long entry.. So I’ll make a part two for the top 20 albums. This new entry will follow soon..
January 12, 2010 § 1 Comment
Just a quick news round-up. I’ve missed several important bits during the christmas holidays.
CATS ON FIRE
New digital Cats On Fire single The Hague is available for free. It’s a co-release by Johanna Kustannus and Cosy Recordings. You can download it from the Cosy Recordings website.
I just noticed that Tink has two new songs on his myspace. A very very fine songs too I might add. My soundtrack for this late night.
Valley Below is getting ready to release their second album Dog Day. The release date is 22.01.2010, but you can already listen to three songs on their myspace. My favourite is the last one called Kick-Off. Somehow it makes me think of Poverty Stinks which is a good thing.
Oh.. and that albums of the year list. It’s actually finished. I’ll start the countdown thingy tomorrow evening / night and work from the 40th place to the album of the year. That album of the year should be revealed on sunday at the latest. I’ll try to add 10 every day and that would mean it should be done on friday night. But in case I’m busy it might take a day or two longer. I will see how many times I can still change my mind about the first place during this countdown. It was a battle between TAB and BE and I had a hard time deciding. But now I’m fairly confident that I’ve made my decision… or maybe not…
January 8, 2010 § Leave a comment
Austin Lucas’ latest country album is a really late entry to my upcoming albums of the year list and I think it will claim a really high spot on that list. I’m just completely addicted to his album Somebody Loves You eventhough I don’t even own a copy yet (one can listen to it on spotify or stream it on the label’s (Suburban Home) website). I’m definitely going to order it asap. Here’s a wonderful sample.
Oh and that list? Well it will definitely go until early next week before it’s finished, because I was again away from Turku for five days. Maybe I’ll do some sort of countdown starting on sunday / monday or thereabouts.