Merry Christmas and Yuletunes

December 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

It’s the 20th anniversary of the best Christmas compilation Yuletunes. The album contains a huge amount of fantastic holiday songs. One of them is my all-time favourite Christmas song, Big People’s Piece For Christmas (a classic among Räkärodeo listeners). Lulu is probably wondering why I’m posting her home video every year. This is Big People and Piece For Christmas.

Herb Eimerman recently made a video for his great contribution on this compilation. The song is entitled You Gave Me.

And last but not least. Here’s Material Issue’s fabulous Yuletunes song Merry Christmas Will Do.

And why not a couple of newer ones as well. The Swedish power pop heroes The Genuine Fakes made a version of Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas couple years back and it’s included on Thistime Records’ new Christmas compilation.

And a repost of the new Joe Algeri & The Sugarbrits tune is also a must. This one has a Finnish connection as well, because The Sugarrush guys are playing on this one. And Joe Algeri is obviously massive in Finland.

This was the last post before the new year, so Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone. See you in 2012. I try to get EPs of the year and the reissues of the year lists done right after the holidays. I was just too lazy to finish the EP year list before Christmas, but I want to do it because there were some really great ones like The Genuine Fakes, Marmalakes, Hurricane Fighter Plane, The Wonderminers, Burning Hearts… And well I couldn’t make the reissue of the list yet because I always buy some of those as a Christmas present to myself. This year I have the Mickey Newbury set and The Poets anthology waiting for me under the Christmas tree. But I try to get those lists done in early january. Take care folks.


The Milk Carton Kids (stunning albums for free!)

December 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

First. Big thank you to Norwegian No Deal Music for introducing this to me. I found the The Milk Carton Kids from No Deal Music’s year-end list a few days before finishing mine. I liked them so much I was on the verge of putting the album to my list as well (and on a fairly high place as well). In the end, I decided not to, because I wasn’t sure is it my year end list, if I include a record that I just found from another blog a minute ago and have not even heard about beforehand. However, this is so fantastic stuff, that I need to make this small post to tell you that I love The Milk Carton Kids. Two guys (Kenneth Pattengale & Joey Ryan) playing guitars and singing their hearts out. Folk songs with lovely harmonies. Simple formula, but works perfectly. You can download their two albums for free on their website!

As It Must Be from Retrospect

I Still Want a Little More from Prologue

The Milk Carton Kids Website

Cats on Fire – My Sense Of Pride

December 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

Because I’ve selected the album of the year 2011, I can focus on selecting the album of the year 2012. Cats on Fire’s upcoming third album will be a major contender in that contest. The first outtake from the upcoming album was released today by Soliti Music. My Sense of Pride is again a wonderful song and the finest indie pop band in the world is still on top form. Album will be released by Soliti in the spring of 2012.

Esa Linna featuring Roger Joseph Manning Jr.

December 16, 2011 § 2 Comments

Esa Linna’s debut single She’s Not A Human Being is now out and available (at least on iTunes, other digital stores should follow soon). It’s a great power pop song, Roger Joseph Manning Jr. sings backing vocals and plays keyboards, Ty Tabor mastered it and it’s about a cat. I love power pop, I love Jellyfish and I really love cats. So what could be better than this?

Songs of the Year 2011

December 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

My song favourites were already covered in those round-up posts and therefore this list might be a little useless. I still decided to make some kind of list of my biggest love affairs. Because I’m extremely logical person, this time I just put Finland and rest of the world into the same basket and started picking up my favourite songs. Top 10 is a small amount and it could be a lot longer without any drop in the quality. But I don’t want bother with you another long list. And in case you are wondering why there are no songs from my albums of the year, Mummypowder and The Deep Dark Woods, the fact is that I just love those albums in their entirety and it would be difficult to pick just one song (+ my biggest favourites from those records are not on soundcloud or bandcamp). So they are not included, but here are ten songs that I really love.

10. Carmen & The Devil: Love Drove My Baby Away
– Wonderful song. Ok, it is a little bit too much to call this “demo” 10th best song in the world, but I can’t leave it out. This is my year-end list and this is a song that I love. Why should I pick some “better” song that I’ve listened to ten times instead of this beauty which I have listened to a hundred times.

9. Pickering Pick – Like A River
Pickering Pick’s Tiger Palm was one of the last albums I had to leave out of the albums of the year list. Mostly because Pickering Pick is quite a heavy thing to digest on an album length for me. Works better in small doses and Like A River and Ballad For Leaving are both among the most beautiful songs of the year.

8. Marmalakes – Balmorhea
– The second Marmalakes EP Even Clothed was one of the late addictions. This young band from Austin is pretty fantastic and I have high hopes for them. Especially this last song of the EP, Balmorhea, is something truly wonderful.
7. Dolorean – Country Clutter
– Beautiful in a fucked up kind of way. Country Clutter is the the highlight of Dolorean’s wonderful fourth album The Unfazed.

6. Mirel Wagner – No Death
– This young Finnish folk/blues singer-songwriter released a stunning debut album and this song is out of this world.

5. Chris Bathgate – Salt Year
Chris Bathgate’s album Salt Year is a beauty. It has several magical folk songs. Choosing between Poor Eliza and the title track Salt Year is difficult, but at the moment Salt Year is my favourite.
4. Samae Koskinen – Hän, jolla on kaikki
– The best Finnish song of the year. Beautiful, genuine and heartfelt. A perfect song.

3. Hezekiah Jones – Lift the Shadow from This Heart
– Hard to choose between this one and Borrowed Heart that was not on the album. Lift the Shadow from This Heart takes a light edge, because it’s the song that started my love affair with Hezekiah Jones.

2. Dawes – If I Wanted Someone
– 70’s influenced folk rock with harmonies. My kind of music. If I had the ability to write music, it would either be power pop or something like this. One amazing song.

1. Small Houses – Late July
– And the song of the year award goes to Small Houses aka Jeremy Quentin. Late July might not be anything earth-shattering and it might not be the most amazing composition of the year. But for me this is a unique and magical folk song and I love it as much as its possible to love a song.

Small Houses – “Late July” from Spencer Wells on Vimeo.

Video of the Day #81 – Hurricane Fighter Plane

December 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

Australian Hurricane Fighter Plane is one of my new favourite bands. I really enjoyed their self-titled EP few months ago and I’ve been a dedicated follower of Hurricane Fighter Plane ever since. New vinyl single I Can’t Win / Leaving Town is coming out soon. Launch gig for the single is on friday 16th of december. You probably don’t need further details about the concert, because it’s pretty far away from Finland. However, you really should check out this cool video Alistair Walsh directed for the a-side I Can’t Win. That’s one amazing song and a late candidate for the top 10 songs of the year list. If you are into this, check out the excellent b-side Leaving Town on their facebook.

Hurricane Fighter Plane Website
Hurricane Fighter Plane at Facebook

Albums of the Year 2011 – The International Edition (15-1)

December 13, 2011 § 1 Comment

15. Andreas Mattsson – Kick Death’s Ass

It’s certainly wise to listen to old Popsicle records from time to time, because those are some of the best power pop albums ever released, but don’t forget that Andreas Mattsson is still on top form. Nowadays his music is much more peaceful than during the golden Popsicle days, but the quality is still there. Ok, I’m not sure have I ever listened to the first song Jazzmaster in its entirety, but the rest of Andreas Mattsson’s latest solo album Kick Death’s Ass is amazingly beautiful pop music. This is the wonderful first single AA.


14. Daniel Romano – Sleep Beneath The Willow

Canadian Daniel Romano released one of the best traditional country albums. Sleep Beneath The Willow is a beauty. Some of it sounds a bit like Gram Parsons, almost all of it sounds excellent. Full of great songs like Hard On You, Lost (For As Long As I Live), Louise, There Are Lines in My Face. Daniel Romano is totally mastering this country ballad thing.

13. Hezekiah Jones – Have You Seen Our New Fort?

Philly-based folk collective Hezekiah Jones (led by Raphael Cutrufello) has become more and more important during the year. Couple weeks back I bought their back catalogue and my feelings towards this most recent release are also getting stronger and stronger every day. Have You Seen Our New Fort? contains some of the most magical music released during the year. There’s also a couple of songs I’m not too keen on and that’s why I had to be honest and leave it outside top 10 even though it breaks my heart. However, the gentle ones like Lift The Shadow From This Heart, Last Parade on Ann St, Traffic To The Sea.. oh my. Speechless.


12. Dolorean – The Unfazed

Al James’ Dolorean is climbing towards the top all the time. I enjoyed the previous album, but The Unfazed was the first Dolorean release that completely won my heart over (I haven’t even heard the first two though). I’m especially addicted to the first trio Thinskinned, Country Clutter and The Unfazed. Amazing songs each and every one. The track that first caught my attention was this ultimate break-up song Country Clutter.

11. Sloan – The Double Cross

As the title of the website shows, Sloan is an important group for me. The new album The Double Cross is once again marvellous. This legendary Canadian band has been around for 20 years and are still going strong. The Double Cross is one of my favourite pop albums of the year. An absolute joy to listen to. This is the first single The Unkind.

10. Ryan Adams – Ashes & Fire

As a long time Ryan Adams fan, I’m excited about each and every one of his releases, but I couldn’t be happier that he decided to take this slower & beautiful route this time around. I admit that Ashes & Fire felt a little boring for the few first times when I listened to it, but the reasons were that a) I was being an idiot b) I wasn’t paying enough attention, it was just playing on the background. Then one day I just went for a walk, put Ryan on my iPod and he injected all this beauty into my head and I saw the light. Ashes & Fire is a wonderful album and easily in the better half of the fantastic Ryan Adams back catalogue.

9. Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit – Here We Rest

During the first six songs, this is an album of the year contender. The quality drops just a hint after that, but don’t worry. The rest of this is really good as well. Just not as friggin’ great and magical as the first half of the album. Anyway, Jason Isbell has once again proved that he is one of the best songwriters in the genre (or in general for that matter). Here We Rest always had a cemented place in the top 10.

8. Patrick Sweany – That Old Southern Drag

Soulful blues rock doesn’t usually rule my year-end lists, but Patrick Sweany’s That Old Southern Drag is a magnificent record. Blues, soul and 50’s rock’n’roll. A perfect combination. I can fully agree with Jorma Kaukonen who said that “If there was any justice in this old world, Patrick Sweany would already be a big star!”.


7. Chris Bathgate – Salt Year

Chris Bathgate from Ann Arbor, Michigan is another great folk troubadour I found during the year (thanks to Slowcoustic) and I’m also currently working through his back catalogue. A Cork Tale Wake just arrived on my doorstep today. A good reason to get this album of the year list finished, so I can slip that one to the cd player. Anyway, Salt Year is a beautiful work of art. Just listen to this magnificent title track and you will understand it too.


6. Small Houses – North

More Michigan-based folk artists. Let’s put these albums one after another, because it’s impossible to say which one I love the most. In the end, Small Houses gets the sixth spot, because it contains my favourite song of the year. Ok, I haven’t really finished that list yet, but during the last weeks I’ve had the feeling that it has to be Late July by Small Houses. I just love every second of it. Well done Small Houses and Jeremy Quentin. And no, Late July is not the only great song on the album. I’m just always focusing on it, because I love it almost too much.

Small Houses – “Late July” from Spencer Wells on Vimeo.

5. Austin Lucas – A New Home in The Old World

Austin Lucas is an older favourite, but he showed some new tricks this time around. More electric Austin sounded equally great as the one I knew before and A New Home in the Old World might be his best record to date (even though it’s pretty hard to top Somebody Loves You). Excellent record with a lot of versatility. I’ve listened to it an awful lot during the year and can’t get tired of it.

4. Jessica Lea Mayfield – Tell Me

An early favourite that kept me hooked through the whole year and I’m still addicted to Jessica Lea Mayfield’s second album Tell Me. I love that mellow voice and Dan Auerbach has done an excellent job with the production. I never though that me and drum loops could see eye to eye, but apparently we do in this case. The key attraction is of course Jessica and her beautifully written folk songs. Often dark, but always beautiful. This one below is called Somewhere in Your Heart.

3. Dawes – Nothing Is Wrong

The guy looks a bit like young Bruce Willis and writes songs like Jackson Browne and Eagles did in the 70s. How could a person not love Taylor Goldsmith. The second Dawes album instantly won my heart over. The whole album is gorgeous and the first two songs Time Spent in Los Angeles and If I Wanted Someone are out of this world. The finest 70’s influenced folk rock. This one below is also one of my top 3 songs for the year 2011. If I Wanted Someone by Dawes.

2. Glossary – Long Live All Of Us

Glossary’s soulful rock found the core of my heart late in the year and their delightful album Long Live All Of Us brought plenty of light and warmness to these dark november/december nights. The whole thing is fantastic and every single track is a winner. Therefore it’s almost pointless to start naming favourite tracks. Everything works.


1. The Deep Dark Woods – The Place I Left Behind

Well this comes as no surprise to anyone who has been regularly reading this blog. The Place I Left Behind by The Deep Dark Woods is the album of the year 2011 here at These Canadians just released something truly wonderful. “Beautiful lead vocals, rich harmonies and warm sounds gently collide with sad & lonesome thoughts, gloomy & dark stories.. and even old-fashioned murder ballads” I wrote on my short my review back then and that still sums up my thoughts rather nicely. Ryan Boldt and co are my new heroes and The Place I Left Behind is a perfect folk rock album.. And the Album of the Year 2011.

Sugar Mama:

West Side Street:

The Deep Dark Woods discuss their new album The Place I Left Behind.

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