I’ve had the flu for the past 4-5 days or so and my head has been mostly a foggy mess. That’s why some of my pointless and not very interesting end of the year lists might be pushed until January. I felt decent enough today, so I got at least one done. So here are my favourite Finnish albums of the year. I hope I didn’t forget anything. I thought about extending it a bit further, because I would have wanted to squeeze in at least Swaying Wires and Michael McDonald. I kept on changing the last few spots several times and on another day they might have been on the list. There’s definitely a few that I haven’t really listened to enough yet as well. Talmud Beach, Mopo & Ville Leinonen and Pietarin Spektaakkeli for example might easily have the quality to be on this list, but I have only scratched the surface of those albums at this point.
10. Itä-Hollola Installaatio – Elävien aalloilla
I suppose I could find all kinds of flaws from Elävien aalloilla, but I’m not going to take an objective asshat route. I’m just gonna hit play and play it loud and love it. Two big personal Itä-Hollola Installaatio favourites Ystävä and Roskaa aren’t on this one, but it’s a damn fine and refreshing record nevertheless.
9. Matti Jasu and The Loose Train – Gone To The Dogs
Matti Jasu usually has a guaranteed spot on these best of lists and this year is no exception. Gone To The Dogs maybe could sound a little bit better, but the songs are mostly excellent and that matters far more. Bonus points for this superb music video.
8. Suomen Zorro – Muistan sinut Maria
I really like the songwriting of Petri Vähäsarja. I already knew a few of the best songs (Kuusi syliä, Seitteihin) from way back when and this might have a climbed a few spots if those weren’t already part of my DNA and therefore not such a big deal this year. Still happy that they were included, because those were definitely too good to leave out from a proper debut album. And there’s a bunch of great ones I had not heard like this Anniina.
7. Tuomo & Markus – Dead Circles
Finnish soul wizard Tuomo Prättälä and americana/folk singer-songwriter Markus Nordenstreng joined forces, headed to Tuczon, Arizona and made an album with people like John Stirratt, John Convertino, Joey Burns, Jakob Valenzuela, Pat Sansone, and Gary Louris. Maybe a surprisingly low position on this list, but I do feel that there’s a couple of songs here that aren’t much more than pleasant and nice. Not a huge complaint though, because 3/4 of it is gorgeous.
6. Kuningas Yrjö – Mustelma myrskyn silmässä
TV-Resistori and Hiljaiset kallot frontman Kuningas Yrjö released a solo album Mustelma myrskyn silmässä. Maybe a bit of a hit and miss kind of thing, but the great far outweights the not-that-special. Half of these songs are magnificent. Kuka vaan osaa nussii is the (should be) hit, but the biggest highlight for me is this song called Carpenters.
5. Is This Really Me – The Iron Door
Moving on to the top 5 that were in their own league for me. Is This Really Me’s debut full-length The Iron Door has been on heavy rotation during these last few months. They created a moving and thoughtful album by gently combining 70s folk and indie pop. Bonus points for the cover art and beautiful LP+CD combo package.
4. Jukka Nousiainen – Jukka Nousiainen
There probably should have been far more praise for this guy here over the years, but I haven’t felt that it was that necessary because it would be mostly just praising to the choir type of thing-y and there’s nothing I can add to the story that hasn’t been covered in the real music media. I love him, you love him. It’s all love. The new record is obviously fantastic. Badding meets Jolly Jumpers in a mildly psychedelic environment. Lonely Rider and Sun kanssas mä lähden minne vaan are some of the finest songs of the year. I should buy the vinyl, because I only own the early cassette release and therefore haven’t listened to this nowhere near enough (I dig the diy spirit behind tapes, but don’t just own a cassette deck anymore. Only a crappy boombox type of thing that is often buried in the closet).
3. Kuparilinna – Kuparilinna
70s Soviet folk rock, Finnish schlager, 60s psychedelic pop blended together. What could possibly go wrong? Well nothing apparently, because this turned out to be such a brilliant album.
2. Sur-rur – Ihmisiä nurmikolla
I bet the few regular readers didn’t see this coming. Well I didn’t either a few weeks ago, but damn how I fell in love with this record. I don’t even have a physical copy yet, but I’ll grab that from the local store when I’ve managed to shake off this flu. I’ve always had a huge amount of respect towards Sur-rur, but I can’t say that they’ve been that important to me. Or that I’ve even listened to them that much. But now. Oh hell yeah. Väität olevasi tyytyväinen, Vesiposti suihkuaa & Nykyaikainen sydän keskiaikaisessa huoneessa. Oh my. What a brilliant trio of songs and the rest don’t fall far behind. Ihmisiä nurmikolla is a wonderful album.
1. Mikko Joensuu – Amen 1
And the imaginary Finnish album of the year award goes to Amen 1 by Mikko Joensuu. I wasn’t even that big of a fan before hearing this first part of the Amen trilogy, but this instantly won my heart over. In the end, this turned out to be a very easy decision. I just love this album wholeheartedly. The serene, fragile and hymnal beauty of this is something out of this world. A little bit of Leonard and Townes and a whole lot of Mikko Joensuu. Amen 2 is obviously great as well and probably would have ended somewhere in the middle of this pack, but Mikko has to settle for this one spot because I already had such a heartbreaking task to cut this into a top 10.