Top 10 Finnish Albums of the Year 2017

This is a good day for the next chapter of the year-end lists. These are my favourite Finnish albums of the year. There might be some surprise omissions. At least to me and it sure hurts to leave out some of my favourite artists, but this is how it went today. Thankfully most of those will get their moment under the spotlight on the songs of the year list. As if spotlight and this little blog have anything in common. Alphabetical order would probably be better because I kept on changin the order several times while I was making this and even in general it’s a bit silly to rank albums in order. Music is life, not a contest. Anyway, here it goes.

TOP 10 FINNISH ALBUMS OF THE YEAR 2017

10.The Lieblings – Let Them Have It

The Lieblings can do the honors and kickstart the list with a thoroughly enjoyable fuzzy pop blast Let Them Have It. It’s a damn good energy booster, when all the sad bastard stuff that I listen to way too much is bringing me down.

9. Pöllöt – Metsäpalo

When it comes to Pöllöt, I think I’ve always liked the songs Janne Kauppinen has written (or what I assume are his songs), but sometimes I’ve struggled a little bit with the work of the other two songwriters Jaakko Tolvi and Jukka Herva. I think the struggles are behind me now. The album Metsäpalo has been a real grower during the year and I’m beginning to understand the brilliance of the band.

8. Daisy – Ornament & Crime

Daisy returned from their long hiatus and released a brand new album Ornament & Crime. It’s definitely great to have them back, because they still know how to write brilliant pop songs.

7. Hullu Ruusu – Hullu Ruusu

Next some blissfully twisted folk songs from Hullu Ruusu whose debut album came out on Helmi levyt this fall. There were some moments that felt even somewhat annoying during the first listening sessions, but those days are long gone and it’s all love from now on. It’s unique, fun and captivating. I haven’t spent enough time with it yet and it might have claimed a higher place, if I had started listening to it sooner than just some weeks ago.

6. Koria Kitten Riot – Songs of Hope and Science

A long time favourite Koria Kitten Riot released their latest Songs of Hope and Science back in January and I carried it with me throughout the year and I have no intention of letting it go. There’s a giant cloud of guilt hanging over me, because I haven’t really praised this enough. This is high quality pop music and somewhere quite close to the foundation of my music taste.

5. Hulda Huima ja Hitaat Sekunnit – Hulda Huima ja Hitaat Sekunnit

This Hulda Huima ja Hitaat Sekunnit album has been the surprise of the year for me. I think I’ve listened to this more than any other Finnish album and therefore I certainly could make a case for it being even the top pick. It’s just super catchy and despite some darker topics listening to it is a whole lot of fun. I probably should not listen to this in public places, because it’s impossible to hum-along during the choruses.

4. Salaliitto – Melankolia

Hurts a little bit to leave this beauty out from the top 3 and on another day it could be there. The new Salaliitto album wasn’t as instantly catchy as I expected after that incredible monster single Korpit, but after a few spins I loved the rest of it just as much.

3. Astrid Swan – From the Bed and Beyond

Astrid Swan created a remarkable album From the Bed and Beyond. The album was written in the aftermath of her breast cancer diagnose and it’s both fragile and powerful. I’m especially fond of the middle part of the album from Skeleton Woman to Special Ones. Incredible run of songs.

2. Vähäsarja – Uusi iloinen Petri

Vähäsarja continues to rip me apart, but I don’t mind because he does it so tenderly and is kind enough to put back all the pieces he tore out and in the process somehow is able to make me feel less damaged than before. Ok, the “vielä eilen pidit mua” line and the way he delivers it on the song Ajan autoa is just pure annihilation, but that’s still the moment I love the most on this record. A wonderful songwriter and a brilliant album.

1. Litku Klemetti – Juna Kainuuseen

The Finnish album of the Year 2017 is Juna Kainuuseen by Litku Klemetti. So obvious choice, but how could I possibly pick anything else. It’s not a perfect record though. I think there’s a few songs in the middle that aren’t anything that special, but I don’t really mind, because more than half of it is absolutely tremendous. Especially the ending trio Muurahaiset juhlii, Tähtiyö and Juna Kainuuseen is just whoa! and out of this world. It has also been fun to follow the rise of Litku. I’m a daily victim of the format radio and being forced to listen to it at work often makes me lose a) the will to live b) the hope that good music can be successful. Therefore I’m thrilled to see someone magnificent like Litku Klemetti beating the odds and getting a lot of recognition. Sure the level of her success might not actually be nowhere near as high as it looks like from my bubble, but I try not to think about it like that. She is absolutely wonderful and Juna Kainuuseen is the best Finnish album of the year.

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Top 10 EPs of the Year 2017

So it begins and a bunch of pointless, way too long and entirely subjective end-year lists are heading your way during the coming weeks. Sorry about that. The plan is to make The Finnish albums of the year list on Wednesday and international albums next weekend and then take a little breather before the songs of the year lists. No definite promises though. Things might take far longer. Anyway, time to get it all started with Top 10 EPs of the year 2017. I didn’t make separate lists for Finnish and international.

TOP 10 EPS OF THE YEAR 2017

10. Paper Beat Scissors – All We Know

Montreal-based Paper Beat Scissors aka Tim Crabtree always challenge my own taste. When I have his music just playing there on the background, I might not find a whole lot to hold on to and I might feel like that there’s nothing for me here. However, when I put the headphones on and devote myself to the music, I begin to see the light and the haunting melancholic beauty of the songs eventually lure me into a magical and dazzlingly beautiful atmosphere. Didn’t Know and The Weather Station cover are my particular favorites on this new EP.

9. Pinkerton/Black – How’s the Weather Over There

Henry Black could easily have his debut ep Folk is Dead on this little list as well, but I kind of prefer this tour ep he did with Riley Pinkerton. Maybe this is not really even a proper release, but hey my list my rules and I’m very fond of this. Due to reasons that a) Looked Like Eve is my favorite Henry Black song I’ve heard so far b) this one has 3 excellent songs from both artists.

8. Michael Nau – Load

Michael Nau’s Load EP contains songs from same the pool as the ones that formed his Some Twist album, but somehow these didn’t fit into the full-length. It certainly doesn’t sound like the reason was the quality of the songs, because these are just as lovely.

7. MAITA – Waterbearer

MAITA’s debut EP came out in January and kept its charm throughout the year. I like the whole thing and I’m passionately in love with the title song Waterbearer that reminds me of Laura Veirs. I look forward to hearing more songs from this Portland-based indie-folk songwriter.

6. Hip Hatchet – Hellhound in the House

Hip Hatchet released a wonderful Hellhound in the House EP in January. These are all protest songs and we would all be better off, if the world was in a state where there wasn’t a need for these songs to be born. Unfortunately that’s not the case and therefore we must live, love and resist. The other two songs are really good too, but Burden of an Empath is the song that I really love wholeheartedly. One of my absolute favourite 2017 songs. Despite all the overwhelming sadness, I still feel like the beauty, warmness and love is able to overshadow the darkness in that song. That is where the hope lies and that is what we are also seeing taking place. People coming together and standing up against the lack of compassion and empathy. To love is not a weakness. Love is the way.

5. Matt Paxton – Hunter Street Station Blues

Canadian Matt Paxton is a long time favourite and claim a place on these lists nearly every year. His 2017 release is a marvellous EP Hunter Street Station Blues. I’m a big fan of his songwriting and that voice always grap my attention. I think this lead track Baby Don’t Go is actually the worst song on the EP. The worst meaning still pretty amazing in this case of course.

4. Verandan – Verandan EP

Ville Hopponen is stepping under the spotlight with his own songs. He has been or is a member of such great bands like Cats On Fire, Le Futur Pompiste and The New Tigers and therefore the man is partly responsible of some of the finest Finnish indie pop albums ever. Verandan shows that besides being a skilled musician, he is also a really good songwriter.

3. Julie Arsenault – Softness

This is a last minute entry in a sense that I just bought it. I had this Julie Arsenault EP on the shopping list for months and thought that it’s time take appropriate action and support the artist by buying the release. Now I’ve been listening to it for hours and it’s even better than I remembered. Chain and Monsters are sort of phenomenal and the whole EP is a treasure.

2. Bone Moon – The Writer

The other Finnish entry to this list and therefore this would be the Finnish EP of the year, if I had such a category Bone Moon is a new group led by Lauri Myllymäki. Ochre Room called it a day, but no worries because Bone Moon is equally wonderful. Sure I miss Minttu’s vocals a little bit, because I loved how beautifully they sang together. Hopefully Bone Moon will release a full-length in 2018, because I sure would love to hear more after this tremendous EP.

1. Charlie Whitten – Playwright

Playwright by Charlie Whitten is the EP of the year 2017. Actually it’s one of my favourite releases of the year in general. Probably only The Weather Station album mattered more to me than this magnificent EP. I can listen to these four songs repeatedly for hours. These are timeless, heartfelt and beautifully arranged folk songs. It feels like a lot of thought and love went to each line, note and detail. The songwriting is magnificent, but the way he warmly and softly carries them into my heart is even more impressive. A perfect EP on all accounts.

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Lokit – Blades of Steel (song+video)

I’m eagerly waiting to hear a full-length album from Lokit. I just love pretty much every song I’ve heard so far. Great songs with gorgeous vocals, beautiful melodies and 90s indie rock vibes. I’ve been living under the impression that the album was actually coming out sometime in 2017, but we are close to December now, so it doesn’t seem too likely. I guess I don’t have to save a place for it on my top 3 Finnish albums of the year list anymore. Oh well, one more reason to carry on doing this blog in 2018, so I can praise the Lokit album when it eventually arrives. However, the first outtake Blades of Steel from the forthcoming album is out and available and it’s an excellent contender for the Finnish song of the year category.

Lokit at Facebook

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Antti Alanko – Minne mieleni pakenet?

Finnish fingerstyle / slide guitarist Antti Alanko has a new album out and available. It’s called Minne mieleni pakenet? and the title fits the music perfectly. The mind sure has a tendency to start wondering when I put the headphones on and rest a while in the arms of these melodies and soundscapes. These songs are definitely best when heard live (well what music isn’t), but the whole thing does work beautifully on a record as well. My personal favorites during the live shows has been the ones he has played with Weissenborn, so I have to go with Weissenborn Improv in G Minor on this little blog entry even though it might not be the finest choice for introduction purposes. You can hear/buy the whole thing on his Bandcamp.

Antti Alanko / Devil Box Website

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Astrid Swan – From The Bed and Beyond

The year is soon closing in and I still haven’t featured the most powerful Finnish album of 2017 even though it came out fairly early in the year on Soliti Music. I’ve struggled to find the proper words that would even remotely do justice to the fragile beauty of this album. I still haven’t found the words, but I can’t hold this back any longer. From The Bed and Beyond by Astrid Swan is a work of art and demands to be heard. The album was written in the aftermath of her breast cancer diagnose and she binds together fear, grief and hope in such a convincing manner that holding back the tears turns out to be impossible. The fragility of being a human expressed with powerful clarity and deep-rooted honesty. I love this album, but I hate that there was a reason for it to be born.

Astrid Swan Website

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Vasas Flora och Fauna – Veneziansk Afton

Vasas Flora och Fauna released a new album Veneziansk Afton back in September and it’s a crime that it has not been mentioned here. I’ve loved the work of Mattias Björkas since the fairly early days of Cats on Fire and I don’t expect that to ever change. Listening to Vasas Flora och Fauna always make me want to work on my Swedish language skills, because I feel like I’m missing out on part of the magic, because I can only understand about half of it. Maybe a little more by reading the lyrics. This stumbling block that my rusty Swedish created thankfully isn’t strong enough to stop these beautiful melodies reaching my heart. My favourite one on the new Vasas Flora och Fauna album is the wistfully beautiful Min Förtvivlan. Bonus point that there’s a moment in the song that makes me think of Leevi & The Leavings. Minus point because it drives me crazy that I’m not able to pinpoint the exact Leevi song. Veneziansk Afton is now out on Startracks.

Vasas Flora och Fauna Website

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