photo #1 Ilkka Valpasvuo
photo # 2 Ilkka Valpasvuo
Here are the new reviews. New ones will be added to the top.
Old reviews are here.
Please note that I'm a music fan, not a music critic
Please note that I love music, but I don't know anything about it
Please note that this review section seems like a bad joke, but most of
the music reviewed here sounds like heaven.
New Hasty Reviews (starting october 2008):
Halstead: Oh! Mighty Engine (Brushfire Records, 2008)
Neil Halstead is a big hero of mine and I'm a huge Mojave 3 fan
(yeah Slowdive was great as well, but nothing compared to Mojave 3). Oh!
Mighty Engine is his second solo album and it kind of gives me the same
feelings as the first one Sleeping On Roads. Really good music, but it
isn't able to reach the same heights as Mojave 3. Oh! Mighty Engine makes
Neil become a soft folkie who is singing really warm and gentle music.
Well no news there I suppose. That beautiful voice would sound warm even
if it was singing Ben & Jerry's adverts. The quality of the songs
is actually really good, but in an album lenght that soft guitar playing
and warm singing is almost starting to get boring even if individually
each song would sound wonderful. Oh! Mighty Engine is still a must have
album for fans of Neil Halstead, but perhaps either Mojave 3 or Slowdive
is a better way to start for newcomers.
Halstead at myspace
Sera Cahoone: Only As The Day Is Long (Sub Pop, 2008)
I can't say that I'm really passionate about Sera Cahoone's solo
debut Only As The Day Is Long, but maybe I should be, because it's damn
hard to find anything wrong with it. Sera Cahoone's songs leans strongly
to country tradition and should go down well among music freaks because
nowadays this indie folk thing seem to be hotter than Winona on Reality
Bites. Only As The Day Is Long isn't a happy album, but thankfully it
isn't completely devastating either. It's a sad & beautiful world
like that Linkous boy used to sing. Sera Cahoone has created a good album
full of beautiful country and folk songs. I only hope that next time the
peaks will rise even higher, because eventhough this is all good material,
there's nothing really earthshattering on the album.
Cahoone at myspace
Louris: Vagabonds (Rykodisc, 2008)
Vagabonds is actually a really good album, but it's also
one of the biggest dissapointments of the year. This is because former
Jayhawk Gary Louris has been one of the greatest songwriters and vocalists
of the last 15 years or so and I tend to expect much more than just a
really good album from him. Basicly Vagabonds didn't have much chance,
because if it wasn't the album of the year I would be dissapointed. There's
only one song that I don't like at all and it's I
Wanna Get High which might suit the producer Chris Robinson's band
The Black Crowes much better than Gary Louris. Other than that, Vagabonds
is full of good songs that circle around the areas of country, folk and
americana. The big problem is that while it's all good it still lacks
the greatness of his earlier material and isn't anyhow that remarkable
or unforgettable. I suppose Gary Louris is another victim of his own glorious
past and it's starting to be damn hard for him to please these hardcore
losers that are not worthy of criticizing him.
Gary Louris Website
Louris at myspace
Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan: Sunday at Devil
Dirt (V2, 2008)
Last night I didn't like Mark Lanegan that much, but now I like
him a lot. This is because now there's Isobel's soft humming giving that
much needed contrast for Mark's dark convincing voice. Eventhough this
too gets a bit too scary and dark at times, beautyness is also around
and you can breath easily. Still my favourite ones are the lighter ones
like Who Built The Road that is somewhere
between Nick Cave's murder ballad duets and The Walkabouts (hmm did I
say light). Sunday At Devil Dirt contains dark & beautiful folk-blues
songs and it sounds damn convincing all the time. There's one slight worry
though. It does require a certain melancholic mood and often I just don't
feel like listening to it. That is actually the only reason this falls
out from the 4 1/2 category. Whenever I feel like listening to it I love
Sunday At Devil Dirt, but I rarely do want to listen to it.
Campbell at myspace
Ben Weaver: The Ax In The Oak (Bloodshot Records,
I really loved Ben Weaver's previous album Paper Sky, but unfortunately
this new album The Ax In The Oak doesn't evoke similar feelings. It's
still beautiful americana and folk music with some electronic backgrounds,
but somehow it feels that the experimental side is now taking too much
space from the traditional songwriting. And when the songs and melodies
aren't as wonderful as before, I'm starting to have much more doubts about
the electronic elements. However, I still love his lyrics and the melancholic
dark mood of the music. The only problem is that only Soldier's
War and Anything With Words are really
great songs. The Ax In The Oak is not a bad album, but my expectations
were a lot higher.
Weaver at myspace
Quarter After: Changes Near (The Committee To Keep Music Evil, 2008)
The Quarter After ticks all the right boxes for me. It's 60's/70's
influenced psychedelic pop/folk music, it brings The Byrds and Gene Clark's
solo albums to my mind, there's great songs and pretty harmonies, "right"
people like Matthew Sweet and Ric Menck feature as guests and Nelson Bragg
even is/was a member of the band. So no wonder I really like the album.
By big favourite songs are Early Morning Rider
and Nothing Out Of Something. The first
one is a perfect piece of 60's flavoured harmonic pop music and Nothing
Out Of Something sounds like a lost outtake from Gene Clark's album No
Other (this is not the only song where the vocalists sound a lot like
Gene). There are plenty of other great songs on the album as well, but
some also fall into that "pretty good but nothing spectacular"
category. Totally my kind of music and part of me wants to raise the grade,
but a guess I have to be honest..
Quarter After Website
Quarter After at myspace
Gutter Twins: Saturnalia (Sub Pop, 2008)
The Gutter Twins aka Mark Lanegan and Greg Dulli. Eventhough I
haven't been as huge fan of them as some of my friends, hearing those
names still means that I would really like to love the record. Therefore
I ended up giving them lots of chances, but in the end I have to stop
lying to myself and admit that I just don't love the album. It just gets
too dark and depressive. Perhaps you can argue that I mostly listen to
dark and depressive songs but I favour different kind of darkness. It's
different to feel depressed because your dreamgirl is banging the next
door neighbour than to feel depressed because an army of hungry bats is
ready to eat your balls if you let your guard down for second. Therefore
my favourite song on Saturnalia is Seven Stories
Underground because at least it's musically lighter. The first
two songs Stations and God's
Children are really good though and recall The Afghan Whigs in
a good way. Perhaps Mark Lanegan's vocals is a big reason why I don't
love this. The man is too convincing and his gloomy voice makes this a
bit too dark for me (because there isn't Isobel's soft humming giving
much needed contrast).
Gutter Twins Website
Gutter Twins at myspace
Astrid Swan: Spartan Picnic (Johanna Kustannus, 2008)
Astrid Swan's second album Spartan Picnic was released in february 2008
and it's full of powerful piano-driven pop music. I have a bit mixed-up
feelings about the album. I absolutely love these strong, energic pop
songs like As Long As It's Not You and For
Those Who Drown and I adore the last two tracks Sea/e
Life that grows into a gorgeous duet and the beautiful ending Who's
Gonna Hold You. On the other hand, some of the songs are a bit
too ambitious and artistic for a fan of three chord pop songs and country
whining. Basicly I mean that songs like What Does
The Pink Mean and Come Slowly Home
are too good for me and I should just go back to watching Idols reruns.
In a nutshell I love about half of Spartan Picnic and I can understand
the value of the other half but it just isn't my cup of tea. If you are
looking for great piano-driven pop music, Astrid Swan is an excellent
Swan at myspace
The Black Crowes: Warpaint (Silver Arrow, 2008)
The Black Crowes' latest album Warpaint has been one of the surprises
of the year for me and it's mostly Kolibri Kasino's fault that I got into
this mess. The reason why I started to like this record is obviously the
country rock side of it, but soon I noticed that this blues rock isn't
bad either. Ok, I admit that that a few times that endless boogie and
too much of jamming starts to annoy me and I might love Warpaint more
if all the songs were 30-60 seconds shorter. It's still a really good
record with some fantastic songs like Goodbye Daughters
Of The Revolution, Oh Josephine, Locust Street and There's
Gold In Them Hills.
Black Crowes Website
Black Crowes at myspace
Death Cab For Cutie: Narrow Stairs (Atlantic, 2008)
It was bloody scary to hear the first single from Death Cab For
Cutie's new album. After all, that over 8 minutes long
I Will Possess Your Heart single was incredibly boring and I fell
asleep before the singing even started. All was not lost though, because
the last four minutes of the song was pretty good music. The problem only
was that basicly nothing happened during the first 4 and half minutes
of the song (I know I'm in the minority and most reviews seem to praise
this song much more than the whole album. Don't worry I just want to whine
eventhough I should be happy that someone has the guts to release something
like that as an single). Thankfully the rest of the album offers a bit
more usual Death Cab For Cutie music and while Narrow
Stairs doesn't contain their strongest songs, it's still pretty
damn good. And with Ben Gibbard's voice you can basicly sing that phone
book and I would probably buy it. Just remember to sing Ben.
Cab For Cutie Website
Cab For Cutie at myspace
Drive-By Truckers: Brighter Than Creation's Dark
(New West, 2008)
Drive-By Truckers' latest effort Brighter Than Creation's Dark
is quite an ambitious piece of southern rock with 19 songs and over 75
minutes of music. It still works suprisingly well eventhough a little
bit of editing might have been in order, because if I could cut it down
to more usual 12 songs it would rise into my top 5 albums of the year
list. But why the heck am I complaining, because they probably would have
edited the wrong songs out and I had missed out on some greatness. Can't
I just be happy about getting lots of gorgeous songs like A
Ghost To Most, Two Daughters and Beautiful Wife, The Righteous Path, Home
Field Advantage And Self Destructive Zones.
Drive-By Truckers is always an excellent choice if you're looking for
great southern rock & alt.country with a bit of old-fashioned country
music and a plenty of good old rock'n'roll. I really would like to throw
in another half of a heart, but perhaps there's a bit too much filler
for that. It's still damn brilliant album during it's finest hour.
Truckers at myspace
Mudcrutch: S/T (Reprise Records, 2008)
It's been a year of Tom Petty here at the onechord.net headquarters.
Six months ago I had zero Petty albums, now I have over ten. I'm still
not his biggest fan and I don't love everything his done. In fact I think
only 3-4 of those album I own are really great while the rest are just
good records. However, even the not that great albums have some fabulous
moments on them and were therefore worth buying. During this sudden Tom
Petty addiction, also a new Tom Petty album saw the light. Mudcrutch was
actually Tom Petty's band before The Heartbreakers, but it took them over
30 years to get a debut album written and released. This self-titled debut
is a good 70's flavoured country rock album, but there are too few of
those great moments. For example Scare Easy
and Orphan Of The Storm are fantastic songs,
but there seem to be two indiffirent and boring rock tunes for every great
song. Definitely worth owning because of those 4-5 wonderful songs, but
I could live without the rest of the material.
Foxes: S/T (Sub Pop, 2008)
Fleet Foxes were on everybody's lips even before their debut album
was released, but thankfully they lived up to the high expectations and
totally deserved all the hype. For me the biggest charm of their music
is obviously the singing and especially the vocal harmonies. Beautiful
harmonies make even the not that great songs rise far above mediocrity
and Fleet Foxes have learned this fact. They even have to use it a few
times, because there are 3 or 4 of these not that great songs. Therefore
I can't say it's a perfect album, but it does have a lot of magical moments
and some really gorgeous songs. My big favourite is Tiger
Mountain Peasant Song, but it's certainly not the only fabulous
song on the album.
Foxes at myspace
Hayes Carll: Trouble In Mind (Lost Highway, 2008)
Hayes Carll is one of these highly-regarded country singer-songwriters
and I probably should love him, but for some reason I just don't. I've
really tried, but I can't force myself to love him. Lyrically he is doing
a good job and is a good storyteller, but the compositions aren't strong
enough. The fact that I don't like his voice that much doesn't help. However,
there is one song that I really love on the album. It's one of the very
few rock song and it's called Bad Liver and A Broken
Heart. Like the title says it's almost a stereotypical country
song played with an empty whiskey bottle in one hand and broken heart
on the other. Bonus points for the wonderful or terrible guitar sound
(jury is still out, but the side wonderful is winning at the moment).
Other smaller favourites are Knockin' Over Whiskeys,
Beaumont and It's a Shame. Trouble
In Mind is not a bad album, but not exactly my cup of tea. If you like
country singer-songwriters, give him a chance.
Hayes at myspace
Felice Brothers: S/T (Loose Records, 2008)
The Felice Brothers is a big favourite of mine and this is another
great album eventhough I think Tonight At The Arizona is a slighly better
album. The Felice Brothers is often compared to Bob Dylan & The Band,
because the lead vocalist has a very dylanesque voice, but you really
don't need to be into Dylan to love them. This is just convincing traditional
american country/folk music. Sounds like some farmers had just decided
to celebrate the harvest by picking up acoustic guitars and singing murder
stories in beautiful harmony. You'll need to buy this one just for the
song Frankie's Gun, which is one of the
songs of the year.
Felice Brothers Website
Felice Brothers at myspace
Million Martians: Marseille (Plastic Passion, 2008)
Hundred Million Martians released their fourth album in the spring and they
were back in excellent form. Marseille is on level with their first two
albums while the third one Solid Rock Planet for some unknown reason isn't
as highly regarded in this household. Especially the beginning stages of
Marseille are on par with almost everything released this year. Excellent
rock tune Backseat Of Your Soul kicks your
door down, Life Ain't That Bad Girl reveals
their (power) pop sensibility and the highly energic single Passed
is another killer song. Hundred Million Martians aren't inventing anything
new, but if you are looking for a whole lot of fun and good rock music with
traces of punkpop and powerpop, a visit to Marseille is well in order.
Million Martians Website
Million Martians at myspace
Danny and The Champions Of The World: S/T (Loose Records, 2008)
Danny George Wilson has gathered together a new band collective that
heads deeper down to the fields of folk and americana. I've loved basicly
everything Danny has done whether it has been as a member of Grand Drive
or as a solo artists and perhaps this is why Danny wants to see how far
my love can stretch by adding several 7 or 8 minute long songs to the disc.
Oh Danny, you should know that a stupid prejudiced boy will have hard time
to get around that fact, but at least you made it easier by making the songs
so beautiful, comforting and easy-flowing. The album is full of good folky
material, but perhaps only Red Tree Song,
The Ghost and Me and The
Truest Kind (which was co-written by Neal Casal) rise as high as
some of Danny's older material.
and The Champions Of The World Website
and The Champions Of The World at myspace
Dot The I (Taylored Records, 2008)
Scottish Dropkick has found a recipe of how to write really good
country-tinged power pop tunes and seem to bake a couple of great pop discs
every year. You certainly can't blame them for not being active and one
has to admire how on earth they can come up with such a huge amount of great
pop songs. Still I occasionally wonder that perhaps they should just release
one really wonderful album in a year or two instead of several really good
ones. I mean if you gathered the best 12-14 songs out of Dot
The I and last year's releases and gave it a good studio treatment,
the end result would be an absolutely stunning pop album. Okay, I really
shouldn't complain, because as long as they can keep the quality of the
releases this high, I keep on buying them and I keep on enjoying them a
lot. Oh, I think I'm at the end of the review and have managed to write
it without saying absolutely nothing about the album itself. Yeah, I'm a
real pro. In a nutshell, Dot The I is a really good pop record and highly
recommended to any fan of guitar pop. Harmony police doesn't have anything
to complain about either.
Wylie: Car Guitar Star (Neon Tetra Records, 2008)
Daniel Wylie is one great pop singer-songwriter. He wrote lots of
gorgeous songs as the frontman of Cosmic Rough Riders and after the split
has continued writing great music as a solo artist. The second solo album
The High Cost Of Happiness was a perfect album and while I don't rate Car
Guitar Star quite as high, it's still an excellent addition to his catalogue.
The biggest problem I have with Car Guitar Star is that I don't like the
opener I Love America at all, but I shouldn't
focus on that because the next trio of songs show that Daniel Wylie is still
capable of writing wonderful pop music. These songs I'm
A Machine, I Can Fly and You Go are my big favourites and they are
all fantastic guitar pop songs. Well done Daniel.
Wylie at myspace
Boomhauer: River Run Deep (Stupido Records, 2008)
Boomhauer's latest album River Run Deep saw
the light early in the year and it was certainly another great album. That
one crazy goofball Saku had led Boomhauer to a steamy garage rock train
that passed several blues swamps and crossed a few country roads along the
way. River Run Deep equals a whole lot of fun and might be their most complete
album so far. I admit that I don't love the early rock tunes (other than
Elephant Stomp maybe), but slower numbers Long Long
Way and Choo Choo Pendolino really
kickstart the record for me and it's pure greatness after that. Horse
Pressure, Lonely Rider and Do Snake Eat Bird
kick your ass and slower tunes like Hard Luck Day
and Ways To Feel Better (which reminds me
of Luna) are full of charm. A great album.
Tindersticks: Hungry Saw (Beggars Banquet, 2008)
It's good to have you back Tindersticks. Eventhough
Stuart's solo albums were really good, somehow on an emotional level it
feels better to listen to Tindersticks (I know that makes logically no sense,
but I never said I was a smart boy). Perhaps because of this I was first
really into Hungry Saw, but unfortunately I've later realised that I'm not
totally in love with the new album. The only song that really strikes me
is The Other Side Of The World while the others
fell to the "really good, but it doesn't have that same magic as the
early works" category. Tindersticks are the victims of their own glorious
past and me becoming a happier person. I think that the timing was right
for Curtains to hit my heart back then. I
was just out of high school, shy, vulnerable and lonely and Curtains was
the perfect medicine against the anxiety. Stuart's gloomy voice and the
beautiful orchestration easily went under my skin, gave comfort and encouraged
me to feel. Most of the same elements that made such an huge impact on me
are still here, but maybe I just don't need Tindersticks as much anymore.
Cash: How Will I Know If I'm Awake (Marina, 2008)
Did I just went back to the golden age of sunshine pop. Brent
Cash's debut album How Will I Know If I'm
Awake could be mistaken as Rev-Ola's reissue of some long lost sunshine
pop album, but a guess we have to believe that it's actually a new release.
It's certainly a very 60's influenced pop album full of beautiful arrangements,
lush instrumentation and gorgeous vocals and vocal harmonies. Something
what folks like Roger Nicholls and Paul Williams might have created during
their peak years. Well obviously Brent isn't as great as Roger and Paul
were (because hardly anyone is), but he certainly has written a delightful
and enjoyable sunny pop album. The highlights are
Digging The Fault Line and Good Morning Sunshine.
Brent Cash Website
Cash At myspace
Robert Forster: The Evangelist (Yep Roc, 2008)
Few years ago the world lost a great man and a great songwriter when Grant
McLennan passed away way ahead of his time. Thankfully his songwriting partner
Robert Forster decided to carry on making music and created a wonderful
solo album The Evangelist. Three of the songs
are partly written by Grant McLennan and especially Demon
Days is as strong as anything The Go-Betweens wrote and listening
to it touches even hearts that only knew Grant through his music. In overall,
The Evangelist seems very honest and emotional album full of warmth and
acoustic beauty. It doesn't rock your body, but it might comfort your mind.
Ramsey: A Long Dream About Swimming Across The Sea (Echo Mountain Records,
If that new Sun Kil Moon album feels a bit too challenging
with ten minute long songs, but you would still like to hear something similar,
it's quite safe to recommend Tyler Ramsey's debut album A
Long Dream About Swimming Across The Sea. For example the song Ships
sounds extremely lot like Mark Kozelek's song and even qualitywise it's
up there on the same level. That comparison doesn't cover whole record though.
There's a bit of blues and that cosmic country or whatever you wanna call
it. Very beautiful guitar picking and sentimental, melancholic and dreamy
music. Very detailed and thoughtfully arranged, but it does require a certain
mood and does not fit that well into my everyday listening.
Ramsey at myspace
Draytones: Up In My Head (1965 Records, 2008)
If you are looking for some good old 60's garage rock with a modern twist,
this anglo-argentine trio The Draytones is bound to give you some good times.
First full-length Up In My Head
offers plenty of greatness eventhough it is a bit of a hit and miss kind
of record for me. It could have been a killer EP, but now it's only a good
album. This doesn't matter that much, because the tracks that are great
are not just great, they are bloody brilliant. Songs like Turn
It Down, After All, As High As I Can are definitely huge treats for
retrolovers and basicly any lover of good rock music. The Draytones is a
band that one should see on stage and perhaps 7" inch single would
be the optimal format to listen to them. Despite all this Up In My Head
easily ends on a positive side. If half of the tracks are worth 3 hearts
and the other half are worth five hearts, then with my lousy mathematic
skills the grade will be...
The Draytones Website
Draytones at myspace
Kerr: Off The Radar (Much Obliged Records, 2008)
A sweetness warning is probably in order. So if you have too much testosterone
in your system, listening to this might cause sudden urge to to throw your
stereo set out from the window. This scottish popster has an incredibly
sweet voice and his indie pop tunes are as pretty as your girlfriend's eyes
(not meaning in a glass jar by the fireplace). Anyway, if you are into sweet
indie pop, Ally Kerr's second album Off
The Radar is a really good selection. It's a bit stronger as a whole
than the debut and contains also a (should-be) hit in the opener Could
Have Been A Contender. Off The Radar is a really good pop record.
Kerr at myspace
"Prince" Billy: Lie Down In The Light
Me and Bonnie "Prince" Billy had
lost touch and we were neglecting each other for a few years. Thankfully
Bonnie "Prince" Billy was the bigger person and made the first
move in order to get us back together. This move was obviously the release
of his latest album Lie Down In The Light
and it's warm beauty didn't give any alternative and I had to let Bonnie
"Prince" Billy back into my heart. Now few months later Lie Down
In The Light is my favourite Bonnie "Prince" Billy album and songs
like Glory Goes, Missing One and I'll
Be Glad are everlastingly beaufiful.
Prince Billy Website
Prince Billy at myspace
Dutchess and The Duke: She's The Dutchess, He's The Duke (Hardly Art, 2008)
The Dutchess and The Duke is marrying weird
dark folk tunes and good old 60's rock music who then have an affair with
pop harmonies. It's a lovely a combination and the end result is full of
life. One thing I like about this debut album is that it's not too polished.
These rough sounds makes it all very much alive and give a good contrast
to those vocal harmonies. A not so serious way to describe them could be
that it sounds like Mick Jagger and some 60's folk girl getting little drunk
and/or high and then picking up guitars and singing their hearts out. Especially
the opener Reservoir park sounds a lot like
60's The Rollings Stones with a folk twist.
Dutchess and The Duke at myspace
Flynn: A Larum (Lost Highway, 2008)
Johnny Flynn is young and very talented british folk singer-songwriter.
His debut album A Larum sounds a lot like The Decemberists to me. Well perhaps
a bit stripped-down version and without a rock gear, but still there are
similarities. It's definitely a strong debut and perhaps only lack that
killer song. Cold Breed and Brown
Trout Blues get pretty close though. Johnny has a great unique voice
and the band Sussex Wit flavours the cake with cellos, trombones, spoons.
This might not be for everyone, but if you are interested in folk music
it's worth it to check him out. A Larum is not yet a masterpiece, but it's
really enjoyable and promises a lot for the future.
Johnny Flynn Website
Flynn at myspace
Stringfellow: The Sellout Cover Sessions Vol 1 (Sell Out Music, 2008)
Ken Stringfellow's new release is a cover
EP for norwegian label. It's obviously good stuff, but not really a must
for other than the biggest Ken / Posies -fans. Several bonus points though
for not picking too obvious songs to cover. Usually cover albums are guilty
of playing it safe and mostly contain well-known songs. Ken on the other
hand cover Judee Sill, Honey
Cone, Bill Fay, Loretta
Lynn and The Long Winters. The best
cover on the EP is easily Ken's take on Judee Sill's beautiful Crayon
Angels. Honey Cone's Girls It Ain't Easy
is also a treat, but still you're left with a feeling that it could have
been so much more with better production. The Sellout Cover Sessions EP
is mostly just a little side project aimed to keep the fans satisfied
until the next "five heart" album. It's not a must have item,
but still if vol 2 sees the light some day, I will buy it.
Stringfellow at myspace
Rutledge: Man Descending (Six Shooter Records, 2008)
Justin Rutledge is a great canadian country
troubadour and this is his third album. Like a real stereotypical indie
boy, I still feel that the first one is his best album, but Man
Descending certainly gets close. Justin is a master of creating
these serene, easy-flowing and poetic country / folk songs. The only minor
thing that sometimes bothers me is that in an album lenght it starts to
get even too peaceful. Each and every song is marvellous and full of serene
beauty, but a few rougher corners here and there might have given the
album a small lift during the moments when the listener almost gets an
overdoze of soft beauty. Despite this minor thing, Man Descending is one
of my favourite albums of the year and full amount of hearts was very
Rutledge at myspace
Saenz: Bucket (Thirty Tigers, 2008)
Mando Saenz is another good country singer-songwriter.
There's not yet a place for him on the coffee table of the greatest modern
country songwriters, but if Neal Casal is
otherwise engaged, Mando Saenz can surely step in and do a good job. I
know that sentence made as little sense to you as it did to me, but I
suppose the point was that Mando Saenz reminds me of Neal Casal (Anytime
Tomorrow -era perhaps). They have very similar voices and both know the
formula of how to write lots of beautiful and melancholic country songs.
Seven Dollars especially is a great song
and there's not much wrong with the rest of the material either.
Saenz at myspace
Summer Suns: Greatest (House Of Wax, 2008)
This was certainly a welcome release. A comprehensive retrospective of
The Summer Suns is like a dream come true for a fan australian power pop
/ jangle pop. I've been wanting to own these songs since I first heard
them on Räkärodeo several years ago. Kim
Williams was a really wonderful songwriter and songs like Thank
You Holly, Another Carrie Anne, Honeypearl, Why Say So, Meltdown, All
The Way, Why I Fell.. etc deserve a much wider recognition. They
are real jewels (and unfortunately almost hidden gems) of jangly pop music.
If I would hand pick a 10 song best of out of this comprehensive 22 song
packet, it would have easily gotten a full five hearts. That's how great
they were at their best.
Summer Suns at myspace
Langhorne Slim & The War Eagles: S/T (Kemado, 2008)
This album is still the strongest contender for onechord.net's album of
the year award eventhough Old Crow Medicine Show is trying to challenge
it at the moment. It's even hard to pinpoint why I love this man and his
music so much. It doesn't really fit into one genre well. Maybe it's soulful
country played with punk attitude by a folkie. I don't know, but I do know
it's a stunning album and I love it to bits. Langhorne Slim is also a marvellous
vocalist and even when he is whispering (he rarely is though), his voice
is full of emotion. This passionate album is worth all the hearts in the
world. Extremely and monstrously highly recommended.
Langhorne Slim at myspace
Avett Brothers: The Gleam II -EP (Ramseur Records, 2008)
Before finding the shelter of a major label, the greatest band in the
world The Avett Brothers released a second The Gleam EP. Just like the
first one, The Gleam II focus on acoustic beauty and it doesn't reveal
the rockin' side of The Avett Brothers. It does not matter at all, because
it's easy to love everything they do. There's a lot of thought, heart
and emotion in all of their doings and it doesn't hurt that the boys also
sing like angels. If you are looking for great storytelling and beautiful
acoustic americana, there's no need to look further than The Gleam EPs.
I can hardly wait for that Rick Rubin produced major label debut.
Avett Brothers Website
Avett Brothers at myspace
Townes Earle: The Good Life (Bloodshot Records, 2008)
Being the son of Steve Earle and carrying the name Townes might open some
doors, but it can become a burden as well. At least some finnish country
idiots might think that he's probably not that good in the end. Yours
truly was indeed this idiot and didn't pay attention until seeing a cheap
used copy in some online store. The Good Life is actually a really good
old-fashioned country album with one particular highlight. Lone Pine Hill
is a really fabulous song and every country singer-songwriter would have
been proud to have written it. Especially that Townes-like verse is pure
magic. He is not yet ready for the hall of fame of current country songwriters,
but he is young and he is already pretty damn good. If he keeps on improving,
he might be able to write a really stunning album within a couple of years.
Townes Earle at myspace
Explorers Club: Freedom Wind (Dead Oceans, 2008)
If you already know every The Beach Boys album by heart, you should listen
to The Explorers Club. I know that some might think they are too close
and don't have their own sound, but if they are honest, they still have
to admit that the music itself sounds brilliant. The songwriting and the
harmonies are on an extremely high level. I could buy just the vocal track
of the record. Do You Love Me? is one of the songs of the year and the
whole album is a real pop delight. I can never understand one thing though.
Why the hell they had to destroy the song Honey, I Don't Know Why, with
that horrible rough vocal part. Absolutely beautiful song otherwise and
than those extremely annoying vocals destroy the whole thing. It could
have been a perfect song, but now it's just a reason why skip-button was
invented. I try to to get over all this, because otherwise Freedom Wind
is among the finest pop albums of the year.
The Explorers Club Website
Explorers Club at myspace
Crow Medicine Show: Tennessee Pusher (Nettwerk, 2008)
The only problem I have with this one is that I can't stop listening
to it. I bought five new albums last week and I don't know a thing about
the other four because I'm mostly just stuck with this one. Tennessee
Pusher is by far Old Crow Medicine Show's best album. The first two had
a plenty of great moments, but in an album lenght they weren't anything
spectacular. Tennessee Pusher on the other hand certainly is a spectacular
effort on the field of bluegrass and americana. There are plenty of highlights,
but perhaps the most striking one is Motel In Memphis,
which is about the death of Martin Luther King Jr. If you are looking
for good old time american music, make some room for Tennessee Pusher
in your heart. A strong candidate for the album of the year award.
Old Crow Medicine Show at myspace
Crow Medicine Show Website
Matthew Sweet: Sunshine Lies (Shout Factory, 2008)
Sunshine Lies proves at least one thing. Yours truly is an ignorant
fool. At first I was little disappointed with Matthew Sweet's latest album.
I don't know what on earth was I thinking back then, but thankfully with
further listenings even an ignorant fool realised that Sunshine Lies is
actually one of the pop albums of the year. To be honest, I still don't
love every song. For example Let's Love sounds more like drunken Ozzy
Osbourne. But a few not that great songs is perfectly acceptable, when
you get a huge slice of pop heaven in between. Songs like Around
You Now, Burn Through Love, Daisychain, Feel Fear, Byrdgirl...
are all pure magic and probably the finest pop music this year has offered.
My humble apologies for some early criticism of pop god's new album. I
was wrong, Matthew was right.
Sweet at myspace
Chambers & Shane Nicholson: Rattlin' Bones (Sugar Hill, 2008)
If you are looking for a good reason to move to Australia, a good
one would be that the folks down under seem to have an excellent music
taste. If I'm not mistaken this beautiful album reached the top of their
album chart when it was released. Well to be honest, I know that this
married couple is pretty famous down there, so it wasn't a big surprise
but still it's great to see great music hitting those charts. Anyway,
If you are looking for wonderful male-female country duets and are getting
tired of listening to Gram-Emmylou duets all over again (yeah, sorry I
do know a person just can't get bored of those), you should definitely
let your heart become familiar with Kasey & Shane. I know it's virtually
impossible to reach as high as Gram-Emmylou, but with today's standards
they do reach pretty damn high.
Chambers & Shane Nicholson at myspace
& Shane Website
The Gaslight Anthem: The 59' Sound (Side One Dummy,
Hey, I know Sheena is already a punk rocker, but if there are more
punk rock bands that are as great as The Gaslight Anthem, I would like
to become a punk rocker as well. Where can I sign in. However, I'm not
sure how much of this is punk. Sounds more like Bruce Springsteen meets
The Replacements or something in that neighbourhood. Well let's not start
arguing about that, because who gives a Razvan's ass what it is as long
as its so damn brilliant. They do have one problem though. They are too
good in this thing they do. I almost get exhausted with a similar kind
of great song arriving after another all the time and because they are
all equally great, none of the songs really stands up from the crowd and
stagedives into your heart. Well perhaps I can't really blame them for
writing too many great songs and I should just learn to live with it.
If you are into The Hold Steady or/and Damn Seagulls, check out this great
The Gaslight Anthem Website
Gaslight Anthem at myspace
Monsters: Summer Challenge (Bone Voyage, 2008)
The second album by Goodnight Monsters is one of my favourite albums
of the year. Summer Challenge was a great summer soundtrack and appears
to be a great antidote against these dark and stormy autumn nights as
well. Goodnight Monsters 1 - Weather 0. It's just so damn enjoyable record
and it's impossible to feel down while listening to it. It recalls all
kind of great things like The Beach Boys, Daryll-Ann, BMX Bandits, Popsicle
every now and then, but their own vision is always on top. With their
joyful approach and ability to write great pop song they've created a
truly delightful pop album. Almost every song is a winner (I have small
doubts about First One On The Beach, because I don't really like that
"gotta be there" thing on it), but I suppose I should pick up
the first single Drifting which is a perfect
Monsters at myspace
Parellel Play (Yep Roc, 2008)
This latest Sloan album has been playing an awfully lot at this
household (ok, it might be questionable have I played any album an awfully
lot in the last five years) and I rate it very highly. Parellel Play is
not their greatest album, but would be on top half if I would start the
impossible task of putting all those great Sloan albums to an order. This
album would be worth buying just for the song Cheap
Champagne. One of the songs of the year and again wonderfully shows
that these boys certainly... can sing. And because they all are also ridicilously
good songwriters, you can't find a reason not to love them.
Disciplines: Smoking Kills (Voices Of Wonder, 2008)
I love everything Ken Stringfellow does and this one is no exception.
The Disciplines is his new norwegian band and Smoking Kills is their debut
album. I suppose one can say that this is nothing that remarkable or unforgettable,
but I say that it's still an awful lot of fun and full of gorgeous rock
songs. That's enough for me and should be enough for the most. You don't
always have to invent the bicycle, just ride with the damn thing and don't
waste your time adding all kind of systems and mechanisms to it just to
realise that the main fuction has been lost in the making. It doesn't
roll anymore. The Disciplines thankfully rolls and blows your mind away.
Ken sings his heart out and the band keeps it all together. Me loves.
Disciplines at myspace
It's About Time (Elements, 2008)
Daisy obviously doesn't want to play it safe. No wonder the former
label decided to drop them. The whole idea of making a concept album around
space theme (or Rock Odyssea Through Time and Space like they call it)
sounds so bloody ludicrous and just plain stupid that I certainly wouldn't
have invested my money on it either. This end result however proves that
it was me who was being stupid for not believing that it could work out
beautifully and therefore it was a blessing that they didn't change their
minds and also managed to find a label who was crazy enough to release
it. But let's not get stuck into this space thingy, because the main concept
should be writing an album full of great songs and Daisy succeeds in this
holy quest. This is a great collection of pop music. Think of Electric
Light Orchestra writing a soundtrack to a 80's John Hughes movies.
Chatham County Line: IV (Yep Roc, 2008)
Chatham County Line is one of my recent
love affairs. I've loved country music for years, but it took until last
december to completely fall for bluegrass. Thankfully The
Avett Brothers were kind enough to guide me towards the right direction
back then and ever since there's been a little hillbilly playing banjo
on the porch of my heart. Chatham County Line was quite an obvious next
step after falling for The Avett Brothers eventhough I might have missed
them if I hadn't heard this record playing at the greatest record store
in the city/country/world, 8 Raita record store. Chatham County Line fits
the bill perfectly because it has a fair share of bluegrass in the music,
but not too much for a boy who is still learning and still has some prejudices
towards traditional fast tempo bluegrass and fiddle playing. Chatham County
Line brings a great mix of alt.country, bluegrass and pop melodies (and
because this should be a pop website, let's add that the album was produced
by Mr. Chris Stamey)
IV is not so surprisingly their fourth album and it's obviosly bloody
magnificent. Well especially the first half of it is. During the latter
half of the album there are for example couple of bluegrass instrumentals
that only evoke yawns. But like I already said, the opening stages of
the album are pure gold. The Carolinian
is a candidate for the song of the year award. It's bluegrass for the
popsters. It could be a pop hit. It should be a pop hit. Bluegrass melody
carrying country aching and pop sensibility in the saddle bag and galloping
forward in hope of finding the girl. Andiamo.. but unfortunately "I'm
still down in Carolina / and she's in Richmond with my heart". A
perfect song. I could listen to it dozens of times in a row and I wouldn't
get bored. The Carolinian isn't the only great one. Also powerful Birmingham
Jail, lighter pop song Country Boy / City
Boy and the pretty opener Chip of A Star
reach eight miles high and the whole opening half is truly stunning. This
would easily make a five hearts minialbum, but 3-4 songs that are not
exactly my cup of beer, makes the grade drop down a little bit. If you
are like me and love alt.country, but have minor doubts towards banjo
and fiddle, this is a great place to slowly start widening your musical
comfort zone, because Chatham County Line jumps to the haystack that is
located somewhere between the fields of bluegrass and alt.country.
County Line Website
County Line at myspace (listen to The Carolinian)
The Avett Brothers: Emotionalism (Ramseur,
This was an instant love affair. I totally fell in love with them
in early december and spent nights listening to their myspace songs and
youtube videos while waiting for my copy of Emotionalism which I instantly
ordered. Now few months later I'm a huge fan. The Avett Brothers is probably
my favourite band in the world at the moment, Emotionalism was my foreign
album of the year and The Paranoia in B-Flat Major was my song of the
year. While buying their back catalogue, it's probably worth it to explain
why they became so huge in this heart of mine.
The Avett Brothers are Seth and Scott Avett with Bob Crawford on stand-up
bass. The core of the music is somewhere in the bluegrass, country, americana
and folk area, but you don't need to be a hillbilly to fall in love with
them. Punk energy and pretty pop melodies makes it appealing for everyone.
Maybe it's bluegrass for the masses. It's unashamedly emotional music
and The Avett Brothers sure sing like two angels.
I love the whole album, but my biggest addictions are the songs called
Shame, Paranoia in B-Flat Major, Living Of Love and
I Would Be Sad. I've listened to them easily over hundred times
and never get tired of them. Well-written tales, full of emotions and
so beautifully performed. Take Living Of Love for example. Just stunningly
beautiful bluesy country ballad in the vein of Neal Casal. Perfect voice
singing perfect words and the moment that leads to the chorus with words
"When they ask you what youre thinking of" / "where
your coming from" / "what your living of" really grabs
you and the answer "Say love, say for me love" then finds the
core of your heart. These certainly are songs that go deeper than where
any doctor could reach.
If you are afraid that this is too country-tinged for you, it's probably
worth to mention that if you like pop singer-songwriters like Darren Hanlon
you might love this as well. Especially The Ballad Of Love and Hate
sounds so much like Darren Hanlon that it's hard to believe it's not Darren's
song. And despite the fact that I'm concentrating on the beautiful and
emotional side of the record (because that's the kind of music I love),
this is certainly not some sad country whining. It's actually quite energic
at times and I've understood that the live concert can turn out to be
The only possible minor flaw I can think of is that the album is a bit
too long. There's a couple of "only good" songs that could have
been left out. Still it's impossible to give them anything else but the
full five hearts. That song quartet I mentioned above would deserve hundreds
of hearts and are easily able to compensate that minor flaw. Emotionalism
is a stunning album and The Avett Brothers is my favourite band in the
world at the moment.
Avett Brothers Website
Avett Brothers at myspace
Cougar: Chapters (Pinetree Records, 2007)
Captain Cougar's debut took a long time, because some unfortunate events
like record label backing out from the project delayed it. Thankfully
Chapters was finally released in late 2007 and it's easy to say
that all the effort they put into making it was totally worth it. In fact,
it was one of the finnish debut albums of the year and probably would
have made my top 10 finnish albums of the year if I I had written such
The first thing that strikes you is obviously the vocalist Eva Louhivouri.
She is absolutely wonderful vocalist. What a voice. She is so fabulous
that I'm almost starting to think that she is too good. I've spent my
life listening to all kind of whispering bedroom pop or country singers
who drink a gallon of whiskey before enterering the recording studio.
I'm certainly not used to someone singing so well..so beautifully.. so
The second thing that strikes you is that Captain Cougar doesn't play
it safe and Chapters turn out to be quite a versatile release. It's beautifully
crafted and thoughtfully arranged album. Little bits and pieces inside
the songs always keep the interest level high and the style varies from
lighter pop songs to truly beautiful folk songs. There's also a fair amount
of country and americana in the songs. And while we are at it I don't
think it is too far-fetched to say that Captain Cougar could even appeal
to fans of elegant female folk/jazz/pop singers like Sylvie Lewis etc.
I think that's one of the great things about them. It can appeal to that
stripe-shirted indie pop boy, but it can also appeal to a classy middle-aged
Good To Know is still my favourite Captain Cougar song. Perhaps
because that song is the reason I first fell in love with them. Stunningly
beautiful song. Life Is Nothing is another big favourite of mine.
The vocals and the song bring Aimee Mann to my mind, but that's only a
good thing because I love Aimee. I think Eva even sounds like Aimee on
that one. Which is a bit weird, because I don't hear that in any other
song. Nature on the other hand is a lighter number and one of the
great pop songs of the record. My Cage then adds a fair slice of
country to the record. Most of the songs would be worth mentioning, but
at the moment those are my favourites. To be honest there's also 2-3 songs
that I haven't learned to love. That's probably because I'm so narrow-minded
occasionally. For example the loud ending of Seasons always puts
me off. I guess I prefer things to remain beautiful.
Chapters is a wonderful debut album and highly recommended if you are
looking for beautiful and challenging pop music with truly marvellous
Cougar at myspace
Goodnight Stars, Goodnight Moon (Music Is My Girlfriend / Lavender, 2007)
Fireflies is actually just one man called Lisle Mitnik and Goodnight
Stars, Goodnight Moon is his debut album. It's also a very strong
debut. Or perhaps strong is a wrong word, because it's soft and gentle
pop music where whispery vocals reveals wintery tales. When he sings he
sounds more weak than strong, but for me that is a good thing. Weak is
the new strong...(hang the reviewer please..).. and obviously the quality
of the songwriting is far from weak. Goodnight Stars, Goodnight Moon is
full of beautiful and hearwarming pop songs. If you've lost your heart
to groups such as The Clientele, Trembling Blue Stars and Days you might
try to locate a piece of it and give it to Fireflies. It certainly evokes
the same feelings in my weak heart as them and bedroom tweepop version
of The Clientele might be somewhere close to the truth.
The highlight for me is probably Summer Has Gone, because it makes
me think of Bobby Wratten and Michael Brown discussing the end of the
summer on a park bench somewhere while trying to combine pretty pop music
of the 60's and the modern day soft indie pop. This is certainly a really
lovely debut album.
The Star Spangles: Dirty Bomb (Tic Records, 2007)
I think it's time to have a bit of fun in between all these beautiful
records and The Star Spangles is the perfect antidote against melancholy.
Dirty Bomb is their second album and it's just magnificent. Especially
if you enjoy a bit of rock'n'roll and/or love all those powerpop bands
of the seventies. It's such a blast and full of killer songs. Great record
for dementic DJs, because you don't need to remember which song was the
great one. You can play anyone of them and it will be a great one. Current
favourites are Tear It To Pieces Girl and 'Nother Weight To
Hold Me Down, but the favourite change each time new song starts.
Dirty Bomb is a wonderful rock'n'roll record full of great melodies, kickass
harmonies and singalong choruses. Think of early Cheap Trick played by
The Replacements and you might get somewhere close. Or better yet. Don't
think anything at all. Just find some duck tape, tape a pillow into your
ass and press the play button. Now you can just enjoy this album that
is bound to kick your ass.
Star Spangles at myspace
McGregor: Maa ei oo pimee (Suomen Musiikki, 2007)
I should only write speechless and give five hearts. It's impossible to
find words that can match the beauty of this music. I wish I could live
like these songs live. Full of warmth and gentleness. I suppose it's very
naiive to say so, but in a way this is music that makes me want to be
a better person. Listening to these magical songs makes me want to stop
writing and go and wake up my girlfriend just to say that I love her more
than anything in the world and after that call my parents and say how
much I love them and how much I appreciate everything they've done for
me. It's music that shows what really matters in the end. It drifts away
the clouds and selfish barriers to geniune compassion and reveals the
sunshine and inner beauty of your soul. I wish I can learn to keep hold
of these toughts and emotions even when John's music isn't around guiding
me and showing me all the beauty that surrounds my everyday life.
Maa ei oo pimee is John McGregor's second album. The previous album
Joki was an album of the year here at onechord two years ago and
Maa ei oo pimee might do the same this year. Maa ei oo pimee is a beautiful
folk album. It has a bit richer sound than its predecessor. For example
some beautiful string arrangements. Banjo plays a big part and adds some
american tradition to the music, but the core is still John McGregor's
warm and gentle folk songs that hold so much magic inside them. Maa ei
oo pimee is another perfect album from John McGregor. It might not be
able to change the world, but listening to it certainly reminds that something
will always make sense even during the saddest of events as long as someone
somewhere is able to create something so amazingly beautiful as this.
McGregor at myspace
Weaver: Paper Sky (Glitterhouse, 2007)
Ben Weaver's Paper Sky has been a big favourite
of mine during the fall 2007 and will definitely be among my top 20 albums
for the year. I just love the bare, rural beauty of the songs. Sure it
can get sad and really dark, but even then it has enough melodic beauty
to carry your heart towards the hopefullness. It can be raw and bare or
beautiful and hushed americana, but you might also hear some experiments
and electronic backgrounds. And it all works beautifully.
Songs like Surrealism + Blues and Like a Vine After The Sun
are basicly as good as anything released during the year. Perhaps Paper
Sky gives me everything I wanted Shepherd's Dog to give me (not
that Shepherd's Dog is a bad album, It's just didn't turn out to be as
great as I hoped it would be). Paper Sky is a beautiful collection of
rootsy americana with poetic lyrics. I suppose the vocals might not be
for everyone but I love them. His vocals can be very quiet and hushed
or kind of raw, kind of like Tom Waits. Prior Paper Sky I haven't been
a big fan of Ben Weaver and therefore I'm surprised how much I've grown
to love this one. Either I've gotten wiser or Ben has gotten better, but
one thing is a fact. Paper Sky is a great album.
Weaver at myspace
McDonald: Finally (Rhythm Barrel Records / Plastic Passion, 2007)
Michael McDonald's Finally was already my album of the year 2006 and I'm
still completely in love with this beautiful pop album. Now the album
has been officially released and therefore it's time to re-publish my
amateurish review and praise this perfect album again. The following is
basicly an updated version of the earlier review:
Michael McDonald is an american who has lived in Finland for several years.
Finnish pop fans already know him as a member of Treeball and Montevideo,
but he is also a talented songwriter who has just released his first solo
album. And what an album it is. Michael and Nick Triani (producer)
have done a great job.
Michael McDonald perfectly combines the two things I love in music. Wonderful
melodic pop tunes and heartwarmingly beautiful ballads. The first half
+ I Go Blind is a perfect pop heaven. If comparing to someone,
the closest match is definitely Teenage Fanclub. Songs like Only In
My Mind, Carmelina, I Go Blind certainly reminds me
of Teenage Fanclub, but that is never a bad thing. On the other hand,
another wonderful tune called Crush is closer to Josh Rouse. Obviously
this namedropping is not important, because while listening to these beautiful
songs, they don't bring any other artists to mind. Only thing they bring
to mind is the fact that pop music can sometimes be truly stunning and
memorable. Softly floating melodies and perfect harmonies filling your
heart with warmness and kindness. Songs becoming a part of you. Sharing
your laughs or bringing shelter when you are vulnerable. Kind-hearted
tunes containing more healing power than a truckload of painkillers. It
doesn't get much better than this. Unless you count the latter half of
the album, which is at least equally amazing.
After those perfect pop treasures, Michael brings some sadder and slower
tunes to the table, but the quality remains the same. Grandmother,
And So the Story Goes and especially the ending song entitled A
Song to Sing are all just brilliant. Gentle guitar playing, melancholic
moods and caring vocals in the vein of Mark Kozelek.
New: Sometimes opinions might slightly change and a record I praised a
year ago doesn't seem as perfect anymore. However, this is certainly not
the case with Finally. It still sounds as perfect as it did a year ago
and the only thing that might stop it from being onechord.net's album
of the year 2007 is the fact that I already selected the cdr version as
the album of the year 2006. This really is a perfect pop album.
McDonald at myspace
Rollstons: Song Folks (Brunamosse IF, 2007)
The Rollstons are back where they started years ago, but that is not a
bad thing. For several fans, the first cdr albums are the finest The Rollstons
releases. Yeah I know, for indiewankers such behaviour isn't very unfamiliar,
but especially when listening to the previous album Taping Trees,
one might think that they have a point. Eventhough I still love most of
the songs, nowadays the album does seem a bit less inspiring than the
earlier material. Sometimes even a bit boring. Same can't be said about
the new album Song Folks. It's colourful, versatile and refreshing.
Lo-fi weirdness, witty wordplaying and carefree approach are back in the
game. The core still lies somewhere in the indie rock field. Lots of short
highly melodic songs that all end too soon. The GBV-formula one could
say. Guided By Voices played by some weirdo like Karl Blau might be close
to the truth occasionally. But that's not the whole truth. It might not
even be part of the truth.
It's a versatile album. First you have instrumental Horror Yacui
that could be a TV-theme song from the eighties and after that the second
song Desert for Dessert makes you realise that Paul Simon's Graceland
vinyl probably survived the death of Tourula commune and still brings
happiness (or pain) to their saturday evenings. Before the last track
Birds Of Bourbon scares you with electronic beats, you'll also
get several short melodic indie rockers like I Was Sailing and
Blue Oyster, eight minute long Something Precious that makes
you worry that they start gazing their shoes or stars on the next album
and almost fragile beauty of At The Grandparents. If you're looking
for lo-fi indie rock album that doesn't play by the normal rules and where
anything can happen Song Folks is a good selection and will be able to
leave lots of more high profile releases to the substitute bench.
Rollstons at myspace
Diapers: Life & Times Of Benjamina -The Highlights and Sidetracks
of Ben's Diapers (Rhythm Barrel Records, 2007)
Ben's Diapers celebrates their 10th anniversary by releasing a career
spanning collection that contains their finest songs + rare tracks from
different compilations and previously unreleased versions of some great
tunes. As a flavour of the record, there's also one new song The Good
Life. This is a limited handnumbered edition of only 120 copies and might
be a bit tricky to find, but at least Notlame has carried it.
The compilation runs chronologically backwards from a brand new song to
the early singles and demos. It also shows that Ben's Diapers has just
gotten better during the years. Surely the first songs they ever released
(Warriorette, Frankfurt Am Main and Las Vegas) will
always be the most important songs for me on emotional level and still
sound perfect today. After all, It was the time I got into this pop thing
and finding the original Popatak label trio Ben's Diapers, The Sugarrush
and Cartoon Tree was a big deal for me. But despite all that nostalgia
and love for their early singles, I do believe their latest effort Little
Pilgrims is their finest full-length album. The start of this compilation
proves that the band is still going strong. The new song The Good Life
and three songs from Little Pilgrims are all great. Especially Bleeding
Heart is just one perfect country-flavoured pop song and the new song
The Good Life is almost equally stunning.
The best part of this compilation for a long time fan like me are the
rarities The World According To You and She's So Fine. First
one is a Ben's Diapers original from japanese Wizzard Brew pop compilation
and the latter one is a Stems cover from The Stems Tribute with australian
gentleman Joe Algeri on lead vocals. There's obviously great tracks from
the other Ben's Diapers albums Laughter Tracks and Celebrate The Cliche.
I might have made a few different choises, but only track I really miss
is Frankfurt Am Main, the b-side of the first single Warriorette. But
there's plenty of my early favourites. Warriorette, Gift,
Las Vegas, Blinded By The Sun and Thinking Platonic
are all included and it still feels damn good to listen to them. It kind
of shows that I've taken the same path as the band. Ten years ago it was
all about sunny and sweet guitar / power pop for me, but during the years
country-flavoured pop has become equally significant. Therefore the early
sunny guitar pop hits sound equally wonderful than the newer beautiful
This is a great collection of songs from a great finnish band. Ten years
and still alive. Ten years and all original Popatak bands are still alive.
Against all odds one might say. Who would have believed that back in 1997.
Power pop / alt. country might not be the wise choise, if you want to
hit the charts. That's the reality and Ben's Diapers are totally aware
of that. They are just following their hearts and writing the kind of
music they love. They've done it for ten years now and long may it continue.
Diapers at myspace
Northern Hemisphere -EP (Tink Unc, 2007)
Tink is a finnish singer-songwriter who made a wonderful self-released
ep trilogy a few years ago. It had been quiet for a while, but in the
summer of 2007 Tink returned with his first official release.
I don't think he has gotten significantly better during these years, but
thankfully there was no need for that either because I loved those little
releases back then and I love Northern Hemisphere now. This is a little
improved, detailed and better sounding effort, but there hasn't been any
big changes. That same warmness is still present. That same flow of beautiful
melodies is still around. And thank God so. It's always so comfortable
to listen to Tink. The melodies take care of you and the soundscapes bring
warmness to your heart. It's classic pop craftmanship. Being able to create
something simple that still holds so much magic underneath.
The biggest treasure on the record is a stunningly beautiful ballad called
True To My Word. Starting with almost whispering vocals and slowly
growing into something truly captivating. Another jewel Youth Against
Tolstoy is a lighter pop song, but almost equally wonderful. Actually
all of these five songs are really good. I would like to give this ep
the whole five hearts, but perhaps that would be an exaggeration. It's
just that the mood and the style of the music is a perfect match with
my heart. However, Tink is definitely already a really good songwriter
and this EP is a great addition to every record collection.
S/T -EP (Aisti Records, 2007)
Sweeties charmed me earlier this summer at One Big Holiday club. Unfortunately
there weren't many people around, but they didn't let it bother them and
certainly were able to win my heart over. I'm first to admit that I had
doubts. This sort of dancable, rhythmic and dare I say the curse word..
trendy.. rock music is always somewhat scary for indie pop wankers like
yours truly. Thankfully I'm not completely lost and when I hear lots of
really good songs in a row, I can forget my silly doubts and just enjoy
what I'm hearing. The concert also showed that while they might not be
totally my cup of my tea, they are certainly close enough. Heck, at times
it isn't even that from that power pop / new wave thing of the late 70's
/ early 80's and I certainly love that dearly. They certainly were excellent
This debut EP contains five songs. Unfortunately only two originals Magazine
Lassie and Mayday! and remixes from Regina, Boys Of Scandinavia
and Tigerbombs. Unfortunately because honestly I just don't get remixes
on a general level. All of these remixes are obviously made by truly skillful
and talented people and are probably wonderful remixes if you happen to
like remxes. However, I frankly couldn't give a shit about them and would
have prefered if there had been one new Sweeties original instead of these
three remixes. But then again, I'm a shy boring loser who doesn't dance.
So if the remixes fill the dancefloors and get more people excited about
the band then there's a purpose for them.
Moving on to the good things. I might have heard even greater songs at
the concert, but both of these originals are definitely really good songs.
Mayday! is my favourite. The chorus sounds extremely familiar though and
a lot like Tigerbombs. Maybe they've played it too. Anyway, there's a
very addictive melody and a truly catchy chorus. Especially that last
minute and a half is a little pop heaven. For me this is a great two song
single. I don't need those remixes at all, but nobody's forcing me to
listen to them either. So I shut up and keep enjoying these two really
Flo: The Healer (Fullsteam Records, 2007)
Sister Flo is a huge favorite of mine. I love them to bits, but I was
still a little bit dissapointed when I first heard their latest effort
The Healer. At first I thought it was only a good album, but further
listenings proved that the magic was still there under a few layers. If
you are struggling with same problems, give some time to The Healer. It's
definitely a grower. For me, it's still not able to reach the same hights
as the previous masterpiece Tragician's Hat, but nowadays I do love it
The greatness of Sister Flo still lies in the colourful and beautiful
arrangements. They have their own sound, but they are always inventing
and evolving. It's apparent also during their live shows where old tunes
might have taken a new shape, but sound still as exciting as the version
on the record or the version you heard on their previous live show a year
ago. One of the best live bands there is Finland and almost every Sister
Flo live concert I've ever heard deserves all five hearts.
The overall quality of The Healer is again impressive. Everything on the
record is well-crafted and beautifully played. Then why don't you ignorant
twat and want-to-be-reviewer than say it's the best album ever. Well because
there are no Guillotines or White Noises. Songs that you end up loving
with all your heart. Songs that become your friends and give you comfort
and shelter during the rainy days. Perhaps it's Sister Flo's problem that
they once created something that I love so wholeheartedly that there doesn't
seem to be enough room for new ones in this heart of mine. But mind you.
I'm not saying there aren't lots of great songs on the album. There certainly
are. Hyvinkää, Departure, My Weakness (I'm
Not the One You're Looking For), No One Is Perfect and especially
astoundingly beautiful The Virtue are all wonderful songs. If you're
looking for beautifully arranged and fascinating pop music, Sister Flo
is still the right answer to your call.
Flo at myspace
Aksu: OIOIOI (Jokamies, 2007)
Aksu's first album was enjoyable and naiive pop album. This second album
follows the same path, but it does seem to be a bit more serious and thoughtful
effort. And certainly a better album. Well at least if you could remove
the first song and the first single of the album Ei sen niin oo väliä.
It's extremely annoying and drives me insane. Those talking bits where
some girl praises Aksu are just so freakin annoying. If everything would
have been similar on this album, It wouldn't have gotten more than one
heart and even that would have been a broken heart. Thank God, that single
song is an exception and the only horrible song on the album.
The rest of the album is actually really enjoyable electro pop. Kaikkien
aikojen matka, No johan nyt on kumma, Aaveilu and Satuprinsessa
(and especially that Leevi & The Leavings influenced chorus on this
one) are especially great and show that Aksu can write wonderful pop music
and that he can be more than just a refreshing antidote against the horrors
of everyday boredom. Not that there's anything wrong with that either
and I'm fairly sure that the Alphaville cover Jangsteri vain have
brought some delight to work/schooldays of finnish people during the recent
months. Aksu is getting better and without the horrible crimes of the
first single OIOIOI would deserve even four hearts.
Coloured Kid: S/T -EP (Anorak Records, 2007)
Snow Coloured Kid aka Anssi Konttinen is a young finnish pop singer-songwriter.
His first EP came out few months ago on french indie label Anorak Records.
It's a really delightful and enjoyable little release. The sound of the
recordings might not be the greatest, but it's still adequate. After all,
it's the songs that count and therefore such bedroom pop release can sound
as enjoyable as major label backed albums.
Snow Coloured Kid is capable of crafting really good pop songs. I Hope
You're On My Side is a great Weezer-like pop song. Mellow Snow
Flakes on the other hand starts like a stripped down version of some
song from Dinosaur Jr's Where You Been and then adds a little bit of Wojciech
atmosphere and The Beatles melodies. Now that probably didn't make much
sense, but it's a lovely song. Slower Snow Flakes is a bad example of
the material though. Mostly this 6-song ep contains sweet and melodic
guitar pop and it's again showing a lot of promise. Anssi is improving
as a pop songwriter all the time and everything he does is already truly
enjoyable. If he keeps going, we might get some really great things from
him in a few years time. This delighful little EP is a damn good start.
Of course better sounds would have been nice, but it's not that important.
Good pop songs are important and there are five of them on this lovely
Coloured Kid at myspace
Bishops: S/T (1234 Records, 2007)
A whole lot of fun. Young London-based group The Bishops plays 60's influenced
rock'n'roll that is bound to make you dance. There's killer hooks, tight
playing, bouncy rhythms, pop melodies and some harmonies. Sounds like
a perfect formula if a band wants to win my heart over and The Bishops
easily succeeds in that. They are not inventing anything new, but it's
all so well-crafted and passionately played that I don't mind at all.
I think it would be just wonderful if even more bands would get inspiration
from 60's pop and rock a'la early Stones, Kinks, Who..
Especially The first single The Only Place I Can Look Is Down is
truly stunning. Short but strong rocker with a pop sensibility. But it's
not the only one. The album is filled with incredibly catchy two-minute
rock tunes. There's at least 6-7 killer songs on the album. Most retro
rock groups would give their vintage amplifiers, if they got songs like
The Only Place I Can Look Is Down, I Can't Stand It Anymore,
Breakaway and Will You Ever Come Back Again? in return.
All the material isn't equally wonderful, but everything on the record
is enjoyable. The Bishops is extremely promising new band. No.. forget
that. This is much more than just promising. They are already wonderful
and this record is a whole lot of fun.
Bishops at myspace
Valley Below: Running Rites (VB Music, 2007)
Valley Below is a new finnish pop group. Well actually they've played
concerts since 2003, but it took until april 2007 to get this debut full-lenght
Running Rites out and available. During the years. their partners in crime
have been another great finnish pop band Bookends and nowadays they also
share a drummer.
Valley Below's debut promises great things, but it is not entirely faultless.
In Gratitude is a beautiful harmonic pop song in the vein of early-Posies
and Souvenir, Absence and Jukeboxing are great guitar pop
tracks with a killer chorus. Besides these songs that take influences
from 90's power pop, there's plenty of slower beautiful folky pop songs.
At first I didn't care much about them, but further listenings made me
discover the beauty of Selling Down The River and Capel Curig.
The best part about these is that it shows how great vocalists they can
be. During the guitar pop songs I always keep hoping that there would
be more strength and guts in the vocals, but their clean, angelic vocals
harmonies fits perfectly to these beautiful songs. Running Rite
does the unthinkable and manages to be over 7 minutes long pop song and
is able to keep me interested the whole time. A really beautifully arranged
All of the above seems very positive. Then what's the problem. As said
before, the vocals could be stronger in the guitar pop material. I suppose
it's funny that in a way I find the singing both best and worst part of
the record. During the faster material it doesn't seem to be that convincing,
but on the contrary, the album also contains lots of geniuslike vocal
arrangements and angelic harmonies. One worry is that some of the lyrics
let the songs down. For example Absence is one hell ofa pop song
(especially that last minute and a half is a pop heaven), but It doesn't
hide the fact that lyrics like "This is your Moor, once more / You
enter the door" aren't that good and certainly can't match the beautiful
arrangements of the song. This lyric problem is also apparent in the song
Handyman. However, I'm not saying all the lyrics are bad. It only
affects 2-3 songs. There are also some great lyrics like In Gratitude
for example. Another worry is that the overall sound of the record seems
a bit lackluster at times. But in the end it's the songs that count and
Valley Below certainly have enough great ones.
Seagulls: Soul Politics (Fullsteam, 2007)
It took me a long time to fall in love with them. Then in july 2007 I
finally saw the light and bought my first Damn Seagulls album Soul
Politics. Soon after that I became mildly obsessed and few weeks later
I bought the debut as well. Perhaps the debut One Night at Sirdie's
didn't make as big impact on me, but I still feel that Soul Politics is
one of the finest finnish releases of the year.
Soul Politics is a wonderful record and there's not a bad song on it (well
the last song Kings of Fool is a bit boring though). There are
these fantastic soul-flavoured rock hits like Human Torch, but
also lots of slower material that is equally stunning. Opener Once
We Were Thieves might even make you think that you've accidentally
inserted some great country/folk singer-songwriter album in your cd player.
The biggest treasures for me are The Beat and Something About
It. The Beat is a slower Springsteen-influenced and soul-tinged rock
tune with pop sensibility. Something About It is a faster rocker that
might hit the right nerves of some US indie rock fans too (think of stuff
like Replacements, Jesse Malin played by E-Street Band). If you try to
compare them to some groups, the first name dropped is usually Springsteen
and E-Street Band. Besides that there are traces of similarities with
groups such as Afghan Whigs, The Hold Steady, The Replacements. Basicly
this is just gorgeous big sounding rock music with hints of soul and punk
thrown into the mix. And it's not too big sounding. I usually prefer things
to be small, but this time I don't want to remove the saxophones and horns
from the album because everything sounds so delightful. Too much would
obviously be too much, but Soul Politics is a well-built album where you
can ease your mind during the beautiful slower tunes before getting sunk
into the world of gorgeous soulful rock music again. A great album.
Seagulls at myspace
Ferns: On Botany (Fruit Records, 2007)
Incredibly sweet pop music from Malaysia. It also must be one of the most
weirdly packed albums. That green thing you see on the cover is actually
a piece of fake grass that's been glued to the case. Perhaps not the best
idea, but certainly you'll notice it at the record store. And because
of it we didn't need to buy rairuoho this easter. We just put the case
on the middle of the table and then added some little bunnies on top of
the grass. Anyway, the way it has been packed isn't really that interesting.
The important thing is that it contains some really good indie pop.
On Botany's only slight problem is that it all sounds a bit too
similar. Okay there are lighter pop songs and then there are tunes that
dwell in sadness. So everything doesn't sound the same. And in any case,
the lack of versatility is not a huge worry, because they certainly do
that one thing so wonderfully. Maybe it could be said that it's somewhere
between sweeter side of indie pop (The Clientele, Days, Postal Blue etc)
and dreamy sadcore stuff (Arco etc). I had no expectations beforehand,
but I was instantly captivated by it's beauty when I listened to it for
the first time. If you are looking for some sad but sweet twee pop, it
might be worth it to give them a chance to charm you. I'm confindent they
are able to succeed in that. After all, if they were swedish, everyone
in the indiepop world would love them already.
Ryan Adams: Easy Tiger (Lost Highway, 2007)
I love almost everything Ryan Adams has done. He might not be the kindest
boy on the planet, but he certainly is a marvellous songwriter. Easy
Tiger is one of his strongest albums. Sure it's quite clean and perhaps
this is Ryan Adams playing it safe. But who cares if it doesn't affect
the quality of his work. And when it comes to overall quality, this might
the best Ryan Adams so far. Some of them may have higher peaks, but this
is probably the first time I can say that I love each and every song.
The rocker Halloweenhead occasionally raises some question marks,
but usually I enjoy it too.
At first, It might not seem to be so, but Easy Tiger is a rather versatile
album. You'll find Gold-like clean radio-friendly tunes, country ballads,
pretty acoustic numbers and the rock of Halloweenhead or the bluegrass
of Pearl on a Sting. The highlight and the real heartbreaker of
the album is saved for last. I Taught Myself How To Grow Old is
one of the songs of the year. Basicly it would be worth to name all the
songs, because all of them are wonderful. At the moment Easy Tiger is
the strongest contender for the #1 spot on my album of the year 2007 list.
It seems that in terms of overall quality, nothing compares to Easy Tiger.
It's such a great album full of gorgeous songs.
Adams at myspace
Sky Blue Sky (Nonesuch, 2007)
I've been a long time fan, but a few years ago my love affair with Wilco
faced some difficulties. I did love Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, but after
Ghost is Born I was almost ready to be unfaithful and focus my love
on more traditional americana bands. That whole experimental side of Wilco
wasn't my cup of my tea, but Sky Blue Sky seems to be the counsil
that will rejuvenate my Wilco relationship. While they haven't completely
abandoned their will to experiment, Sky Blue Sky is still a step back
towards the good old days. Soft and moody tunes like Either Way,
Sky Blue Sky and Leave Me (Like You Found Me) are worth
all the hearts in the world. Actually the whole first half of the album
is perfect, but unfortunately the latter half brings some songs that I
don't care much about (especially Shake It Off and Walken)
and therefore I'm not able to give more hearts. Despite that, Wilco made
a happy boy with their new album Sky Blue Sky and showed me that they
don't deserve a place in my heart only for nostalgic reasons. They can
definitely still write wonderful albums.
Trembling Blue Stars: The Last Holy Writer (Elefant,
Hearing new Trembling Blue Stars album is always a remarkable event in
my heart. In a way, Bobby Wratten is my own personal psychiatrist and
might be a threat to the whole psychiatric profession if his songs have
as significant effect to others as well. There's been nights that would
have seemed endless if I hadn't been able to share them with that beautiful,
quiet voice that fills the room with honest emotion-filled words that
manages to wrap all my melancholic thoughts inside the beautiful floating
chords of the music. To many others, Bobby Wratten's songs might seem
sad, but for me they are only therapeutical. I need to get that sadness
out of my heart and there just isn't a better way then to let Trembling
Blue Stars capture it and drift it away while showing that even the longest
night leads to daylight.
The Last Holy Writer is the sixth Trembling Blue Stars album and
it's another really good one. It doesn't compare to the previous masterpiece
Seven Autumn Flowers, but that's mostly because that was such an
amazing album. Or perhaps I'm just nowadays a happier person and TBS isn't
as vital to my well-being anymore. The love and affection towards their
music haven't faded away with the sadness. Idyllwild is the should-be
hit of the album. What a fantastic moody pop song sung by Beth.Lighter
songs The Tenth of Always and Say Goodbye To The Sea work
beautifully. Especially The Tenth of Always is such a great one with soft
female harmonies backing Bobby's vocals here and there. Sacred Music,
A Statue To Wilde and Pale Blue Rosary are perfect examples
of that wonderful melancholic side of Trembling Blue Stars. It's just
so achingly beautiful music. There are some less interesting stuff like
the opener By False Lights or This Once Was An Island that
makes the grade down a bit. Therefore I can't say this is one of Bobby's
finest albums, but it surely is another strong effort.
Blue Stars Website
Blue Stars at myspace
Broken Family Band: Hello Love (Track & Field, 2007)
The Broken Family Band is a great band and make totally my kind of music.
They are mostly known as one of uk's finest alt.country & americana
groups, but they also deliver loads of gorgeous pop melodies and they
certainly aren't afraid to rock.
Hello Love is a third really good album in a row (there could be
more, I don't own the earlier ones), but it still leaves me waiting for
the perfect The Broken Family Band record. As I've said before, at times
they sound like the greatest band in the world to me and therefore I have
these unrealistic expectations and keep waiting for the day when they
release that album of the decade. It may not ever happen, but I shouldn't
let it bother because they always give me a quality album.
The first single Love Your Man, Love Your Woman is a decent rock
tune, but it never starts to roll and gets a bit boring. Leaps
or Dancing On The 4th Floor could have been better choises as far
as I'm concerned. After all, with that pop sensibility they might drive
pop trendsetters to the dancefloors before they could realize that they
are dancing to jangly americana. Hello Love is certainly more pop then
the previous album Balls, but they haven't abandoned those great country-flavoured
ballads either. Hello Love share the same problem as previous The Broken
Family Band albums. Only about half of the material is pure class. Eventhough
the rest is definitely enjoyable too, it doesn't yet warrant a higher
amount of hearts. However, as long there are songs like So Many Lovers,
Don't Change Your Mind, Leaps, Dancing On the 4th Floor
and Give and Take I will surely keep buying their records. And
perhaps one day they will hit the jackpot and release that perfect album.
With this kind of music and with that singing voice, It's bound to happen
Broken Family Band Website
Broken Family Band at myspace
The Ronelles: Motel (Neon Tetra Records, 2006)
Back to basics. This album is full of short but incredibly catchy rock'n'roll
tunes. Motel already came out in 2006, but I found it a couple
of months ago. And because this is a whole lot of fun and perhaps isn't
too well-known, it deserves a quick praise.
Like many of my favourite bands, The Ronelles comes from Scotland. However,
this is not scottish pop ala Teenage Fanclub. Motel is fabulous rock'n'roll
album and I love it. It's true that usually I don't listen to such music
and probably wouldn't have found The Ronelles either if the album had
been released by some other label than Neon Tetra Records (they've released
lots of great pop albums). Perhaps there's a little bit of rock'n'roll
in me after all, because it feels so damn good to listen to this. This
is entertainment. Perfect mixture of rock'n'roll, blues and country. I've
been especially addicted to the songs Bolt The Doors, She Said
No and To See You For The Last Time, but the whole album is
definitely a blast. It makes me wonder why I've never paid enough attention
to good old rock'n'roll. Is it time for me to start buying Chuck Berry
and Jerry Lee Lewis records..
Ronelles at myspace
Ilona V: Good Morning 7" (Bracken Records,
Finally an official Ilona release. If you are a regular visitor of this
website, you already know that I'm completely in love with her music.
She is the greatest folk chanteusse at the moment and deserves a wider
recognition. Thankfully Bracken Records saw the light and decided to release
this beautiful seven inch single. If onechord gave culture awards, Bracken
records would get one just for releasing this.
The a-side Good Morning already appeared on her self-released EP,
but it certainly deserves an official release. Such a beautiful piece
of music where the warmness of the music makes the sadness of the lyrics
fade away. A perfect song. There's two new demos on the b-side that I've
never heard before. These are Universe Arms and Who Can Tell.
Needless to say that both are truly magnificent. Universe Arms is even
up there on the same level as Ilona's best songs Neverever, Fall
Song and Good Morning. I'm just totally in love with Ilona's
music. I just find her soft vocals and the gentle instrumentation of the
songs totally irresistable. How can something so small, evoke so much
warmness. The closest comparison I can come up with is still Sibylle Baier,
but one can assume that fans of people like Keren Ann and Rose Melberg
might fall in love with Ilona as well. Actually for me it's impossible
to think that someone wouldn't love music as amazing and warm as this.
Therefore I suggest you pick up this single before it's too late. There
are only 300 copies available and if there's any justice these will be
worth a lot when the world falls in love with her. My romantic heart hopes
it will be only a matter of time.
V at myspace
Falkner: I'm OK... You're OK (Noise McCartney, 2007)
It was about time. It had been eight years since the last solo album.
Thankfully much have not changed during those years. I can still feel
the greatness of Jason Falkner's music. I'm OK.. You're OK was
born in various home studios during the years and is therefore" intentionally
mid-fi" as Jason describes on his myspace. The days of major label
deals are perhaps over for Jason, but I don't really mind. Jason Falkner
is able to write great tunes that don't need crystal clear production
to become enjoyable.
I'm OK.. You're OK was released on japanese label Noise McCartney (a US/Europe
release will follow later, but I just couldn't wait) and it's definitely
another great Jason Falkner album. Perhaps a bit weaker than the debut,
but I might rate it even higher than Can You Still Feel? The only minor
flaw is that the songs are a bit too long for my taste (only three under
4 minutes). Kind of pointless to mention it, because 3 out of the 4 songs
that clock over 5 minutes are among my favourite songs of the album. Still
I cannot help but feel that some of these songs would become bigger hits
in this heart of mine if they were edited a bit. Perhaps I have a three-minute-pop
song syndrome / obsession of some kind.
When it comes to songs, there's only a couple I don't like. I've tried
and tried, but I still don't like Anondah and Hurricane.
But that's not important. The important thing is that there are again
lots of wonderful pop songs on the album. Stephanie Tells Me is one Jason's
finest and should be a hit. The other should-be hits are the opener This
Time, Komplicated Man and the rocker NYC. Longer numbers
Runaway and Say It's True work equally well and the reason
not to wait for the US release is the Japan only bonus track I Don't
Mind which is one of the finest on the album. I'm OK.. You're OK is
full of well-crafted pop songs that contain lots of killer hooks and gorgeous
vocals. Arrangements are wonderful. The sound might not be the greatest,
but it doesn't make it any less enjoyable. Jason Falkner proves that he
still is one of the very best pop singer-songwriters in the world. Hopefully
we don't have to wait as long for the next album.
Falkner at myspace
Sweatmaster: Animal (Fullsteam Records, 2007)
Everytime Sweatmaster releases a record, there's time for a quick rock
review on a pop website. That is because the greatness of Sweatmaster
is easily able to hit the heart of a shy pop sissy like yours truly. Sweatmaster's
third album Animal is damn good, but it's still a tiny dissapointment
to me personally. This is only because Tom Tom Bullet was such
an incredible album. I loved it to bits and perhaps there was nothing
they could have released that would have topped it in my heart. Therefore
the only problem lies within me and there was certainly no point in releasing
a Tom Tom Bullet #2.
Like I already said. Animal is a great album. Okay, In Limbo is
crap and Filler is just what it's called. Filler so annoying that
I never listen to it. But most of Animal is again brilliant. The first
single and the title track Animal is not my favourite song on the album,
but is a great tune that totally stucks in your head. It's not surprise
that I love the slower melodic tune Cut Up In Half, but the biggest
treat is saved for last. Word of Disease and Everybody Thinks
They Know You've Got A Broken Heart is one helluva way to end an album.
Melodic enough for a popster, but still so damn strong and convincing.
Am I only one who thinks of Sloan when listening Sweatmaster. Especially
The Kid on Tom Tom Bullet sounded a lot like Sloan and same comes
to mind on couple of songs here. It's not that they are ripping each other
of. They've probably just been listening to too much of Kiss in their
youth or something. Also I Have Your Eyes, Calling Satan, Let
Me In, Dead Legs and Down In Size are simply brilliant
Tom Tom Bullet remain as my favourite Sweatmaster album, but Animal is
a great album nevertheless and Sasu easily remain as the most convincing
rock vocalist in the country.
White: For Women Only (Revola, 2004)
This is an endless route. I mean starting to review also old records.
I won't take this route often, but I love this album so dearly that I
wanted to quickly praise it. After all, it's the best record I've heard
this year. Even by a huge margin. On my review scale this should get about
23 hearts, but a guess I have to settle for the normal five.
Bergen White's For Women Only was originally released 1970, but
thankfully Rev-Ola re-released this lost masterpiece three years ago.
Then who is Bergen White? Apparently he is a well-known as a master arranger
who has worked with people like Elvis Presley and Glen Campbell. It's
a shame he isn't also well-known as a great songwriter and performer.
Besides his own material, For Women Only contains compositions from people
like Townes Van Zandt, Mickey Newbury, David Gates, Barry Mann, Cynthia
Weil... And there really isn't a bad song in the bunch. One of my favourites
is Bergen's version of Townes Van Zandt's Second Lover's Song.
There's also lots of brilliant Bergen White compositions like It's
Your Time, The Bird Song, Now and one of the best songs
ever What Would You Do In My Place. What Would Do In My Place is
actually a bonus track and recorded three years before the album. Oh how
I love that song. It's achingly beautiful and truly stunning. I'm obsessed
with it. I can't even get this review written, because I keep just listening
to that amazing tune on repeat..
For Women Only is a lost masterpiece. Lush beautifully orchestrated soft
pop. Full of melancholic beauty and gorgeous arrangements. If you love
people like Roger Nichols, Paul Williams and Harry Nillsson, I'm confident
that you will love Bergen White as well.
White at myspace
Primary 5: Go (Re-Action Recordings, 2007)
Primary 5's songwriter is ex-TFC drummer Paul Quinn. Therefore it's not
a huge surprise that Primary 5 sounds a bit like Teenage Fanclub. Obviously
one might worry that this TFC-connection will turn out to be the only
interesting thing and Go would be just a collection of decent pop
tunes by an ex-drummer of the greatest band ever. Thankfully this isn't
the case and Paul Quinn proves that he is a great songwriter. Primary
5's Go should find its way to record shelves of pop lovers all around.
It's a crime against pop music if it doesn't.
Primary 5's Go starts brilliantly. The first quartet of songs Off Course
(one of the pop songs of the year), 2 AM, Sunsets and Out
in The Cold forms a perfect pop heaven. It's a familiar sound, well-crafted
songs, guitars shine, vocals are brilliant, some gorgeous harmonies. It's
that perfect scottish pop music and you couldn't ask for more. Anyone
of these could be on a Teenage Fanclub album and wouldn't make that album
any worse (sorry.. I'm sure Paul and his bandmate Ryan Currie are sick
of all the TFC comparisons, but it's hard not to because there's a lot
of similarities and I'm sure all TFC fans would love these songs). The
latter half of the album isn't as magical, but it's still full of really
good pop music. Apart from maybe Window Shopping which is the only
song I don't like that much. In overall, Primary 5's Go is a great pop
record. Actually while I was writing this I got so excited about them
that I ordered their debut album North Pole too.
Primary 5 at myspace
Fountains Of Wayne: Traffic and Weather (Virgin,
Fountains of Wayne return with a new album called Traffic and Weather
and despite of what you might have heard, it's again a great pop album.
There's been some really trashing reviews and also several fans have been
unimpressed with the album. I also have a few doubts about some songs.
For example I hate the title track Traffic and Weather and usually
end up using the skip button when Strapped for Cash starts. However,
about 3/4 of the album is really good pop music including several highlights
like country-flavoured Fire In The Canyon.
Fountains Of Wayne's lyrics probably divide opinions. Their storytelling
with witty remarks and playful use of words is sometimes balancing on
a thin line. Most of the times I like them a lot but lines like "She
saw you at the Gap / with somebody in a baseball cap" probably aren't
that clever. On the other hand the songwriting team Schlesinger &
Collingwood is able to turn boring everyday events into magical pop moments
like no other. Therefore they get away with some things less talented
wouldn't. Traffic and Weather isn't their best album, but it does contains
lots of great songs like Fire In The Canyon, Someone To Love,
I-95 and New Routine.
of Wayne Website
of Wayne at myspace
Loose Salute: Tuned To Love (Graveface Records, 2007)
One of the highlights of the latest Mojave
3 album was a song called The Mutineer that was written by Ian
McCutcheon. Now Ian has stepped under the spotlight and The Loose Salute's
debut album shows that The Mutineer was not a lucky stroke. Ian McCutcheon
is capable of writing lots of wonderful tunes. In fact all of these eleven
songs are written by him (one is co-written by Ian, Neil Halstead and
Lisa Billson though).
Tuned to Love is a great album. This is sunny, mellow and beautiful
music. Lead vocals are shared by Lisa Billson and Ian McCutcheon. Ian
sings the sweet ballads The Mutineer and Ballad of The Dumb
Angel. Both filled with that irresistable warmness that makes Mojave
3's Excuses for Travellers one of my all-time favourite albums. These
are perfect moments. Lisa Billson takes the lead duties on seven songs
and she is a great vocalist too. In overall Tuned To Love contains country-tinged
ballads and sweet and warm pop music with occasional rockers or playful
numbers in-between. This album evokes the same feelings as Beachwood Sparks
(first album era, no psychedelia here), Mojave 3 and The Tyde (also especially
first album). Sounds like a good thing doesn't it. In fact most of the
material would deserve even more hearts, but I don't share the same passion
towards some of the playful material like the opener Dead Club.
However, The Mutineer, The Ballad of Dumb Angel, Why'd
We Fight and Photographs and Tickets are all perfect five heart
songs. So tune into The Loose Salute's frequency. They have a sweeter
deal for you.
Loose Salute Website
Loose Salute at myspace
Dropkick: Turning Circles (Taylored Records 2007)
Scottish Dropkick is one of my new favourite
bands. This is so totally my kind of music. Country-tinged pop music with
glorious vocal harmonies. Dropkick seem to be a prettty well kept secret,
because this is already their fifth album and I've never heard of them
before Turning Circles stormed into my heart a couple of months
ago.. And I'm a huge fan of scottish pop music and sometimes I even imagine
that I know a little bit about it.
Well now I try do my little part in making them better known and tell
that I absolutely love this album. Turning Circles is filled with wonderful
pop tunes with country twists. Obviously Teenage Fanclub comes often to
mind during the poppier moments of the album, but that's hardly a bad
thing. Turning Circles is a marvellous album and it's hard to think that
fans of harmony-filled alt.country / powerpop wouldn't love it. I certainly
do love Turning Circles. If someone forced me to find some flaws, I guess
there might be a little bit of room for improvement on the overall sound
of the record, but it's the songs that count and there's certainly no
worries on the songwriting department. Perhaps they are not inventing
anything new, but they certainly do this alt.country power pop thing perfectly.
And don't get scared, if you hate country. For me this is mostly a perfect
POP record and one of the most enjoyable releases of the year.
Mark Olson: The Salvation Blues (Hacktone, 2007)
I haven't followed Mark Olson's career closely
after he left The Jayhawks, but The Salvation Blues brought him
back to my heart. This really is a wonderful album. On Salvation Blues,
Mark's old Jayhawks partner Gary Louris joins him on three songs to sing
some beautiful harmonies. It's obvious that such reunion will give nostalgic
trips to jayhawks enthusiastics like myself and it sure feels wonderful
and emotional to hear those beautiful voices joining together in perfect
harmony. Gary Louris' appearance is a wonderful bonus and hopefully draws
more attention to this, but the most important thing is that Mark Olson
has written a beautiful and intimate album. The Salvation Blues will be
regarded as one of the most convincing albums of the year here at onechord.
It may not contain any hit songs, but it's confessional tone, emotion-filled
poetic lyrics and beautifully crafted songs shines through into your heart.
Olson at myspace
Bob Evans: Suburban Songbook (EMI australia, 2006)
Bob Evans is one hell of a pop songwriter. Or should I say Kevin Mitchell
is , because apparently Bob Evans is Jebediah's Kevin Mitchell (Jebediah
is an australian indie pop group that I know nothing about, perhaps I
should learn). This latest release Suburban Songbook is the second
album under the name Bob Evans and it was recorded in Nashville under
the guidance of well known power pop songwriter/producer Brad Jones and
with the help of some great musicians like Wilco's Ken Coomer.
Suburban Songbook is a marvellous pop album and I'm almost ashamed that
it took me a while to totally fall in love with it. I instantly liked
it, but at first I just rated it as another really nice and pleasant pop
album and I failed to hear the greatness of it. Nowadays I'm totally hooked
and I rate it almost as a perfect album. This is really well-crafted and
perfectly arranged pop music. At least names like Fountains of Wayne,
Josh Rouse, Daniel Wylie and well The Beatles comes to mind while listening.
Oh and on Flame Bob's vocals reminds me of Super Deluxe's Via Satellite
era ballads (maybe just because it feels Braden Blake is singing the song).
Basicly you could name all the great pop singer-songwriters of today and
Bob Evans would fit in perfectly. He is up there with the very best of
There's eleven tracks on the album and all of them are great. There's
classic power pop like Comin' Around, jangly pop hits like Friend
and heartwarming pop ballads like Darlin' Won't You Come? that
could be pretty Fountains of Wayne tunes. Highly melodic pop tunes. Marvellous
vocals. A little of bit country. And the arrangements. Flute, saxophone,
trombone, trumpet, cello, pedal steel and violin all make appearances
and give flavour to the songs and still it just feels like there's one
guy with acoustic guitar singing his heart out. Which is a good thing,
because I don't usually like big sounding orchestrated pop music. I've
totally fallen in love with the album. Suburban Songbook is filled with
amazingly beautiful and intimate timeless pop tunes and it would have
been a candidate for a top 3 spot on my best of 2006 list if I had bought
Evans at myspace
Sloan: Never Hear The End Of It (Yep Rock, 2007)
Well you know Sloan has a big place in my heart, because I stole the name
of this website from them. Eventhough I haven't been the biggest Sloan
fan during the last few years, a new Sloan album is still a big thing.
This time Sloan has decided to give us a small overdose by putting 30
songs on the album. Therefore it took a while to digest everything, but
now I'm sure that this is a great album. 1/3 of the album is as perfect
as anything Sloan has ever written, 1/3 of the album is really good music
and the last third is at least okay. Never Hear The End Of It would
be like the greatest album ever if I could cut it down to 12-14 songs.
But I don't think I should complain, because I probably don't have equal
taste with the band and if they had done the editing it's possible some
of my favourites would be missing. Now I can always program my cd player
to play that perfect Sloan album that these songs could form.
...hmm... Should I say something about the music too. Well it's Sloan
so I think everyone knows already. Perfect powerful rock tunes with pop
melodies. A lot less Kiss influences than on Action Pact and therefore
this is closer to Pretty Together than Action Pact. Never Hear
The End Of It does contain a lot of fillers, but it's pretty hard not
to love an album that contains almost ten five heart songs on my scale.
Wojciech: Sointula (M.Dulor, 2007)
Another escape to my childhood. Wojciech has some magical power to take
me into childhood memories and make them feel more precious than they
actually were. Not that they were bad memories to begin with. It's just
that the chords and melodies that Wojciech create can remove all the cynisism
that the responsible adult life has injected into them and then give you
rose-coloured glasses that make you see your current surroundings with
the same innocent excitement than at the time when the biggest struggle
of your life was to decide whether you want a chocolade or strawberry
Sointula is a dreamlike journey into beautiful soundscapes. I'm
usually completely against any kind of music fantasies, but Wojciech has
that innocent warmness that keep the songs close to my heart. The stories
might be set in snowy atmospheres, but certain kind of warmness remains.
Icicles become torches when they are carried by Wojciech's magical melodies.
Sointula might not contain any songs that would have hit potential or
even songs that would be be perfect on their own, but as a complete piece
of music it all works beautifully. Think of groups like Circulatory System,
Album Leaf, Flaming Lips and Grandaddy to get a clue of Wojciech's sight
and sound experience. Sointula could be like a distant finnish cousin
to Album Leaf's In a Safe Place, because they both contain beautiful soundscapes
and icy warmness. Wojciech's album is far more exciting though. The only
reason why I don't get completely excited about Sointula might be Wojciech's
debut album Ystävät Toverit that already did something quite
similar with even more amazing results. That's not a huge problem though,
because I always need more places to run to if the world starts looking
too scary and therefore Sointula might have me as a regular visitor during
stressful times. It can be my dream when I'm not able to sleep.
Järvi: Wherever Art Thou (Everlasting Records, 2007)
Juni Järvi is a swedish artist and Wherever Art Thou is his
debut album that also got a finnish release in early 2007. Thankfully
so, because this is a really good pop album. Easy way to describe this
beautiful record would be that it sounds a lot like Jens Lekman and Magnetic
Fields. This would be true, but only part of the truth. It's clear that
such tunes as The Stars Above Indian Lake and If We Just Want
To shows some resemblance to Lekman's material. However, that is just
one side of the record. There's different kind of beautiful pop tunes
that have first been soaked in light melancholy and have then been clued
together in order to form a continuos delight for overly romantic pop
kids. Needless to say that yours truly prefers the sweet pop tunes and
the sugary ballads like Waiting For Tomorrow, which do form the
majority of the album. I guess it's fair to say that you need to have
a soft spot in your heart in order to enjoy Juni Järvi. On the other
hand these tunes might float into your heart and create that soft spot
for you if you are willing to let your guard down. Wherever Art Thou might
not be for everyday use in this household, but during special nights it's
a perfect match with my weak lovesoaked heart.
Järvi at myspace
Cats On Fire: The Province Complains (Marsh-Marigold, 2007)
The first real contender for the album of the year title. I knew I was
going to love this even before I heard the album. Well every reader of
this tiny website knew that, because I think I've praised them a lot during
the past few years. The only minor worry was that they might have continued
the path of Draw in The Reins. Which was not a huge worry because
Draw in the Reins is a great song as well. It's a great pop hit (well
should be anyway) with a bit of pulp-vibe. A ten of those would just be
way too much. Thankfully they haven't fallen for that trap and The
Province Complains is a well-balanced album. I suppose it's possible
that some who think Draw in the Reins is their best song might feel a
little bit dissapointed because there are lots of gentle pop tunes on
the album. However, the quality of the material is so high that it should
be only a matter of time until every pop fan has fallen in love with The
The Province Complains contains twelve excellent pop songs. The old favourites
Higher Grounds and The Smell of an Artist have been re-recorded,
but aren't significantly better than the earlier ones. This is mostly
because it's probably pretty hard to make already perfect songs any better
than they were. However, The Smell of An Artist sounds even more powerful
nowadays, because I found out that it's about that sick finnish artist
Teemu Mäki who thought it's art to kill a cat.
There are lots of new tracks obviously and they are all great. I Am
the White-Mantled King is a gorgeous opener and the following Astray
shows a bit of Kinks-influences. The real highlight of the album for me
is the trio of Mesmer And Reason, If You Must Tell Him and
The Sharp End Of The Season in the latter half of the album. These
are all perfect songs. Mesmer and Reason is my favourite song on the record.
Wonderful melody, intelligent but witty lyrics, trombone and really gorgeous
harmony vocals in the chorus. Oh. It doesn't get any better than this.
Gently floating pretty pop tune. The Province Complains is such an amazing
record. There are the energic indie pop hits with morrissey drama and
jangly hooks, but there's also lots of well-crafted traditional gentle
and peaceful pop tunes. And these latter are far from being just pointless
fillers. They are even the most convincing part of the album. This is
really strong pop songwriting and therefore I hope that also people outside
indie pop circles find this album. After all, this is lot better than
The Smiths anyway. Okay, Mattias might want to kill me because of that
statement, but on a personal level it's true. I haven't really gotten
into Morrissey (apart from You are the Quarry maybe), but I surely love
everything this kid (who has been heavily influenced by Morrissey) writes.
He is a really great songwriter and The Province Complains is a perfect
On Fire Website
On Fire at myspace
Winnerys: Daily Urban Times (Rainbow Quartz, 2006)
The Winnerys is a spanish power pop group. Their leadsinger is Paul McCartney
..no..wait.. the inlay says it's Fausto Martin. I guess I have to believe
that eventhough on couple of the songs he sounds exactly like Paul. Well
that's hardly a bad thing. Anyway, this is excellent power pop with hints
of psychedelia. I suppose it's easy to criticize them about the lenght
of the album. 15 songs and 62 minutes is a bit too much for a pop record
and Daily Urban Times would have been even a bigger killer if a few less-great
songs had been dropped. But why to worry, because there's still 8-10 really
good pop tunes on the album and the best ones like Not So Far Away,
How I Miss You, Get Into My Life are utterly wonderful.
Excellent catchy pop music with powerful playing and vocal harmonies.
I'm not that much into the more psychedelic pop songs, but the straightforward
rockin pop tunes are killers. Daily Urban Times is nowhere near perfect,
but it's definitely a really good pop record.
Winnerys at myspace
Peachy Little Secrets -Fruit Records Compilation (Fruit Records, 2006)
Peachy Little Secrets is an international pop compilation released
by Singapore-based label Fruit Records. It's actually much more
interesting than the average pop compilation, because over half of these
bands are really good asian groups that I have never heard of. The sound
is very sweet and twee throughout the record. There's some big names included
like The Lucksmiths and My Favorite, but the focus is on small, but excellent
indie pop groups. This compilation is certainly able to reveal several
pop secrets to me. That of course might be just because of my ignorance
about world indie pop, but thankfully there are labels like Fruit Records
there to educate me.
Because everyone knows that Sunlight In a Jar by The Lucksmiths
or Burning Hearts by My Favorite are excellent pop tunes,
it's better to focus on these less known pop acts. Almost every song would
be worth mentioning, but I'll just go through my own favorites
My Writes: Love In the 60's (Singapore)
Really sweet indiepop with unique sounding vocals.
purplepaige: Suzie On Monday Morning (Singapore)
Brilliant. Somewhere between Comet Gain and The Arrogants maybe.
Ferns: Disaster Strikes Again (Malaysia)
A really wonderful Malaysian pop group whose album will be reviewed here
on a later date. And it's a damn good album, I can say that already. If
Lasse Lindh lived in Asia and only wrote sweet and mellow pop songs it
could be something like this.
My Little Airport: Japan Sut Gua (Hong Kong)
Male-female duo from Hong Kong. Very cute.
Mocca (ft Karolina Komstedt of Club 8): I Would Never.. (Indonesia/Sweden)
Two perfect female voices.
The Oddfellows: Unity Song (Singapore)
A great guitar pop tune. Actually it reminds me a bit of finnish Poverty
Also Annemarie (Indonesia), Serenaide (Singapore), The
Marshmellow Kisses (Hong Kong), Little Name (UK) and The
Castavetes (Sweden) have great songs here and there's nothing wrong
with the rest either. Fruit Records deserve a lot of hugs and kisses,
because of this lovely compilation. Four hearts for the music and an extra
half of a heart for introducing a plenty of new indie pop groups to me.
Records at myspace
Roger Joseph Manning Jr: The Land Of Pure Imagination
The Land of Pure Imagination is the long-waited debut album of
Roger Joseph Manning Jr who used to play in Jellyfish
(The earlier japanese release Solid State Warrior does have three different
songs than this us release).
I'm only 100% sure about one thing. I absolutely hate the cover art. I
have mixed feelings about the music. On the other hand it's amazing piece
of pop art with thoughtful arrangements, but it also feels that these
pop fantasies fly far above me and never seem to find the core of my heart.
Because of Jellyfish I would like to love this to bits and write huge
praises about the album. It wouldn't be very honest, because it's a struggle
to love The Land Of Pure Imagination. "Just liking" the album
isn't a struggle, because apart from couple of total mishits like Sandman
and Dragonfly, the album still ends up on a positive side and there
are a few really great songs like Wish It Would Rain. Roger Joseph
Manning Jr is a very gifted songwriter and a sound wizard. There are so
many magical pop moments that it's easy to forgive that stylewise I have
huge problems with the album. And well the harmonies are pure gold all
The Land of Pure Imagination is quite a psych-pop journey. On one day
it feels like a perfect pop masterpiece, but on another day it might sound
like an 70's aor band that has taken too much acid and want to be Van
Dyke Parks. Which might mean that it's just too ambitious for a simple
kid like me. Linus of Hollywood's latest album comes to mind while listening
to this. And I must say that I prefer Linus' album just because it's just
a simple pop record and don't try to be a masterful pop fantasy. But yours
truly hates also scifi, fantasy and horror movies and prefers silly romantic
comedies. I guess I just don't have enough imagination to get sucked into
the land of pure imagination.
Joseph Manning Jr at myspace
Joseph Manning Jr Website
The Someloves: Don't Talk About Us 2CD (Half a Cow,
Don't Talk About Us contains complete Someloves recordings. The
legendary album Something Or Other plus all the singles. It's a
very welcome release because Something Or Other has been out of print
for years. Therefore it's damn nice to finally get these perfect pop gems
to my record shelf. And I believe I'm not the only finnish pop fan who
was looking for these. That's because Miettinen / Räkärodeo
made sure that every listener knew the greatness of The Someloves / Dom
Mariani / Darryl Mather. Finding these australian pop gems is one of the
dozens of great reasons to be forever thankful to Miettinen. I wouldn't
know a thing about music if there hasn't been Räkärodeo.
The first disc contains the album Something Or Other and like everyone
already knows it's a pop masterpiece and an essential power pop release.
Know You Now, Melt, Sunshine's Glove, I'm Falling
Down..well basicly each and every song are simply stunning. Guitar
pop just doesn't get much better than this. The disc two contains b-sides
and rarities, but the quality doesn't really drop much. It's all so sweet
pop music. I suppose everyone already knows their greatness so I don't
need to convince you more. It's an essential release if you don't own
Something or Other and well if you own Something or Other you're probably
a fan and want this anyway.
Someloves: Melt at youtube.com
Red Button: She's About To Cross My Mind (2007)
The Red Button brings back the 60's. Two pop songwriters Seth Swirsky
and Mike Ruekberg teamed up and the end result was a slice of pop heaven
entitled She's About To Cross My Mind. The album contains very
classic beatles-influenced power pop. Of course music like this might
be totally insignificant to some, but it can also be so damn enjoyable
to a pop freak. These are hook-filled songs with lots of perfect harmonies.
The kind of of pop songs that evokes smiles and bring sunshine to your
The album kicks of with an excellent track Cruel Girl that just
totally stucks in your heart. It might even get annoying, because it's
a tough task to get this simple tune out of your head and you might find
yourself humming it in the streets of your town. However, the most stunning
piece is the last song It's No Secret. A really sweet pop tune
with pretty harmonies and beatles guitars. Also the title song She's About
To Cross My Mind is a perfect pop tune. Perhaps there's a couple of only
nice tunes in the middle stages of the album, but I don't let it really
bother me because most of the album contains wonderful 60's influenced
pop music. A really enjoyable album.
Red Button Website
Red Button at myspace
Locksley: Don't Make Me Wait (Feature Records, 2007)
It would be easy to hate a band who has written a theme song for a MTV
show, but there's just one problem. It's bloody hard to be an indie snob
when you happen to really love the music. These are great songs that blows
your mind away. Mixing beatles and modern garage rock they say themselves
and that's a pretty good description. Songs like All Of The Time,
It Won't Be For Long and Into The Sun certainly have that
early 60's era Beatles thing inside them and are just amazing pop songs.
Life would be sweet if Locksley would hit it big. It feels that they even
might have a chance. If Strokes made it with their debut, why not Locksley.
It doesn't really fall that far from them. It's energetic, exciting and
bloody excellent. Thrilling rock tunes with brilliant pop melodies. I'm
totally loving Don't Make Me Wait. 3/4 of it would be worth all
the hearts in the world. This is fun, fun, fun...
Puny: It Kills You (Aisti Records, 2007)
2007 looks like a great year for finnish pop music and january already
brought great albums from Laurila, ultrasport and Puny. Puny's second
full-length It Kills You is the strongest one if I look at the
whole album. The other two have higher upside and more killer songs, but
also some less perfect songs. Puny on the other hand, don't take a step
into wrong direction and the album is filled with really good songs.
Puny's second full-lenght album didn't kill me instantly though. At first
it felt ..dare I say.. boring. It all seemed really good, but where were
those shockingly great songs that the previous album had. Further listenings
proved this daring conclusion dead wrong. It's not too clean and it's
definitely not boring. It's also easy to lift songs like Bound For
Glory, It's Hard To Love, The Prisoner and Won't
Be Denied to the shockingly great category after properly listening
to the album. They certainly have a great melodic sense and they should
be bound for glory. The drop-dead gorgeous songs are the already-mentioned
Bound For Glory and The Prisoner. Melodically beautiful songs that also
have enough edge to stand out. Some great sounding guitar work as well.
The ballads like It's Hard To Love and the perfect ending Won't Be Denied
don't fall far behind. Neil Young cover I've Been Waiting For You isn't
as convincing as their own material, but overall It Kills You is a really
good record. There's not enough truly outstanding material to warrant
a higher grade, but everything on the album is enjoyable.
Johannes Koivu: Kovat Piipussa (M.Dulor)
I've always struggled with Matti Johannes Koivu and Ultramariini. I want
to love them, but I just don't seem to be able to completely fall in love
with their music. I have the utmost respect towards them and what they've
achieved, but the songs just don't strike me the way I keep hoping. Matti
Johannes Koivu's first solo album Puuhastellen was a good example.
Oh how it felt like a perfect album for me. It had that down-to-earth
warmness and it sounded really lovely. Still it didn't turn out to be
much more than fairly good three-hearts album for me. Kovat Piipussa
is his second solo album and another chance for me to finally fall in
love with his music.
Kovat Piipussa doesn't completely remove my fears and prejudices towards
his music, but it certainly gives me hope. First time I can also say that
I love Matti Johannes Koivu's song. Esineet ja Aikataulut is a
really beautiful little folk song. Also the ending Kuljen, Kuljen
is able to find my heart. It's easy to say that the slow, beautiful folk
songs are marvellous and Naapuska is a really good pop song. Kovat
Piipussa contains some songs that I really like, but on the other hand
there are tunes that drive me insane. Especially Avaruusasema kiitää
and Topi Sorsakoski-päivä are reasons why skip button
was invented. The overal feeling of the album is again really warm and
lovely. By removing those few faster annoying tracks, it could have been
rather nice and cozy sunday morning album. Kovat piipussa does show that
Matti Johannes Koivu can write material that finds my heart. However,
about half of the material still isn't much more than just nice and lovely
Johannes Koivu Website
Johannes Koivu at myspace
Cheerleaders United: Motorcade City (Plastic Passion,
Cheerleaders United has been way too overlooked on this website. Which
is almost criminal, because they surely have something to offer for pop
fans as well. Take the opening track Something True, Something Plain
for example. How is that not a great catchy song with a killer chorus?
And that's not the only one. Far from it. Motorcade City is a really strong
Motorcade City begins with three marvellous tracks. A trio of Something
True, Something Plain, Motorcade City, (Let Me Fall In Love
With You) In Overdrive is a thunderous start. I suppose it's fairly
easy to categorize me as a softie who isn't in to loud music. But I do
have to give in if the music is good enough. And damn. This certainly
is. For example the title song is almost too much for me, but still turns
out to be enjoyable like a goalie fight in a hockey game (I might have
not wanted one to appear, but when it did I had to admit that I really
enjoyed it). While the song Motorcade City almost steps out of bounds,
the other two songs I mentioned easily get both feet to the ground. Both
of the songs hit hard, but the pop melodies are there softening the impact.
It's gorgeous rock music with pop sensibility. It's marvellous but might
get little exhausting in the long run. However, the strenght of Motorcade
City is the variety of the material. Suddenly the strong rockin pop tunes
fade away and in comes something beautiful and captivating. Songs like
Heart of Stone, Ghost To Ghost and Ghost Town Blues proves
to be even more convincing than the opening stages of the album. This
is where the wave breaks. This is where I fall in love. There's a bit
of drama, a lot of beauty and a hell of a lot of gorgeous singing and
stylish playing. And in between we still get some of those excellent guitar
pop and guitar rock tunes. Sounds like a great album doesn't it. Well
that's what it is. Before reviewing I had my heart set at four hearts,
but while listening I just didn't found anything to complain about and
it just sounds so damn convincing right now that I throw in another half
of a heart. It's probably worth it.
United at myspace
Sweetcorn: New Low (Karkia Mistika, 2006)
It's getting easier to like Baby Sweetcorn. Previous release Ghost
and Sunsets might have been a bit tough piece to swallow, because
of its confessional tone and bare sounds. Don't ge me wrong, I'm totally
into such bare and emotion-filled tunes and I like it a lot, but still
that record isn't meant for everyday use in this household. New Low on
the other hand doesn't require melancholic state of mind and it can be
enjoyable during the brightest of hours as well.
Baby Sweetcorn has changed, but not dramatically. We are still talking
about rather melancholic piano pop. it's just significantly faster, has
a real band sound in it and might even be considered dancable. There's
not a bad song in the bunch, but unfortunately I haven't totally fallen
in love with the songs either. Surely there are really strong tunes like
the title track New Low, Winning Horse and Marya Zaleska,
but they don't make me want to shout their name from rooftops and force
every innocent bystander to listen their music. It's not something truly
exceptional. It's just really good piano-driven pop music, but I guess
that is more than enough.
Sweetcion at myspace
Roy Moller: Speak When I'm Spoken To (Book Club
Roy Moller is scottish pop singer-songwriter who has collaborated with
folks like Belle & Sebastian's Stevie Jackson and apparently Belle
& Sebastian's song Roy Walker was written about him. These connections
made him interesting, but that interest would have faded away soon if
his own songs hadn't been good enough. Thankfully his songs are good enough
and Speak When I'm Spoken To contains really good traditional pop
music. It seems to be very 60's/70's orientated pop album and for example
The Kinks comes to mind a few times. As does some 70's power pop bands
and even finnish Ben's Diapers in the chorus of Her Collected Poems.
Speak When I'm Spoken To is a really good collection of songs. It feels
a bit inconsistant at times, but there are several great tunes. Six
Degrees is a great 60's influenced track that brings to mind that
chap who has a gap between his two front teeth. If you happen to love
scottish guitar pop like TFC, BMX Bandits, Speedboat, Nice Man & The
Bad Boys...you will surely love the song Maximum Smile. First
You Fall In Love is a great power pop track and Her Collected Poems
is a really beautiful pop song. And well the list of really good songs
could go on and on.. Baby, Look No Further, Train Your Thoughts
On Love, David Niven....
Roy Moller's solo debut is a delightful pop record. Kind of down-to-earth
album that can still charm you with great arrangements. A couple of the
songs might be considered only as sketches of great songs. However that's
only a minor flaw, because most of the songs show that you don't need
an orchestra or big soundwalls to create hook-filled good pop record.
Just skillful and talented songwriter with a perfect pop sense is usually
enough and that proves to be the case with Roy Moller.
Moller at myspace
Boyhood (Kinkt Records, 2007)
If I start with the only bad thing. I don't like the opening track Death
& Sexuality at all. I almost hate it. Okay, If I'm honest, slight
reason might be just my overly romantic mind refusing to be impressed
by any song with that title, but I don't think I would be into it even
if it was called Kittens & Winona. It's just plain boring rock. After
getting that out of the way, the rest of the review will be positive,
because Boyhood is a great album that contains several wonderful
pop songs, some actually good rock tunes and also one song for Office
Building fans like me.
I might have hated the opening track of Boyhood, but I love the following
five tracks. If the whole album would have been equally stunning I might
have considered honoring mr Laurila by wearing Kärpät jersey
for a week. Everything is perfect during these five songs. Starting with
actually good rock tune Anyone Anywhere and ending to a heartbreaker
entitled Nervous which is the song that could have been on any
Office Building album. In between we get three amazing pop songs called
Solid Ground, Genius On The Run, Endless Summer.
This is the kind of music that I love. Solid Ground will be one of my
songs of the year. Genius On The Run reminds me of some 70's powerpop
track, but with Janne Laurila's sweet vocals added on top and Endless
Summer is that perfect summery pop track that might be able to make these
-20C winter nights little warmer. These five songs along with later number
She Wants To Be A Hurricane are the key tracks and worth all the
love I can give. Most of the latter half is also really good stuff eventhough
it does not quite reach the same heights as the songs I mentioned. But
of course I tend to love the melodic pop tracks of the album and don't
have the same excitement towards the good rockier tunes.
Boyhood is a marvellous debut album. I personally would have wanted demo
tracks Hayley and Already Too Much To Ask to appear on the
album, because for me those are some of their finest songs. If I could
replace Death & Sexuality and Number Down with those marvellous
songs this would have probably gotten the full amount of hearts.
ultrasport: False Start City (Gashopper, 2007)
Less cute, equally perfect. But even if you loved that cuteness, don't
quit reading yet. You have more than enough time to watch youtube's panda
sneeze video for 267 times in a row after this short review. And well,
it takes much more than an addiction to Springsteen to completely remove
the lovely and cute side of the ultrasport.
False Start City is indeed slightly different than the debut album.
But nothing has gone wrong this time either. If one could critisize something,
it might the fact that the songs like Binary Man Strikes Back or
Ballad of Richard Dean Anderson are quite lovely and make you smile
for the first few times, but soon end up being just fillers in between
hit songs. But perhaps it's good to be able to take a deep threat every
now and then, because there's plenty of killer songs here. False Start
City, Jennie with The Cigarette Taste in Her Tongue, Bad
Poetry, Tired of Lovers, God Save The Architechts...
Five hearts songs each and everyone. Just fantastic and truly enjoyable
pop music. Catchy as hell, amazing choruses and boys singing their hearts
out. A bit like The Go-Betweens covering Born To Run they say themselves.
If I try to come out with more ridicilous way to describe it I could say
that it's occasionally like a punk pop band playing Talking With The Taxman
About Poetry two times faster and three times louder. I guess that didn't
make any sense, but this album does. It's just damn gorgeous pop album
and it hurts not to be able to to give it the full amount of hearts because
of a few not-that-great songs. The rest 7-8 songs should be pop hits and
ultrasport fills this apartment with happiness.
Treeball: I Dream of Eclectic Sheep (2006)
Treeball released two albums during the year 2006. This second one entitled
I Dream of Eclectic Sheep was released as a free mp3 album. In
some sense this might even even my favourite Treeball release so far.
Being an indie boy with all these ridicilous indie obsessions, I've sometimes
felt that Treeball is too professional. I hate to admit it because it's
incredibly stupid, but I believe that has occasionally been the case.
Therefore it feels that some of this more bare material on this album
makes it more appealing to me as a whole. By this I mean songs like Could
You Love Me Now? and Sweet Murder (Song For Doug Yule) that
are quite stripped off tunes that only feature Mr Triani. Just fillers
some might say. Really good songs I might say. Somehow they make even
the great pop songs stand out and there are several of them. I Dream of
Eclectic Sheep shows how many talented songwriters there are in the band.
My favourite songs of the album are all from different songwriters. Nick
Triani (Denial Of The Fittest), Janne Lehtinen (Favourite Enemy),
Astrid Swan (The Ghost Will Come) and Michael McDonald (Soul
To Heaven) can all write wonderful pop songs and this is another strong
Website (download the album for free)
Ville Leinonen: Hei! (Poko Records, 2007)
I'm a long time fan, but I wasn't that excited about Valumo's last two
albums. Suudelmitar on the other hand was a perfect album and I
had seen Ville Leinonen covering finnish oldies under the elvis clock
at the greatest bar in the world (Vakiopaine) and had been deeply moved
each and every time. Therefore the prospect of getting a full album containing
covers like that was something that made my heart dance.
The album entitled Hei! almost fulfills my skyhigh expectations.
It contains several gorgeous covers versions. Songs like Etsin kunnes
löydän sun, Rakkaus on hellyyttä, Voinko
luottaa... are absolutely wonderful. If this record can make indie
purists wanting to go and search the flea market in hope of finding Juha
Matti's vinyl albums, I guess it's safe to say that it's a great record.
Apart from the title song Hei!, everything is really enjoyable. Brightest
jewel being the song called Etsin kunnes löydän sun. This song
might be even too perfect, because when compared to this beautiful masterpiece,
the rest of the songs feels weaker than they actually are. Don't worry
though. The whole album is really good. I don't usually care about cover
albums at all, but this is a great one.
Alexis: Goliath, I'm On Your Side (Broken Sparrow, 2007)
I had mixed feelings when I first heard Hotel Alexis' long-waited second
album Goliath, I'm On Your Side. It surely contained plenty of
good songs, but also some pointless instrumentals and a 19 minutes long
experimental track that made skip button useful and it seemed that I need
to throw the red flag and challenge the greatness of the album... But
in the end... it didn't took more than a couple of sleepless nights spent
with the album to fall in love with it. I still don't care about the instrumentals
and that painfully long tune called Hummingbird/Indian Dog is way
too big of challenge for a fan of three minute pop songs.. But that's
just me. I need vocals and sidney's quiet, bare and intimate vocals could
make even bad songs worth listening to and these are far from bad. Sidney
Alexis is a great storyteller and the dark, slow beauty of the songs is
captivating. The closest match for me is still Sparklehorse. That beautifully
broken, quiet and slow side of Sparklehorse. Goliath, I'm On Your Side,
is a definitely a challenge. There's no hit songs and if the record is
just playing on the background only Wilco-ish The Devil Knows My Handle
might catch your attention. But switch off the lights, put headphones
on and you'll get drawn into the stories and end up loving Sidney's intimate
vocals and the careful arrangements that create that unique and magical
mood of the album.
I certainly remain as a huge Hotel Alexis fan. Take away that 19-minute
long experiment and this would be the second Hotel Alexis album that gets
five hearts on this tiny website. Most of these fourteen tracks are truly
captivating pieces of music. They may not provide the perfect soundtrack
for summer days, but can bring beauty and harmony to the moments when
the night surrounds.
Alexis at myspace
If that wasn't enough, click the link below to see more reviews.
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