Top 20 EPs of the Year 2018

Another day, another end of the year list. This time it’s the EPs of the year. There were so many great ones that I expanded this to top 20. I’m really scared how long my albums of the year list is going to be. Anyway, here are my favourite EPs of the Year 2018. I hope I didn’t forget anything important. I’m always scared of that (and I did and it was one of the really important ones, Gladie, so now there’s actually 21 EPs on this). Again, there is some kind of order, but it’s not that important and I didn’t spend ages thinking is this better than that one etc. That’s all nonsense. So if you flip it over, it’s pretty much just as good. Music is life, not a competition.

20. Wes Allen – Funny Thing

I would have so many excellent choices for this last spot, but let’s go with the recent crush Wes Allen. I just stumbled upon this Toronto-based songwriter a few weeks ago and I’m very fond of this EP. So lovely.

19. Kent Eugene Goolsby – Every Way But Easy

Next up is Kent Eugene Goolsby from Nashville who continues where his band The Only Sons left off some years ago and delivers some gorgeous countrified rock.

18. Hermina Jean – Hot Grey

This one might be a bit more obscure pick. Hermina Jean is a songwriter from Montana who might still be fairly unknown. Not for long though, if she keeps on writing music as powerful as this.

17. Waxahatchee – Great Thunder (Merge Records)

While Hermina Jean might be a bit unknown, Waxahatchee doesn’t need an introduction. Her new Great Thunder EP is very stripped-down, but still dazzlingly beautiful.

16. Blue Wilson – Younger (Forged Artifacts)

This lovely bedroom pop/folk EP from Blue Wilson has been one of my last music crushes of the year. I need to dig deeper into that Forged Artifacts label, because I’ve really loved this and the Mr. Husband album during the past month.

15. Sera Cahoone – The Flora String Sessions (Lady Muleskinner Records)

Beautiful versions of some classics from Sera Cahoone’s song vault. Might demand a higher place, if I had not been familiar with these songs in some shape or form. Still absolutely beautiful and inspiring.

14. William Matheny – Moon Over Kenova (Misra Records)

The best part of William Matheny’s year was the release of the magnificent Christian Name single late in the year. However, this Moon Over Kenova EP is also pretty damn good and a great companion piece to his 2017 album Strange Constellations.

13. M G Boulter + The Froe – Blood Moon EP (Hudson Records)

Something beautiful from the UK as well. Folk singer-songwriter M G Boulter teamed up with string quartet The Froe and released a captivating EP Blood Moon.

12. Joan Shelley – Rivers and Vessels (No Quarter)

A stunning covers EP from Joan Shelley. Just by thinking of the quality of the music, it could well be in the top three. Somehow I just don’t value Cover EPs as much as originals on these silly lists. Nevertheless, I absolutely love Joan Shelley’s music and singing (and I love the whole Shelley household. The instagram sensation Dwight again brought so much joy to my year).

11. Little Star – Waltzing with Tears in My Eye (Good Cheer Records)

This EP is actually my introduction to Little Star and one of my new year resolutions needs to be introducing my heart to the Little Star discography. This is so damn good. Especially the first two songs. Oh my.

10. Nickel & Rose – Americana

Next up is the roots duo Nickel & Rose from Milwaukee. Carl Nichols and Johanna Rose share the lead vocal duties and sing powerful and thought-provoking songs in beautiful harmony.

9. Fables – Portraits (Second Hand Records)

A small step to New Zealand to find Fables and their debut EP Portraits. Especially How To Be Comfortable and All The Pretty Horses are so brilliant, but everything else works too.

8. Shonna Tucker – Dreams Of Mine

This new Shonna Tucker EP Dreams Of Mine came out of the blue. I had not heard anything before it was out, but these are the kind of surprises that I love. Extremely good stuff.

7. Evan Cheadle – Chasing Shadows (Big White Cloud)

Besides being a member of The Deep Dark Woods, Evan Cheadle also writes and releases his own music. Chasing Shadows EP is his latest release and it’s a magnificent combination of psych folk, country blues and baroque pop. Timeless and enchangtingly beautiful.

6. Ian Noe – Off this Mountaintop (Silver and Gold Recordings)

This is actually late December 2017 release, but I don’t have the heart to leave it out (and well Leuven Letters by Courtney Marie Andrews was even once my EP of the year, even though it did not come out that year). Anyway, Ian Noe is a fabulous songwriters based on this EP and few youtube clips I’ve seen and I can’t wait to hear full-length album. Especially the title track of this EP is pure gold.

5. Julie Arsenault – Mom Rock

Toronto-based songwriter Julie Arsenault was on this list last year and will be next year (well if I still have a blog and she releases music during the year). Her new EP Mom Rock came out very late in the year, but instantly won my heart over. This transparently feminist EP is powerful and moving.

4. Boygenius – Boygenius (Matador)

A collaboration between some of the finest current songwriters. Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker have released stunning music on their own and everyone knew that this was going to be special even before hearing one single note.

4. Gladie – Everyone is Talking But You

Major catastrophe. How could I miss Gladie. I’m sure I had put the cover on this draft, but somehow it wasn’t and then I just wrote the piece, published it and then noticed there’s no Gladie. Monumental mistake. I love this indie rock EP from Philadelphia-based Gladie and the opening track 20/20 is a contender for the song of the year. I don’t want to change the numbering, so Gladie can be tied 4th together with Boygenius and rest can stay were they were. There’s just now 21 EPs on the list.

3. Jim Bryson – Tired of Waiting (Coax Records)

Canadian singer-songwriter Jim Bryson is a long time favourite of mine and this new EP Tired of Waiting is another winner. Oh well, maybe not a winner, because it looks like it’s on the third place. But you get my drift, it’s an awesome EP.

2. The Weather Station & Jennifer Castle – Collaboration #3 (Paradise of Bachelors)

This is not really an EP. It’s just a collaboration single with two a-sides, but hey this is my blog so I can bend the rules. And I love this so much that I wanted to put it on some list. Two of Canada’s finest songwriters The Weather Station and Jennifer Castle together. What else could one possibly want?

1. Haley Heynderickx & Max Garcia Conover – Among Horses III (Son Canciones)

These first two were equally important and I love both madly. In the end it felt a bit more suited if the EP of the year was well actually an EP. Therefore the EP of the year award goes to Among Horses III, which is a collaboration between Haley Heynderickx and Max Garcia Conover. These two songwriters spent seven days on a farm in Spain and wrote and recorded this gorgeous EP during their stay among the horses. It sure has been a year of Haley Heynderickx for me, because she will also be really high on the forthcoming album and songs of the year lists. However, this one is not just about Haley. Max Garcia Conover also delivers some excellent songs for this EP of the year.

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Top 10 Finnish Albums of the Year 2018

It’s time to get the ball rolling and post the year end lists. Starting with my favourite Finnish albums of the year 2018. I admit that I haven’t been a great supporter of Finnish music during the recent years and that’s a little bit sad, because my love for Finnish pop music was the reason I founded this little blog/website back in 2001. My main interest just has drifted towards North American folk/country music during the last few years. However, that doesn’t mean that I’ve stopped listening to Finnish music. Not at all. Actually I struggled big time to pick just 10 and thought about expanding it to 20. There’s some kind of order, but it’s really not that important and you could flip it over and it wouldn’t be any worse. Music is life, not a competition. Anyway, here it goes.

TOP 10 Finnish albums of the year 2018

10. Laura Moisio – Laura Moisio (Texicalli Records)

The self-titled Laura Moisio album came out early in the year, but it has still been kind of a late riser for me and I’ve had it on heavier rotation since I saw Laura and her band live a few weeks ago. A really beautiful folk album full of intriquing songwriting.

9. Rosita Luu – SOS (Helmi Levyt)

Merita Berg continues to impress. If I had to choose, I think I would prefer that Hullu Ruusu album over this one. Thankfully I don’t have to choose and I can love both, because both of them are glorious collections of unique pop music.

8. Topi Saha – Lopunajan rakastavaiset (Warner Music Finland)

Maybe a surprisingly low place for a Topi Saha album, because he is usually in the top 3. No worries though. Topi Saha is still one of my favourite Finnish songwriters and this new album is also a great one. And yeah, Topi Saha will get his top 3 or top 1 place when the songs of the year list drops within a week or two.

7. Vuoret – Portti (Soit Se Silti)

If I tried to make an objective list, Portti by Vuoret might take the album of the year award. However, these are always entirely subjective and painting landscapes with guitars isn’t the closest thing to my heart. Nevertheless, the album is so damn good that it does rule my world too.

6. Pää Kii – Jos huonoo onnee ei ois, mul ei ois onnee ollenkaan (Stupido Records)

Every list needs a little bit of punk rock and I sure couldn’t find be a better band to provide it than Pää Kii. And don’t worry if you’re not a punk. Neither am I, but I still love every second.

5. Litku Klemetti – Taika tapahtuu (Luova Records)

This new Litku Klemetti album might not be as instantly catchy as Juna Kainuuseen, but it’s still equally wonderful. Some of it goes into the proge-zone, which is usually a total no-go zone for yours truly. Thankfully with the help Litku Klemetti, I’ve been able to make that step into the area and somewhat suprisingly find being there fairly comfortable. I’m still a little bit wary though and I have the early The Beatles hits on speed dial.

4. Tuomas Palonen – Tuomas Palonen (Palatsi)

An absolutely charming solo album from Tuomas Palonen. Occasionally this almost gets a little too weird for me, but sometimes it’s worth it to spend time with something that challenges my taste. An ethereal and eternally beautiful folk and psych folk album with late 60s and 70s vibes.

3. Jukka Nousiainen – Ei enää kylmää eikä pimeää (Jukan musiikki)

Moving on to the top 3. Especially these last three could be in any order and I love them all to bits. Jukka Nousiainen made an outstanding and powerful rock album that brings much needed light into these unnecessarily dark times. We should all be a little more like this album.

2. Penniless – X (Soit Se Silti)

The alternative rock legends and one of my all-time faves Penniless returned with a new album. I think it’s been a five or so years from the previous one, but this sure isn’t some lukewarm nostalgia trip. X is a damn magnificent album full of dark rock songs that shine brightly.

1. Lac Belot – ABRACADABRA! (Solina records)

And the Finnish album of the year award goes to ABRACADABRA! by Lac Belot. Lac Belot aka songwriter Jarno Takkumäki released a fabulous EP some years ago and I had been waiting for him to release more music. In 2018, Solina Records released this debut full-length and it sure didn’t disappoint. This is an enchanting and beautifully arranged collection of compelling and ambitious folk-tinged pop songs. Even the few more ordinary compositions shine thanks to the gorgeous arragements and orchestrations. Most of the times that beautiful disguise isn’t a need, because everything from the core to the decorations work perfectly. ABRACADABRA! sure is a magical album and I can’t wait for more.

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OCTA Weekly Playlist Episode #21

Another week, another weekly playlist.

My main focus right now is writing the year-end lists, so I didn’t spend as much time to this as usual. Therefore I might have missed even more stuff than usually. I wanted to do it anyway, because some gorgeous albums and singles did come out this week too.

The big album releases for me were the new ones from Scott Hirsch, Willard Grant Conspiracy and Herman Dune. There were lots of magnificent singles too. Steve Gunn, Sloan, Sarah Shook & The Disarmers, Blank Range, Christopher Gold & The New Old Things, Susto and The Wild Reeds for the international charts and Hullu Ruusu, Message Field and Klasu for the Finnish one. Willy Tea Taylor also dropped a new EP with The River Arkansas.

There’s also a couple of great things I’ve managed to miss before. The new singles from Jenah Barry and Mo Troper. I’m especially ashamed that I forgot to put the Mo Troper song on last week’s list. I had been following the whole funny Bond theme song build up for weeks and then I forgot to put the song on the list when it came out. Shame on me.

Some releases/artists from previous weeks also appear with a different song. Next week maybe some sort of Christmas special, if there isn’t much new releases.

Oh and do buy the vinyl/cd/download. Spotify and other streaming services are perfect for these introductory purposes, but try to buy at least the music that matter the most to you

If you are looking this after a week has gone, the embedded Spotify will show the latest playlist. I’ll just update the same playlist because a) if someone wants to follow it, they can just follow that one list and will get a new set of songs each Sunday b) so that I don’t have a trillion of different playlists on my Spotify account.

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