Albums of the Year 2011 – The Finnish Edition

Trying out some new tricks this year and I made two lists. The Finnish edition and the international edition. This is how the real magazines do these, so I suppose it’s alright. I’ve felt that doing these lists separately somewhat underestimates the Finnish releases. As if they are not good enough to make it to the list, if you make just one list. My top three Finnish albums would have made the top 10 in any crowd. Anyway, at least I get to choose two albums of the year.

Here we go (again)..

10. 22-Pistepirkko – Lime Green Delorean

There’s a few tracks on the new 22-Pistepirkko album that I’m not a big fan of. On the other hand, the album contains couple of songs that I really love. Especially Sweet Rodeo Heart and Ufo Girl are absolutely brilliant. Legendary band are still delivering the goods.
 
 
 
9. Kim Curly Band – So Long, King Desire

Kim Curly Band broke up after this album. I don’t think it had anything do with the quality of the music, because this second album from the masters of Finnish americana was a really good effort. A bit of Ryan Adams and Neil Young influences can never hurt.
 
 
 
8. The New Tigers – The New Tigers

Not too keen on the last three tracks, but up until that point The New Tigers debut was awesome. They won my heart over, even though I wasn’t the easiest soul to reach due to the fact that fuzzy pop and shoegazy vibes aren’t things I would take with me to a desert island.
 
 
 
7. NT’s White Trash – Mourning Becomes Electric

Nick Triani’s record label Soliti has gotten a lot of praises in the music media and blogosphere. I adore the label as much as any other, but my favourite Nick Triani -related album is Mourning Becomes Electric by his own band NT’s White Trash. Pop distortion with great melodies. Works for me.
 
 
 
6. Regina – Soita mulle

A welcome reminder that it’s still possible to become popular and hit the charts with great songs. Regina’s latest album Soita mulle was a thing of beauty and their new direction suited me perfectly.
 
 
 

5. Hi-Lo & In Between – We Are Not The Wind

This should have gotten much more recognition. This one ticks all the right boxes for me. Beautiful (but sometimes haunting) atmosphere and well-crafted folk songs. A couple of really amazing songs like the first single A Clear Silence and The Day When The Madness Came.
 
 
 
4. TV-Resistori – TV-Resistori

A tough task to beat those early TV-Resistori albums. Maybe they didn’t quite achieve that, but they definitely kept the quality really high and again released a delightful pop album. The loveliest of songs by the loveliest of bands.
 
 
 

3. Samae Koskinen – Kuuluuko, kuuntelen

Samae Koskinen released his best solo album to date and I love it to bits. Hän, jolla on kaikki is my favourite Finnish song of the year and the whole album is brilliant. The album compassionately handles low self-esteem issues in such caring manner that real-life Crane brothers would struggle to do a better job at it. And more importantly, it’s incredibly catchy pop album.
 
 
2. Mirel Wagner – Mirel Wagner

Mirel Wagner proves that pitch black can shine brightly. A graveyard full of black metal guitarists couldn’t create anything half as heavy and raw as Mirel Wagner’s self-titled debut album.” Just quoting my own review. Is that allowed? Anyway, Mirel Wagner’s debut album still sounds stunning. A truly remarkable effort from a young folk/blues singer-songwriter.
 
 

1. Mummypowder – Centuries Later

Extremely easy decision in the end. Mummypowder’s fourth album Centuries Later is the Finnish album of the year. It is also the greatest pop album of the year 2011 even all countries considered, because if I would have made just one list Centuries Later would have taken either second or third spot on that list and the only one(s) ahead of it would fall more into the folk/country zone. I think this is just heavenly good pop album. The lyrics are the best Janne Lehtinen has ever written. The songs have been perfect before so it’s hard to become any better at that, but this might be the most consistent Mummypowder album to date. There’s not a single bad track on it. Everything sounds brilliant. I just can’t understand why this beauty doesn’t rule every year-end list.

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Hi-Lo & In Between: We Are Not The Wind

I’m not sure when was the exact release date of this beauty, because I bought this from Hiljainen Mies at previous Flavour Of The Month. Anyway, I think it is now officially out and available and needs to be praised. We Are Not The Wind is an excellent record full of finest finnish folk rock and americana. It was released by Lumpeela Julkaisut and they’ve added one new song from the record to soundcloud. This one is called The Day When Madness Came:


 
And this is the stunning first single A Clear Silence:


 

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New single from Hi-Lo & In Between

The great Finnish folk rock / americana band Hi-Lo & In Between is getting ready to release their third album entitled We Are Not The Wind (due to be released by Lumpeela julkaisut in october). I’m really looking forward to this, because I loved the second album. The first single A Clear Silence is now out and available. I admit that I had some doubts when I was listening to it for the first time. Maybe because the chorus sounded more like Lasse Lindh than folk to me and I wasn’t expecting that. However, now I’ve been listening to it over and over again with headphones and I’m falling in love with it so badly that I better start saving money for an engagement ring.

 

Hi-Lo & In Between at Facebook

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Albums of the Year 2010 – Part three 20-11

Part one 40-31, Part two 30-21, Part four 10-1

20. Justin Rutledge: The Early Widows

I’m a long time fan of canadian singer-songwriter Justin Rutledge and have loved pretty much everything he has ever done. The Early Widows isn’t an exception to the rule albeit I’m not 100% happy with all of the production/arrangements choices (less gospel choirs next time around). Justin Rutledge is  such a master in creating poignant, poetic and beautiful folk songs.

19. Eels: End Times

Eels released two albums during the year. I didn’t like the second one Tomorrow Morning that much, but End Times was a really strong album.. Or maybe strong is not the right word. Maybe fragile, confessional & captivating would be better adjectives. End Times became one of my favourite Eels albums, but of course Beautiful Freak will always be the Eels album for me.

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18. Pete Molinari: A Train Bound For Glory

Pete Molinari’s concert at Bar Kuka was one of the highlights of the year. We bought three records from the show as well. I think A Virtual Landslide is my favourite, but this new one is also brilliant. Although I’m not that big fan of the single Streetcar Named Desire. It’s actually one of my least favourite songs on the album. But just listen to those old-fashioned ballads. Oh my, just perfect.

17. Joe Pug: Messenger

I know there’s a huge amount of country & folk troubadours on the list, but what can I do. That’s the kind of music I love nowadays. And a person like Joe Pug is certainly not just another folk troubadour. This man is a real talent and a fantastic songwriter. At first, Messenger didn’t seem anything that special, but soon the whole subtle beauty was revealed and I was amazed about two things. 1.) How great Joe Pug was 2.)How stupid was I, because I didn’t instantly see/hear it.

16. Hi-Lo & In Between: The Lonely Bird

One of my favourite finnish albums of the year was Hi-Lo & In Between’s wonderful second album The Lonely Bird. Finnish folk rock & americana, violin & mandolin, great songs & beautiful singing. Country & folk tradition and some finnish melancholy. My kind of music. I hope these guys will soon get the recognition they deserve. I’m really looking forward to the next album.

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15. Trembling Blue Stars: Fast Trains & Telegraph Wires

A last minute entry. Just got this four days ago, but I don’t have the heart to leave it out, because Trembling Blue Stars are one of my all-time favourite bands and this list seriously needs some (melancholic) indie pop. I almost owe my sanity to Bobby Wratten. Even if everything else was collapsing, Bobby Wratten’s voice has always been able to pull my heart together. It’s a bit too early to make final conclusions about Fast Trains and Telegraph Wires and a month later this might be ten places higher or lower. What I do know is that it’s certainly another great album. This will also be the final TBS album and it’s certainly a bit sad that there will be no more sad songs.

14. Possessed By Paul James: Feed The Family

I first bought the movie The Folk Singer and after watching that I knew I needed to buy some Possessed By Paul James albums. Feed The Family is definitely a passionate album. Mixture of energetic bluesy bluegrass and captivating folk songs. Extremely convincing stuff. It demands attention and doesn’t work that well as background music. But it really doesn’t need to, because music as pure and passionate as this will grab your attention.

13. Darren Hanlon: I Will Love You At All

Darren Hanlon’s wonderful song Scenes From A Separation took the song of the year award. This album is also steadily climbing up the charts and bypassed several albums that got a higher amount of hearts in a review. The first half of the album contains some of the best stuff released during the year. If it had all been that good, I Will Love You At All would have taken the album of the year award as well. However, the latter half is a bit weaker (albeit still really really good) and therefore this amazing australian (indie) pop troubadour has to settle for a place outside top ten.

12. Imperial State Electric: Imperial State Electric

This list needs a little bit of rock’n’roll and Nicke Andersson is the right man to deliver it. I’m a little surprised that this hasn’t gotten more attention. I just love this stuff and haven’t been this excited about Nicke’s band since the days of Payin’ The Dues. Sure it ain’t anything new and inventive, but it’s a whole lot of fun, fun & fun. Good old rock’n’roll and some rockin’ power pop. What could be better than that?

11. Have Gun, Will Travel: Postcards From The Friendly City

I’m not sure is Postcards From The Friendly City a 2010 release. I think this originally came out in november 2009, but later got wider distribution by the ever lovely Suburban Home. At least there was some writing about february 2010 street date on the Suburban Home website. I’ll trust that, because this wonderful album deserves all the love. Have Gun, Will Travel wrote stories that take place in their hometown Bradenton and wrapped them into lovely folk & americana songs. And it works like a charm. Let’s end this chapter of the albums of the list with a fan made video of the opening track Wolf In Shepherd’s Clothes.

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Review: Hi-Lo & In Between – The Lonely Bird

Hi-Lo & In Between: The Lonely Bird (Lumpeela julkaisut, 2010)

Recently I reviewed The Fox Hunt album and mentioned that more bands should have violin, mandolin and upright bass in their instrument arsenal. Therefore it’s about time to write about this wonderful finnish folk & country band called Hi-Lo & In Between who have all those instruments and are pretty marvellous in every other perspective as well.

The Lonely Bird is the second Hi-Lo & In Between album. I liked their debut album White Whale, but for some reason I never completely fell in love with it. I should pick it up from the shelf and check out have my opinions changed.  It might have been just a case of me being an ignorant fool. If this was the case, I plea on temporary insanity. Anyway, I’m cured now, I’m in love with The Lonely Bird and I’m thrilled that there are bands like Hi-Lo & In Between in this country. This is just beautiful and magical folk music that is so carefully and thoughtfully arranged. Take a combination of traditional british and american folk & country music, flavour it with a spoonful of finnish melancholia and you might get somewhere close. Even though the closest compatriots come from abroad, old Office Building fans should also take note, because I think this gets suprisingly close to debut-era Office Building on a couple of occasions and if you know me that is definitely not a bad thing (especially title track The Lonely Bird could be a brilliant lost outtake from To See Only Shadows, both style and qualitywise).

The Lonely Bird is a wonderful album and the band Hi-Lo & In Between deserves a lot of credit for creating this warm and gentle folk treasure.  It really doesn’t get much better than this and hopefully more and more folks will introduce their hearts to Hi-Lo & In Between. The Lonely Bird is my favourite finnish album of the year so far.

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Hi-Lo & In Between at myspace

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