10 years & 10 reasons: Office Building

Office Building: To See Only Shadows (Fonal Records, 2000)

Last month’s pick was the hardest rockin’ pop band in the world, The Sugarrush and now we have something little different. However, The Sugarrush actually led me to Office Building. Let’s rewind back to august 2000. Back then I had a lot of passion towards music and I could travel far and wide (well mostly to Turku) just to see bands. It’s kind of funny that back then I could take a train trip from Jyväskylä to Turku just to see Bridget play at Dynamo. Nowadays it takes me 15 minutes to walk to Dynamo and still I often miss bands that I really like, because I’m just too lazy to drag myself to the bar. I’m getting old I suppose. But in the year 2000 I was young and enthusiastic and in late august I made one of those trips. This is what I went to see, if my memory serves me right:

August 25th: Office Building, The Sugarrush (Yo-Talo, Tampere)
August 26th: Bridget at Ämyrock  (Hämeenlinna)
August 26th: Flavour Of The Month 2-year anniversary (Dynamo, Turku) (Ben’s Diapers, Flavor Of The Month <-the australian duo)

I don’t think I knew Office Building beforehand. The Sugarrush was definitely the reason why I went to the show. To be honest, it wasn’t even an instant love affair. Maybe I wasn’t used to all that melodrama, maybe I was a little amazed that I’m in a bar watching bands and when the show starts, everyone sits down on the floor. I mean what the hell is going on in here. But Janne Laurila and Office Building convinced me enough during that evening and I went and bought To See Only Shadows after the show. A wise decision, because the album became extremely important to me and still takes a top 3 spot if I start to list my all-time favourite albums. However, I didn’t knew it when I was walking around the streets of Tampere during the night and streets of Hämeenlinna in the morning (I stayed up all night, because I had no place to stay) and even after arriving home, it took me a couple of weeks to completely fall in love with it.  But slowly the melancholic beauty of the album found the core of my heart and I became a huge fan of Office Building and Janne Laurila. During the next few years I saw an incredible amount of Office Building or Janne Laurila concerts and I loved each and every one of them. I especially loved his solo concerts under the Elvis clock at the greatest bar in the world (Vakiopaine in Jyväskylä). He always had a good troubadour thing going on in that bar. He played a lot of his songs and some fabulous covers. I first heard about Townes Van Zandt when Janne played Townes classic Waiting Around To Die there and I asked whose song that was. Vern Gosdin’s Do You Believe Me Now? is another one that is still stuck in my head. I actually still prefer Janne’s version of it.

Here’s a bit from some old onechord.net OB review:

“A tough task for me. How to write something informative and not just getting lost in your personal memoirs and emotions. This music has so huge personal value to me. It hasn’t changed my life or anything, but it is always the music that is floating around here if I feel down, hurt or stressed. It’s there hugging and kissing me when all I want to do is crawl into the corner of this tiny apartment and relax by listening to beautiful and moving music. Eventhough Office Building’s music is my own personal comfort deluxe, I do listen to it also in a happy state of mind. So you don’t need to be fucked up and sad to realise the true value of this. But even if you are, music this strong and emotionally filled just evokes all the smiles and kisses you have inside yourself. “

That still sums it up really well and I’m still not able to write anything really informative about the band or the album. The fact is that To See Only Shadows knows more about me than most of my friends do. I’ve shared my weakest moments and darkest secrets with that album. It has carried me through some long nights and it has been my own personal therapist. That may sound naive and overly emotional, but well naive and overly emotional.. that was me ten years ago.. and it’s still more than a small part of me. I admit that I became a pretty blindsided OB fan boy and to me their albums were pretty much the second coming of the great pumpkin. Nowadays, I can maybe admit that some of the Office Building albums are only wonderful (and not brilliant masterpieces) and that Janne Laurila has become a better songwriter since those days. But To See Only Shadows. I still can’t see or hear anything wrong with it and no matter what I call it, I know it’s an understatement. Ok, maybe the melancholy and sadness gets a little overwhelming on Cut My Heart in Two and maybe that song fits better to ten year’s younger me. But it’s not an issue. To See Only Shadows is a masterpiece and the sweetest work of art. I always write from a purely subjective perspective and for me To See Only Shadows is the most beautiful album ever made.

Fonal Records’ Soundcloud set contains three beautiful songs from the album:

Office Building by Fonal Records

Office Building called it a day six years ago (or thereabouts), but Janne Laurila is still making wonderful music. Here’s one amazing sample. Live performance of a song called Tauti ilman hoitoo.

Janne Laurila Website

(The reason why I started making One Chord To Another was the fact that I had totally fallen in love with Finnish guitar pop / power pop bands and wanted to make them better known. Nowadays onechord.net seem to cover a lot of obscure country bands from all over the globe, but Finnish pop was the starting point and still is the main reason this website/blog exists. One Chord To Another becomes 10 years old on 17th of september, 2011. It’s been a long journey and therefore I think I’m allowed to feel a little nostalgic. This not-so-cleverly named 10 years & 10 reasons writing series is meant to select 10 albums/releases that were a huge reason why I either started making One Chord To Another or why I’m still making it. So basicly just 10 finnish releases that will always have a huge place in my heart. One every month I think, so it will be december until the nostalgia is over. Bear with me)

Next month: I will be either doing time or I’m wondering if our grain can fill your stadium, it’s difficult to decide.

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10 years & 10 reasons: The Sugarrush

If you red the first chapter of this 10 years & 10 reasons thing, you already know that The Sugarrush from Vaasa is the dearest band in the world to me (along with Bridget).  The love affair started once again thanks to Miettinen who started a guitar pop / power pop label called Popatak, signed The Sugarrush, Cartoon Tree & Ben’s Diapers and released a seven inch single from each of them back in 1998 (and a Popatak CD compilation with 2 songs from each band).  A year earlier I had fallen in love with power pop and I was in the process of getting to know all these great 90’s power pop groups. Yeah, even though I often talk about 90’s power pop in a nostalgic way, I wasn’t really there when most of it happened (maybe that sounds too much like 90’s power pop was a huge thing in the world, it wasn’t). I didn’t buy Amazing Disgrace, Grand Prix, Girlfriend or Lacquer the day they hit the record stores. In fact I didn’t knew they even existed at that point in time. I found all this great pop music in early 1997 thanks to Miettinen (Räkärodeo), Jukka Väänänen (Rumba), Lasse Kurki (Lemonator) and Mikko Lappalainen (Elysium zine, Ben’s Diapers). Without those four guys my music taste could be very different and onechord.net probably wouldn’t exist. Especially finding Miettinen & Räkärodeo in the spring of 1997 pretty much changed everything and I bought all the The Posies, Popsicle, Teenage Fanclub, Matthew Sweet, The Jayhawks, Sloan, Jellyfish etc back catalogues between 1997-2000. So 1998 was definitely the right time for the Popatak bands to find a place in my heart and they all succeeded in it. So even though The Sugarrush became my biggest favourite, all of them are very important to me.

The Sugarrush: Blackie’s Wig (Popatak, 1999)

The Sugarrush’s debut album Blackie’s Wig was produced by swedish Kjell Nästen (who had produced plenty of swedish guitar pop classics during the 90’s) and it was released in 1999. It was just the kind of music I had fallen in love with during the last couple of years. Full of catchy songs, power chords and gorgeous singing. I was so extremely excited about it when it arrived and I’m sure that the excitement also reached stupid heights. For example I remember writing to Miettinen that it’s the best pop album ever released. But hey that’s me and hey, I still almost agree with my past self. After all, I think Amazing Disgrace by The Posies is the only album I’ve listened to more in my life than Blackie’s Wig. Sure all those Pet Sounds and Odessey & Oracles are technically better (even The Sugarrush’s second album Mirrorball Ballerinas might be), but no matter how much I adore  them, they’ve never been even half as influential in my life as Blackie’s Wig and The Sugarrush. I still know every song and every chord by heart. Therefore Blackie’s Wig still hold a place in my all stars line up and Rubber Soul and Pet Sounds has to settle for a place on the substitute bench.

Why do I love The Sugarrush so much? Well basicly they make me happy. I know that some of the readers might think that I mostly enjoy sad whining and it’s true that I enjoy all kind of sad country and pop songs and being miserable is one of the few things I’m really good at. But that’s only a part of the truth.. and maybe part of the reason that power pop is so dear to me. I love power pop and I love The Sugarrush because they make the world so damn bright and enjoyable. Listen to Blackie’s Wig and you can feel the summer in your heart even during the darkest november days. Here’s one onechord.net description of the band:

“Hardest rockin’ pop band in the world and one of my huge favourites. Want some power chords, killer hooks and bunch of great pop tunes. It doesn’t get much better than this if you are lookin’ for pop that actually rocks. They just make you smile, they might even make you shake your booty. It’s like power pop for the masses. Dynamic songs. Powerful melodies, strong vocals and wonderful harmonies. It is catchy as hell. They are like the boy band with guitars and better songs and have been influenced by The Posies, Matthew Sweet, Lemonheads, Teenage Fanclub. Not forgetting those swedish bands like Popsicle and Wannadies. Looking for sing-along pop anthems or gorgeous rockin’ pop music. Well look no further.

Blackie’s Wig isn’t the only wonderful The Sugarrush release. I love pretty much everything they’ve done. The follow-up Mirrorball Ballerinas is equally wonderful and We Rock Heavy and Useless Information are killer EPs. There’s also a new excellent The Sugarrush album coming up at some point. Hopefully during 2011, but maybe it’s not yet advisable to go camping outside a record store because this pretty baby has been in the working state for quite some time. Anyway, if you are not yet familiar with The Sugarrush, get started with these two videos. The first one Stereo is the opening track of Mirrorball Ballerinas (2001) and 90’s Salute is an outtake from their latest release, Useless Information EP (2005).

The Sugarrush at myspace

The Soft Rabbit

The Sugarrush boys Andy J. Prinkkilä, Coma Silvennoinen and Paati Wägar have featured in lots of great bands and I won’t go through all of them, because this post is already longer than anyone wants to read. But I have to mention The Soft Rabbit in every possible situation. The Soft Rabbit is Coma from The Sugarrush and he delivers some of the finest pop singer-songwriter stuff this country of ours has to offer. The real crime is that none of it has ever been officially released, but the songs have been on his myspace for a couple of years and they are so beautiful (or I’m not sure can you say that Your Street is beautiful, that’s pretty fucked up stuff but so damn brilliant nevertheless). I demand at least a digital release. I want to write a review and I want to give full five hearts. Absolutely wonderful material.

The Soft Rabbit at myspace

(The reason why I started making One Chord To Another was the fact that I had totally fallen in love with Finnish guitar pop / power pop bands and wanted to make them better known. Nowadays onechord.net seem to cover a lot of obscure country bands from all over the globe, but Finnish pop was the starting point and still is the main reason this website/blog exists. One Chord To Another becomes 10 years old on 17th of september, 2011. It’s been a long journey and therefore I think I’m allowed to feel a little nostalgic. This not-so-cleverly named 10 years & 10 reasons writing series is meant to select 10 albums/releases that were a huge reason why I either started making One Chord To Another or why I’m still making it. So basicly just 10 finnish releases that will always have a huge place in my heart. One every month I think, so it will be december until the nostalgia is over. Bear with me

Next month: well it’s difficult to see that far ahead, because I see only shadows).

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10 years & 10 reasons: Bridget

The reason why I started making One Chord To Another was the fact that I had totally fallen in love with Finnish guitar pop / power pop bands and wanted to make them better known. Nowadays onechord.net seem to cover a lot of obscure country bands from all over the globe, but Finnish pop was the starting point and still is the main reason this website/blog exists. One Chord To Another becomes 10 years old on 17th of september, 2011. It’s been a long journey and therefore I think I’m allowed to feel a little nostalgic. This not-so-cleverly named 10 years & 10 reasons writing series is meant to select 10 albums/releases that were a huge reason why I either started making One Chord To Another or why I’m still making it. So basicly just 10 finnish releases that will always have a huge place in my heart. One every month I think, so it will be december until the nostalgia is over. Bear with me.

Bridget: Rusko – Mynämäki & See Ya’ Jamie (demo EPs)

I’m cheating a bit, but I can’t decide which early Bridget demo I should pick, so I’ll put them both here. If I have to choose the best band in the world, my choice will  be The Posies. If I have to choose the band that is dearest to me, it gets a lot trickier and the end result will be a tie between The Sugarrush and Bridget. It’s impossible to decide. Maybe it’s slightly weird to be so completely in love with a band that has officially released one seven inch single plus featured on a couple of compilations, but I’ve just been totally into Bridget ever since Miettinen played Souffle from their Rusko-Mynämäki demo EP on Räkärodeo (summer of ’99 I think?). Later on Räkäpiknik I found the courage to tap the lead singer Janne Kiviniemi on the shoulder and ask if it was possible to buy the demo. A few days later Rusko-Mynämäki arrived to Keuruu and I just kept listening to it over and over again.

A couple of months later I was on my way to Turku to see Bridget, Since November and Belmondo play at Celesta Cellar(?) indiepop festival (at Dynamo) and met all those lovely Turku people that became so dear to me. That whole “Turku pop scene” (not sure were there ever really a scene, but it felt like that to me) was a huge reason why I started One Chord To Another. And even though this entry is mostly about Bridget, it was never just Bridget. All those bands like Ben’s Diapers, Since November, Boomhauer, Hundred Million Martians and Big White Monkees were/are extremely important to me. An extra special thank you to Tomi Mäkilä and Mikko Lappalainen who were always kind enough to give me a place to stay during my early visits to Turku.

Sometime next year See Ya’ Jamie EP entered the picture. I remember how Miettinen once again played Bridget on Räkärodeo. I taped the show (like I always did) and spent the next night listening to Bridget’s new song Needless. Ok, maybe not literally the whole night, but yeah.. a lot.. helluva lot. I don’t think I’m lying if I say that I listened to it at least 25 times during that night. That’s how badly addicted to Bridget I was back in the day. And well still am. Bridget was definitely one of the biggest reasons I started making One Chord to Another. Here’s some early onechord description of the band from 2001 I think.

“Criminally unsigned. That is what comes to mind, when we are talking about this brilliant pop group. Their demos and live performances for the past 2 or 3 years have been simply stunning. Janne Kiviniemi writes songs that touch your heart and soul. Their music is beautiful, heartfelt and as lovely as your girlfriend’s eyes. Songs about relationships and friendship. Things that really matter in the end. And Janne always sings like an angel. His voice isn’t strong, but it sounds so cute that it breaks my heart every time. They sound a bit like some Scottish pop bands (Bmx bandits, Teenage fanclub).”

Listen to Needless:

The first line up Janne Kiviniemi, Saku Krappala, Janne Rinne & Jami Helmiö went on to release one truly wonderful 7″ single on Rhythm Barrel Records and featured on a couple of international pop compilations. Some years ago Bridget returned with a new line-up and the magic was still there. The first line-up is the dearest to me due to nostalgic reasons, but the new line-up made equally fantastic concerts and Heidi Horila’s harmony vocals added a new dimension to the music. I’m not sure what is the current status of Bridget, but they’ve been inactive for a year or two now. It’s a shame, because the latest pack of songs was so brilliant. These songs form an album that has criminally never been released. If I had a label, I would release it in a heartbeat. It’s such an amazingly beautiful pop album. Sure it’s a little demo-ish at times and if they had recorded it after the new line-up had really taken shape, it could have been even more perfect. But I love it even as it is now. There’s only problem. I’m ashamed to listen to it in public places. I’m afraid I look like a biological freak, because I’m aware that honey will be pouring from my ears all the time if I listen to Bridget. This next one is one of my favourite songs from that unreleased album and the song title fits well to this blog entry. A perfect way to end this first chapter of 10 years & 10 reasons. Bridget and a song called Dearest.

[audio:http://onechord.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/03-dearest.mp3]

Bridget at myspace
Bridget at facebook

Next month: The hardest rockin’ pop band in the world. Until then..

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