Album of the Month: Michael Nau – Mowing

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I haven’t selected an album of the month for almost a year, but this album Mowing by Michael Nau inspired me to bring this feature back to the blog. I fell in love with this one like 17 seconds after I started listening. Here’s what happened. I was browsing my Bandcamp feed and saw that Mr. Hi54lofi had bought this. I did remember the album announcement from a couple of months ago and knew that I need to check it out once it arrives. However, I had forgotten about it until saw it sitting there on my feed and I instantly hit play and almost instantly I fell in love and started writing overenthusiastic tweets about it. Fast forward a few days and our relationship is still just as strong as when our hearts collided. A remarkable album.

Michael Nau has a great band called Cotton Jones with his wife Whitney, but unfortunately that lovely band has been on a hiatus lately. Solo-Michael now comes to the rescue by delivering an album full of sweet and timeless folk-tinged pop sounds. According to the press release it’s more like just bits and pieces recorded in different sessions and that he just wanted to get these out of his system and didn’t really plan on creating an album. Nevertheless, the end result is the best thing I’ve heard in 2016 so far. The down-to-earth, low key beauty of it is completely irresistible. It’s remarkable that something that is in a way so small, can have such a huge impact. I love everything about this album. Sometimes it falls close to Bahamas-like sweet and charming pop songs and other times it might be in the same ball park as Little Wings and his careful sonic experiments. One thing is certain. It’s absolutely magnificent all the time.

Mowing by Michael Nau is now out on Suicide Squeeze Records. This is Smooth Aisles from the album.

Michael Nau / Cotton Jones at Facebook

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Album of the Month: Small Houses – Still Talk; Second City

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My problem with this blog thing often is that I keep on neglecting the albums that matter the most. The new Small Houses album Still Talk; Second City is a great example of this cruel behaviour. This beauty has been out for a month, but I still haven’t found the ability to write anything that could even remotely describe the brilliance of it. I still have to get this done now or this will keep on haunting me forever.

The new album of the month is Still Talk; Second City by Small Houses. I’m a long time fan of singer-songwriter Jeremy Quentin aka Small Houses. His previous albums North and Exactly Where You Wanted To Be have both been on my year-end top 10 and it’s fairly easy to predict that the new one Still Talk; Second City will demand a place on my best of 2015 list.

After a brief stay in Philadelphia, Jeremy moved to Atlanta in order to work with producer Damon Moon. This was a good move, because together with Damon, Jeremy has created his most convincing album to date. The album flows through beautifully and contains a lot of magical moments. The highlight for me is 17 in Roselore that features Samantha Crain on backing vocals. I’ve seen several live versions of the song even before hearing this album, but that song still takes my breath away every time. Staggers and Rise on the other hand is one of the most instant Small Houses songs ever and should be a hit. And that’s just a couple of examples. The whole album is absolutely gorgeous and a treasure that keeps on revealing more with every listening session.

Still Talk; Second City by Small Houses is now out on Cottage Recording Co. This is Seventeen in Roselore from the album.

And this is the music video for the first single Staggers And Rise.

Small Houses Website

Oh and one more thing. Small Houses will be touring in Finland with Ochre Room in April! More about this when the tour schedule is set!

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Album of the Month: Viljami Kukkonen – Jos Rakkaus tapahtuu

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I don’t know Viljami Kukkonen personally. We’ve briefly met once after a concert and that’s all. Still I feel some kind of spiritual companionship with him. It doesn’t really make sense I guess, but that’s how it is. That’s kind of how it has been ever since I first heard his debut album Mörönsyötti. There’s no way of denying that for me it’s one of the best albums ever released. Yeah, you can throw your Pet Sounds or Revolvers against my face, but no, not even close. These are subjective matters. Those things are truly wonderful and monumental, but there’s nothing there that could match the connection I have with Mörönsyötti. The kindness and overall warmness of that magical record is something that always comforts me and eases my troubled mind. The last months have been tough. I’ve battled with headaches and numbness on my limbs. A normal person probably wouldn’t freak out at all, because I’ve been told several times that there’s nothing wrong except a tension neck. But try telling that to my neurotic mind when the symptoms kick in and I should be able to sleep. That’s the moment when my mind is good at not believing what the neurologist say, but despite that vulnerable state of being, there’s something in the world that makes sense. I have a friend called Mörönsyötti that I can listen to and I believe him when he whispers that I will be alright. I suppose it’s kind of weird, because there’s definitely a bit of fragility in there as well, but it’s presented in such a kind fashion that the human weaknesses turn into strengths.

But enough about Mörönsyötti. Viljami Kukkonen has a new album called Jos Rakkaus tapahtuu and it’s another wonderful release. After that preview above, I assume you won’t take it negatively, if I say that this isn’t as important to me. Only a couple of albums have ever been that important, so it’s certainly no wonder that this one isn’t either. Nevertheless, I think this one is also absolutely brilliant and there’s still that highly personal connection as well. This next sentence doesn’t make much sense, but this kind of defines the person that I would like to be. Not that I could ever achieve such warmness. It just sounds so everlastingly beautiful to my ears. I can’t really describe it, but I can feel every note. I know that this is not a very informative post and I apologize for turning Viljami’s music into something way too subjective. That might be rather annoying and doesn’t even showcase the content of the album. So forget everything I said and just listen to this. Keinuta mua is probably my own favourite song on this one (love the backing vocals), but this is the wonderful opening track Joko lähdetään, one of the many highlights of this lovely album.

Viljami Kukkonen at Facebook

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