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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Review: Mirel Wagner – Mirel Wagner

Mirel Wagner: Mirel Wagner (Kioski Rec, 2011)

Mirel Wagner proves that pitch black can shine brightly. This young singer-songwriter has created something that you rarely or never hear on these shores. On the river banks of Mississippi in the late-twenties it might have been common, but not so much hundred years later in Finland. Maybe the greatest songwriter ever Townes Van Zandt once said that there are two types of music. The blues and zip-a-dee-doo-dah. This falls into the blues category and a graveyard full of black metal guitarists couldn’t create anything half as heavy and raw as Mirel Wagner’s self-titled debut album. I’m still amazed that there’s a young Finnish woman who can write convincing blues songs about subjects like hanging on to a dead lover and kissing his rotten tongue, because death can’t tear them apart.  Mirel Wagner is a huge talent and already a stunning singer-songwriter. Her restrained and bare, but extremely mesmerizing phrasing sends slow-paced shock waves into my bones and the fragile dark beauty of the album completely captures my attention. Occasionally the dreary gloom of the songs can become so excessive that if I look into the mirror, in order to judge the emotions I’m feeling, I see a slightly reserved smile having just a light edge over a mildly scared grin in their quiet battle. No matter which side is winning, there’s always one emotion that stays the same. It’s the love towards her music.

I admit that five hearts might be a little too much at this point in her career, because a couple of these songs aren’t that memorable if you just consider words & composition. However, her presence, the hauntingly brilliant atmosphere and the way she whispers the words into the air, lift even these less-great songs to a whole another level. The album leans strongly to a  folk & blues songwriting tradition, but you shouldn’t get scared if that’s not your cup of cheese cake. For example, this could well appeal to fans of Mazzy Star or Jesse Sykes, or PJ Harvey, because this hits pretty much the same spot in one’s body. Even though they don’t have the courage to hit it with just a staggering voice and a vulnerable guitar. In overall, this rugged, sad & beautiful blues/folk album is simply amazing. It is able to travel into such deep and muddy waters that sometimes I can just barely see the surface, but I’m still fairly confident that these songs are more likely to heal me than drown me.

Mirel Wagner at facebook
Mirel Wagner at myspace

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Album of the Month: Jessica Lea Mayfield – Tell Me

Jessica Lea Mayfield: Tell Me (Nonesuch, 2011)

The first 2011 album that I’ve completely fallen in love with. Jessica Lea Mayfield’s previous album With Blasphemy So Heartfelt was already a rather convincing effort and made it on my end of the year list back in 2008. The album showcased a huge amount of talent and now this 21-year-old songwriter from Kent, Ohio is totally ready to enter into the major league.

Jessica Lea Mayfield might not be the most technically gifted vocalist and she might not have the highest range of voice, but I find her calm and mellow voice totally irresistible and captivating. That voice never fails to carry her dark-flavoured and emotion-filled words into my veins. She is a fabulous songwriter and have been able to create a magical album. I pretty much love every song on the album. Tell Me certainly has a moody and sad tone, but I don’t find it depressive or miserable at all. Her declarative brokenhearted confessions are haunting and able to cause a serene havoc inside me, but they also inject a giant dose of pure, honest and intimate human feelings into the core of my heart and suddenly the warmness surrounds and I can see the sunshine again.

Dan Auerbach
has done an excellent job with the production,  have kept things relatively down-to-earth and have just added some colour and vision. One could so easily destroy such a beautiful album with overproducing, but Dan has done the  right thing and lets Jessica Lea Mayfield’s charm and presence carry the album. I’m kind of surprised that the drum loops didn’t scare me off at all. Usually that’s the kind of stuff that annoys me and I start to search live acoustic versions of the same songs from youtube. There’s one thing that annoys me though and I would really like to say a couple of rude words to the person responsible for adding those uhh & ahh noises to the background of the title track Tell Me. I really hate that. It almost spoils otherwise great song and almost took away the otherwise truly deserved five hearts grade.

I find it hard to categorize her (and why should I categorize her?). There’s certainly a lot of folk and americana in her songs, but that’s only a part of her beautifully crafted soundscape. Maybe one part of folk music and one part of dreamy & moody indie rock like Josh Haden’s Spain might get you at least around the same neighborhood.  I don’t really know, but thankfully the only things I need to know are that a) I love her b) she has created a wonderful album.

Jessica Lea Mayfield “Run Myself Into The Ground” from American Songwriter on Vimeo.

Jessica Lea Mayfield Website

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