Albums of the Year 2012: The International Edition Part Two 10-1

10. David Myhr: Soundshine

David Myhr created a slice of pop heaven with his album Soundshine. That title certainly fits perfectly to this album. You rarely hear so excellent melodic power pop these days. Soundshine was the perfect soundtrack for the spring, but still works just as well during these dark winter nights. If you’ve been in Finland in november/december, you know that it’s the time you really need some soundshine and this album fully delivers it. David’s visit to Flavour of the Month club was also one of the highlights of the year. This is Looking For a Life.


9. Greater Pacific: Incandescent

This one was a surprise for me. I liked Greater Pacific debut EP a lot and knew they were a good band, but I didn’t expect them to be this good. I really fell in love with their laid-back americana. The album Incandescent contained plenty of beautiful melancholic folk songs. My kind of music definitely. A fair amount of pedal steel as well which is always a plus. This one is my biggest favourite, the title track Incandescent.


8. Justin Townes Earle: Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now

Well this one was not a surprise. I think the past three Justin Townes Earle albums have all reached my end of the year list. I don’t think I ever wrote about this to the blog before this. Mostly because people already know the guy and my silly ramblings won’t make a difference. Excellent album nevertheless. Memphis sound meets folk troubadour. So damn enjoyable. This one is Memphis in the Rain.


7. Andrew Combs: Worried Man

This one was the latest album of the month and it’s indeed worthy of that title. Andrew Combs might not invent anything new, but he sure is creating wonderful country songs. If you are into 70s country troubadours, give Andrew Combs a chance, because this man is creating something similar and he sure can sing. You could pretty much post any of the songs, because are all great. Let’s go with Take it From Me this time around.


6. John K. Samson: Provincial

The only bad thing about The Weakerthans frontman John K. Samson solo full-lenght was that I already knew half of the songs from his earlier EPs. The excitement levels would have risen even higher, if there had been 12 completely new John K. Samson compositions. But obviously the songs were way too brilliant to be left on EPs that only the biggest fans had acquired and the songs were also part of the provincial concept. One of the great modern songwriters and this album is just as great as The Weakerthans albums. This one is titled When I Write My Master’s Thesis.


5. Joe Pug: The Great Despiser

Regular readers are well aware that I’ve become a huge Joe Pug fan during the last few years. One of the best folk singer-songwriters at the moment and the new album The Great Despiser is obviously wonderful. There’s a couple of songs that doesn’t seem to be anything special. Well at least on Joe’s standards and that’s why this is not a contender for the album of the year award. Marvellous album nevertheless. This is one of the many highlights, Hymn #76.


4. Paul Otteson: Robin Red

This has been one of my biggest addictions this year. I’ve listened to Robin Red for hours in a row and enjoyed every second. Robin Red is fragile and oh so very beautiful. Paul Otteson might not be the most well-known folk troubadour out there, but he sure did create such a magical record that most household names would struggle to get even close to the same level. This one is my own favourite, One Heart To Prove.


3. I Was a King: You Love It Here

A stunning album. Norwegian I Was A King created a world class pop album with the help of Norman Blake and Robyn Hitchcock. Pop music just doesn’t get much better than this nowadays and it just feels so good to listen to this. You Love It Here is full of amazing pop songs. Almost every song could (and should) be a hit single. This is the opener Frozen Disease.


2. Barna Howard: Barna Howard

Moving on to the second place and not so surprisingly, there’s another folk singer-songwriter. Although Barna Howard is definitely not just another folk singer-songwriter. This man is a major talent and it’s almost criminal that he is still pretty unknown. I’ll try to do my small part in spreading the gospel (thanks to April/Common Folk Music, who introduced Barna to me). Such a great songwriter, such a great singer. Watch this video below and you’ll understand what I mean. It contains three songs from his self-titled album Promise, I Won’t Laugh, Song For Joe and Timber, Nails and Tears.


1. Ken Stringfellow: Danzig In The Moonlight

And the album of the year award goes to Danzig In The Moonlight by Ken Stringfellow. Of course that’s pretty obvious choice, because Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer are my all-time favourite songwriters/performers. Still I’ve tried to be objective and honest during the years and all Posies-related releases have not come on top of my year-end lists, if I didn’t really think they were worthy of that spot. This time Ken Stringfellow released such a masterpiece that you didn’t need to think twice which was the best album of the year. Danzig in The Moonlight is an ambitious album, but somehow Ken managed to keep it cohesive. A lot of different styles, but almost everything works perfectly. And then there’s the last song You’re A Sign. A future classic and easily the best song of the year 2012. This is not You’re a Sign (because I couldn’t find it). This is Superwise.

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Albums of the Year 2012: The International Edition Part One 20-11

This time I forced myself to choose only top 20. Heartbreaking stuff and extremely difficult, because I had to leave out so many great albums.

20. Bahamas: Barchords

Starting out with Afie Jurvanen aka Bahamas from Toronto. I’ve really liked this guy from the start and he is just getting better all the time. A few songs might still slip into the “only nice” category, but even those sound charming. I’m especially fond of the beautiful ballad Time and Time Again. In case you haven’t already seen it, I wholeheartedly recommend this Sunday Dinner short-film where Bahamas also shows his finnish language skills. It fits well into the holiday season as well. Someone should organize a Finland tour. This is Time and Time Again.


19. The Mastersons: Birds Fly South

The Mastersons is a great country duo and their debut album Birds Fly South contains several brilliant country songs like Crash Test, The Other Shoe and One Word More. Reminds me of The Jayhawks, but that’s never a bad thing. Hit this next youtube link for One Word More.

18. Gentleman Jesse: Leaving Atlanta

This list needs some power pop and who would be better to provide it than Gentleman Jesse. The debut was gorgeous and this follow-up Leaving Atlanta is just as great. If you are into that late 70s/early 80s rockin’ power pop, you can’t go wrong with Gentleman Jesse. Hit the next youtube link for my favourite song Careful What You Wish For.

17. Neil Halstead: Palindrome Hunches

And the something completely different. Mojave 3 is an all-time favourite here at the headquarters. Neil Halstead’s solo material haven’t completely reached the same level, but it comes rather close and the new solo album Palindrome Hunches is once again amazingly beautiful. This is one of the many highlights, Full Moon Rising.


16. Denver: Denver

And we do need some traditional country music as well. Denver from Portland, Oregon, released an album full of marvellous country tunes. The band shares some members with Blitzen Trapper, but this is even better than the great Blitzen Trapper. Here’s one great example titled Reno.

15. Lightships: Electric Cables

Lightships is Gerald Love from Teenage Fanclub. Lightships isn’t as good as TFC, but nothing is as good as TFC. And then there’s no reason to compare. Astoundingly beautiful album from Gerald Love. This one below is Sweetness In Her Spark.


14. American Aquarium: Burn, Flicker, Die

Again we have something very different than the previous choice. Southern rock’n’roll,, indie rock from Raleigh’s American Aquarium. Their new Jason Isbell produced album Burn, Flicker, Die is very convincing effort. You can stream the whole thing on their website.

13. BMX Bandits: BMX Bandits in Space

The last addition to the list. I’ve only had this for a week, so it’s pretty hard to decide where to put it. But it’s certain that Duglas and co have again created a mighty fine album that is one of the highlights of the year. I especially love the song Fireworks. Perfect song and perfect last line. Hit the youtube link to find the video for a song titled Listen to Some Music.

12. Pickering Pick: Prayer Flag

Pickering Pick has been extremely important this year. I’ve been listening to his whole back catalogue throughout the year. His 2012 release Prayer Flag is again beautiful and poetic folk album. The last song Seasons On The Run is one of the most captivating moments of the year. You can listen to it below. He also has a new single, which you can find by following this link. More about that after I’m done with these pointless lists.

11. The District Attorneys: Slowburner

It’s rather hard to rank this one, because on the other hand it contains some songs that are only good, but then there’s the mid-part of the album that is absolutely magnificent. Especially from the 5th song Cherry Glow to the 9th song The End this album is perfect and I can never get tired of those songs. Believe me, I’ve tried really hard. Listen to Cherry Glow and The End below.

Top 10 to follow sometime soon. Hopefully tomorrow, but might go until next weekend.

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Albums of the Year 2012: The Finnish Edition

10. Delay Trees: Doze

As I’ve said before, the new Delay Trees album Doze also contains material that I’m not that thrilled about. Some songs end up being a bit too long and dreamy for my personal likings. But then there’s Dream Surfer and HML. Oh my. Two absolutely fantastic songs. Therefore I don’t have the heart to leave Doze outside the top 10 and some albums that I might like more as a whole have to make room. This one below is the magnificent HML.


9. Jukka Ässä: Mitäs tässä

Jukka Ässä finally released his long-waited solo debut Mitäs tässä. Especially the songs Juhannus and Ole juuri niin kuin oot are perfect and among the finest things released this year. Very strong album as a whole as well, even though the rest of the album might not completely reach the same level of brilliance as those two beauties. This is Eläköön, amatöörit.


8. Mikael H & The Siberians: The President Of Venice Beach

The new Mikael H & The Siberians album is a delightful piece of music. Beautiful folk melodies and inspiring arrangements. The President of Venice Beach surely contain quite a lot of playful arrangements. Most of them work really well and keep the record interesting and unique. In couple of occasions it gets a bit frustrating, because same song can contain parts that I absolutely love and parts that I don’t even like. A great album nevertheless. This one below is Being Right.


7. Burning Hearts: Extinctions

This might well be the best finnish album of the year, but I’m not trying to make an objective list. These list thingies are always very subjective. Things like personal preference matter and electro-folk-pop isn’t the thing I love the most. But damn.. I do still love Burning Hearts and their new album Extinctions. Marvellous stuff. This one is The Swallows.


6. Treehouse: Top to Bottom

Now this is my kind of music. Treehouse filled their debut album Top to Bottom with fabulous country-flavoured pop music. Oh how I love that singing and the harmonies. I love the singing on the record and their live performance last friday proved that they can sing as beautifully on live situations as well. Such a great record. This one is Summer Starts in June.


5. Matti Jasu & The Loose Train: Samurai vs. The Computer

Matti Jasu used to write and sing some of my favourite Finnish indie pop songs as a member of Goodnight Monsters. Therefore I had high hopes for his new material and I’m loving this just as much. It’s a bit less indie pop and a bit more Neil Young, but that’s not a bad thing. Samurai VS Computer is a great album that should have gotten much more recognition. This is Fingers Crossed.


4. Nopat: Kadun tuolla puolella

Nopat made a charming soundtrack for my lazy sunday mornings. Slow-paced, cosy and beautiful. What’s better than having no rush to go anywhere at all and just listen to Nopat, Neil Halstead and Mark Kozelek while sipping some black coffee and eating burnt toast. This is Minkä teit?.


3. Cats On Fire: All Blackshirts To Me

Cats On Fire is still the best indie pop band in the world. These days I might not be as obsessed with them as I was a couple years ago, but they do continue to impress with each and every release. All Blackshirts To Me might very well be their strongest album to date, even though the earlier ones will always remain dearest to me (due to the fact that I have so much emotion and personal memories attached to them). This is My Sense Of Pride.


2. Ochre Room: Evening Coming In

It kind of hurts to leave this as number two. If there was an most important artist/band of the year category, international award would go to Chris Bathgate and Ochre Room would be the Finnish choice. This surely has been a year of Ochre Room for me. It was love at first sight at Flavour of the Month in february and the feeling has only gotten stronger throughout the year. The vocalists are just so freakin’ good and the song material is already mighty fine. Perfect Finnish americana/folk rock. If I make a song of the year list, Radiance will probably take the place #1. The harmonies on that one are out of this world. This one is My Summer.

And here’s acoustic A Little Cloud from Luomustudio.


1. Viljami Kukkonen: Mörönsyötti

And the album of the year award goes to Mörönsyötti by Viljami Kukkonen. Even if I had put Finnish and international albums all together on one list, Mörönsyötti might still have taken the first place. I just love everything about it. Listening to it is like a spiritual experience. It’s like this album is a perfect match with my heart. If my day is chaotic and stressful, I can turn this on and there’s again some kind of harmony and sense around. Of course this all sounds naiive, but there’s no other way I can explain the brilliance of this album. I guess there’s a couple of lines that are a bit clumsy, but even those don’t bother me at all, because Mörönsyötti is such a magical record and my Finnish album of the year. Below you’ll find the songs Hoivaa, Minä valvon nimeäsi and Solmutukka.

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