Year end madness continues with my favorite Finnish albums of the year. I’ll use similar kind of method as I did last year. So these list will have some kind of not-that-serious ranked top 10 and outside of that the order will be completely random and drawn out of a hat. I’m fully aware that music is love and not a competition, but I also listen an insane amount of music and therefore these lists will be really long. That’s why I think it might be helpful to give readers some kind of vague ranking of the releases I’ve loved the most. For example, everyone might not be into listening to all 100 international albums that I will select.
I’m of course just one man with a subjective taste. These are my own favorite releases and I’m not even trying to make an objective best of the year list. There’s plenty that I haven’t even heard yet like the whole The Lovematches record. I also just noticed that there’s a new Joni Ekman album out there that I haven’t even listened and that Kissa album is also something that I might really like, but just haven’t gotten into it yet. Probably just forgot something too. And there’s plenty of others too.
Oh and if you are into playlists, you’ll find Tidal, Spotify and Apple Music links below the list. Tidal and Apple don’t have everything available though, so Spotify is the most complete. There will be even longer playlists when I make the songs of the year list later in December.
Linda Fredriksson – Juniper (We Jazz)
Truthfully I know nothing about jazz and kinda thought this is probably not for me. Thankfully I didn’t let my prejudiced mind control my listening habits, because if you put the headphones on and hit play, it’s almost impossible not to be impressed.
Guggenheim-Projektz – Bim Mustakorva (Helmi Levyt)
How could anyone not love Guggenheim-projektz.
Lyyti – Toiveet ja Helyt (Luova Records)
Unique poetry pop brilliance from Lyyti.
AK-77 – Lowdown Kryptoniitti Blues
This list needs some blues and who better to provide it than AK-77. Bonus points for mentioning my hometown Keuruu. Their Finnish translation of J.J. Cale’s Cajun Moon is called Keuruun kuu.
Sami Heikkilä & Kolme Viljaa – Sami Heikkilä & Kolme Viljaa (Kitka Records)
A warm and captivating folk rock beauty from Sami Heikkilä & Kolme Viljaa.
Jukka Nissinen – III (Humu Records)
The third from Jukka Nissinen is probably the best one yet. It makes me smile and that’s rather important especially during these dark winter days.
Sami Yaffa – The Innermost Journey to Outermost Mind (Vallila Music House)
First solo full-length from Sami Yaffa. Down at St. Joe’s is my big personal favorite here.
Litku Klemetti – Kukkia muovipussissa (Luova Records)
Perhaps less my cup of tea than previous Litku Klemetti albums, but there’s no need to satisfy narrow-minded music bloggers by rewriting the same record over and over again. Do whatever feels good and we will most likely follow along. Disco-version of Litku is also rather wonderful.
Hot Heros & Janne Laurila – Nuotiosavua (Playground)
The voice of Janne Laurila backed up by the almighty Hot Heros. That’s even more trustworthy combination than Mika Pyörälä and Lasse Kukkonen defending one goal lead in the last minute of a meaningful Liiga game.
Antero Kaksikäsi – Pihapihlaja (Hyvät Levyt)
A bit more obscure choice here perhaps, but I definitely have a soft spot for the country songs of Antero Kaksikäsi. A very lovely record.
Pekka Laine – The Enchanted Guitar of.. (Svart Records)
Next a magical electric guitar adventure together with Pekka Laine. Even more legendary figure Esa Pulliainen provides a little bit of help.
Marian Valinta – Kahden valtakunta
Marian Valinta has been giving a new life for their old back catalogue pearls. The long time readers might remember some of these lovely songs from the early days of the blog and they work equally well now in 2021.
Jani Matti Juhani – Laulaa Elvistä Suomeksi vol.2 (Ainoa Productions)
Jani Matti Juhani released more gorgeous Elvis covers in Finnish. Everything works, but my personal fave is this exceptional duet with Sini.
Ruissalo Amping – Tähtien suojatit maan povella (Karhuvaltio Records)
What’s a list without some shoegazing? Ruissalo Amping to the rescue.
Palor – Lähenee nyt (Musakonttori)
Actually there’s some gazing here too, but more the merrier. Or well maybe merrier is not the best word, but yeah this is really good. This song Eksyneet is the one I love the most. It goes somewhere close to the early Wojciech stuff and that’s never a bad thing.
Baby Sweetcorn – Beyond the Rain (Way Beyondo)
A late entry to the list from a long time favorite Baby Sweetcorn. Just getting started here, but songs like Slow Fade and Museum of Echoes have already found a new home in my heart.
Arppa – Kinovalon alla (Johanna Kustannus)
Further Arppa magic. This opening song is a special treat.
Mustat Kalsarit – Yö (Joteskii Groteskii / Hiljaiset Levyt)
Some garage rock diy perfection from Mustat Kalsarit. I really like the whole album and then there’s this absolutely wonderful fuzzy opener Puhu musta.
Tams – Menolippu ei minnekään
I’ve loved pretty much everything Tams have released and this first full-length is not an exception to the rule. Synth lord of the east still going strong.
Janne Tapion Sisäinen Avaruus – Uusi elämä alkaa (Iso Pinkki)
This folk rock beauty isn’t even out yet, because the release date is 10th of December. However, I’ve had a chance to hear the full thing a couple of times and have spent a lot of time with the advance singles. So it’s perfectly clear that it does make the cut. It does feel like the most complete Janne Tapion Sisäinen Avaruus album and a part of me would like to drop it even as high as #5. But perhaps that would be a bit too hasty after just a couple of spins.
10. Astral Brain – The Bewildered Mind (Shelflife Records)
Starting the top 10 with a very questionable pick and I hope they don’t hate me for forcing them under this Finnish bubble. Half-Finnish and Stockholm-based Astral Brain would actually be a much better fit for the international category, but this leaves me one more spot for that list and this might also inform some of you about Einar Ekström’s (Le Futur Pompiste) current dreamy psych pop adventures over in Stockholm. The only thing that actually matters is that The Bewildered Mind is a mighty fine pop album.
9. Kielo Kärkkäinen – Laulajan muotokuva (Texicalli Records)
Kielo Kärkkäinen continues to impress with her fabulous songwriting. A mighty good band too and I love the arrangements all around.
8. Janne Laurila – Janne, tuu jo tänne! (Soit Se Silti)
Janne Laurila had a prolific year and have a couple of albums on this list. I’m a simple guy so this rock album took the slight edge and was the one that cracked the top 10. Better to have them both though instead of just settling for one of them.
7. Joose Keskitalo – New Songs for Old Motifs (Helmi Levyt)
Joose Keskitalo in English. Well count me in for sure. Excellent stuff throughout the record and then there’s The Doors, which is one of my favorite songs of the year.
6. Pekko Käppi & K:H:H:L – Aamunkoi (Svart Records)
Pekko Käppi has always had my utmost respect, but a lot of the stuff he releases is only a partial match with my own subjective taste. But now. Oh my. This one really hits the core of my heart. Kirsikankukkia for example is absolutely perfect. Such a great album.
5. Hulda Huima – Ilma (Helmi Levyt)
Hulda Huima has a pretty much guaranteed spot on my top 10 and this year is no exception. This new one does have some electronic elements, which maybe caused me a few hiccups during the first spins. But I got over it and ended up loving this just as much as the previous masterworks.
4. Eden Prairie – Give Up the Ghost
Next up some of the finest Finnish americana or whatever you may wanna call it. I’ve always liked Eden Prairie, but they took a giant step forward with Give Up the Ghost. A beautiful and humane album full of well-crafted stories. I’m so fond of this that it kinda hurts to leave this outside the top 3. A further proof that this ranking stuff is total bollocks.
3. Astrid Swan – D/Other (Soliti)
We’ll start the top three with Astrid Swan‘s wonderful new album D/Other. Such a special and powerful album that moves me deeply. There’s darkness but it’s overshadowed by humanity and light. A beautiful album.
2. Ty Roxy – 音楽 (Music) (Fonal Music)
This might be somewhat surprise, because stylewise Ty Roxy is not really the closest thing to my heart. Although things like Ian Daniel Kehoe’s Secret Republic have been on the top 10 too. So perhaps it’s not completely outside the box to fall so badly for an album that is heavily influenced with 80s disco music. I’m a reserved and extremely shy person and can’t think of much scarier things than hitting the dancefloor at a night club, but if I heard this one playing, I might seriously consider making a few modest dance moves. Absolutely love this record.
1. Tvärtom – Tvärtom (267 lattajjaa / Jumatsuga)
And the Finnish album of the year is Tvärtom’s self-titled debut full-length. I just loved it from the get-go. I put it on while at work and had to share first social media praises on the next coffee break. As a former indie pop kid and current indie pop middle-aged man, I’m probably the perfect target audience but damn how I love everything about it. A slice of jangly pop heaven. Five hearts any day of the week and by far the Finnish album I loved the most during this year.
Tidal Playlist (Tvärtom, Baby Sweetcorn missing from Tidal and different songs from Jukka Nissinen and Ruissalo Amping because Tidal only had the singles for these)
Apple Music Playlist (Tvärtom and Baby Sweetcorn missing)