Albums of the Year 2011 – The International Edition (30-16)

30. The Disciplines – Virgins of Menace

Ken Stringfellow and his norwegian pals have some serious rock’n’roll action going on. If I have to choose I prefer the first The Disciplines album, but Virgins of Menace is also damn enjoyable.

29. The Jayhawks – Mockingbird Time

I admit that this is shockingly low position for one of my all-time favourite bands. But it wouldn’t be an honest thing to do to lift them to top 10, because I haven’t listened to this as much as I should have. I can’t really even give a proper reason why, because every time I do listen to it, I’m enjoying every minute. Louris & Olson singing together sounds (and feels) so amazing.
28. Gillian Welch – The Harrow & The Harvest

High quality album from start to finish, but even though I enjoy every moment maybe only Scarlet Town and the stunningly beautiful Way It Will Be really stand up from the crowd. Maybe partly because one tends to expect something divine from Gillian Welch, who still is one of the greatest.

27. Mike Viola – Electro De Perfecto

The list continues with my big heroes. A great pop singer-songwriter Mike Viola returned with a new album Electro De Perfecto. There’s a couple of “just ok” -tunes in there, which is usually the case with power pop albums, but mostly it’s an excellent pop album.

26. Fountains of Wayne – The Sky Full of Holes

A welcome return from the pop maestros. Maybe none of the tracks reaches my all-time top 12 FOW songs list, but Sky Full Of Holes was a really strong and consistent album (Unlike Traffic & Weather that had a few songs I didn’t like at all).
25. Bonnie Prince Billy – Wolfroy Goes To Town

The last addition to the list. I just bought this a couple of weeks ago and haven’t spent enough quality time with it. And Bonnie Prince Billy demands one’s attention. Of course it does work wonderfully also as background music, but to really locate all the beauty & the detail one needs to dig deeper. Given time this might have risen closer to top 10, but I’m already captivated.
24. Robert Ellis – Photographs

Robert Ellis, a new singer-songwriter from Houston, gave us some traditional country songs and beautiful folk songs. There’s a song or two in here that i’m not a big fan of, but most of them are astoundingly beautiful. I’m especially fond of I’ll Never Give Up On You and Photographs. A couple of great vintage country ballads.
23. The Red Button – As Far as Yesterday Goes

Seth Swirsky and Mike Ruekberg are blissfully stuck in the past and deliver some of the finest 60’s influence pop music these days. The second Red Button album maybe doesn’t have as mindblowingly brilliant (should-be) hit as Cruel Girl was on the debut, but it’s still a really great album and one of my favourite pop albums of the year.
22. Wilco – The Whole Love

Ok, so Art of Almost is more like art of crap. Or art of how to kill a great melody with useless shit. But mostly the new Wilco album is extremely good and Wilco is still floating my boat.

21. Jonny – Jonny

Two great pop songwriters behind this album. Jonny is Euros Childs and Norman Blake. Unlike Teenage Fanclub and Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, Jonny isn’t one of the greatest things in the world. However, Jonny’s debut is still an excellent little pop album and I love listening to it. The song Circling The Sun is a big favourite of mine.
20. Butcher Boy – Helping Hands

I’m not the biggest Butcher Boy fan in this household, but I like them a lot as well. I’ve kind of lost touch with the indie pop world during the recent years, but thankfully I’m still familiar with the great scottish indie pop group Butcher Boy, because my girlfriend always buy their records. This has been playing a lot around the house during the year and I fell in love with it.

19. Iron & Wine – Kiss Each Other Clean

Iron & Wine’s latest album Kiss Each Other Clean doesn’t seem to get too much love on these year end lists and I find that somewhat surprising. Ok, I struggled a bit myself, because it does have a song or two that I don’t like that much, but the vocals. Oh my. I could just listen to the vocal tracks all day long. Sam Beam’s voice sounds like the sweetest work of ark. And of course the songs are mostly great. Especially Tree By The River and Rabbit Will Run.
18. Have Gun, Will Travel – Mergers & Acquisitions

Have Gun Will Travel was one of my big finds last year and I’m still very much into them. The new album Mergers & Acquisitions is again full of great folk/americana songs. Lyric department is also in good shape. Especially Katharine, Don’t Fall Off that Wagon is a really marvellous song.

17. Brown Bird – Salt for Salt

Brown Bird’s David Lamb would be a big contender in the beard of the year contest, but Brown Bird will do just fine in the album of the year contest as well. Very fond of their new album Salt For Salt even though the darker side of their folk music almost goes out of my comfort zone. The opening trio of Fingers to the Bone, Chairkickers and Bilgewater is truly stunning.
16. Lauderdale – Moving On

Lauderdale from Muscle Shoals, Alabama released quite a stunning album that can compete with any of the big boys in the genre. The perfect way to end this first part of the international albums of the year list, is their brilliant song Stars Fell.

(Top 1-15 either later today or sometime tomorrow)

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Albums of the Year 2011 – The Finnish Edition

Trying out some new tricks this year and I made two lists. The Finnish edition and the international edition. This is how the real magazines do these, so I suppose it’s alright. I’ve felt that doing these lists separately somewhat underestimates the Finnish releases. As if they are not good enough to make it to the list, if you make just one list. My top three Finnish albums would have made the top 10 in any crowd. Anyway, at least I get to choose two albums of the year.

Here we go (again)..

10. 22-Pistepirkko – Lime Green Delorean

There’s a few tracks on the new 22-Pistepirkko album that I’m not a big fan of. On the other hand, the album contains couple of songs that I really love. Especially Sweet Rodeo Heart and Ufo Girl are absolutely brilliant. Legendary band are still delivering the goods.
9. Kim Curly Band – So Long, King Desire

Kim Curly Band broke up after this album. I don’t think it had anything do with the quality of the music, because this second album from the masters of Finnish americana was a really good effort. A bit of Ryan Adams and Neil Young influences can never hurt.
8. The New Tigers – The New Tigers

Not too keen on the last three tracks, but up until that point The New Tigers debut was awesome. They won my heart over, even though I wasn’t the easiest soul to reach due to the fact that fuzzy pop and shoegazy vibes aren’t things I would take with me to a desert island.
7. NT’s White Trash – Mourning Becomes Electric

Nick Triani’s record label Soliti has gotten a lot of praises in the music media and blogosphere. I adore the label as much as any other, but my favourite Nick Triani -related album is Mourning Becomes Electric by his own band NT’s White Trash. Pop distortion with great melodies. Works for me.
6. Regina – Soita mulle

A welcome reminder that it’s still possible to become popular and hit the charts with great songs. Regina’s latest album Soita mulle was a thing of beauty and their new direction suited me perfectly.

5. Hi-Lo & In Between – We Are Not The Wind

This should have gotten much more recognition. This one ticks all the right boxes for me. Beautiful (but sometimes haunting) atmosphere and well-crafted folk songs. A couple of really amazing songs like the first single A Clear Silence and The Day When The Madness Came.
4. TV-Resistori – TV-Resistori

A tough task to beat those early TV-Resistori albums. Maybe they didn’t quite achieve that, but they definitely kept the quality really high and again released a delightful pop album. The loveliest of songs by the loveliest of bands.

3. Samae Koskinen – Kuuluuko, kuuntelen

Samae Koskinen released his best solo album to date and I love it to bits. Hän, jolla on kaikki is my favourite Finnish song of the year and the whole album is brilliant. The album compassionately handles low self-esteem issues in such caring manner that real-life Crane brothers would struggle to do a better job at it. And more importantly, it’s incredibly catchy pop album.
2. Mirel Wagner – Mirel Wagner

Mirel Wagner proves that pitch black can shine brightly. A graveyard full of black metal guitarists couldn’t create anything half as heavy and raw as Mirel Wagner’s self-titled debut album.” Just quoting my own review. Is that allowed? Anyway, Mirel Wagner’s debut album still sounds stunning. A truly remarkable effort from a young folk/blues singer-songwriter.

1. Mummypowder – Centuries Later

Extremely easy decision in the end. Mummypowder’s fourth album Centuries Later is the Finnish album of the year. It is also the greatest pop album of the year 2011 even all countries considered, because if I would have made just one list Centuries Later would have taken either second or third spot on that list and the only one(s) ahead of it would fall more into the folk/country zone. I think this is just heavenly good pop album. The lyrics are the best Janne Lehtinen has ever written. The songs have been perfect before so it’s hard to become any better at that, but this might be the most consistent Mummypowder album to date. There’s not a single bad track on it. Everything sounds brilliant. I just can’t understand why this beauty doesn’t rule every year-end list.

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Year 2011 Round-up Part 7: Favourite Finnish songs vol 2.

Moving on to Finnish songs that actually came out on a label. More about many of these when I write that albums of the year 2011 list. Not in any order except that Samae Koskinen’s Hän, jolla on kaikki is definitely my favourite Finnish song of the year and Mirel Wagner’s No Death was the clear #2. Otherwise I didn’t think about the order. I also went with the easy route and just picked my favourite songs that were easily available (youtube / soundcloud). In few cases I might have picked a different song from the album, but I do love all these. A proper top 10 songs of the year list might or might not appear. The album list is first on the agenda.

Samae Koskinen – Hän, jolla on kaikki (from the album Kuuluuko, kuuntelen)

Mirel Wagner – No Death (from the album Mirel Wagner)

Burning Hearts – Into the Wilderness (from the EP Into The Wilderness)

NT’s White Trash – You & Me (from the album Mourning Becomes Electric)

The New Tigers – Velvet Jam (from the album The New Tigers)

Regina – Unessa (from the album Soita mulle)

TV-Resistori – Ilta aikaa (from the album TV-Resistori)

Hi-Lo & In Between – A Clear Silence (from the album We Are Not The Wind)

Mummypowder – Part of the Fun (from the album Centuries Later)

22-Pistepirkko – Sweet Rodeo Heart (from the album Lime Green Delorean)


And last but not least. Finally “a new” The Sugarrush song surfaced on the Miettinen box set and I have to mention this great track even though I can only give a spotify link to it.

The Sugarrush – Posterboy (available on the Miettinen Box set)

Posterboy at Spotify

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