Albums of the Year 2010 – Part three 20-11

Part one 40-31, Part two 30-21, Part four 10-1

20. Justin Rutledge: The Early Widows

I’m a long time fan of canadian singer-songwriter Justin Rutledge and have loved pretty much everything he has ever done. The Early Widows isn’t an exception to the rule albeit I’m not 100% happy with all of the production/arrangements choices (less gospel choirs next time around). Justin Rutledge is  such a master in creating poignant, poetic and beautiful folk songs.

19. Eels: End Times

Eels released two albums during the year. I didn’t like the second one Tomorrow Morning that much, but End Times was a really strong album.. Or maybe strong is not the right word. Maybe fragile, confessional & captivating would be better adjectives. End Times became one of my favourite Eels albums, but of course Beautiful Freak will always be the Eels album for me.

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18. Pete Molinari: A Train Bound For Glory

Pete Molinari’s concert at Bar Kuka was one of the highlights of the year. We bought three records from the show as well. I think A Virtual Landslide is my favourite, but this new one is also brilliant. Although I’m not that big fan of the single Streetcar Named Desire. It’s actually one of my least favourite songs on the album. But just listen to those old-fashioned ballads. Oh my, just perfect.

17. Joe Pug: Messenger

I know there’s a huge amount of country & folk troubadours on the list, but what can I do. That’s the kind of music I love nowadays. And a person like Joe Pug is certainly not just another folk troubadour. This man is a real talent and a fantastic songwriter. At first, Messenger didn’t seem anything that special, but soon the whole subtle beauty was revealed and I was amazed about two things. 1.) How great Joe Pug was 2.)How stupid was I, because I didn’t instantly see/hear it.

16. Hi-Lo & In Between: The Lonely Bird

One of my favourite finnish albums of the year was Hi-Lo & In Between’s wonderful second album The Lonely Bird. Finnish folk rock & americana, violin & mandolin, great songs & beautiful singing. Country & folk tradition and some finnish melancholy. My kind of music. I hope these guys will soon get the recognition they deserve. I’m really looking forward to the next album.

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15. Trembling Blue Stars: Fast Trains & Telegraph Wires

A last minute entry. Just got this four days ago, but I don’t have the heart to leave it out, because Trembling Blue Stars are one of my all-time favourite bands and this list seriously needs some (melancholic) indie pop. I almost owe my sanity to Bobby Wratten. Even if everything else was collapsing, Bobby Wratten’s voice has always been able to pull my heart together. It’s a bit too early to make final conclusions about Fast Trains and Telegraph Wires and a month later this might be ten places higher or lower. What I do know is that it’s certainly another great album. This will also be the final TBS album and it’s certainly a bit sad that there will be no more sad songs.

14. Possessed By Paul James: Feed The Family

I first bought the movie The Folk Singer and after watching that I knew I needed to buy some Possessed By Paul James albums. Feed The Family is definitely a passionate album. Mixture of energetic bluesy bluegrass and captivating folk songs. Extremely convincing stuff. It demands attention and doesn’t work that well as background music. But it really doesn’t need to, because music as pure and passionate as this will grab your attention.

13. Darren Hanlon: I Will Love You At All

Darren Hanlon’s wonderful song Scenes From A Separation took the song of the year award. This album is also steadily climbing up the charts and bypassed several albums that got a higher amount of hearts in a review. The first half of the album contains some of the best stuff released during the year. If it had all been that good, I Will Love You At All would have taken the album of the year award as well. However, the latter half is a bit weaker (albeit still really really good) and therefore this amazing australian (indie) pop troubadour has to settle for a place outside top ten.

12. Imperial State Electric: Imperial State Electric

This list needs a little bit of rock’n’roll and Nicke Andersson is the right man to deliver it. I’m a little surprised that this hasn’t gotten more attention. I just love this stuff and haven’t been this excited about Nicke’s band since the days of Payin’ The Dues. Sure it ain’t anything new and inventive, but it’s a whole lot of fun, fun & fun. Good old rock’n’roll and some rockin’ power pop. What could be better than that?

11. Have Gun, Will Travel: Postcards From The Friendly City

I’m not sure is Postcards From The Friendly City a 2010 release. I think this originally came out in november 2009, but later got wider distribution by the ever lovely Suburban Home. At least there was some writing about february 2010 street date on the Suburban Home website. I’ll trust that, because this wonderful album deserves all the love. Have Gun, Will Travel wrote stories that take place in their hometown Bradenton and wrapped them into lovely folk & americana songs. And it works like a charm. Let’s end this chapter of the albums of the list with a fan made video of the opening track Wolf In Shepherd’s Clothes.

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Review: Hi-Lo & In Between – The Lonely Bird

Hi-Lo & In Between: The Lonely Bird (Lumpeela julkaisut, 2010)

Recently I reviewed The Fox Hunt album and mentioned that more bands should have violin, mandolin and upright bass in their instrument arsenal. Therefore it’s about time to write about this wonderful finnish folk & country band called Hi-Lo & In Between who have all those instruments and are pretty marvellous in every other perspective as well.

The Lonely Bird is the second Hi-Lo & In Between album. I liked their debut album White Whale, but for some reason I never completely fell in love with it. I should pick it up from the shelf and check out have my opinions changed.  It might have been just a case of me being an ignorant fool. If this was the case, I plea on temporary insanity. Anyway, I’m cured now, I’m in love with The Lonely Bird and I’m thrilled that there are bands like Hi-Lo & In Between in this country. This is just beautiful and magical folk music that is so carefully and thoughtfully arranged. Take a combination of traditional british and american folk & country music, flavour it with a spoonful of finnish melancholia and you might get somewhere close. Even though the closest compatriots come from abroad, old Office Building fans should also take note, because I think this gets suprisingly close to debut-era Office Building on a couple of occasions and if you know me that is definitely not a bad thing (especially title track The Lonely Bird could be a brilliant lost outtake from To See Only Shadows, both style and qualitywise).

The Lonely Bird is a wonderful album and the band Hi-Lo & In Between deserves a lot of credit for creating this warm and gentle folk treasure.  It really doesn’t get much better than this and hopefully more and more folks will introduce their hearts to Hi-Lo & In Between. The Lonely Bird is my favourite finnish album of the year so far.

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Hi-Lo & In Between at myspace

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Micah Schnabel and some random ramblings

Lately I’ve been listening to Micah Schnabel’s (Two Cow Garage) solo album and I like it a lot. Self-released small edition of the album came out last year and was quickly sold out. Thankfully Suburban Home Records fell in love with it and is now re-releasing the album with new artwork. I preordered and got a free download with it. It’s a very fine album indeed. If you don’t believe me, you can stream the whole album on Suburban Home’s new listening station. Oh and if you liked that great video by TCSupergenius, be sure to check out his other videos. There’s some other fabulous stuff. Especially those Austin Lucas videos are pure gold.

What else is new? Well The Fox Hunt. I already mentioned them a while ago. I still don’t have the albums. I should get Nowhere Bound in a week or two, because it’s currently travelling from cdbaby to this household (too bad post from USA to Finland nowadays seem to take longer than before). Anyway, the point I needed to make is that The Fox Hunt has also new album out now and you can order it from their website. I did that some days ago. Check out The Fox Hunt on myspace or spotify if you like things like early Old Crow Medicine Show for example.

If that isn’t a perfect soundtrack for lonely days & whiskey nights, try Otis Gibbs. I recently streamed his new album Joe Hill’s Ashes on his website and because it sounded rather perfect to me, I ordered it.

Last friday’s FOTM was a success as well. Ben’s Diapers and Hi-Lo & In Between were both really good and because it was a record release partee for both, I’ve been listening to their new albums during the last few days. I think both of them are great albums. Ben’s Diapers threw in a couple of surprising curve balls midway through the park, but those new dimensions added more colour and actually made the record work perfectly as a whole. Hi-Lo & In Between’s record is also gorgeous. I’m extremely happy that they were able to make it sound so perfect this time around. It’s totally my kind of country/folk band and I’ve enjoyed their live performances from the start. Still I would have liked to love their debut more than I actually did. There was not much wrong with it, but it still wasn’t able to capture their magic like this follow up thankfully can. Well done. Reviews to follow if I can find the cure for lazyness..

Oh.. and Starflower’s new album came out today. A proper news entry about that in a day or two. Just wanted to get that beauty of my chest. I have to wake up in six hours, so I better continue some other night. Take care and all that..

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