Friday, October 10, 2008

Mike Viola’s Magic

There is something really exciting about Mike Viola. I discovered him and his band The Candy Butchers last spring, and now my listening activity just keeps increasing. This music is something that feels so genuine and alive. Viola’s melodies are wonderful (at times totally mesmerizing), his lyrics are extremely honest, and his singing voice is low and husky (quite sexy, you might say..). All this makes Viola’s music sound really personal and distinctive.

So far I’ve checked out three Candy Butchers albums. Chronologically, these are the group’s second, third and fourth album. The first (self-titled) is out of print but available in mp3 form. These three following albums, however, are available.

Falling into Place (1999) is a very nice 14-song album with fresh sounds and catchy rhythms. Falling into Place and Killing Floor are really good, along with basically everything on the album. Break Your Heart is my favourite. It features very traditional powerpop instrumentation with outstandingly beautiful melodies.

Play with Your Head (2002) is even stronger that its predecessor, and contains very interesting arrangements. You really don’t hear powerpop songs like Ruby’s Got a Big Idea or My Heart Isn’t in It every day. My Monkey Made a Man out of Me is also hook-filled, and has a cool sitar riff. The even more tremendous side of this album are the beautiful slow songs You Belong to Me Now, Baby It’s a Long Way Down, and I Let her Get Away.

Hang on Mike (2004) is the most gentle-sounding creation of this album trio. There are no rock guitars but quite a lot of piano and peaceful ballads. Again, the album is filled with high-quality songs that are so strong that picking a favourite is difficult. Nice to Know You is beautiful, and Hang on Mike a nice, encouraging song. Sparkle! is interesting, and brilliant, of course. It deals with a very serious subject and is accompanied by some very happy harp sounds.

These following paragraphs that I spotted in describe Mike Viola’s essence so well that I’ll add them here (for once do some copy-pasting like everyone else):

“A worthy heir to The Beatles and Elvis Costello, Mike Viola blends catchy, creative tunes with clever, true to life lyrics and a hushed, desperate voice.
Viola is brutally honest with his listener; bearing his soul on the microphone, he reveals a man who, like ourselves, does not always have his emotional needs met, but in quiet desperation he fights through life to find happiness.”

Mike Viola has also participated in a couple of other projects in addition to Candy Butchers albums and solo material (solo album Lurch was released last year). He was a part of the pop supergroup L.E.O. with Bleu and many others. Earlier this year he released an album Aquavia, also made in collaboration with Bleu under the name The Major Labels. The album can be downloaded for free at Mike Viola’s website – you just have to tell three friends about the album (or alternatively pay anything you like). It’s a very, very nice album with awesome songs. Check it out now, as well as Mike Viola’s other music!

Mike Viola at MySpace
Mike Viola Website
L.E.O. at MySpace

Ego Tripping at the Gates of Heaven with The Trippers

Once again, I was made very, very happy by Egotrippi’s latest awesome live gig. They performed under the secret name The Trippers, which they usually do for a couple of times before starting an official tour. As usual, the gig was very long, and they played every song from their new album (probably except for Purple, a short instrumental interlude).

It was so amazing. The band plays extremely well together, and when they have so many wonderful, melodic, harmonic, and sentimental songs it’s such a joy to listen to them. It’s also always a huge thrill to see so many people enjoying melodic pop rock. Egotrippi is brilliant because they are one of the very few domestic powerpop acts ever to gain some sort of mainstream success in Finland. Thanks to Egotrippi there are thousands of Finns today listening to powerpop – not all of them probably realize they are listening to music called powerpop but it’s not much of a problem..

I’ve been a fan of Egotrippi for over five years which isn’t very long compared to the group’s age – they started in the early 90s. My enthusiasm level towards this band has varied quite a lot during that time, but I really feel I’m starting to get into the spirit of their music again.

The group’s new album is out now. It’s called Maailmanloppua odotellessa (Waiting for World’s End) and it’s their seventh and most folky album so far. Egotrippi used to be known for fun power pop songs that had clever, quirky and relatively tongue-in-cheek lyrics but they’re now making a lot more serious songs – with the high melodic quality and emotionalism remaining, or course. The album often deals with melancholic subjects but does it in a happy way, even a bit humorously.

Here’s Egotrippi’s latest music video Valssi, directed by movie director Aku Louhimies.

Egotrippi at MySpace