Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Art of Happy Music Videos

Once again, it’s time for a nice music video. This time it’s Weezer’s Keep Fishing, probably from 2002. It is an excellent video that will surely bring a smile to your face.

I love this song, I love this band, I love Rivers Cuomo. Also, the gigantic distortion wall brings me constantly a lot of happiness. There really is something about loud and distorted music.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sugar, Sugar, More Sugar

First, it was Ohio Express, then 1910 Fruitgum Company.. Recently I’ve been focusing on The Archies, an animated bubblegum/garage band of the 60s that lived in the Archie universe and appeared in a TV show called The Archie Show.

The music in gorgeous! There’s plenty of light-hearted sweetness, absolute catchiness, songs about sugar and pretty girls.. It is the most wonderful antidote against the rainy weather, darkness and coldness of early fall. Just like with all the other bubblegum bands I’ve listened to so far, the quality and entertainment value of the music is very high throughout an entire 24-song compilation (I managed to grab a release called Sugar Sugar..).

Sugar, Sugar has been heard a thousand times already, but it’s still good. However, it takes about two minutes to find equally good (or better) Archies songs. I’ll mention Feelin’ so Good (S.K.O.O.B.Y.D.O.O.), Who’s Your Baby, Bang-Shang-a-Lang, Sunshine, Jingle Jangle, Sugar and Spice.. Today, a random song suddenly popped into my head, and I soon realized it was an Archies song called Bicycles, Roller Skates and You. I had listened to that song once five days earlier. My brain surely functions in weird ways, but that song is very good, I must say.

I really don’t know where you could properly listen to these bubblegum bands on the internet. I recommend using your nearest library. That’s what I do.

Update: YouTube seems to be a pretty good source of Archies music! You can even find songs that have never been released on LP or CD there.

The Archies at YouTube
The Archies at

Summery Pop Punk and Catchiness

I’ve been trying to mention this band already for some time. So, here it is. Definitely the best new pop punk find of my summer of 2008 was Boys Like Girls and their self-titled debut album, released in 2006. This album seems to have been a real success. A deluxe edition of the album has already been released.

I love pop punk. I don’t listen to it very much but almost everything I listen to is so closely connected to it anyway, so it really doesn’t matter.. Boys Like Girls is very emotional, loud and energetic music. The main focus, to me, seems to be on melodies and pop-styled expression with such emotions as angst, melancholy, happiness, and general sentimentality. There is a modern teen-punk vibe in the background, but it’s very different from Ramones or similar music. Also, some people would definitely call this kind of music emo, but that is a bit misleading. The whole concept of emo is all mixed up these days.. So, the best solution might be describing punk-related music in some other ways than (always) saying it’s emo.

This album has been stated to be full of potential hit singles, which seems quite reasonable when you listen to these songs. The songs are all very good, but this hit single-approach might not be the best way to compile an album after all. When every song sounds like a radio hit, listening to the stuff gets a bit heavy. Perhaps it’s because the songs are a little bit too similar in style.

Check out songs like Five Minutes to Midnight, Thunder, and especially the vocal and melodic beauty of Hero/Heroine. Listen, it might even give you goosebumps!

Boys Like Girls at MySpace

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My New Favorite Band!

This stuff should interest anyone who likes The Sun Sawed in 1/2. It might actually sound very good to anyone who likes melodic pop music – why not? For me, this is the coolest music there is. As I’ve already stated a couple of times in great detail, I’m somewhat addicted to Doug Bobenhouse’s vocals. I’ve become a real The Sun Sawed in 1/2 enthusiast during the past year, so I was very, very happy to find out that my favourite singer had started a new band called The Effingways, and he is writing the songs too!

At the moment, there are three songs at MySpace: Memories of Doubt, Polly Chromatic, and Two By Two. They are all good, and when the full-length album comes out, I’m not gonna miss it. Doug’s songs are very interesting because they don’t sound like Tim Rose’s compositions but the gorgeous sound of The Sun’s lead vocalist is present.

The Sun Sawed in 1/2 really should make more music. It’s been eight years since the last Sun album, so it surely is about time they got something new (besides side/solo projects) going on. I’m convinced that the band hasn’t yet shown everything – there really could be more excellent pop albums by The Sun Sawed in 1/2. The quality of the group’s work has been very high since the early stages of their career. Tim Rose’s first solo album Fresh Mowed Lawn from 2006 showed that he still has full capability of capturing magic in his music (I should praise that album soon).

There are so many things to look forward to! That is so great. If there wasn’t anything to wait for, life would be much more boring.

The Effingways at MySpace

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Coolest 60s Summer Music – Part 2

The Hollies: Evolution (1967)

They made so many albums in the sixties, and I’m finding it hard just to stop listening to Just One Look on repeat.. It’s quite hard to say yet which album I like best. Evolution is very good. Water on the Brain, Have You Ever Loved Somebody?, and You Need Love are some of the songs I tend to listen to the most at the moment. When Your Light’s Turned On, to me, sounds like a typical example of power pop before power pop.

The Association: Just The Right Sound - The Association Anthology

Enjoyable, sophisticated sunshine/baroque pop (It’s quite difficult to tell what it really is – it’s probably both most of the time) from a band who worked a lot with Curt Boettcher as their producer. This music certainly has some Beach Boys vibes in its harmonies. This is a huge 2CD collection, I still have a lot more to listen.

The Byrds: The Sweetheart of Rodeo (1968)

This is a very, very nice country album. It has great sounds, great songs, peacefulness and lots of melancholy. I always enjoy listening to this. In a way, it’s a bit hard to believe this is The Byrds, the same band that performed songs like Mr. Tambourine Man and I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better because the stuff sounds so different.. But it’s awesome that they decided to do some country, too.

The Turtles: 20 Greatest Hits

Pop, or should I say folk-pop from a cool American band with nice harmonies, energy, and awesome songs like Happy Together and Love in the City. However, You Baby is the ultimate hit song on this CD. Glorious falsetto wailing is something I can’t live without – at least for long.

Tommy James & The Shondells: Anthology

The new is not as good as the old one in some ways but the new recommendations function is brilliant! The recommendations are already starting to control my life.. There are so many great bands recommended that checking them out is really keeping me busy. I’m generally a very slow music listener (I listen to everything a hundred times before I think I can say I’m familiar with the music), but I really want to hear new stuff all the time, so it’s quite tough to keep up with all good music.

Tommy James & The Shondells is one of the nicest new things I’ve found through The songs are awesome, and I Think We’re Alone Now is a wonderful song (I had only heard the Rubinoos version before). Timeless music, stuff you never get tired of listening to.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Kris Kristofferson Live at Tampere-talo Aug 5, 2008

Not many country artists come to Finland to perform. Here, country music is generally quite unappreciated, even misjudged due to misunderstandings about what kind of music country actually is. For instance, people in this part of the world don’t know much about its various forms since it is not mainstream music even a bit. However, there are also enthusiastic and active country fans in Finland, there is no doubt of that. For instance, I’m probably developing into one, I hope.

Famous country artist and actor Kris Kristofferson played two gigs in Finland. I saw the gig in Tampere. Kristofferson is known not only for his acting career, songwriting and several hit songs but he was also part of the country supergroup The Highwaymen with Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and Waylon Jennings in years 1985-1995.

Kristofferson performed alone with his acoustic guitar and harmonica in the great hall of Tampere-talo. It was a very stripped-down performance, but it really didn’t miss anything. I was very moved by Kristofferson’s absolutely sincere performance and the warmth of his vocals. 72-year-old Kristofferson still has a lot of charisma, it’s like all his life’s experience is congragated on his presence, and especially audial output. His strong performance brought such legends as Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, and Willie Nelson to mind.

Kristofferson didn’t talk much between the songs – instead, he basically sang everything he wanted to say. For a non-lyrics-focused person like me this was extremely refreshing since I realized right in the beginning that you really should listen to the lyrics. They were very easy and pleasurable to listen to. Kristofferson has written them in a style that is very down-to-earth – typical of country music. There are no unnecessary verbal decorations, it’s just the straightforward content presented in an honest way. Kristofferson sang songs he had written for his children, their mothers, and his dad. George W. Bush also got some verbal treatment (not too positive, though), and Kristofferson’s heroes such as Jesus, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr. were mentioned.

It really was a wonderful gig. All that peacefulness, beauty, and melancholy made an impression on me. I didn’t know Kris Kristofferson very well before this gig, but I’d really like to listen to more of his stuff – all kinds of great country music, in fact!

Kris Kristofferson at MySpace

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Coolest 60s Summer Music - Part 1

Honeybus: She Flies Like a Bird – The Anthology

It took me very, very long before I started listening to this. Good is worth waiting, they say.. This stuff is amazingly good, beautiful, melodic.. It’s everything you need from perfect pop. Beautiful instrumentation (those violins in (Do I Figure) In Your Life and She Sold Blackpool Rock!), excellent vocals and harmonies.

It indeed is a huge shame if anyone ends up seeing this band as a one-hit wonder. I Can’t Let Maggie Go is certainly wonderful in every possible way, but there are a plenty of song that are equally good. I recommend Throw My Love Away, Girl of Independent Means, Would You Believe, Story, and Black Mourning Band for starters. I haven’t even listened to the second CD yet and I already feel I’ve got more than I ever could’ve hoped for.

Pink Floyd: The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967)

A while ago I thought to myself: “Why not listen to some Pink Floyd?” I grabbed their debut album from 1967 and liked it very much right away. In fact, I liked it so much that I will certainly keep listening to this band. This stuff is magical. It’s psychedelic, it’s dark, it’s mysterious.. Something about this music is simply mesmerizing, it’s different from the stuff I usually have been listening.

This band is famous for progressive rock (20-minute songs, concept albums and stuff). I’m seriously going to check that music out. I’m not afraid of long songs, especially when they sound so good (already listened to some other albums/songs, too).

So, it’s a bit different from your basic pop, but it’s still very enjoyable. My favourite songs from the debut album are Matilda Mother, Flaming, and Chapter 24.

1910 Fruitgum Company: The Best of 1910 Fruitgum Company – Simon Says

Ah, here’s some very, very good bubblegum pop from the sixties. Goody Goody Gumdrops is my personal favourite. You really don’t encounter such catchiness all the time. However, Candy and Dee-Licious are also extremely brilliant songs that always bring a smile to your face. This compilation is actually very good all the way from beginning to end. There are no weak tracks.

1910 Fruitgum Company sounds very much like The Ohio Express. They had a similar approach to bubblegum pop. Both recorded extremely catchy and fun songs with perfect melodies and careful instrumentation that featured organs (and saxophones). While this music is influenced by both garage rock and nursery rhymes, the lyrical content focuses quite often on sexual metaphors. It’s almost childlike music but I’m not sure if it really is suitable for kids.. Anyway, it’s perfect stuff for anyone who enjoys power pop.