Sunday, November 30, 2008

Irreplaceable Pop

I don’t know where exactly I found out about this cool Swedish pop band Popsicle, but it’s a good thing I did. So far I’ve only checked out their first album Lacquer (1992) but man.. It’s good. Popsicle was a part of the great Swedish indie wave of the 90s. Popsicle came from Piteå and was active from 1991 to 1999. The group released a total of four albums, one mini-album, and a 2-disc best-of collection called The Good Side of Popsicle was also released in 2005.

The group’s sound seems to be based on basic Posies-pop with an addition of jangle guitars and noisy shoegaze elements. The result is interesting and sounds brilliant - some songs on Lacquer are, in fact, very loud and fast, resulting in totally manic, hyper-energetic feel. The mania is balanced nicely by Andreas Mattsson’s calm, whispering TFC-esque vocals that, on the other hand, enhance the hypnotic feel of songs like Undulate (what a beautiful song!) and Pale Honey. The band’s two lead singers have quite different voices which makes the music more interesting. I enjoy both Mattsson’s and Fredrik Norberg’s vocals. Norberg sounds quite a lot like Sloan’s Jay Ferguson, I think.

It took a while before I was able to listen from track 2 (Popcorn) forwards – I just loved the song so much! Hey Princess is one of the group’s most famous songs, and it surely is good. Norberg sings generally more melancholic and bittersweet songs than Mattsson. She and Irreplaceable, in addition to Popcorn, are very nice songs. Everything on this album is good. It’s such a joy to listen to this kind of albums.

A quick check at YouTube revealed that Andreas Mattsson now has a solo career. There are some songs and videos there to be seen. Popsicle samples are also best found at YouTube.

Popsicle videos at YouTube

A Bit of Americana and a Touch of Post-Hardcore

The past weekend proved to be quite entertaining when it comes to live gigs, once again. The most wonderful experience was the live performance of Hi-Lo & In Between, a local Americana band. The band revived some very good feelings in the audience. One girl was even heard sigh “Ihana!” (“Lovely!”) as a response to the group’s tender, acoustic sound and melancholy. The sound of Hi-Lo & In Between was created with acoustic guitar, subtle drum work, double bass, violin, an occasional mandolin and Juha Timonen’s wistful vocals.

The group recently came up with a debut album called White Whale on Rocket Records. Get it if you like.. I already have one.

Hi-Lo & In Between at MySpace

A somewhat opposite end of music came to me on Saturday when I went to Vastavirta-klubi, a club that is known as the punk Mecca of Tampere. The evening’s most popular act was the Kauhava-based rock/emo/post-hardcore group Novembersoundsbetter. I found this band already last spring when I was confronted with my yearly “oh no, summer comes, the sun is shining (I thought it was supposed to be dark to the end of the world), what on earth is this??”-reaction. And as you can see, the band’s name seems to have something to do with AFI, although I’m anything but sure about if it’s intentional or not. Their music definitely has something to do with AFI.

I can’t help it. I like Novembersoundsbetter, and some other post-hardcore bands, too. I like the energy, the angst, and the interplay of normal and shrieking vocals. There are some nice melodies, too. The band released their debut album earlier this year. It’s called The Air Is Heavy with Forevers.

Novembersoundsbetter at MySpace

Friday, November 21, 2008

Tips from the Past

Lost in Music Festival was weeks ago but I want to mention some of the most interesting acts. Some of these were new to me at the moment of the live shows, and I plan to check out every one more carefully.

On Volcano impressed me once again with their amazing shoegaze-pop. It’s amazing how interesting their music is even though it’s based quite a lot on instrumental sections. No wonder the band actually started as an instrumental trio. As we know, they have a singer now, and melodies, harmonies and emotion. At the moment they are touring Russia and Baltic States. Once they get back I finally might be able to purchase their EP.

On Volcano at MySpace

Janne Laurila
, one of the m
ost talented singer-songwriters in the country, has started working on solo material – for the first time with Finnish lyrics. Laurila’s melancholy meets nicely with Finnish language, although his new direction requires some getting used to. I’ve seen him live so many times that it’s a bit strange to suddenly hear him sing in Finnish. His songs are great, of course, and the melancholic folk/country influences are present.

Janne Laurila at MySpace

, alias Jukka Salminen played a great set with his friend who played flute and guitar. Tapes songs are really good and there are a lot of influences from the 60s and 70s in them. Tapes just released his second album. I will check that out at some point, since his first album was already really good.

Tapes at MySpace

Antti Westm
an from the disco-rock group Brightboy has recently released an album of Finnish pop/rock classics under the name Westman. He also performed them live at Artturi. Westman has such an interesting and distinguishing singing voice, and these versions are well worth hearing. At least I liked them very much.

Westman at MySpace

is definitely one the the most promising new powerpop bands in Finland. The band rose from the ashes of another pop group called The Dance, and it was a huge thrill to hear how excellen
t the band sounded even though it had only been together for half a year. Stylistically Waterloo sounded quite a lot like Teenage Fanclub, and they even had the most perfect harmonies present. I hope this band does some more gigs soon – a lot more gigs. Pop people will want to hear this beauty!

Waterloo at MySpace

The most big-sounding and emotional act of the four-day festival was Rödsögården. For a pop-rock band that good I was almost surprised I’d never heard of them before. It’s not like I follow every music media that carefully.. But Rödsögården played extremely well together, and they basically sounded like they could be the next U2. It was so beautiful.. I was in fact moved to tears. There was a whole lot of emotion and excellent, oh so excellent melodies. Gee, this band I won’t forget!

Rödsögården at MySpace

I never thought anything good would come out of the, in my opinion, ver
y unpleasant Finnish girl duo PMMP, but it happened anyway. The members of My First Band also play in PMMP’s tour line-up, among other things. At Lost in Music Festival the group played a set of excellent power pop tunes. Their music included great melodies and cool synth sounds. A very memorable thing was also their lead singer, who was just about the most confident frontman I’d ever seen.

My First Band at MySpace

The final act of Friday’s huge 12-band cavalcade at Yo-talo was the international guest, Estonian The Sun. To me the band’s name was already intriguing, but the music was good too. It was hard-rocking rock, and it made me happy that there were also many nice melodies. The music reminded me a bit of Foo Fighters.

The Sun at MySpace

Kotoisat sävyt played a wonderful gig at Dog’s Home. Their style is a combination of blues, classic rock and influences from bands like The Who and Pink Floyd. Kotoisat sävyt released their debut album back in August.

Kotoisat sävyt at MySpace

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Brain Teaser – Especially for You

The blog is not dead yet – although I’m not so sure about myself. However, just in order to get something new done, here’s a nice powerpop video from Green Day! You can check your powers of observation by watching this. Press play and try to follow what happens! Then tell me how it went, if you like..

I’m not sure if anyone is really interested in blogs that don’t contain links to free music, but I just have to remember the main point of this blog: the most important thing is that I am interested.

Here’s the video for Redundant. Very nice!