Saturday, May 23, 2009

C’mon Now Baby, Baby C’mon!

I’ve finally managed to cure my SS1/2 addiction. It’s only temporary, I know, but it’s simply awesome to experience something new! You know it, it’s the feeling of discovering a new amazing band.

My new favourite Tehosekoitin comes from Finland, more specifically Lahti (originally). They were a big success in this country from mid-90
s to early 2000s. At that time, especially in the late 90s, I was of course only 8-12 years old – way too young to understand the secrets of rock & roll. In the 90s I was listening to something completely different instead of bands that girls throw their panties at (I probably wouldn’t have had a clue why girls threw their underwear at some guys, but now I understand perfectly…). I was aware that there was a band called Tehosekoitin, they had several hit songs (some of which are still played on the radio), I even knew their lead singer was called Otto, and that he had long, curly, reddish hair. What I didn’t know/realize then: their music is fabulous!

I also remember year 2004 when the band broke up. However, I didn’t receive the critical stimulus until a week ago when I heard their song C’mon Baby Yeah for the second time in my life. Yes, it was the second time. The second time was important because it was a night I was spending at a club with my friends, and I thought the music wasn’t very good –
too much dull 21st century disco rock. So, when C’mon Baby Yeah filled the air with its rock & roll feeling and incredibly catchy chorus the song became the best song of the evening. A few days later I decided to check out Tehosekoitin’s music. I was immediately faced with a whole variety of different styles (everything from punk to Finnish schlager!) but I liked the stuff. The songs I’d heard somewhere before (on the radio or somewhere else) sounded perfect. It was really nice to finally realize the absolute greatness of songs like Kaikki nuoret tyypit, Valonkantaja, Pillitä Elli pillitä, Hetken tie on kevyt – and Asfaltti polttaa, one of the most absolutely perfect summer songs I’ve ever heard, and it sounds just like The Rubettes.

Tehosekoitin started in the early 1990s as a punk band. Later their musical style was influenced by lots of styles (including psychedelic rock, blues, country, disco, jazz etc) and the songs occasionally had wind instruments and/or big string arrangements. The singing language was Finnish (except on their last album it was English). Most of their lyrics were written by lead singer Otto Grundström, and composing was Matti Mikkola’s job. The first album Rock’n Roll was released in 1994. Their
breakthrough hit was C’mon Baby Yeah from their 1997 album Köyhät syntiset. The name Tehosekoitin means blender, since the band wanted a name that would represent speed and energy. The band will play half a dozen festival reunion gigs in Finland this summer. You know who will be there…

In 2002, Tehosekoitin released an album in English under the name The Screamin’ Stukas. The songs were new versions of their hits and other popular songs. The band also apparently toured The Brits and elsewhere in Europe but the success was minor. What a shame! I think they are a lot more interesting band than, say, The Rasmus. Also, the English album, A Lotta Rhythm, is really good. You can say that it’s their greatest hits in English.

I noticed there are no Screamin’ Stukas videos on YouTube (but lots in Finnish). There are, however, some copies of A Lotta Rhythm CD at Amazon, for example. I would be a lot happier if there were Screamin’ Stukas videos on YouTube or MySpace (and English-speaking people would understand the lyrics), but, on the other hand, there are a lot of people who listen to rock music sung in Japanese... I suppose Finnish language is just as exotic as Japanese.

Here are some Tehosekoitin hits and other cool songs, some of which come with music videos.

Asfaltti polttaa
C’mon Baby Yeah (a bit incomplete in the beginning – hear the song in its entirety here)
Kaikki nuoret tyypit

Lentää lentokoneetta
Maailma on sun
Hetken tie on kevyt

Syön sipsejä

Fiksu ja kypsä (awesome live TV performance)

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Winner Is… Norway!

The Eurovision Song Contest is over. Norway, represented by young Alexander Rybak took the first price and highest ESC score ever (387 points) with the song Fairytale. The song is really good, folk-influenced (I'd say it also sounds Slavic), melancholic, melodic, and soundwise dominated by violins and Rybak’s fairly sweet voice. What makes this victory special is that the winning song is actually good from beginning to end – something that is, in my opinion, nowadays not very common in this contest. Rybak is now getting really famous also outside Norway with his song topping download charts. In his home country, Rybak has already made Fairytale a hit with massive sales. The song is written by him, so you gotta give him a couple of extra points for that.

Finland made its way to the finals but Waldo’s People’s placement was 25th – the last. I think the placement was pretty justified. The song definitely wasn’t the best our country could provide but, on the other hand, this wasn’t the first time when Finns have been very wrong about what Europe might like to hear. Finland has so far collected several placements as the last – and only one victory. What did we hopefully learn this year? You don’t win with 90s Eurodance anymore and rapping will definitely not help. How could you make an impression with rhythmic talking instead of introducing a gorgeous melody that will sweetly caress your eardrums with melodic variation? (Something that I’ve been wondering ever since hip hop became very popular.) And, after all, I didn’t want Waldo’s People to represent Finland. My favourite was Vink!

After all, I am happy, and I hope all other Finns are as well, that a neighbouring country won. See and hear Norway’s winning song at YouTube. Rybak probably would have liked to play his violin for real, but in this contest all instrument except for vocals are playback. Also, these days there are hardly any Eurovision contestants without a proper dance choreography!

Rybak's winning song at YouTube

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Music for Summer Dusk

This thing came to me pretty much out of the blue and I'm really happy I decided to check out what this music sounds like. It immediately turned out to be a really nice find.

Pinstripe 45's are a quite new group led by Chicago-based multi-instrumentalist Marshall Hanbury Jr. The music could be described as acoustic folk-pop. It is an interesting mixture of bittersweetness, darkness and light added with folky arrangements and frequent presence of harmony vocals. Hanbury's narrative, moment-capturing songs are, according to Pinstripe 45's MySpace, influenced by the likes of Donovan and Bob Dylan. I'd say Hanbury's style could also be compared to the melancholy of Jim Ellison or Jesse Valenzuela. Good melodies mix with sincerity and organic insrumentation in Pinstripe 45's music.

The group has a new digitally released EP out. It's called Studies in Timing and Coincidence (2008) – a very solid package of good songs, emotion and sounds of acoustic guitar, moderate percussion and viola. These songs (such as Waiting on Your Words and Follow Me Down Once Again) sound like an exploration of day turning into the night: they are atmospheric and generally quite dark but also joyous in their melodic quality. I'd say Pinstripe 45's is very suitable music for summer nights. I'm looking forward to hearing what Hanbury and his band come up with in the future.

Listen to Pinstripe 45s at MySpace. You'll hear the EP there, as well as a few other nice tracks.

Pinstripe 45's at MySpace