Thursday, November 5, 2009

Lost in Music ’09 Oct 22-24th

I really enjoy going to see gigs. Writing about them is also cool, although you have probably noticed a long time ago that I don’t tend to stay on schedule. Well, here is my report from this year’s Lost in Music, YleX Live concerts on Friday at Klubi and Pakkahuone. It was a wild variety of music but it surely was entertaining, just like it was last year. Click the band names in the headings to go to the MySpaces.

The evening was opened by Rödsögården, a young band that, according to their bio, originally had some serious logistics problems with band members being scattered all over Finland. I saw this band in this same Lost in Music event a year ago and was rather mesmerized. The band surely has a very Swedish-sounding name but their music is performed in English. This year Rödsögården played new songs from their debut album. I liked what I heard but for some reason wasn’t as impressed as last year. In any case, the band had found its supporters. The audience greeted the guys with loud applause. Rödsögården’s music is quite melancholic but also melodic, and it will probably appeal to many people who also like bands like Coldplay and Kent. A 21st century version of U2?

Them Bird Things
Now here’s something interesting! I first heard about this band from my friend – a friend from whom I only tend to get Japanese music tips. Later, I read an article about this band in Sue magazine. I was quite surprised to read that the band’s lead singer is actually a woman – I had thought she was a guy... Well, listen for yourselves, her voice is lower than most of the male singers I listen to. What a unique voice it is!

Them Bird Things describe their music as Americana/Pop/Folk Rock. The group was formed by American songwriters Steve Blodgett and Mike Brassard, and producer Will Shade who collaborated with Finnish singer Salla Day. This definitely doesn’t sound like the most common way of starting a band. At Pakkahuone, the group performed a very acoustic set. What I remember of the gig is quite different from the sound you can hear on their MySpace. In my opinion, the music has a very strong 60s pop vibe which is really no wonder when you think about who is behind the music. At the gig, the audience (who mostly didn’t even bother to applaud much) seemed to like Shame, Shame Shame the most. It is indeed a catchy song. Check it out!

Manna is a singer whose alternative rock is influenced by many music styles. It seems to me that one of the strongest influences in her most recent music has been shoegaze-styled rock due to working with one of the Joensuu guys from the band Joensuu 1685. Manna has received quite a bit of attention abroad lately, and she has been compared to such female characters as Nico and Debbie Harry. Manna seems to be doing what she finds musically most interesting, and that is certainly a good thing. Her gig was so crowded that I didn’t get to see much of it but she did a good job. I already saw her at Monsters of Pop quite recently and liked her style. Want to find distinctive female artists? Here’s one from Finland.

For one reason or another, I keep moving away from bands like this… Well, if you like grandiose rock that focuses on big, aggressive sound and, instead of happy melodies, creating a rather gloomy atmosphere, you might well enjoy Murmansk. This band also has a female vocalist. I admit it: sometimes it can be a good thing to listen to this kind of music for a while. Then maybe you’ll know, what you would really like to listen to more.

Perhaps a bit same problem as Murmansk – a lot of noise, not that much focusing on songwriting or melody. This band was more interesting than Murmansk, though. Their live performance was energetic and there were some quite nice hooks. I guess some people enjoy this type of music - they can freely listen to it if they want. I rather focus on more melodic music.

The Souls
Maybe the most refreshing, positive act of the entire day was The Souls, a band that I didn’t know anything about before they started playing… Oh boy, it sounded really, really good, honest, straightforward, positive hard rock. The Souls, a power trio from Kouvola, stole my heart with their rocking sound and excellent performance. They have apparently also received some attention in medias. Well, well… The guys also have a couple of gigs outside Finland booked. Good for them, there are already so many disco rock bands conquering the planet that some honest hard rock can only do good.

I spent a considerable part of last summer listening to hard rock – it was actually even progressive hard rock… Anyway, when I saw The Souls play live, it sounded like a perfect answer for this new yearning for hard rock. I am quite certainly going to listen to this band more, as well as other hard rock bands – melodic hard rock bands that is. What is the use of rock without wonderful melodies? Just show me some anti-melodic hard rock and try to explain why it is better than more melodic hard rock. You will fail, miserably…

Joensuu 1685
The most sensational psychedelic rock/shoegaze band of Finland relied on shoegaze aesthetics in their performance. They seem to be quite popular here in Tampere because I couldn’t see their last year’s Lost in Music gig due to the venue being overpopulated when I got there. This time I got to see them, and it was quite interesting – especially the part when there was a bizarre power blackout in the middle of the set. Joensuu 1685 have received attention even in foreign medias. The band’s music does sound quite international. There are three people with the last name Joensuu in the band but obviously all of them are not related to the others. That is quite strange, but strange is also the music they make…

Psychedelic... Yeah, but don’t expect to hear much anything like 60s psychedelia. Expect more shoegaze á la Ride or those other bands none of which I know well, and perhaps a bit of Oasis. Joensuu 1685 is a band worth checking out, not only because of the hype but because of nice melodies, really cool feel and interesting sound policy.

Miss Saana & The Missionaries
“The biggest soul band in Finland” – that must be true. My jaw didn’t actually drop but it was very close when I saw this band take the stage… If I remember correctly, I counted 16 people: rhythm section (five), background singers (four), horn section (three), string section (three), lead vocalist. The band WAS big and performed original material in real 60s soul style. Everyone was dressed really nicely and knew their instrument. Plus they were obviously having a great time. I never would have thought there are bands like this in Finland. I want to join one! I could be guitarist, bassist, background singer… perhaps even saxophonist – some day…

Zebra and Snake
A two-man band playing music that could have been taken from Joy Division’s catalog. I can still remember that pulsating rhythm. Could it be that there is too much bass when you can’t tell your own heartbeat from the music?... Well, I don’t have anything against any type of intense dance music - trance or similar - but too much bass is always too much bass. At those moments I sometimes end up wondering if I’m getting old. I guess it’s that I haven’t gone to vocational school, so I’m not used to listening to the so-called “amis-pop” (note that the term has nothing to do with amish).

Zebra and Snake’s MySpace says: “Healing and easy listening”… Haha, that is actually quite funny… I admit it anytime, their music sounds a lot more pleasant when you can control the bass level yourself. Zebra and Snake actually sound a lot like Boys of Scandinavia, another quite similar Finnish Joy Division–styled electro band. I like both bands – a bit of electro every now and then is good variation to the traditional band instrumentation.

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All in all, Lost in Music was again a nice happening. What I described here was only about 1/5 of the entire festival. Klubi and Pakkahuone had a nice Friday evening with interesting bands, some of them very, very good. Maybe next year it is going to be even better!

Lost in Music website

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