Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tasty stuff

I'm telling you, if I don't write about this band now, I may not do it for quite some time... The same goes for almost any band these days and the reason is simply my laziness.

It all began when I was watching TV... Or rather my brother was channel surfing and came across a video by a really good-sounding female rock band. In the end of the song I found out that it was Barbe-Q-Barbies, a band from Finland. I had to check these Barbies out, so I went to see them live. They rocked real nice and I enjoyed most of the songs immediately. The evening resulted in me going home with the band's debut album All Over You in my bag.

Listening to the album revealed that I had just discovered probably the closest possible Finnish 21st century female equivalent to 70s KISS. Cool 70s hard rock riffs drive this melodic, rocking, catchy music. This release is truly like a fresh blast from the past even though it came out in 2010. In fact, there is one real 70s song here, a cover of Wig-Wam Bam, which is really good. I also enjoy Twisted Little Sister, the more melancholic Dedication for a Friend, and of course Spell. The title track is also great. I wouldn't say there are really any weak links on the album.

So, this album is really all about straightforward rock & roll energy. There is definitely a lot of girl power here but even though the girls have a kick-ass attitude they are not angry. Their music is honest rock and the point is to play good songs. Barbe-Q-Barbies are actually quite experienced already because they have been around since 2002. Therefore the musicianship is on a high level as well as vocalist Niki Rock's skills. By the way, she often sounds just like Avril Lavigne! If only Avril made music this punchy these days...

Energetic, melodic rock with great sounds still makes my day. Like any superb female rock band, Barbe-Q-Barbies are also an inspiration for a wannabe musician like me. If I had friends who can play an instrument I would start a band like this right away!

Barbe-Q-Barbies MySpace Barbe-Q-Barbies Website
Also check out the music video for Spell

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


As usual, I forgot that my blog had gotten older, once again... Hooray for the three-year-old! I can't think of how much joy this blog has brought me and that it is all because of the great music there is.

Instead of blabbing more about this silly blog of mine I encourage you to check out another site that is currently celebrating its 10-year anniversary. One Chord to Another is a brilliant site (nowadays a blog) that has introduced me to dozens of great bands from Finland and elsewhere. The focus is on folk/country, americana, power pop, indie pop, and other cool things.

If you are looking for stuff mentioned above or maybe wish to acquaint yourself with the best alt. pop from Finland, check it out now!

One Chord to AnotherOne Chord to Another on Facebook

In the Heart of Pop

For some reason it is not very easy to discover new excellent bands. I don't work too hard trying to find them but I think I have discovered a new one. Originally I saw the name Secret Powers in email newsletters from Not Lame. I had even ordered myself an album by the band but never really had time to get into it... I got several other cool CDs at the same time.

A few days ago I decided to check out an album by Secret Powers: Secret Powers and the Electric Family Choir (2009). The album cover seems to refer to a sunshine pop band of the 60s but the music is something a bit different. The overall feel surely is all about spectacular 60s pop hooks in the spirit of the Beatles. There is also a lot of influence from ELO: big harmonies, beatlesque melodies. The result sounds quite a bit like Wondermints which is always a good thing. Extra points go of course to great songwriting and arrangements and musical variety – a country song in the middle of the album is just cool. To cut a long story short, and even though my acquaintance with this band surely has been short, I am most definitely willing to announce Secret Powers as classic pop perfection!

So, even at first this album sounded really interesting. I was probably too stressed out to be able to hear the absolute beauty but now I am starting to hear it. One of the best things is that Secret Powers has released several albums during a relatively short time period. I am going to get them all.

I can't help loving the dramatic feel of Lazy Men, soft pop of By the Sea, Treat Your Mother Nice (Beach Boys, anyone?) and Misery (ELO alert!!), country of Ghost Town, Wondermints psych-pop of You Know It's Time... Everything here is really good. Gee, I am just really excited about this stuff! It is melancholic (but so is ELO, too), creative, carefully arranged and has soul.

Many popsters have already checked this band out but if you haven't, go ahead... There are some really excellent songs at MySpace. On the website there are some videos, including one for Orange Trees which is a song from the Electric Choir album. The video has some quite violent imagery but I guess that is the point of it.

All in all, lovely music... I'm in love.

Secret Powers WebsiteSecret Powers at MySpace

(No) Thank You, Council of State

Now, quite exceptionally, something political. The reason I am sharing this is because, for a change, I am really unhappy with Finnish radio policy. There have been extremely few listenable radio stations where I have lived during my lifetime. My favorite radio station Radio Asia ( has not been given a nationwide license that would make the station cost-effective. Therefore Radio Asia and will disappear from the radio waves on Thursday.

Radio Asia, which could be translated into, say, 'Radio Relevant', has been on air for only one year and is now coming to an end. There has been talk about Radio Asia continuing as an online radio, which would be nice. Still, this whole episode has shown a huge flaw in the system. A radio station that plays music from the golden 60s to the glamorous 80s, broadcasts shows in Finnish, Swedish and English and focuses on multicultural music, versatile genres, hits and lost gems from the past is the best thing that has ever happened to the radio in my lifetime. "Music from the Beatles to Black Sabbath, The Rolling Stones to Rush."

More specifically, the things weren't that bad in the early 90s but I was a very small child back then. 20 years ago there were actually many different genres represented on the Finnish radio. Musical variety was presented in different radio shows each of which had a slot of their own in the program chart. Nowadays, there are mostly no radio stations like that. I am not really taking account of YLE, Finland's equivalent to BBC, here but it is sufficient to say that YLE doesn't play all that much interesting music.

As Radio Asia disappears, the only Finnish radio station with no money-greedy ulterior motives (or playlists!) will be Radio Helsinki, which cannot be listened to outside the capital region without the Internet.

Before you tell me to go listen to Internet radio stations, I have to tell you I am not a person who listens to the radio much. Therefore I haven't even been an active listener of Radio Asia. However, this doesn't mean that I don't love and cherish Radio Asia to the bitter end. I guess it is anyway reasonable to have one listenable radio station. It is still uncertain if Radio Asia will even continue on the Internet.

Generally speaking, today's radio culture is hideous. The main purpose of every station has to be making money, lots and lots of money. Music is just a by-product of radio stations selling profiled audiences to advertisers. Why does it have to be like that?

The sad truth is that most people are not really interested in music. For a person like me it is however a burden to be forced to listen to ultimate musical blandness, say, in the grocery store or gym. Due to people not being interested in music, the music selections on the radio are the result of carefully conducted studies that aim to determine which songs don't irritate (or delight?) anyone. Personally, I don't see the point of listening to music that doesn't arouse any kind of emotion.

Radio Asia wasn't granted a cost-effective nationwide licence to continue broadcasting as a radio station different from the mainstream. As stated on Radio Asia's website, Radio Asia proved that there are people in Finland who like to enjoy their music with soul. Commercial playlists haven't brainwashed everyone. Radio Asia thanks the audience for proving that the concept works.

Listen to Radio Asia (while you can!)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Awesome Bubble-Beat by “Dave Dee, Dozy & What-Was-It-Again?”

Here is my latest 60s favorite: Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich, a British band that existed from 1964 to 1972. My first contact to this band occurred when I was record shopping on the Internet and a best of CD by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich (later referred to as DDDBMT) was recommended to me. I read reviews and decided to order the CD – it hardly cost anything. When I got the CD it ended up in my CD shelf and I never really came around to listen to it. I probably listened to a couple of songs, thought “sounds weird” and decided to put it away and listen to it some time later. Strangely, this is what happens to quite many CDs I purchase...

Not very many years later I decided to give DDDBMT another chance. I remembered hearing Hold Tight! in Tarantino's Death Proof and that the song was really one of the nicest things in the movie. In fact, I also have a friend who was interested in this band long before me but it didn't result in anything further – until about a month ago. I simply decided to give The Very Best of DDDBMT a try and put it in my mp3 player. I listened to it and instantly enjoyed it a lot. When I had listened to the whole CD (18 songs) several times I noticed it wasn't just any 60s band. It was a fun, happy-sounding, creative and talented band that never seemed to be afraid of trying different styles, sophisticated instrumentation, big vocal harmonies and big sounds, and most importantly, never afraid (or incapable) to perform amazingly catchy songs.

DDDBMT was a group of friends from Wiltshire, originally called Dave Dee and the Bostons. The band started working with songwriters Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley, changed the name, and it didn't take too long for the boys to score million-selling hit singles, including The Legend of Xanadu.

Musically DDDBMT are closer to bubblegum than beat music – two concepts that of course have a lot in common (therefore the title “Bubble-Beat”). As a result, one could argue that there were also some bubblegum aspects about the Searchers and the Hollies but an even better comparison to DDDBMT would be the Monkees, or, in my opinion, why not a band like Gary Lewis & the Playboys. By the way, why do vocalists from all of the British bands mentioned sound just like each other? I really enjoy all of them, of course...

The really important part is that DDDMBT performed some first-class catchy pop that always makes my day. When I think about the melodic complexity of the chorus of Wreck of the Antoinette (and the harmonies..), or the gorgeous feel of Snake in the Grass, Okay!, You Make It Move, Don Juan (not to mention the awesome sunshine pop of Last Night in Soho!) I can't help thinking to myself: this is how it's really done – do the same if you can, I dare you!

All in all, I had no choice but to order myself some more stuff by DDDBMT. Gee, I never get tired of happy 60s pop... I want more! The good news is, there is plenty of stuff to choose from.

Apples Go 80s

As you already probably know, I love the Apples in Stereo. There are still many albums of theirs I haven't listened to but I have time... Next I think I'll dig into The Discovery of a World Inside the Moone. But now, here is an awesome song and video from the latest Apples in Stereo album (Travellers in Space and Time, 2010). I wish bands made more videos that are as over-the-top and funny as this!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Welcome, Mr. Lynne

Hooray, hooray, I have finally discovered Electric Light Orchestra! By ”discovering” I of course mean the beginning of active listening. Now that I think about it is quite strange that it didn't happen earlier. ELO is a dream come true for a popster like me but I never got round to checking out the band until about a month ago.

It all began almost Out of the Blue. One day I noticed I had put some ELO into my mp3 player and thought about trying something ”new”... I listened to the album once and immediately heard a lot of pop beauty. Repeated listening revealed new dimensions and soon I was hooked to everything on the album.

The sound... The songs! The string arrangements... The mood! Based on my current listening experince of Out of the Blue and Time (1981) I can only say that I have discovered some sort of a missing link that explains certain common things about many bands that I admire. I feel I understand now why many bands sound like what they sound like. Even right now, as I listen to ELO, I constantly think to myself that the music really sounds like the Flaming Lips, or the Apples in Stereo. While being pure 70s pop gold ELO is a link to both the past and present. ELO is an intriguing combination of 60s influence (the Beatles etc.) and being the influence for countless later bands.

Out of the Blue was released as a double LP in 1977. By today's standards it doesn't feel like a double album but it doesn't matter at all... I can't really think of any other album that contains as many songs as 17 all of which are really great. In addition to great songwriting, beautiful melodies and hooks there are stunning strings everywhere. The album has a good balance between classic single hits (Turn to Stone, Sweet Talking Woman, Mr. Blue Sky), rock-oriented material (Across the Border, Birmingham Blues), powerful ballads (Stepping Out, Big Wheels) and songs that, in my opinion, are memorable especially because they are instrumental-driven (Standing in the Rain, The Whale)

So, what else would I like to mention about this album (or ELO in general)... Of course it has to be said that the harmonies are gorgeous – very Queen/Styx, I think. But there is a lot of the Beach Boys as well. On the other hand, the vocals often remind me of disco-era Bee Gees... Another really interesting thing about ELO is that the music tends to have a nice, gentle psychedelic vibe. The songs with their arrangements create such a strong atmosphere that it almost scares me! Music like this is from another world – a world more interesting and colorful but also more dramatic and sometimes wondrously melancholic, when you think about it..

Perfect, catchy symphonic pop/rock with big harmonies, rich sounds, a wonderfully grandiose mood and impeccable songwriting. Gee, ELO's got everything! Why doesn't music like this sell millions anymore, why oh why... (If it did it would probably have many nice by-products - more frequent concerts, for instance.)

There is so very much to cherish on this one album [Out of the Blue] alone... But I intend to listen to the other ELO albums as well. I don't want to rush but sometimes I just can't keep great pop waiting. And there is of course the Move. We'll see what happens next...

Time to Get Myself Together!

I am in serious need of blog therapy. Utter laziness has been controlling me, as usual, but I have noticed that this laziness causes nothing but trouble. Everyone needs a chance to express their opinions, thoughts, the important stuff, and I think I am the kind of person who really needs that. I don't have anyone to open out about music in real life so this blog is my only way to let off steam. Even though writing takes a lot of time, it is well worth it.

I have several new favorites and I plan to discuss them very soon. But now here is a song that I listened to a few times the other day, and a couple of days later I noticed that the song was playing in my head. Well, it is a very 60s-influenced song: Candy Street by Colorama. They say the album is good so I might get it quite soon... Oh, and what a totally cool video!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

J-Pop Moment

Yeah, I don't listen to Japanese music much but sometimes I discover real gems like this... This was originally a lyrics workshop assignment at school. I ended up listening to this song very many times and soon I realized this song sounds really perfect to me in every possible way. It is a song by Hitomi, a singer-songwriter who has been releasing music since the mid-90s.

Wow.. I can't help loving such a great song with a great arrangement. I also enjoy the very glam video.. Cool light saber!