We are back online after the Christmas break and before we resume our regular program of songs, videos, interviews and the most diverse features, let us take one last look to 2009 with the inevitable Best of 2009 list. There are some good records this year and it is remarkable to notice that most of the albums on the lists are debut releases. There is definitively something going on in Finland.
Reggae and ska from Finland might be a rare sight, but The Capital Beat proved with ‘A Greater Fire’ they are an excellent combo. With A Greater Fire, the eight-piece band showed top-class musicianship, serving an excellent collection of catchy and soulful songs.
9. Astrid Swan – Better Than Wages
There have been some sore criticism towards Astrid Swan’s third album, but we celebrate the singer’s choice to go for an indie pop album, instead of the baroque and intense arrangements of her previous albums. ‘Better Than Wages’ is a party album, with some fun lyrics. Simple yet enjoyable.
8. VUK – The Plains
Finnish-American artist Vuk (aka Emily Cheeger) finally saw her sophomore album out in the streets after a wait of two years. It is hard to describe ‘The Plains’ with words, so the best the listener can do is to get lost into the avant-garde, pop melodies, enigmatic atmospheres, unusual instrumentations and the textures and details that surface all over the songs.
These two louts have been other favourites of us during the whole 2009. First, Jaakko and Jay showed the way with their accelerated live performances, and then they confirm it with the release of their first full-length album ‘War Is Noise’. Acoustic punk folk with a loud mouth, they call it.
6. Manna – Songs of Hope And Desire
With her second album singer-songwriter Manna hit the note and found her own voice in a blend of rock, danceable pop and soft punk to win the critics appraisal. The song Some Girls, Some Boys might be one of the best singles of 2009.
5. Delay Trees – Soft Construction EP
In 2009, Delay Trees rose as one of the most promising indie bands in Finland with the release of ‘Soft Construction EP’. This is a collection of a melodic pop songs with an appealing melancholy, or as the band describes it, the EP is “an exciting ethereal trip filled with feelings”.
4. Kaspar – Kaspar
Several Finnish artists are embracing traditional folk sounds and the trio Kaspar did it right on their debut album. Inspired by the legend of Kaspar Hauser and recorded in the woods of Kingston, New York, the trio presents acoustic songs with minimal instrumentation and vocal harmonies to create a mellow atmosphere.
3. The Souls – Grand Confusion
Nothing new here, but given the invasion of indie bands and bizarre electro outfits, it is very pleasant to hear some good old seventies rock. The Souls is a power trio, directly connected to the classic sounds of Grand Funk Railroad and Cream.
2. Them Bird Things – Fly, Them Bird Things, Fly!
We have talked so much about Them Bird Things that there is not much more to add. Well-crafted folk, rock, pop and psychedelic songs written now and then by long lost American songwriters Mike Brassard and Steven Blodgett. It is classic, timeless and unique.
1. Rubik – Dada Bandits
Rubik is the most talented indie band in Finland, and most likely overseas, as well. ‘Dada Bandits’ is an album of surprising twists and turns, what is dreamy pop can turn into a murky rock riff while everything is colored by an imaginative sound palette. A grandiose and epic album, recorded to be the album of the year, and so it is.