Sponsored Video: My letter to Santa

Post sponsored by Philips

You may have noticed, but Christmas is around the corner and yes, I have prepared my letter to Santa. Therefore, dear reader, please allow me to interrupt my regular scheduled programming to bring you a post sponsored by the new Philips multiroom speakers and tell you about my wishes to Santa. By the way, these speakers look like a cool solution to let the sound of music move freely between your phone and your speakers and connect all your rooms. Recently, Sir Paul McCartney complained about the current lo-fi listening habits, using the tiny little speakers on the smartphones, but since taking the record player on the go might not be something very practical, perhaps these Philips speakers will be a good alternative.

ANYWAY, talking about Christmas gifts, recently a few, cool box-sets have been published. Here are the ones who I included in my letter to Santa.

The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground – 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition
The reissue of the Velvet Underground catalogue has been superb so far, including beautiful books and expanding the albums with relevant additional music. This box-set looks at the Velvet’s third album and adds live recordings, mono mixes and the tracks record for the long lost unreleased fourth album.

Captain Beefheart – Sun Zoom Spark: 1970 To 1972
This box sets revisits the album that Captain Beefheart recorded in the early 70s with the Magic Band. It is an opportunity to dig into the catalogue of this weird genious.

Wilco – Alpha Mike Foxtrot: Rare Tracks 1994 – 2014
One of my favourite bands turned 20 this year and to celebrate it, Wilco put together a collection of odds and sods, compiling demos, b-sides and live tracks. There are some some gems like Cars Can’t Escape and A Magazine Called Sunset.

R.E.M. – 7IN – 83-88
This box-set does not unearth much new music, but it makes a beautiful collector’s item. It contains eleven 7-inch singles in original sleeve from the band’s early days, the days when R.E.M. were a groundbreaking, super cool band.

This post has been sponsored by Philips, but all thoughts are my own.

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Joulukalenteri: J Mascis or the guitar from Mars

J Mascis

One week till Christmas and just a few days till the last show of the year for me. Legendary Dinosaur Jr. frontman J Mascis is playing in Helsinki this Saturday to present his latest solo release Tied to a Star, in which the guitar player shows his mellow, acoustic side. Distant from the loud, ear-piercing Dinosaur Jr. music, Mascis solo work is heartfelt and laid back. I’ll take both. As a Christmas treat, Here I have collected some fun trivia about the grey haired guitar player.

Do not miss the show. Rosvot is giving away four pairs of tickets to the show. Follow the link below and leave a comment telling which song you would like Mascis to play. Be fast! Deadline is tonight at 23:59.

Take me to the show: http://rosvot.fi/rikospaikka/joulukalenteri-luukku-12

Five things you may or may not know about J Mascis

J Mascis for president
Sonic Youth wrote their 1988 hymn Teenage Riot as a love song to J Mascis and imagine a world in which Mascis would be the president. That would be a better world, indeed. Watch the video carefully and you’ll see J Mascis fighting bandmate Lou Barlow on stage.

Dinosaur Jr. limited edition shoe
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A couple of years ago, J Mascis teamed with shoe company Keep to design a custom Dinosaur Jr. sneaker. The result was a beautiful deep violet suede desert boot with an embroidered guitar strap accent along the back of the shoe, patterned after one of J’s own straps. The sneakers are awesome, however good luck finding one pair. They are already sold out.

dinosaurjr_shoes

J Mascis and Mikko Von Hertzen
J Mascis and Finnish rock start Mikko Von Hertzen (of Von Herzten Brothers) are good buddies as both are followers of Hindu spiritual leader Mata Amritanandamayi. In 2013, both jammed together in India on Amma’s 60the birthday. In 2005, Mascis released a collection of devotional songs dedicated to Amma.

Witch
When not fronting his lifetime band, Mascis is not always playing mellow songs. In 2005 he formed the doom punk metal band Witch. But make no mistake, Mascis does not play guitar in this band. He plays drums. Witch have released two albums so far, and there’s a lot of Black Sabbath (obviously) in their sound, but also some Black Flag and Misfits.

Dinosaur Jr. classic rock
Dinosaur Jr. came to be one of the greatest alternative rock bands in the 90s, but they also paid tribute to some of their heroes like Gram Parsons and Peter Frampton. In 1987, the band Frampton’s Show Me The Way and four years later recored The Flying Burrito Brothers classic Hot Burrito #2.

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Notch Above – Lone Wolf

Notch Above

With strong, prominent guitar riffs, blasting drums and radio-friendly vocals, Notch Above construct fast-paced melodic hard rock as it would be 1989 all over again. The combination of a little bit of grunge, a little bit of 80s glam metal and a couple of Axl Rose tricks effectively reviews the heavy rock 101 textbook. Formed in 2013, the band has finished the recording of their debut album, which should be out in the coming months. Hear here a couple of songs from it and check out below a couple of album teasers.

You can also see the band live on stage and dance your New Year’s hangover away at Bar Loose on 1 January.

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Joulukalenteri: Four Finnish guys jam in the California desert

joulukalenteri_8
The countdown to Christmas reaches its second week and the official Rosvot Christmas calendar continues to deliver little treats in the form of very special posts. One each day. This morning it is my time to unveil the story of how four Finnish guys found themselves jamming in the California desert.

Earlier in the year, indie rockers Kiki Pau announced that they would travelled all the way to California to play a few gigs. That’s good new. Obviously, this is a big deal for bands that are used to play in bars around the small Helsinki indie scene. The main gig of that tour was at the Desert Daze festival, located in a ranch near the village of Mecca, not far from Palm Springs and the mythical Joshua Tree Park. So yes, it was pretty much, the middle of nowhere in the desert.

Incidentally, at the same time I happened to be doing my own California tour (aka holidays). My plan included a drive through the Mojave desert, but when I heard that Desert Daze was happening and Kiki Pau would be there, it occurred to me it would be cool to do a little detour and assist to Desert Daze. I could also try to figure out how come a small indie band from Finland was playing in such a remote place.

I drove my rental car a couple of hours east of Los Angeles. During the drive, I listened to some of the bands in the festival lineup, which included other psychedelic, weird sounding indie groups, including The Raveonettes, DIIV, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Allah Las and Deap Vally. Pretty cool ride!

The festival took place at the Sunset Ranch, a little oasis surrounded by the mountains in the horizon. Kiki Pau took the stage early in the day, not exactly prime time, but nevertheless their music, the space-out jams felt right under the afternoon sun. Slowly, the dreamy vibes of the music gathered an audience, dancing to the cosmic sounds played by the Finns.

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“Playing, looking at the mountains, the desert… it’s been an experience out of this world for us”, told me bass player Aleksi after the show. “Just after finishing our set, Olli, our drummer, said to me did you ever imagine we would play in this scenery, this kind of music when we started the band”.

That start goes eight years back in time, to the summer of 2006 when the band got together. Not much later Kiki Pau got signed to the well-known label Johanna Kustannus and published a debut full-lenght called Let’s Rock (2008), which relied heavily on pop sounds, influenced by American 80s indie. That album had some good songs in it, but perhaps nothing that would make the band stand out from the growing indie scene in Helsinki at that time.

Things took a different direction on the the second album. Musically the band took a step forward, recording more elaborated and diverse songs. The result was White Mountain (2010), an album that maintained a basic pop rock approach, but also included a couple of long instrumental trips. A solid effort by all accounts and the band seem to be in the right track.

But after the label was sold to Universal, Kiki Pau decided to leave. It was time for a fresh start.

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This bring us back to Desert Daze four years later. Instead of giving up, the band persevered in a stubborn, nothing-to-lose, DIY attitude. “We questioned our relation as a band, why we wanted to make music together”, explained Pauli, guitar, at the camp area at Desert Daze. The result of that collective soul searching was the album Pines. In this album, the pop song structures are transformed into space-out jams, creating a particular world of cosmic sounds.

Listen:

The band put out these songs on the Internet, hoping that someone would be listening. And someone did listen. “We made Pines and started sending the link to blogs and radio programs”, recalled singer/guitarist Henrik. “One day, Mike Newman, of Beyond Beyond is Beyond Records in New York, contacted us and said they wanted to release the album. He had a radio program but was planning to create a label. And so we became the label’s second release”.

Beyond Beyond is Beyond Records released Pines last year and did a beautiful vinyl edition in translucent in green vinyl. This LP might be already sold out, but you may find a some copies here.

With the help of the label and Desert Daze festival coordinator Phil Pirrone, whose band JJUUJJUU has release an EP though BBiB, Kiki Pau put a few dates together and set to travel to California and play. “Nothing has really gone according to plan”, admitted Aleksi, “but everything has been great, everybody has been very helpful”.

At Desert Daze, I left the guys wandering around the festival, seeing other bands, chilling and having, like bands should. They still had some gigs to play before heading back home: “We want to see the ocean and swim there. Maybe see a basketball or a baseball game”.

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Satellite Stories – The Trap

Satellite StoriesFor the last couple of years, Oulu’s Satellite Stories have been in the forefront of Finnish indie with constant touring and two albums of catchy upbeat pop. Today Satellite Stories dropped a new song called The Trap, which is the first single from their third album, out in February next year. The track shows off a bold happy-happy-joy-joy sound as it opens with a blast using in-your-face horns and featuring a crazy dance rhythm to build up a stupendous party anthem. That makes a good single, right?

The band recorded Vagabonds in the UK with producer Simon “Barny” Barnicott.

The album will be available on CD, vinyl and digital versions via Soliti on 27 February.

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