The 10 best Finnish albums of 2016
Several outstanding new releases are around the corner: Astrid Swan’s return, the hard rocking new Them Bird Things album, Mikko Joensuu’s last chapter of the Amen trilogy, another Janne Westerlund dark blues record… However, as usual, I want to dedicate the first post of the year to the best Finnish albums of 2016. Here it goes.
10. The Hearing – Adrian
Ringa Manner, aka The Hearing, goes a long way with resonating beats and mesmerizing layers of vocals. I was taken aback by the intimate and dreamy, yet catchy, electro-pop presented with Adrian.
9. Is This Really Me – The Iron Door
There are days when I want to spend the evening with a well-crafted, heartfelt album. And, that’s exactly what Is This Really Me’s The Iron Door is: a superb collection pop songs with some comforting folk textures.
8. Matti Jasu and the Loose Train – Gone to the Dogs
Matti Jasu’s albums go often unnoticed, but it’s hard not to have a soft spot for his easy-going, guitar-driven, charming pop songs. Plus, the video for What Goes On is simply funstactic.
7. Oddarrang – Agartha
Agartha is the soundtrack of a film yet to be made. Brilliantly blending post-rock, jazz, classical music and some prog, Oddarrang have created a hypnotic cinematic experience.
6. Cats of Transnistria – Divine
These cats’ music might not be love at first listen. Give it time and the enigmatic soundscapes will haunt you forever.
5. Oranssi Pazuzu – Värähtelijä
No matter any X-Factor, Finland is a metal country. On their fourth album, Oranssi Pazuzu expanded its sound beyond the boundaries of black metal -but still the music is obscure and heavy as the darkest night. If you care about it, Värähtelijä got the attention of Pitchfork critics who rated the album with a well-deserved 7.9.
4. Seremonia – Pahuuden äänet
Seromonia’s music comes from a dark place, a very dark place, spooky and frightening. Rising from those spooky corners of the mind, Pahuuden äänet is raw, thrilling heavy psych-rock. A kick in the devil’s guts. It was released in 2016, but it could have been out in 1972 as well.
3. Talmud Beach – Chief
The minimalist blues and the laid-back boogie of this bearded trio was a great companion during the hot summer days. With some of the funniest lyrics this year, Talmud Beach could do no wrong after they sold their hair to the devil and the devil gave them the blues.
2. Black Twig – Blaze on a Plain
Throughout the year I returned to Black Twig’s Blaze on a Plain many, many times. Not only that. I did not get tired of recommending this album to anyone who would listen. Glorious fuzzy guitar pop and excellent songwriting. No filler. Maybe one day, it will be seen as classic Finnish indie album.
1. Mikko Joensuu – Amen 1 & Amen 2
According to most best of the year lists, critics prefer Amen 1, but I’ve listened to the second in the trilogy much more -mostly due to its grandiose rock sound and the epic There Used to Be a Darkness. The truth is that I find very difficult to separate both albums. Amen 1 deals with lost faith, and does it with intimacy and immediacy, using monstly acoustic instruments and folk songs. Amen 2 presents a fuller, brighter sound to reach acceptance, with fuzzy rock guitars, electronic elements, noise and lengthy songs. Both albums are they same album, really. They are part of a continuum which will conclude in a few months with the release of Amen 3. Only then we’ll see the full picture of this magnificent, relevant and beautiful masterpiece.