Sorry about my tardiness, friends. Hallowe'en is to blame.
In other news - Last weekend I was fortunate enough to be invited to Musikki & Media, the annual weekend conference/showcase of the finest of emerging artists Finland has to offer. I drank and slept about as much as only a jetlagged alcoholic North American can, yet I did catch some really great shows, too - turns out the Scandanavian music scene offers a bit more than heavy metal and the occasional pop princess.
Here's a quick glance of the best that I caught while hangin' out in Tampere:
In the tradition of the Japanese tendency to produce highly infectious all-girl garage rock comes the Finnish counterpart to the 5,6,7,8's or Shonen Knife - Pintandwefall (pronounced separately - 'pint and we fall') is 4 teenage Finnish girls (yes, I know) who write witty, cute, and often ridiculous lyrics juxtaposed with Pixies-esque riffs and an extremely competent rhythm section. Songs like "Somewhere I'd Be Worshipped" demonstrate the band's lyrical sense of humour "little girl likes Poets of the Fall/it's almost Pintandwefall/so she's our fan". Also, check out "What is Shark" on their myspace.
Also check out the video.
They're signed to Gaea Records, a small label in Finland that seems to have its finger on the pulse of that which is certainly exportable.
Next on the Gaea Records showcase of Thursday night was electro-pop 4-piece I Was a Teenage Satan Worshipper. Not much known about these guys (and girl), as their band bio is obviously a load of BS, but musically they mix dark synth and vocal influences with bubblegum pop electronics to create a vibe that is somewhere between A Place to Bury Strangers, EMF's only hit "unbelievable", and Crystal Castles.
Also on Gaea, Jesse (pronounced Yess-eh) are a bunch of dudes with bad haircuts and ironic 80's vintage stylings (read: Terry and Dean from FUBAR) playing fully instrumental electronic dance music. It's not particularly groundbreaking (one could even argue that it isn't particular good) but they do produce some pretty solid hooks, even if they lean on them a little often. Overall, it all just kind of sounds like a lost Megaman soundtrack. "Riffi" is obviously the level where you're whizzing through the galaxy on a hovering skateboard.
My only real regret of the weekend spent in Finland (apart from sleeping through the operating hours of the Lenin museum) was missing Vuk's set. Instead, I passed it up for the highly-buzzed and totally forgettable performance from Rubik, the "must-see" show of the festival according to the organizers and locals. From the reports of those who went against the advice of the masses, Vuk's darkly eclectic chamber pop was an absolute highlight. The New York-via-Helsinki young woman has an incredibly distinct voice that I'm sure must be absolutely stunning in a live environment. I'm currently hoping she'll respond to my email request for an mp3 (I can't find one anywhere). In the meantime, check out "Gramophone and Periscope" on her myspace.
My favourite performance of the festival was from Helsinki's modern-day Velvet Underground/Jesus and Mary Chain hybrid Joensuu 1685. I grabbed a copy of their debut, self-titled disc and have found it to be less vibrant than their live show, but still a valuable listen if you like your stoner pop mixed with the kind of analog fuzz that's predominantly missing in the days of 320kbps. Regrettably, the most accessible song on their myspace, "Walk on Water", isn't featured on the record. But "Sick City" should give you a more accurate representation of what these (really nice) dudes are all about.
Sidebar history lesson: Thanks to Wikipedia, I now know that Joensuu is a northern University town in Finland. What happened there in 1685, however, is anyone's guess; the city wasn't officially founded until 1848.