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Music Finland staff picks: Our favourite Finnish albums of 2021
Another year has gone by – which means it's time to replay all the albums that our staff at Music Finland has listened to and embraced throughout 2021. See our staff picks below – and scroll all the way down for a Spotify playlist compiled from these albums!
Anu Ahola (Editor-in-Chief, FMQ Magazine)
Linda Fredriksson – "Juniper" (We Jazz Records)
Music full of emotions, magical arrangements, a saxophone telling wistful stories – Linda Fredriksson’s solo debut “Juniper” is a true treasure, a meditative and enlightening experience in our uncertain times. My favourite track is Nana – Tepalle, seven minutes that seem to embrace the entire cycle of life.
Listen to "Juniper" on Spotify.
Read our spotlight article on Linda Fredriksson.
Laura Aspelin (Communications Coordinator)
Timo Lassy – Trio (We Jazz)
Saxophonist Timo Lassy’s new album "Trio" takes the listener from the smooth film music aesthetics to tropical atmospheres. One can almost see the black and white films rolling while listening to the gentle combinations of strings and jazz elements. All in all, Trio is an interesting journey to beautiful sounds and nostalgia with a hunch of glamour.
Listen to "Trio" on Spotify.
Eemeli Erkinheimo (Intern)
Tomi Saario – "I Think We Need To Talk (EP)" (Sony)
Tomi’s sound is great. I like his story and the way he does his own thing. Such a BIG talent – worth listening to!
Listen to "I Think We Need To Talk" on Spotify.
Read our recent spotlight article on Tomi Saario.
Teemu Fiilin (Communications Manager)
Richard Dawson & Circle – "Henki" (Domino)
My favorite Finnish records have this year been extra ambitious ones. On one hand I had Sasu Ripatti’s double attack with the monolithic Vladislav Delay album “Rakka II” and the anarchistic dance party “Fun Is Not a Straight Line”, recorded as Ripatti. And you cannot utter the word “ambitious” without mentioning sonic alchemists Pepe Deluxé, whose “Phantom Cabinet, Vol 1.” was at the same time very approachable as well as extravagant. But the most memorable Finnish album of 2021 was still Richard Dawson & Circle’s “Henki” – with the hardest working band from Pori, Finland backing the eccentric British folk troubadour. While progressive rock maybe the most fitting term for the album, at times it gets quite heavy, most of the time quite psychedelic, sometimes even pastoral and intimate. Or, as their own Bandcamp page puts it “greatest flora-themed hypno-folk-metal record you’ll hear this year.” There you have it!
Listen to "Henki" on Spotify.
Merja Hottinen (Research Manager)
Kalevi Aho – "Solo, vol. 1" (BIS)
At least 15 albums with Kalevi Aho’s music have been released within the last ten years – certainly a sign of the composer’s impressive international career as well as his vast oeuvre. My album of choice from 2021 includes Aho’s solo works for seven different string and wind instruments, all titled Solo. The intensive monologues allow the listener to leave cerebral interpretations aside and just go with the flow. This is music that works perfectly also outside concert halls – to be enjoyed just as well in one’s own living room as when walking in the nature.
Listen to "Solo, Vol 1" on Spotify.
Minna Huuskonen (Export Manager, contemporary and classical, folk and world music)
Perttula – "Pajavasara" (Bafe’s Factory)
Toni Perttula is a newcomer in the folk circuit but an experienced musician in the metal scene. He is a true musical blacksmith which can be heard in the hypnotic union of accordion and iron workshop sounds on his debut album “Pajavasara”.
Listen to "Pajavasara" on Spotify.
Hanna Isolammi (Editor, FMQ)
"Other Finnish Works for Violin" (Alba)
Violinist Mirka Malmi and pianist Tiina Karakorpi fix a gaping hole in the Finnish classical music history with their album "Other Finnish Works for Violin". The salon pieces are composed by Swedish-speaking women, whose work was not appreciated by their contemporaries. Malmi and Karakorpi’s elegant performance makes justice to these small gems.
Niko Kangas (Export Manager, pop, rock and jazz)
Knife Girl – "OONA EP" (Soliti)
What a great album! Both for cleaning your house, and for getting the feeling!
Listen to "OONA EP" on Spotify.
Kari Laitinen (Information Manager)
"Evening Dusk Serenade – Newly Discovered Finnish Works for Violin and Orchestra" (Naxos)
Finnish violinist Linda Hedlund has found some hidden gems of Finnish music for violin and orchestra for her new recording, along with pianist Elisa Järvi and La Tempesta Orchestra and Jyri Nissilä conducting. Most of the works are written between the 1930s and 1960s and they represent a style of light classical music.
Listen to "Evening Dusk Serenade" on Spotify.
Heli Lampi (Head of Communications and Promotion)
Gájanas – "Čihkkojuvvon/Hidden" (Bafe’s Factory)
The music of Gájanas is a merge of Sámi yoik, ethno influences and progressive rock. The trio provides a modern twist to these genres and the sound of the band is strong and confident. Hildá Länsman’s acrobatic voice glows magically like the northern lights. The catchy Diamántadulvvit has definite hit potential. Let these sounds take you to another world.
Listen to "Čihkkojuvvon/Hidden" on Spotify.
Paulina Partanen (Manager, Sheet Music Production)
Beast in Black – "Dark Connection" (Nuclear Blast)
A perfect mixture of symphonic power metal. Auntie likes!
Listen to "Dark Connection" on Spotify.
Turo Pekari (Innovation and Business Development Executive)
Jori Sjöroos – "Personal Album Demo 2019" (11 Ones)
Sjöroos’ “Personal Album Demo 2019” was completed already two years ago, but we had to wait whole two years to hear it. The album’s electronic pulse ranges from hectically hypnotic to sensitive and cinematic soundscapes. Sjöroos' album sounds very much like its creator, and also strongly contemporary – despite its heavily delayed release time. Explore this on a jogging path, on a dark winter evening.
Listen to "Personal Album Demo 2019" on Spotify.
Anna Reponen (Project Coordinator)
Lxandra – "Careful What I Dream Of" (Universal Music)
I have been following Lxandra’s career from the beginning on, so her debut album was long awaited. ”Careful What I Dream Of” is a beautiful dramatic pop album, with carefully thought out productions, cinematic landscapes and hints from the 70’s. Lxandra’s voice is comforting, full of depth and delicate nuances. If you want to chill out and lose yourself in great pop music, this is an album to listen to.
Listen to "Careful What I Dream Of" on Spotify.
Read our spotlight article on Lxandra.
Kaisa Rönkkö (Executive Director)
Astrid Swan – "D/Other" (Soliti)
This autumn I’ve been contemplating a lot about motherhood; trying to balance between work, duties and family, feeling myself as an inadequate mom. On her song Not Your Mom, Astrid Swan speaks up perfectly about managing unmet expectations of motherhood. It’s a song that gives forgiveness to all of us parents who love their kids fully, but are tormented by guilt, inadequacy, and insecurity. Still, my favorite track from the album is Silvi’s Dream – a painful, beautiful, yet again – hopeful song that helps me to handle the emotion of seeing kids grow too fast.
However, the biggest reason I picked the album as my favorite is that Astrid Swan’s album is at the heart of what is the power of music as a reinforcement of our resilience and faith for the future. Swan has said, that writing "D/Other" was also a kind of her way to leave goodbyes. That’s a sad thought, but at the same time it’s at the core of why music is powerful. Good music is timeless, it frames life and creates continuity: There was someone before us and someone will be there after us. The power of music is eternity and a message that lives on in all times. For me everything on this album is about giving hope.
Listen to "D/Other" on Spotify.
Read our recent spotlight article on Astrid Swan.
Heikki Savolainen (Financial Manager)
Erika Vikman – "Erika Vikman" (Warner Music Finland)
Erika Vikman is Finland’s domestic disco queen for the decade: big hair, big synths, bubbly and bouncy four-on-the-floor beats – everything here screams neon pink 80s-tinged fenno-eurotrash with a big smile on its face. Start out with Cicciolina or Syntisten pöytä and you’ll be hard pressed to keep a straight face (Notes by the editor)
Listen to "Erika Vikman" on Spotify.
Katariina Sorsa (Export Manager, pop and rock)
Jesse Markin – "Noir" (Vild)
Jesse Markin’s "Noir" is a genre-blending and timeless mix of… everything. It might be a hard sell in the framework of indie pop, but once you listen, you keep coming back! "Noir" showed up high in my Spotify yearly charts, but it’s not only easy-listening during the work day. Like many in the Finnish audience, I’ve bought in for the whole thing, live shows included, and I really want to see them reach bigger audiences and stages outside Finland. I also want to give a special mention to Venior’s hyperpop EP "Free-K". Venior is a very talented independent songwriter, producer and artist based in Berlin. I’ve been a fan on Venior’s songs for long. Her melodies and harmonies are familiar to my heart.
Listen to "Noir" on Spotify.
Read our recent spotlight article on Jesse Markin.
Visa-Matti Uimonen (International Project and Financial Coordinator)
Color Dolor – "Blurry Things" (Soliti)
Stina Koistinen and Nicolas “Leissi” Rehn, together known as Color Dolor, have been making their own brand of indie pop for some years already, and the results keep getting better by each year and album! "Blurry Things" mainly keeps the vibe quite chilled, intimate and organic, at times still reaching for the stars, as on the explosive chorus on Shy, for example. With top-notch production and Koistinen’s versatile vocal delivery, ranging from emotive crooning to otherworldly harmonics, Color Dolor makes their music sound positively effortless and extremely musical.
Listen to "Blurry Things" on Spotify.