Let’s continue this weekend’s exploration of Nordic indie pop with the February album Sata syytä aloittaa by Helsinki’s Teini-Pää. The band Teini-Pää play divine 2 minute guitar pop gems just as catchy as 2022 darlings Alvvays. Now BEFORE YOU STOP READING because the vocals aren’t sung in American, take 2:18 to see if the song “Ydintyttö” persuades you that you need to know more.
That’s one extraordinary blast of power pop right?! Whatever tongue you speak…Finnish, Swedish, Spanish…we all understand the International Language of rock. Before getting into any background, I want to be sure you’re fully on board. If not, begone!
The guitars get a little scuzzier on Teini-Pää‘s “4567.” This isn’t your mother’s Finnish bubblegum pop. Just a 3 minute blast of guitars and harmonies from an alternate indie pop universe called Northern Europe.
Band Teini-Pää hits its stride with 2nd album Sata syytä aloittaa
Like me, you probably didn’t know about this remarkable Helsinki indie pop band that is one EP and two albums into its career. Teini-Pää (“Teenage Head”) has been releasing music for about four years. Here is early single, “Lähtisitkö.” (“Would You Go”)
The quintet seems to tour between Helsinki and Turku, in far SW Finland across the Baltic from Stockholm. They have a website with fun facts about each member, including what appears to be a mutual fondness for vissy (sparkling water?), The Go-Go’s and yoga. I’ve conveniently linked an English translation of the band’s website for you here.
If you haven’t heard Denmark’s Appleseeds! what are you even doing?!
February’s Sata syytä aloittaa (“100 Hundred Reasons to Start”), published by Finland’s Soit Se Silti is a blast from start to finish. Google translates Teini-Pää’s own description of their band from its website as “puff pop.” It may just be a bad translation? The 90 seconds of “Aamulla” sounds like power pop to me!
The band Appleseeds! are a Copenhagen indie-pop duo that released the bright and delightful indie pop æblefrø one month ago. The melodies of Kasper Clemmensen and bandmate Ditte Duus are as catchy as the enchanting packaging and internal illustrations.
Duo share lead vocals on the band Appleseeds! debut
Appleseeds! started releasing songs for æblefrø last spring. Appropriately, the earliest tunes that became album closers “Someone to Talk To” and “Spinning ‘Round” featured each singer on lead vocals.
As you listen to each simple, ever-so-jangly number — most barely two minutes — you can’t help but create a column of “Kasper songs” and “Ditte songs” depending on the singer. Both have the same throaty, desultory delivery. Here is Kasper on “Hungry Mouth,” with Ditte’s backing Ahhh’s!
…and let’s show off one more with Kasper on lead, since he voices the majority of the songs. He’s also credited with all the songwriting. I love this guitar line and the pregnant pauses in “Nightmares.”
Ditte Duus the perfect complement in the band Appleseeds!
When Ditte takes the mic she reflects the same innocence and sensibility as Kasper. Breathy and light, she offers the perfect complement on tracks like “The Reach” and original single “Someone to Talk To”
Appleseeds! started as foodie band Tampopo
For the five years or so before launching the band Appleseeds! Danish* duo Kasper Clemmensen and Ditte Duus helmed Tampopo, a band conceived to write and sing mostly about food products. I’m not entirely clear why.
Multiple releases since 2017 included songs like “Pancake Tuesday,” “Swordfish! (What do You Eat?),” “Soft as a Muffin” and the catchy (heh) “Ketchup.”
To be fair, as the years went on, Tampopo appeared to write fewer songs with titles like “Milkshake Zombie” and more tracks that transitioned closer to non-food subjects and the sound Appleseeds! displays on æblefrø.
*Googles “Are people from Denmark called Danish or Dutch?”
Love yourself some Nordic pop?! Check out Finland’s Teini-Pää!
I can’t talk about the band Appleseeds! without promoting the CD illustrations that bring you to a complete stop as you leaf through the pages of æblefrø.
Each song is accompanied by its own painting by renowned Japanese artist Mamoru Yamamoto. You should really learn more about Yamamoto at the artist’s website. The tender artwork is both engrossing and also a perfect visual representation of the band Appleseeds!
I hope you get to see the Kilby Court Cuco show opening the Kilby Block Party Friday lineup. He’s so good, I could have included him in my 2022 Top 20 albums. Here’s what you need to know about the bedroom pop singer Cuco + a couple of songs from 2022’s entrancing Fantasy Gateway.
Kilby Court Cuco concert a nice start to Kilby Block Party Friday lineup
The singer Cuco — he uses the handle cucopuffs on the Insta — got his pet name from his mother while growing up in Hawthorne, California. Omar Banos has written lyrics both in English and Spanish since his early releases, Wannabewithu (2016) and Songs4u (2017) as a budding songwriter and Spotify phenom. His bedroom pop full length debut was 2019’s Para Mi.
By 2022, Banos was incorporating more elaborate orchestration on Fantasy Gateway as he felt his way into new territory. You can hear why the Kilby Court Cuco appearance came together. I’m not posturing — this was a favorite album of mine last year.
The intimate “Time Machine” has such a pure singer-songwriter inside that you can’t help but fall in love with the kid.
Sing along Kilby Court Cuco show in Spanish. Singer Cuco is bilingual pop star
One of the reasons I was taken aback by Fantasy Gateway was the sophisticated lyricism you’ll hear at the Kilby Court Cuco show. Sure there are the ridic catchy samples and chorus on last April’s “Caution” … then he steps into a mix of English and Spanish on the smooth R&B-via-soft 70’s “Aura.”
Here is the Spanish verse:
Ves que me causan celos cuando te habla alguien más Nunca te quiero lejos, la distancia me hace mal Eres siempre el tema del que quiero platicar Hechamos fiesta solos, nos ponemos a bailar
…in which the singer Cuco is singing:
You see that they make me jealous when someone else talks to you I never want you away, the distance hurts me You are always the topic I want to talk about We party alone, we start to dance
I expect most of the Kilby Court Cuco show at the Kilby Block Party Friday lineup will be in English. But Utah has plenty of Spanish speakers and returned missionaries to go cukoo for cocoa puffs. I’m looking forward to hearing fully Spanish numbers from the singer Cuco, like the gorgeous “Fin Del Mundo” (“End of the World”).
Be at the Kilby Court Cuco concert. You’ll go cukoo for cocoa puffs
Final note, whether you’re a 19-year-old kid reading this on the Insta or a jaded 50-something like me listening to bedroom pop singer Cuco for the first time…get to the Kilby Block Party on Friday. I recommend Fantasy Gateway without reservation and can’t wait to see him kickstart the Kilby Block Party Friday lineup!
If you don’t know what a dhol drum is, you’ll definitely want to buy one after sitting through Bolts by Hagop Tchaparian. Tchaparian has married searing house music and ethnic Armenian field recordings throughout Bolts. But he doesn’t use the delirious dhol highs as a crutch. The whole is more subdued than the parts, and it is a marvel of music-making.
Tchaparian has lived two or three lives.
A musician, a tour manager for Hot Chip, a producer…all after growing up with his family in London as an exile from Turkey. The British-Armenian producer also spent years capturing field recordings from Armenian musicians and buskers playing Arabic instruments in return trips to his father’s Anjar on the border of Lebanon and Syria.
These lifetimes came together in the tapestry that is Bolts. Here is the September single from Hagop Tchaparian, “Right to Riot.” Warn your neighbors and play at very high decibals.
As mentioned, Bolts isn’t a front-to-back frenzy of Arabic techno beats. It is a love letter to the Armenian culture that his exiled father refused to let the family forget, and a remarkable debut.
UPDATE Monday 9:15 AM: Dates for Ride on tour here!
Here is the announcement for dates for Ride on tour with The Charlatans tour dates. These are US and Canada big city performances starting in six weeks:
January 30 New York City
January 31 Brooklyn
February 2 Boston
February 3 Montreal
February 4 Toronto
February 5 Detroit
February 7 Chicago
February 8 Madison
February 9 Minneapolis
February 11 Denver
February 13 Vancouver
February 14 Seattle
February 15 Portland
February 17 San Francisco
February 18 Los Angeles
Here is the post to Ride’s Facebook page from an hour or so ago.
With Ride on tour in 2023, it’s all fair game so let’s get right to it.
And KEEP READING — we’ll explore some new, gazey bands on the scene who could join the tour.
Bands opening Ride tour dates right now
Melbourne’s Moaning Lisa are scheduled to open for Ride’s Australia dates. Moaning Lisa is pretty straightforward indie rock. Here is the opener on last year’s debut album, Something Like This But Not Like This. I haven’t spent much time with ML.
Here is the first single from Something Like This, “Something.”
Similarly, in Perth, Ride tour dates are getting support from local 5-piece The Deenys. The Deenys are living the dream, already opening for The Charlatans this year. They’re obscure enough that if you don’t narrow your search correctly it literally brings up a list of Denny’s restaurants in Perth.
If you want The Deenys, and not Denny’s, this is what they sound like.
Here are a few up-and-comers and, by the way, WHO AM I MISSING? Would love to know.
Okay, can we get more serious for a moment? Hidden Bay Records’ Healees have been on my Best Of list all year.
I can still remember wandering around a grocery store this spring listening to their self-titled EP in June and wondering, how am the only person swooning over this gazey band?! Healees, based in Paris, are probably synched most closely with the Ride’s 1990 sound from Nowhere on the aching cut “The Garden.”
Also, have a listen to the blistering “Jaguarundi” from the same EP. What exactly is a Jaguarundi, anyway? You won’t care after listening to Healees‘ shimmering, 4 minute jam that would be an incredible introduction, just before Andy Bell and Mark Gardener take the stage.
Downward is admittedly a band I only discovered for the first time tonight. Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Downward is currently touring in support of their February Brass Tacks EP. Sometimes 90’s indie, at other times right in a gazey bullseye…”Ugly Bug” is about as perfect an opener for Ride as I can imagine — or maybe Catherine Wheel?!
In my experience, a lot of bands described as shoegaze are in actuality loud dream pop. Google “shoegaze” all you want, mostly you’re getting metal or dream pop.
LAUNDER falls in this gap. This year’s Happening is super but it’s not gazey at all, whatever you read. The working name of LA’s John Cudlip, LAUNDER is in the same shoegaze zipcode on “Intake,” but it’s pretty atypical of the rest of the dream pop album.
This is a really nice album, an agitated dream pop record. Check it out!
Hat tip to The Noise Made by People, who flagged LA’s Mo Dotti for me. Their March EP Guided Imagery falls somewhere between dream and gaze, and I have no dispute with where they land! I love to imagine a really crunchy, aggressive version of “Come on Music” before Ride hits the stage.
And here is “Loser Smile,” the opening track on Guided Imagery, with some My Bloody Valentine energy.
Ride on tour to promote re-release of Nowhere and Going Blank Again
It’s already been a year for Ride.
On November 4, Wichita Recordings re-issued 1990’s legendary Nowhere and 1992’s Going Blank Again, along with a collection of their first four EP’s. I only have the Today Forever EP, so I’ll be buying 4 EP’s at the band’s website. Next week, Ride begins an Australia and New Zealand tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of Nowhere:
Nov 29 Adelaide, Australia
Nov 30 Melbourne, Australia
Dec 1 Sydney, Australia
Dec 2 Woolloongabba, Australia
Dec 4 Fremantle, Australia
Dec 6 Auckland, New Zealand
Dec 16 Athens, Greece
Dec 18 Paris, France (Les Inrocks festival)
One way or the other, let’s get Ride to Salt Lake for the #goingblankagain30 tour — and a ten-minute version of “OX4” please!