Toomio’s TOP100: 99. Offspring – Smash

Producer: Thom Wilson
Recorded: 1993
Published: 8.4.1994
Label: Epitaph

US Billboard rank 4. Remains the top-selling private label’s album.

SINGLES
• Come Out and Play
• Self Esteem
• Gotta Get Away

Offspring was the first band, from whom all the albums I wanted to have.

I liked this band and the music without peer pressure. I don’t like it because my friends liked it. It just sounded good. I changed heavy metal to punk.

Offspring was exciting band that mixed the grunge and punk pretty well together. Punk has tempo, while some kind of technical playing and angst was a grunge’s legacy. The sounds were clear, and there’s no unnecessary gimmickry. It fits perfectly to the young man’s lifestyle. Actually I’m really no man at that time. Not more than a miserable brat.

The cover art is not pretty. I disliked it. I remember how there was a boy in my class who had a Smash-shirt. I could not understand how ugly graphics as good album had. Today, I understand the purpose of the ugly cover. It pictured bad feelings and angst, which is the target group’s life. Or they just want to experience that, because everybody else want too. Album’s name Smash does not really tell us anything. It is suitable and fool name for the album, which is aimed at teenagers.

The album intro is what actually the basic idea of Auscolto.com is. It’s my personal wish too. You can change the wine to beer and CD to any format you want, but otherwise this is very much said in the punk album’s intro:

“Ahhhhh, it’s time to relax,
and you know what That means,
a glass of wine, your favorite easy chair,
and of course this compact disc playing and your home stereo.
So go on, indulge yourself,
That’s right, kick off your shoes, put your feet up,
lean back and just enjoy the melodies.
After all, music soothes the savage beasts events. ”
– Time to Relax

And more to describing the album itself. Phrase can be found in the song Smash:

“I’m not a trendy asshole
I Do What I Want
I Do what I feel like”
– Smash

That kind of music this is. However, it succeed so well, that listening Offspring began to be trendy.

There’s no weak moment found. Come Out and Play has been played too much for myself, so I am not able to tell anything about it. What Happened to You does not fit well with the other songs. Reggae riff is too much like Clash. Fast tempo and short rugs. But heavier, rolling boulders too. The latter are the root of all singles.

The boys play accurate in their third album and Dexter Holland is a charismatic frontman. Guitarist Noodles said in some interview that they are so poor musicians to begin with the band. The band’s line-up is not varied very much, even if their career is already long. The drummer has changed couple of times.

I’ve listened Smash so much, that a copied cassette work no longer. Therefore, before this list was I’ve to buy that CD. It had gone probably 5 years from the previous listening. And it works again! My thoughts are sailing in my friend’s garage, where fixed my Mitsubishi Colt. Wunderbaum scents and aimless hassle.

Although the intro instruct the other, take a car and drive with this album. It’ll be worth of it.

THE BEST MOMENTS
Bad Habit – Now this starts with a grunge intro. that may make Nirvana envious. Quiet waters and heavy waves.
Killboy Power Head – While it is Didjits-cover, this has been always one of the best tracks in this album.
So Alone – Awesome “Fuck all that shit”-feel on it. And if the song takes about a minute, it must have full score.
Smash – This shows how Offspring make the perfect music, using very few elements.

NOT SO BRILLIANT
Gotta Get Away – A little depressing after a good start.
What Happened to You – Annoyingly happy song to mess up the good angst of the other songs. Reggae rhythm does not fit.

Atso’s Time Machine: Year 2010 & Jenni Vartiainen – Seili

Seili is the second solo album by Jenni Vartiainen. It was released digitally on 31 March 2010, followed with the official physical CD-release on 14 April. After the success of her debut album it was expected that her quite unique pop expression was to progress: hence happened.

The album starts with a mystical instrumental song, driven by piano. In Koti it’s Vartiainen herself who sits behind the keyboards. The atmosphere the song sets to whole record can be easily sensed. With its duration of just under 1:30 the song is nicely linked to the next one…

…which bears the name Seili. The atmosphere changes like in a scene from a movie: now the story starts to really evolve! The main character in the song is called Sofia Ryysyläinen. Seili evenly grows and gets bigger and in the first chorus (in the line “halki synkän veen vene hiljalleen lipuu saareen syrjäiseen”to be precise) I marked in my listening diary that “this song has some power!”. The “poppy” (in a good way) sounds come in opposite the piano that led the first song. When the electronic drums start to bang the feel of the song gets more tight and the synthesizers take power. The last section of the song gets to surprise, It’s like from another song. The listener is pretty likely to ask the question “what is Seili?”. Well, the next line summarizes it up rather well: mukana naulat ja lautaa / niistä leposijan saa / sata on Seilissä hautaa / ja satoja vielä kaivetaan. It means that with nails and timber one can make a tomb, and in Seili there’s hundred of them and more to come.

The third track of the album is also its first single En haluu kuolla tänä yönä. When this first came out on the radio it depressed me, because you can’t sing about suicide on the first single if you want to make a great record. Well, it was just that I hadn’t listened this closely enough: it’s not about those things at all…

This song has a flamboyant intro led by synthesizers. It makes this song sound like a hit before the main vocalist even starts! The composition is great, like from “Pop music’s textbook”. Lyrics are apt as well, but the rhyming of poistumaan-maistumaan limps pretty badly.

In the C-section and the following quiet verse the song declares it’s theme, which is pop-music’s folklore at its most traditional: “everything has it’s time, but now it’s time to party”. Although the musical ground and use of instruments is as good as it gets in finnish pop music, it feels that Jenni’s vocal performance manages to carry the whole thing.

The fourth song, Nettiin, starts with a baffling banjo, creating a contrast to the text that doesn’t really have anything funny in it. The reference to “Annankadun kaksio” (=the two-room apartment in Annankatu) gives the lyrics a clear amount of humanity as opposed to its predecessors.

The chorus is great in this song as well. The question “tätäkö se tarkoitti? (=is this what it meant)” could be asked from many things. The second verse is a little bit lame. The expression “munapää (=dickhead)” comes out of nowhere but has its place in the text. The verses in this song serve as base (and as a kind of justification) for the chorus which fortunately enough is quite strong. This one also has the quiet middle section before the last couple of refrains…

Next song to follow is Missä muruseni on: perhaps the greatest Finnish ballad released on the 21st century. The mystical atmosphere floats for the whole song: who is the one missed in this song, where has he/she gone and why – none of this questions gets to have an answer.

The first line ”Yöllä taas mä menin parvekkeelle nukkumaan… (=At night I went sleeping in the balcony again)” sets the scene. There’s nothing too much, not a single sound. The reference of a shooting star and the wish that follows are among the classic of pop-lyric, but sound good. The melody in the chorus is beautiful and there’s a few splendid choice of notes that make it even unique. I think there might be even some obsolescent Finnish folk song melody there somewhere?

The drums come in little by little and the text in the second verse is strong. The following chorus has more power than the first since the drums really kick in. The song is driven by piano and strings. There’s a piano fill that can be heard in the middle of the choruses: it’s the cornerstone of the latter half of the song with the vocal performance by Vartiainen. Especially the divergent melody in the line “leiki hetki hänen hiuksillaan” is wonderful. This song also ends without fade out. Great, great song.

The next was also a big hit: Duran Duran. The song starts without an actual intro, setting the time of the event pretty clearly right in the beginning: “näin myöhään yöllä… mutta lauantai-aamu… (=this late in the night… but Saturday-morning). The hazy atmosphere of a night club can be sensed and the reference to Duran Duran is apposite: this song is very likely to occur in recent history.

Once again the chorus has its hit affinity. Tältäkö se tuntuu / kun löytää oikean / hei tältäkö se tuntuu / ennen kuin me suudellaan / ensimmäisen kerran / mä olen elossa / hei ota minut kiinni / ennen kuin yö katoaa (=Is this how it feels / when you find the one / hey, is this how it feels / before we kiss / for the first time / I feel like I’m alive / hey, catch me / before the night disappears”). The chorus also has a nice trick: where does that “first time” refer to: the first kiss or the first time the main character feels alive?

There’s some nice details in the second verse: Simon Le Bon, Rio and even Jenni herself, that’s pretty rare. The same verse also has the most horrible rhyme of the album pakoon-pogoo…

I remember when the record came out and we had some conversation about the drum track of this specific song with some drummer friends. The comments were something like “there has been a guy who programmed the drum track first with a computer, and then there was some f**got who played them with real drums”.

This song also has the quiet section before the last refrains. This time it is not an actual verse, but a separate middle section led by keyboard. The remainder of the song is the hit-sounding-chorus.

The next song starts with a piano-intro that has been heard many times. Is this Oasis’ Stop Crying Your Heart Out? No, it’s Minä ja hän.

Sitten kun oon viimeisen lauluni laulanut… (=After I have sung my last song…). When a song talks about a last song, it has to be taken seriously. There’s something oriental and mystical in the air once again, just like in “Missä muruseni on”: must be the sitar-sounding instrument in the arrangement. The percussion track is especially well arranged and played, the rhythm of the shaker is simple but intriguing. It only makes the expection of a single sixteenth-note, bringing much more life to the sound.

The text is basic pop but still working well. The theme is a classical thought of love lasting forever. This was a song, that caught my attention from the first listen.

The last transformation from the verse to the chorus is divergent, like the melodies in the last few refrains. This one also ends without fade out, yeah!

Kiittämätön comes from a different world of sounds than the previous ones. Acoustic guitars chime and the atmosphere is intimate from the beginning.

The lyrics contain strong lines one after another. ”Kameroilla muisti / tuijotan mun jalkoja” (=The cameras’ got a memory / I’m looking at my feet) creates an image of the central character in this song. ”Kun on vielä nuori kaikkee pitää kokeilla / elä, opi, koe, et’ myöhemmin ei kaduta(“=When you’re still young you have to try everything / live, learn and experience so you don’t have to be sorry later on) can be taken as a some sort of wisdom. The chorus in this song isn’t as poppy as in some other songs on this album but it’s lyrics are to be taken very seriously.

Second verse also has some quality writing. ”Sinä olet siinä, kaikkihan on kunnossa / enkä kerro mistään, kun en tahdo loukata(=You are there, everything’s fine / and I don’t want to tell about anything since I don’t want to hurt you). Vibraphone makes its clicks and a string section also comes in but the general appearance of sound is acoustic. The last few lines of the song also give a kind of “twist” in the story.

Eikö kukaan voi meitä pelastaa is started by a electronic drum beat. This song suffers a bit from its placement in the song order: there’s a feeling that the slow songs ahead might weaken the pop-momentum created in the first half of the album. However, the song can’t be accused of not trying to build it once more, especially from the line “jos etsit mua / niin täällä oon” ahead. In fact, the chorus comes from the same production line as the ones in the previous ones.

Eikö kukaan voi meitä pelastaa isn’t as strong a song as many of the other ones on this album. It remains a bit pale, sort of a copy manufactured on an assembly line. ”Eikö kukaan voi meitä pelastaa (=can’t we be saved by anyone) is a fine line, however. There’s keyboards all over the place and the drums sound grand.

The album is closed with Halvalla. Except that it’s the last song of the record it also bears a resemblance to artists’ first record Ihmisten edessä three years prior, in the year 2007.

Vartiainen gets to the listeners skin in a some way as in Kiittämätön. There’s a certain tranquility in the whole song, with the refrain being as beautiful as what. There’s a glow of intimacy in this one.

Vain hiuksiasi hiljaa kosketan / en rakkaudesta mitään ymmärrä(=I only touch your hair softly / without understanding anything about love) – the character confesses things, but everything is still alright.

The C-section is magnificent. ”Hei ollaan vain paikoillaan / turha on etsiä kauempaa / kun on hieno maailma jo tarjolla (=Hey let’s stay here / we don’t have to look from afar / since we have a beautiful world just here)”. This is something to be remembered. This section is effective even if the chord progression is familiar from many other songs. Vartiainen patches this with a few nice bluesy choice of notes. In the background there’s once again a string section playing sounds to tear the listeners innermost.


I personally think this is the best pop record from Finland in the 21st century. Maybe I should listen more records from this genre from the previous decades to find out if there’s any contestants from those times either. Especially well are working the production by Jukka Immonen and the sounds, nicely echoing from the 80s.

During the last few listening sessions this record has sounded even better than what it sounded like on the first time around. The latter half of the record is also great although during the first listens the radio hits from the beginning tend to grab the attention. I also have to mention the fibes I got during the last sessions with this record, that were something not often experienced with Finnish records: damn, this one has great songs one after another!

Toomio’s TOP100: 100. PMMP – Kovemmat Kädet

Producer: Jori Sjöroos
Recorded: 2004-2005
Published: 9.3.2005
Label: BMG

57 weeks in the Finnish album chart

SINKUT
Päiväkoti
Oo Siellä jossain mun
Matkalaulu
Pikkuveli (which can be found on Kumivirsi-edition. Forced to mention, because the original performer Noitalinna Huraa! is coming from my native region.)

PMMP’s second album featured quite surprising material after their first album.

Pink cover is the sign of girls stuff, but still there is something like Bitch Alert’s (Finnish punk band) primitiviness and rage. The cover art picturing album’s music well. Kovemmat Kädet (tougher hands) also describes well the material and theme of album. They grap a little bit harder. But the music has not be shaken so much, but the grip is firm and tight.

The album’s first single, Päiväkoti (Day-care center) showed that this album is floating on a much deeper sea. Kindergarten and children hit the young mother’s idea of the world. Nowadays I am father myself, so I somehow get this idea too. How the kids stand in the yard. The epic strings at the end of song could fit in almost any style of music. Brilliant.

The songs have serious, even distressing lyrics. But you can also find happy rallies for little girls. There’s a signs of the first symptoms of midlife crisis. Of course it’s easy to say so now,  when I’ve already passed that part of life. If we split this album to two parts: the soft and the heavy, there’s hellishly good heavy punk-album and then there’s a nice little pop-album for teenagers.

“In fact, only it does matter, what and how to bring a simple melody clothed in words.

Vocal melodies are very simple, even monotonous. There’s nothing wrong for the lover of heavier music. Often the vocal melodies following a guitar riff, which tells the harsh language of how green the band was then. In fact, only it does matter, what and how to bring a simple melody clothed in words. Heavy sections of the vocal melodies are better.

You can hear brave choices of instruments and sounds in many places. Some electric drum stuff start to be a bit “out”, and soft synths have significantly improved in ten years. But the idea of production is excellent. Sjöroos diverse background is reflected in the compositions. Maria Magdalena is a brilliant example for sound combinations that he uses. That kind of soup needs a wide vision of the instruments in available. Another example is the Oo Siellä Jossain Mun’s bass sound. Softsynth bass with underwater effect, I would guess. Sounds so last century, but not enough to ruin the album.

“The album is a little illogigal, just a young woman’s way.

The album is a little illogigal, just a young woman’s way. Over-analyze everything, but not to find a way to reach the goal. It does not harm this time, but cause little suffering. However, if you give a little time thinking about what it would sound like live, you’ll realize that this is the most excellent form in its entirety. Fast tempo, heavy and soft parts, choruses you can sing along, joy and sorrow and a lot of playing for the band.

Could this work in English? Maybe not. The lyrics is characterized strongly in Finnish culture. I think in another language the content leaves a little bit empty.

This was on the top when I met my current wife, so the sound takes me back in time. This year the album will be ten years old. Yes, I’m so damn old. Finland’s best records this still is. Probably this works best for the start of a party. However, I do something like that so rarely nowadays, that this may be just a hunch.

THE BEST MOMENTS

Mummola – Rage and catchy chorus.
Matoja – On the footsteps of Apulanta’s (Finnish punk band) best tracks. Matoja worked as one of the highlights in their live shows in past years.
Maria Magdalena – Maria Magdalena is a great tribute to the Finnish band called Mana Mana. It is still one of the best PMMP songs. In the last gigs a different arrangement was so rugged that even Eino Leino stay in second place. Someone has listened Black Sabbath, when composed this, I suppose.

NOT SO BRILLIANT

Auta Mua – Something to sing for Mira. Sounds like 4R (Finnish pop band trying to sound like international).

Toomio’s TOP100-albums – Opening speech

For some reason, I’ve always been interested in music. You could call it fanaticism. I remember thousands of small (sometimes a very unnecessary) things bands, songs, albums, and everything related to music. So I decided that it is time to list the music somehow. I’ve done it a couple of years now.

“Definitely the most important motive for placement of the album, however, are the songs.”

I have listened about a thousand albums in last year. It is quite a lot. I am also ranked these using my own method. The most important criteria is, of course, the songs themselves, but also other factors that affect the quality of the album. The cover art, the band’s musical talent, production, sound, album name, entity and its legendary rate in my own standards. Definitely the most important motive for placement of the album, however, are the songs. The other properties are only a small weight one way or another.

I have tried to assess the album without weight or success in its releasing time. For example is the Beatles The White Album as good, if it had appeared in the last year? Or would Metallica’s Kill ’em All even better in today’s sounds? Taste matters but so it always does.

I have been listening to music of all kinds. Recommendations from others (they came around a couple of hundred albums), music from different eras, from the other TOP-lists, who sold the most, etc. From jazz to noise and rap to techno, even pop and classical.

“So I’m trying to tell you about hundred albums that I think you should listen to.”

I’ll try to act as a well-informed filter, so that you haven’t to listen bad music. So I’m trying to tell you about hundred albums that I think you should listen to. I’m trying to tell you also why they are worth listening to. I hope that you gonna find at least one artist, album or song could listen in future too.

We’ll start soon!

Howdy!

Do you like music? Do you know music trivia? Are you always ready to discuss about music and related issues, no matter which genre? You’re just in the right place. The great idea behind this site is that we, three music nerds, want people to listen to music and focus on it again. Ausculto is a Latin word for “listen with attention”.

Nowadays, people listen to songs from here and there, browsing and multitasking something else at the same time. Tracks and albums open in a completely different way when you focus on it. You should focus only in one sense at a time and give other senses time to relax.

Making music is not easy. Tracks can be fixed many years. Organizing the track listings can cause anxiety, not to mention the lyrics. Therefore we must give music, and especially the albums, the time they deserve. The positive effects of music we do not start to go over and over. It has been studied and the evidence has been given.

We are trying to tell people about the artists, albums and songs that we think would be worth listening to, but also why they should listen to them. We hope that people would give a chance for our suggestions and find even one single album or artist to listen to in the future. For some reason we are going to write in English too. Forgive our poor English, we are trying to advance.

The writers of Ausculto will tell more specifically about their topics and writings, so here is a brief description for start.

 “My focus is to go into the darker, more sinister and heavier side of metal. Depending on my mood the vibe can shift from true metal to darkest blackened death or black metal, so I’m completely a loose cannon.” –Miikka-Tuomas

“I listen to music of all genres, last year circa one thousand albums. You can find recommendations from others, from different eras, from other lists, from cult bands etc. From noise to jazz and from rap to techno, even pop music and classical. Although people think that I am a metalhead, I would say more of a music man. So, on my soon beginning chart you will find much more than just metal.” -Tomi

“My intention is to gather a setting of albums which are important to me, from artists from the 70’s to the 2010’s. A special mission is to listen to the albums as whole, in the same way when approaching books or movies. I also try to approach the “bright side” of popular music from different directions; Finnish and foreigners, as well as rock and pop music in its various forms.” –Atso

This is the script. Hop on board and take a look what kind of drama this is going to become!