Our enforced absence a couple of weeks ago meant we were unable to write about an excellent 'compilation' album (with a 'twist') from Finnish record company Soliti. To celebrate 5 years of this excellent label, they've released an album where each of their bands cover a song by one of the others. Given that some of our favourite Finnish bands are on Soliti this has inevitably led to some great versions of tracks, a couple of which I hadn't really come across before, which has been a bonus for me.
The compilation opens with the outstanding Delay Trees covering Cats on Fire, a band we sadly haven't had chance to write about as their last release was a few years back now. It's given me chance to listen to the original which is great in itself, but Delay Trees have added extra jangly guitars and the instrumentation is inevitably just so perfect It was an immediate hit with me, and I love the lyrics too - and whilst the subject matter isn't supposed to leave me debating the merits of my favourite old Centre Backs, it has led me to consider the merits of Jim McNichol, Clint Boulton and John Impey.
If the Delay Trees had merely 'tweaked' the original into their own style, The New Tigers version of Black Twigs 'Pastel' is quite spectacularly different from the original, and they admit to have got quite carried away in the whole process. But it certainly works well, as does the Cats of Transnistria version of 'Heaven in You' by 'Black Lizard'. Cats of Transnistria are a band who I continue to like more and more, inevitably their cover version is a huge expansion of the original, where the Black Lizard opening theme is slowed down and warped wonderfully, and they create a darker more intense and complex soundscape. Astrid Swan then offers a lovely version of Puunhalaaja's 'Härkä ja Paimen', from the the album that slowly grew on me late last year, her vocals to me more deliberate than the laid back original, with a heavier reliance on synths.
I knew 'The New Tigers' track 'Worlds Greatest Actor' from a few years back less well, and 'Black Twigs' version comes across as a homage, less frenetic perhaps, but equally uplifting. And I was always going to like a Black Lizard version of a Cats of Transnistria track, condensed with the essential fuzzy guitars but also with the original distorted melodies cleverly extracted and given greater emphasis. To conclude 'Love Sport' offer an indie guitar version of Astrid Swans brilliant 'Rabbit Catcher', not as quirky and with less brass, but it works well.
A compilation that I thought at first might just be interesting, maybe fun, has turned out to be seriously enjoyable listen over a number of weeks. I particularly love the Delay Trees and Astrid Swans versions of Cats on Fire and Puunhalaaja, and it can only be a good thing that it's pushed me to listen to more from the artists I knew less well. With so many new releases planned for 2017, with the highlight for me being a Delay Trees album, Soliti have a really exciting 12 months ahead, and we'll be covering as many of those releases as possible.
Soliti Five Years artwork by Onni Hyöty.