Discogs is a great source to keep track of new (Christmas) releases, and this is one of the 7”'s I 'discovered' doing my daily Discogs check. I don't speak Finnish, but I do know that in Scandinavian languages the word Christmas resembles the English word 'Yule' (that is probably based on the Scandinavian word for Christmas), and when I noticed a split release between two bands that was called 'Joulussplitti', it was not difficult to translate this to 'Christmasplit', so I knew there was a record to check out.
I had never heard of the two Finnish bands on the record, Panssarijuna (which translates as 'Armoured Train') and U.F. Ojala (which turned out to be the name of the main member of the band). Panssarijuna is from Helsinki, the Finnish capital, and U.F. Ojala from Tampere, the third largest city of Finland, and, Wikipedia tells me, the largest Scandinavian city that is not a costal city. Cool, I learned at least one new thing today! Finland typically seems like a country where the probability to have a white Christmas is among the highest in the world, and as they have long and dark winters, I can imagine they can use a lot of cheery Christmas songs, to lighten up the dark days of Christmas.
Well, cheery Christmas songs is not what you are going to find on this split 7”. The 7” comes in a sleeve that has a picture of what seems a somewhat shabby kitchen, with a man that sits before a fireplace. Not that you see much of this man, as a big elf (or gnome) is drawn over the photo (in the style with suggests it was done by a -say- 10 year old kid), and is in front of the man. On the back we see a bearded and very Scandinavian looking guy standing besides a Christmas tree, a picture that looks as if it was taken in the 1970s. The names of both bands have been handstamped in gold on the cover, which give the cover an even more class-y appearance. Both songs have been recorded this year (nice to see, as many of this year's Christmas 7”'s have songs recorded in previous years).
U.F. Ojala is a band of four members, but seems to be the project of the band's songwriter Teemu Ojala, also a member of punk/hardcore band Haistelijat and garage rock/punk band The Achtungs. Both these bands have been around since the early 2010s. U.F. Ojala seems to be around for a shorter time – they have released one 7” so far, also in 2015, and I think they have been playing since 2014. Their song is called 'Aattokeikka'. Google Translate can't make any sense of that, so I don't have a clue what the word means (if it means anything). The song starts out with a chorus singing 'Ho ho ho' for some time, accompanied by bluesy guitar work, a chorus that returns several times in the song, and helps giving it a Christmas-feeling, despite the lack of bells or any other Christmas sounding sounds, and the fact that we non-Finish speaking humans can't understand that what they are singing about is Christmas-related. The singer sounds as if he had a very long night, with a lot of drinking going on (and I don't main the drinking of apple juice here), with a lot of things that went wrong, and is now telling us how bad it was... but I might be completely wrong here.
On the flipside, Panssarijuna have a song called 'Paska Lahja', and this means 'Shit Gift'. The band, who are around longer than U.F. Ojala – their first EP is from 2011 – describe their sound as 'trauma blues'. They list blues, country, punk, folk and rillumarei (a Finnish music style, around in the 1940s/50s, and using an accordina as the main instrument) as their main influences, and the trauma is mainly coming from the subject matter of the lyrics. What exactly this shit present is that singer Johnny Wittu has gotten from Christmas remains covered in the Finish language for me, although it seems to have something to do with Barbie - I read somewhere it is about a 'socialist Barbie', a Barbie that could be re-packaged for every Christmas. The song itself is uptempo, with melodic and fast guitarwork, and a singer that sounds somewhat like the U.F. Ojala singer, but on a moment much earlier in the day. The band made a video for the song, that shows what are probably the members of the band either partying hard or suffering from the consequences of their partying – and yeah, Barbie is there too. The end of the clip is rather psychedelic and a bit scary...
All in all, a single I truly enjoyed. It comes on red vinyl and with a Christmas card. You can order it rhrough Discogs – both labels that put it out (Gafoni and Joteskii Groteskii) sell it there: http://www.discogs.com/sell/release/7806129
Listen to the U.F. Ojala song on Youtube:
And watch the Panssarijuna video here: