Sunday, July 20, 2008

22-Pistepirkko - "Suburban Ladyland" + 2 single (2008)

If you've been following my blog you'll have figured out two of my most important criteria for posts: 1.) The item should be out-of-print and/or hard to find/acquire, and 2.) that I should have some kind of story, a personal relationship to the item that I can relate to you via the blog. The very essence of blogging, in other words.
While this single is not out-of-print and is in fact a recent release, you would most likely have to send-away to Finland for it. And what with the tanking dollar in relation to the Euro, you'd have to pay a hefty price. But I do have a nice tale for you all concerning this and the LP it's from (I am not posting the LP and encourage you to download it from 22PP's website, which I will give you the link to at the bottom. Let this 3-track single [2 non-LP tracks] serve to whet your appetite for the LP!)

So. I first heard 22-Pistepirkko (the name refers to a kind of ladybug in Finland with 22 spots) when I picked up their LP "Big Lupu" on a trip to Finland in 1993. They have been one of my favorites since, despite being very hard to keep up with from the U.S. until recently with the advent of websites, internet ordering and iTunes (where you can get several of their LPs, including Big Lupu but curiously, not the new one. Oh well, fuck iTunes anyway, really. Stupid copy protected stupid AAC files). They have always trafficked in a unique mix of blues, rock and (GASP) electronica. That, coupled with their excellent, often Beatles-eque (I mean that in the best way possible) songwriting and the fact that they sing in English, makes for a very unique Finnish band. They are a trio consisting of the brothers P-K and Asko and their childhood friend Espe, making music together since 1980 and releasing records as 22PP since '83.
About this time last year I saw a call to the fans on their website to submit photos of "22"s for a cover collage for their new LP, to be produced by one Kramer, he of Shimmy Disc Records, producer of Galaxie 500, and one-time bassist for the mighty Ween and the even mightier Butthole Surfers. They wanted pics of "22" wherever we found them: Route 22, Gate 22. 22nd Street, graffiti, whatever. I resolved to have my own photo of something on the cover. What and from where I did not know. Nothing jumped out at me. Sure, I could have gone down the street and snapped a pic of a neighbor's house number. But what's so special about that? I wanted something grand, something that would blow them away. A centerpiece for the album cover!
As it was, the deadline for submissions was fast approaching and I hadn't found anything. On Labor Day weekend last year I took a trip from Tucson to San Diego on my motorcycle, camera at the ready determined to find something/anything along the seven hour ride. My friends and I had rented a beach house for the long weekend. Their band (The Mission Creeps) were playing a one-off show in San Diego; I was their video artiste/projectionist. We were taking advantage of this show to spend some much needed time at the beach; at the water. Being from the desert, this was a rare treat.
As I got into town I was totally bummed that I hadn't found anything "22" the whole way. As I was making the final turns to the beach house, then the very last turn on to the last street that dead-ended at Pacific Beach I saw HUGE straight ahead in front of me:So there it grand 22-Centerpiece!
I commenced to photgraphing this lifeguard station from all angles and lighting conditions, then uploaded them to the website, just in time for the deadline. Several days later, back home in the desert, I got an email from them saying they liked the photos and would be using one, and asking where I photographed this strange contraption festooned with such a large 22. This pleased me greatly-not only would I be a published photographer, but on an album cover of one of my favorite bands! With a credit, Woo-hoo!
So a couple months go by and I get a small package in the mail from Finland. It is of the single I've posted here. I hurriedly tear it open, examine it front and back...none of my photos. Oh well, they did say it would be on the LP, and that wouldn't be out for a few more weeks. In the meantime, I get to enjoy some new 22PP music at least (funny, I had almost forgotten about...the music). I open the plastic wrap and notice it's a gatefold sleeve. And inside:Wow. The photo I took at sunset is used to stunning effect!
Here's the original:
I shelled out for the limited-pressing vinyl edition of the album, a wheelbarrow of worthless dollars to the Euro and the exorbitant postage fees...but I HAD to get the vinyl, no? What point is having a photo on a CeeDee cover fer chrissake?! Album cover means LP and so what if it means I'm eating ramen for a week!
Here's the album cover for 22-Pistepirkko's 2008 LP "(Well You Know) Stuff Is Like We Yeah!" (I think they could have stuck a "Huh?" in there somewhere, haha):After the little pop masterpiece you've downloaded has burrowed under your skin, you'll surely want to go to 22PP's Bone Voyage (their label) Webshop and get the whole album in 320 download, HERE.
Also visit their website, which has LOTS of FREE downloads, including a complete demo version of their excellent LP "Eleven", here: And their Myspace page is HERE. Become a friend!

Almost forgot! Get the single HERE!

As a post-script, 22-Pistepirkko made their first trip to the States last year, as part of the "Finnish Moosic Tour", put together mainly for SXSW in Austin, they also had dates in Minneapolis (lots of Finns there), and the Knitting Factorys in NYC and LA. I, of course, made the trip to LA for it (and got to visit long-neglected friends at the same time), and it was an amazing night. Not just 22PP, who were wonderful, But also KTU, which I had no idea about but totally blew everyone away. Featuring an insane Finnish accordionist, Kimmo Pohjonen, and two guys from King Crimson, they were LOUD, clear and, well, not funky but...something (here's where you see I'm clearly no rock critic!). Yeah, SOMETHING!

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