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The Helsinki, Finland band Scarlet Youth is barely on the North American indie music radar; in fact, it’s almost like they’re flying stealth. Coupled with their raw talent, and their otherwise insufficient blogger or media coverage, made the Finnish band a good candidate for the Artist of the Week series. It didn’t hurt that their excellent new album, The Everchanging View, was dropped just last week. The full album, and other works by Scarlet Youth, are accessible to listen to near the end of this post. After starting with the two tracks the band sent in for review, we’ve managed to listen to all of their releases, and that is what really raised them to the standard of an Artist of the Week designation, or in this case, Band of the Week – a revived series that you’ll see throughout 2013. Artist of the Week profiles will continue to feature solo artists, ‘one-man (or woman) bands,’ and singers and songwriters – all mostly DIY.
Within a minute of listening to one of the album’s singles, “You and Me,” we were taken in by the band’s well-honed sound and their mix of shoegaze and dream pop that seems almost effortless. Of course, if you’re a fan of European shoegaze or dream pop, you’re most likely to dig Scarlet Youth’s music, but we can also see how they may appeal to people who appreciate of all kinds of music. Having now listened to the band’s full discography, “You and Me” is a good song to start with, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg of what is an extremely talented band that makes enchanting, beautiful music, and at other times, can knock out a great indie rocker.
The second single, “What It’s Worth,” is simply a gorgeous synth pop wonder that sails along on layers of dreamy synthesizers, soothing and gentle vocals, romantic acoustic guitar playing, a heavy bass line and mid-tempo drum beat. Overall, the song conveys a melancholic mood, and adds to the narrative set by the first song of deeply personal music about the trials of love, separation and relationships, a theme that runs throughout The Everchanging View. It’s hazy pop with hushed vocals, lush melodies, impressive song writing and recording, and a sound that is more C-86 than it is indie pop, Scarlet Youth is a band that fits the bill pretty well.
The band started out in 2004 when musicians Markus Baltes and Palle Pyyhtinen got together to experiment. But it wasn’t until 2007 that things took off after the duo decided to recruit three new members to accomplish the bigger, fuller sound they desired. The new additions included Marko Soukka (guitar), Riku H. Mattila (bass) and Jaani Peuhu (drums). Altogether, Scarlet Youth has among its lineup former members of bands like Iconocrash, ShamRain, Kemopetrol and Sidewaytown.
The band’s first release was their 2009 EP, Breaking The Patterns, followed in 2010 by their debut album,Goodbye Doesn’t Mean I’m Gone, released on Homesick Music, a small European indie label, and separately released in Japan. Listen to one of the top songs – “Catch Me When I Fall” – from the 2010 debut album, as well as a great single release that was not available on either LP or the 2009 EP. We can’t say that we listen to a lot of new shoegaze bands as much as the older favorites, but Scarlet Youth are a post shoegaze heyday band that does great justice to the tradition of what we consider one of the most sacred of alternative and indie music.
A terrific single the band recorded in 2010, “Note to a Stranger” is not available on Spotify, so we included it below as an MP3 to stream or download (this track will not be considered for the weekly Top 10 though since it’s a 2010 release).
“Note to a Stranger” – Scarlet Youth from single, non-album release (2010)
Want a change of pace? Fire up any playlist from popular playlist series like Best New Releases, the DIY-oriented In Dee Mail the self-explanatory Recent Releases We Almost Missed and profiles and songs of great, largely unknown and DIY bands via the 7 Bands You’ve Gotta Hear profile playlists.