The Latebirds
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The Latebirds

Helsinki, Central Finland, Finland | INDIE

Helsinki, Central Finland, Finland | INDIE
Band Rock Americana

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"...NORDIC POSITIVITY... 8/10" - www.americana-uk.com


"...SNAP THOSE SHIRT DOMES AND BRUSH DOWN THE CORDUROY, IT'S COW PUNCHING TIME... 3/5" - Q-MAGAZINE


"...SUPERIOR ROOTS ROCK WITH STELLAR CAST OF HELPMATES... 7/10" - UNCUT


"The third release by Finnish group, The Latebirds, is an ambitious and emotionally complex work. Produced by Grammy award producer Jim Scott and recorded here in LA, the record seems like a blend of California desert and Finnish lakes and forests. Its valleys of emptiness are filled with lonely piano riffs juxtaposed with the swelling and crashing of guitar riffs. The vibe that comes from other Scott produced albums shows through on this work but there’s a certain mood that the band engenders, upbeat, infectious and cool. With urgent lyrics throughout and solid musicianship this record could easily be played after a harsh break up or on the first road trip with a new lover..." -JAMIE SWEET - THE MUSIC SWAMP


"An inveterate Band whore, I was initially motivated to give Latebirds a spin by Levon Helm's presence (along with Benmont Tench, Nels Cline, Minnie Driver, and Kris Kristofferson) on the bonus disc, Woodstock Sessions. And in ’06, Latebirds was the first (and, maybe, last?) Finnish group to play the Grand Ole Opry. Now shimmering, scorching electric tones blast from my speakers. Yeah, the guitarist is the hotdog, igniting the mid-tempo rhythms and dog-eared structural maps most taken. "No1" and "Underwater" are full of rippling loveliness. Latebirds should be tagged alongside Tom Petty and Dire Straits (with contemporaries Dan Hubbard and Red Wanting Blue) in a densely forested land far from Hipster Nation.

The Woodstock Sessions disc? Generally unsurprising. It's pleasant in that latter-day-Band way, when the Band sounded fairly worn out — unlike "Rocking Chair," wherein worn out was wrought poignantly engaging by creatively ignited, younger men. "At Your Service" is a sweet goblet of unspoiled water. And there's something oddly stirring about Kristofferson's arid vocals on "In the News," especially given the "No more killin'" mantra — it's enough to make me emotional about flannel-shirted protesters, free speech, and so many things I hold dear about America. I don't doubt the patriotism of these Finns." -MARY LEARY - SAN DIEGO READER


"The idea of an alt-Americana band from Helsinki may sound a bit incongruous, but with Finland’s the Latebirds, the results are more convincing than you’d initially expect. Last of the Good Ol’ Days (Second Motion), the band’s U.S. debut, states the ‘birds’ case clearly. An enticing collection of rock and folk sounds smartly delivered, Days mixes melancholy self-help entreaties with more angry socio-cultural plaints to decent effect.
Led by the sweetly weedy vocalist Markus Nordenstreng — and abetted by “honorary Latebirds” like ace keyboardist Benmont Tench, Minnie Driver, Levon Helms and Kris Kristofferson — the new release casts a tunefully critical eye toward our modern “broken world.” In the title track, for example, Nordenstreng reminds us of a truism Hank Williams would recognize, “We’re all born to die eventually.” In the follow-up mid-tempo paean to carrying on, “Among the Survivors,” the singer croons over an ear-tickling fuzzy guitar line to someone “lucky to still be alive.”
Experienced geezer music, in other words, sung from the perspective of someone who’s more than a little surprised to still be around.
If at times the poppy vocals seem to bump against the music’s grizzled sentiments, the instrumental smarts of the band (which even includes a former member of the cultural instrumentalists Laika & the Cosmonauts) keep you coming back. Ain’t a lot of groups that’d think to add musical saw to a gospel-tinged closeout, but these guys do.
Stand-out track to these ears proves one of the album's angriest: “Fearless,” a tribute to murdered Russian journalist Anne Politkovskaja, with a ragingly orchestrated hard-rock backing and lyrics that noodge the dittohead listener to think for themselves. Good ol’ didactic, pissed-off protest rock — we could use a lot more of it these days.
The current release also features an EP of five tracks cut at Levon Helm’s Woodstock studio. Three of these are covers of singer/songwriter mainstays Steve Goodman, Kristofferson and Townes Van Zandt, alongside two new Nordenstreng numbers. Though the band’s slowed-down remake of “City of New Orleans” won’t make you forget either the original or Arlo Guthrie’s cover, their folk-rocky Van Zandt cover is worth a listen, while the sound of a croakin’ Kristofferson taking “In the News” over from the soft-voiced Latebird lead provides a telling contrast. One of the survivors, indeed." -BILL SHERMAN - BLOGCRITICS


"If you just take the band's clearly American-sound for granted, you might not realize that The Latebirds are actually from Finland...." - BROOKLYN VEGAN


"Ex-members of Finland's surf-twang kingpins Laika & the Cosmonauts regroup as the Latebirds and issue Last of the Good Ol' Days. A succulent slice of rootsy rock and folk stuff that derives a gray-skies gloom from songs largely focused on social and political ills, the record is dedicated to Russian human rights activist/journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was murdered in Moscow in late 2006. While the album is a cornucopia of familiar rock, folk, punk, country, gospel and R&B styles, it comes at it from unfamiliar angles. Featuring guest biggies such as keyboardist Benmont Tench, Minnie Driver, The Band's Levon Helms and guitar god Nels Cline, it includes an EP of five tracks cut at Helms' Woodstock studio, gnarly, tough-love takes on tunes by Kristofferson and Townes Van Zandt, as well as two band originals." —John Payne - LA WEEKLY


"The Scandinavian band members create sounds similar to classic American musicians like Tom Petty, Buffalo Springfield and The Band. The album oozes with optimistic messages of living life to the fullest, but a current of nostalgia runs throughout. They recorded the second disc at Levon Helm's home studio in Upstate New York with Helm, Kris Kristofferson and David Rawlings" -GRACE BEEHLER - RELIX


"The songs ring with the authority of Americana anthems. Taken in tandem, it provides the rallying cry of heartland homeboys. Except... they're not. The Latebirds hail from Finland, which, by any measure, seems an unlikely breeding ground for a sound so entrenched in roots rock sensibilities." -LEE ZIMMERMAN - BLURT


”...These five Finns put on a thrilling show at Safari Sam’s last night. The band showcased their capability of jumping from stadium rock to acoustic folk within a single song. The guitarist reminded me of Television’s Richard Lloyd while the drummer sounded like a young Keith Moon. It’s no wonder the Latebirds got to tour with Wilco last year...” - CHRIS MORRIS


”...I suppose The Latebirds could be regarded as an arctic Americana act although fitting them in such a narrow-minded category doesn’t really do the band justice. They’ve already put out many albums in their homeland but The Latebirds have yet to conquer America. I have a strong feeling this band will be playing bigger venues than Johnny D's in the near future...” - SARAH TOMLINSON


”...The opening act turned out to be an interesting one: An alternative country band from Finland (of all places). But The Latebirds proved their point. Great songs, excellent players and a pretty distinctive sound of their own. Something you can’t say about most of their American contemporaries. A stellar performance indeed...” - JIM DEROGATIS


“…The Latebirds put encyclopedic pop smarts to work in assembling a new classic rock playlist of the mind. The quintet's third disc, Radio Insomnia (Grandpop), kicks off with the anthemic "Set Free the Radio," a Costello-style excoriation of commercial radio featuring DJ patter from MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer…” - GREG BEETS


”...You can picture the recording studio, this lonely man in an unfamiliar land, a glass of bourbon balanced precariously on the piano as he pounds out his truths. Amen to that, and amen to the Latebirds…” - PETER BLACKSTOCK


Discography

FORTUNE COOKIES (LP/2003)
RADIO INSOMNIA (LP/2005)
LAST OF THE GOOD OL' DAYS (LP/2011-2012)

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Bio

THE LATEBIRDS was founded in Helsinki, Finland in 2000. The band has released three albums to date and toured around the world with the likes of Wilco, Patti Smith, Mumford & Sons, The Pretenders, The Posies and The Jayhawks.
The Latebirds are known for their dynamic albums and energetic live shows and they happen to be the first Finnish band to perform at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium, a.k.a. the orginal Grand Ol' Opry.
The Latebirds new album "The Last Of The Good Ol' Days" was completed with producer Jim Scott (Wilco, Tom Petty, Dixie Chicks, Chili Peppers) in Los Angeles. Featured guests include Wilco-guitarist Nels Cline, Tom Petty's longtime organ player Benmont Tench and singing actress Minnie Driver.
In addition to the new album, The Latebirds have also recorded a new EP at Levon Helm's studio in Woodstock with an all star guest cast inc. Kris Kristofferson, Levon Helm and Dave Rawlings. (check out featured track In The News with Kris Kristofferson on vocals).
Second Motion/Yep Roc released Last Of The Good Ol' Days in North America in September 2011. UK followed in May 2012.