Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unrealeased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJ’s think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “Over The Rooftops” by Finnish duo Tuomo & Markus from their 2016 album, Dead Circles, on Grandpop Records.
Tucson, Arizona – it’s about as far as you might imagine going to record if you’re a musician in Finland, but that’s where Helsinki-based duo Tuomo Prättälä and Markus Nordenstreng, or just Tuomo & Markus, set down the debut of their new project. The geography isn’t so strange, actually, considering Nordenstreng’s history. His band The Latebirds formed in Helsinki in 2000 and adopted a very alt-country sound, gaining international popularity and even recording with Levon Helm in his studio, guesting with the likes of Gillian Welch, David Rawlings and Kris Kristofferson, and touring with legends like Wilco, Patti Smith, The Pretenders, The Posies and The Jayhawks. In fact, it seems Nojdenstreng knows the heart of Americana better than many American artists, and in teaming up with Finnish soul artist Tuomo Prättälä, he has added another dusty classic to its annals.
Recorded at Wavelab with studio-regulars Calexico (all of their albums were recorded there) and joined by other friends including John Stirratt (Wilco, Autumn Defense), Pat Sansone (Wilco, Autumn Defense), and Gary Louris (The Jayhawks), who also contributed one song, Tuomo & Markus’ debut LP, Dead Circles, is a rich tapestry of acoustic orchestration, often subdued but never enervating or insignificant. Over the delightful melodies, the duo’s harmonies drift airily, easily recalling CSNY and Simon & Garfunkel with reverence. And truly, Prättälä and Nordenstreng seek to pay tribute to their predecessors, even including twangy covers of Bob Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay” and John Lennon’s “Beautiful Boy” among their own originals. Among the latter, today’s featured song, “Over The Rooftops”, is the album’s opening track and your gateway to this western paradise.
Dead Circles is out now in Finland and the rest of Scandinavia, but hopefully will see a North American and European release soon. The duo has one U.S. date forthcoming – in NYC at Rockwood Music Hall on March 17 – but none others listed yet. Hopefully, they’ll tour the rest of the country they already know so well in the near future. Until they do, look for more music and information about Tuomo & Markus on their website and Facebook page. For now, watch the official video for “Over The Rooftops” below.