You may never have heard of Sister Flo. While they sang in English, they never earned a significant following outside the borders of Finland. However, the beauty of their 2004 debut LP, Tragician's Hat, endures. It contains some of the most beautiful songs I've heard -- all dreamy acoustic and electric guitars and synths, horns, gentle vocals with hints of yearning and melancholy, and inventive pop. One listen and you can endorse the comparisons to Belle and Sebastian and Stereolab, although the music is sufficiently unique that one couldn't easily fit Sister Flo into any other group's box. And the reason we are writing about it now is that Helsinki label Soliti has released Tragician's Hat, remastered and with additional outtakes, rare and unreleased tracks, songs from an EP, a radio spot and two live performances. The album is available on vinyl (only 300 copies), double CD (500 copies) and digital download, containing 22 tracks and the original artwork. Note that the bonus tracks are only available on the CD version.
The music varies from the straightforward to the inscrutable, but always pleases. The songs have a sense of strength, not by virtue of volume but rather sincerity and immaculate construction. You can find music everywhere these days, but you can rarely find music like this. Here is your second chance -- don't blow it.
And here is a track that was left off of the compilation in error, so Soliti is offering it as a free download:
Sister Flo was Janne Lastumäki, Antti Kaistinen, Samae Koskinen, Mikko Salonen, and Jarno Alho.