In 1973/4, in my late teens, one never-to-be-forgotten episode of the OGWT featured two new bands that totally wowed me to the extent that I rushed out and bought both debut albums the next day. One band was Sassafras, the legendary Welsh rockers, the other was a trio called Blue – the original, excellent proper band by that name, none of the more recent thieving tripe! The original Blue played some beautiful soft rock, ballads with balls, very tuneful, some great guitar, great melodies – why they didn’t become megastars still confounds me! Velvets strongly remind me of Blue in terms of their melodic, poppy, ballads, soft rock, veering towards country at times.
Velvets was born in January 2021, when the Finnish duo Sami and Sakke were desperately in need of creating new music. The pair found that they had too much time on their hands after finishing the second Rokets album (the Finnish band where the two first met each other as members). Rokets had been extensively touring Finland and the Baltic countries since 2017, becoming well known for their sweaty, energetic live shows. The band had opened for Kaleidobolt in Helsinki for the album release party of their last album Bitter and were the closing act of the first day of the Finnish festival Kill Sörnäinen in Helsinki.
Having previously created two EPs (Rokets and Speed & Sound) and the Rokets’ debut album Fast Times, released in 2020, our dynamic duo decided that it was time for a project of their own and Velvets was born. The initial idea was for Velvets to write love songs and stick to them, kicking things off by listening to a lot of Moon Martin. This album reflects that, Velvets play classic timeless pop ballads. As mentioned above they remind me of the original Blue, but also Ace, Smokey and a hundred other ‘poppy’ light rock bands from the 70’s. It has to be said their sound is very much of that era, if you listen to their recently released single Loved By You, you’ll see what I mean, you could imagine watching them on TOTP.
Don’t expect too much in the way of a deep social message, or musical boundaries being pushed, but it’s all pleasant lightweight stuff – which is slightly strange given the duo’s “previous” – besides Velvets and Rokets, Sakke has played in the hardcore band Locked Up and the country band Rusty Triggers. Sami shares the hardcore background, starting his musical career as the singer of heavy metal band United Seafood.
Loved by You is the second single leading up to their debut, self titled album that is set for release in September via The Sign Records. Velvets offers a fresh take on timeless soft rock, trademark smooth guitar licks and sweet vocal melodies combine to build pleasant soundscapes that are as catchy as they are tuneful and dreamlike, performed with heart, soul, and ambience.
Velvets contains 8 tracks ranging from boogie to softer, love themed ballads, all played in a style that as I say strongly smacks of 70’s soft rock or pub-rock. It kicks off with Honey, very much a simple good-time riff, big chorus, big tune, nice licks. Never Let You Go follows the same formula, fairly derivative four-bar chuggin’ bluesy riff but still decent enough and another big chorus.
Loved By You is the current single, more of a ballad as evidenced in the video below, this could be The Byrds, Creedence or countless others in its 60’s format. Decent enough though! Electric Ride is more of the same – yes, you feel like you’ve heard it all before, but the tune and melodies are fine. Hurricane follows, its a pacey, rock’n’roll number that again has a hint of Creedence about it. Light of the Night is another boogie – it starts off almost like the Feelgoods. Classic pub-rock really!
Summer Of Love is a slower ballad, it’s ok….and then the album is rounded off by Delusion, another bluesy pub-rock number. All the songs are quite derivative in that you will have heard the styles a thousand times before, but there’s no denying these are two decent players.
The album was recorded and mixed by Sakke Vänttinen at his cottage in Hamina and at the Velvets rehearsal place in Helsinki. Mastering was done by Matias Ahonen at Audiamond.
Velvets is released on The Sign Records on September the 24th. The album is released on CD, vinyl and all streaming platforms.