The Milestones are a band I have literally stumbled across just recently, and it is hard to believe that this band are both, a Scandinavian band from Finland, and did start out 20 years ago.
“Higher Mountain – Closer Sun” is the fourth such album from the band, who first caught the attention of Vocalist and singer/song writer from Havana Black, Hannu Leiden, 20 years ago. He liked them so much he decided to form his own label and released an album by The Milestones. This did not go unnoticed by Sony Music in New York, who offered the chance for the band to record in New York. This resulted in a rather commercially watered down “Souvenirs” in 1999, in which the band never recovered from until 10 years later. Third album “Devil In Me” was well received around the globe and put the band on tour in Scandinavia, Central Europe and even USA supporting the likes of Whitesnake, Deep Purple, Black Stone Cherry, Gary Moore, Raging Slab and D.A.D.
Now onto their fourth album “Higher Mountain – Closer Sun“. All I can say is wow! What a start from The Milestones in opening track “Walking Trouble”. There are many elements and styles that mishmash into one. It is lively with generally a rock and roll groove. Bands like AC/DC mixed with some southern style and classic rock spring to mind. It is full of really tight rhythms and melodies.
The harmonica and southern vibes continue with second song ”Shalalalovers“. The Black Crowes spring to mind pretty early on. This is a fantastic vibrant track. Very much upbeat in the chorus and has you moving and a grooving. It is hard to believe that I’m not listening to something coming out of Atlanta, Georgia right now, and I’m listening to a Finnish band. Super stuff!
Bon Scott style vocals from Olavi Tikka grace the start of third track “Drivin’ Wheel”. This is straight forward Rock and Roll at its best and a highlight for me. The fantastic guitar grooves continue on “Oh My Soul”. The guitar work is fantastic, with a chorus that is deep, rich and simple in a moving soulful way.
First ballad “Grateful“ has a bit of a different feel. It comes across as a tune that’s something between Poison and Tom Petty which actually works pretty well. It’s a theme most should recognise with. Be grateful and make the most of the life you have been given.
More Bon Scott-esque vocals grace the start of one of the highlights from the album, “Sweet Sounds”. The AC/DC like rhythms, groove and chorus is so infectious. It has your foot tapping and ass shaking.
“It’s All Right” has a heavy Black Crowes like Southern infused groove that again has you moving and singing along, and again the Southern Rock and Roll groove continues into the next couple of tracks and with the excellent “Looking Back For Yesterday”. I can’t help but again think of The Black Crowes when listening to this track. In my opinion it is a fantastic sound that just flows and grooves tightly. It becomes apparent that the music The Milestones deliver is a continuum of fantastic soulful, bluesy, hard rock, with that whiskey soaked southern rock vibe. Other bands have impressed me the same way like this over the last couple of years, such as UK band The Temperance Movement and again from Atlanta, Georgia, the band Stonerider. The Milestones are up there amongst the best of them in my opinion.
The album finishes with highly blues influenced “Fool Me”. It is another highlight for me. The guitar riffs from both guitars are so infectious, and this is a mighty fine way to end the album.
In summary, “Higher Mountain – Closer Sun” rocks and grooves with the best of them. The album does sound like classic rock & roll, but with a harder edge at times. The musicianship is very tight and you would be forgiven to think that The Milestones could be an up and coming band, and not middle aged rockers! I have to pinch myself that the band have been going for the past 20 years. The sounds are great. The album is buzzing and lively, and this album to me is one of the top albums I have heard during this year so far. Bands such as The Black Crowes, Lynyrd Skynyrd and AC/DC spring to mind at times when listening, which sounds like heaven to my ears.
1. Walking Trouble
3. Drivin’ Wheel
4. Oh My Soul
6. Sweet Sounds
7. It’s Allright
9. Looking Back For Yesterday
11. Fool Me
“Higher Mountain – Closer Sun” is available now through Listenable Records
The Milestones are:
Olavi Tikka – Vocals, harmonica
Tomi Julkunen – Guitar
Marko Kiviluoma – Guitar
Veli Palevaara – Bass
Tommi Manninen – Drums