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Video of the Moment #982: First Aid Kit

 
By on Monday, 24th September 2012 at 6:00 pm
 

‘Wolf’ was a bonus track off First Aid Kit‘s second album ‘The Lion’s Roar’ released back in January, and now it’s getting its own proper single release. The sister describe the song like this:

‘Wolf’ is about our destruction of the plant. But it is also about finding the animal within you. Because we know that underneath that polished, civilized exterior there is definitely a wild creature longing to howl or roar.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Czj7SyPNRto[/youtube]

 

Live Gig Video: First Aid Kit perform ‘The Lion’s Roar’ while walking through Paris street for HibOO d’Live

 
By on Thursday, 5th July 2012 at 4:00 pm
 

The sisters Soderberg, aka First Aid Kit, recorded this stripped back version of ‘The Lion’s Roar’ just this past Tuesday in Paris for HiBOO d’Live. Here it is, in all its beauty below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpTprH6jPXE[/youtube]

 

Video of the Moment #858: First Aid Kit

 
By on Tuesday, 26th June 2012 at 6:00 pm
 

First Aid Kit has released the video for their song ‘Blue’, off ‘The Lion’s Roar’, their new album on Wichita released in January. The storyline of the video follows the song lyrics – what a concept! Watch it below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IL-sm1rEtiU[/youtube]

 

Live Review: First Aid Kit with Peggy Sue at Black Cat, Washington DC – 30th March 2012

 
By on Tuesday, 10th April 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

Swedish sisters Klara and Johanna Soderberg – better known by their stage name First Aid Kit – have never played Washington DC before, until late last month. Their first visit was thwarted by a freak accident: in October 2010 I saw Casiokids and Delphic play fun dance parties at DC9 and expected to see First Aid Kit the week after, but after a still unexplained death outside the club, the venue was shuttered for weeks and the girls were forced to cancel. Nearly a year and a half later, on the strength and hard NPR promotion of their latest album, ‘The Lion’s Roar’, released in January (read my album review here). Washington spoke of their approval of the band and the new release with their wallets: before I knew it (and much to the disappointment of several of our local friends), the gig quickly sold out.

The opener for the evening was Peggy Sue. At first, I thought this was a bad fit with First Aid Kit, as when I think of Peggy Sue, I think of pop song with heavier drum beats. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The strong harmonies of Rosa Rex (the ginger) and Katy Klaw (the brunette), paired either with gently played guitar or those that were attacked for faster songs, were just the perfect set-up to First Aid Kit. I found it adorable when the two girls were up on the tippy toes of their shoes, singing their hearts into the mikes.

Self described breakup ballad ‘You and I’ dazzled, but it was two more unique songs that stole the show: an unusual and inspired cover of Martha and the Vandellas’ ‘Heat Wave’ (featured on a CD collection of ‘50s/’60s covers being sold only on this tour), and a new song called ‘Idle’ referencing the Devil and Robert Johnson. (I wonder if they’re Led Zeppelin fans.) But the song that best bridged their performance to the Swedes set later was ‘How Heavy the Quiet That Grew Between Your Mouth and Mine’, which Klaw explained as their only country number. The audience lapped up their performance.

To say that the Soderberg sisters arrived onstage looking flamboyant is a bit of an understatement. While the younger, brunette Klara wore admirable knee length cowboy boots, both sisters wore what I’d best describe as black and gold sequined ponchos. Sorry for the stereotype, but I was expecting plaid shirts and denim. But it really didn’t matter to the crowd assembled what they wore. A series of beautifully spun songs followed, filled to the brim with gorgeous harmonies, followed in quick succession. In between the songs, the sisters spoke to us like we were old friends.

Klara admitted she’d scared Johanna who, in the shower, was too easy of a target with a Psycho-themed prank. They insisted the club had to be completely quiet for the two of them to sing a particular song; shockingly to Cheryl and I, the room became so quiet you could have heard a pin drop (never happens at the Black Cat, ever) and they sang ‘Ghost Town’, the mournful chorus of “if you’ve got visions of the past / let them follow you down / and they’ll come back to you someday / and I found myself attached / to this railroad track / but I’ll come back to you someday”. What a sad song, yet so beauteous. Considering their ages (Johanna is just past 21 and Klara is still not legal), you have to wonder how girls so young can write so well about such real, complicated experiences and relationships.

With a new album out, the set was heavy with new songs (‘New Year’s Eve’, ‘To a Poet’, ‘In the Hearts of Men’) and to my relief, I liked these better live than on recording. Singles ‘Emmylou’ (video below) and ‘The Lion’s Roar’ didn’t disappoint either. What struck us completely out of character was the sisters’ inelegant headbanging. So that’s when their flowing long locks of Scandinavia hair comes into play! The funniest moment was during ‘The Lion’s Roar’, the last song before the encore; in a fit of overzealous headbanging, Johanna lost her poncho and the poor girl, she wasn’t wearing a bra, just a little tank top, so it was a bit of an embarrassing moment for her. But I give her props for totally taking it in stride, for when they returned for a rousing encore of a cover of Patti Smith’s ‘Dancing Barefoot’ followed by ‘King of the World’, she came back without the poncho and embraced womanhood. “I’m nobody’s baby / I’m everybody’s girl / I’m the queen of nothing / I’m in the king…of the world!” announced the younger Klara, and for that evening, they were kings, queens or at least certainly joined the kind of folk rock royalty that they have revered for years. While there was a part of me that was sad that I never got to see them at much tinier DC9 2 years ago pre-‘The Lion’s Roar’, I am very grateful I got to see them perform in front of an adoring all-ages crowd, circumstances they so deserved.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8bhaXDf79k[/youtube]

After the cut: both bands’ set lists.
Continue reading Live Review: First Aid Kit with Peggy Sue at Black Cat, Washington DC – 30th March 2012

 

Album Review: First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar

 
By on Monday, 23rd January 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

The press release for ‘The Lion’s Roar’, the sophomore album by First Aid Kit, makes much of the fact that this album was recorded in America and allowed the Soderberg sisters to channel their favourite folk and country music made in the good ol’ USA. Maybe therein lies the problem: ‘The Big Black and the Blue’ released in 2010 was far more intimate, as if they’d lit a fire inside their hearts and welcomed you inside.

For some reason I just don’t get that feeling with ‘The Lion’s Roar’, so maybe the comparatively wide open spaces of America encouraged the sisters to spread their wings a bit more than if they had stayed in Stockholm to record? Or maybe not. The beauty of the vocals isn’t open to debate; you can easily say, “yes, that’s First Aid Kit!” as you hear the voices begin on each track, but some of the songs sound a bit too familiar.

Let’s focus on the strengths. Title track and the first single released in December, ‘The Lion’s Roar’ (Ellie’s single review here, previous Video of the Moment here) is hauntingly beautiful in its sad yearning. “Every once in a while I’d sing a song / that would rise above the mountains and the stars and the sea / and if I wanted it to, it would lead you back to me”: I mean, seriously. Have you heard anything as beautiful as this? It’s a nice sign of maturity, going from ‘Waltz for Richard’ (acoustic version video shot in Melbourne, Australia here), the standout track from ‘The Big Black and the Blue’. Then the first week of January, the girls released the video for ‘Emmylou’ (previous Video of the Moment here), their next single to be released in mid-February. Another gorgeous harmony-laden track, it gave the sisters a chance to name-check some of their favourite American country / folk legends (Emmylou Harris, Gram Parsons and country royalty couple Johnny and June Carter Cash).

Based on these two songs alone, I had really high hopes for this album. (Admittedly, I probably set the imaginary bar far too high.) So when I finally got the album and had a listen to ‘I Found a Way’, I was unnerved and disappointed how similar it sounded to these: it’s like they reworked the verses from the title track and then reworked the chorus of ‘Emmylou’ and fitted it in. I’ve been told by guitarists that there are only so many chord progressions in rock and when you write a song, you just rearrange or repeat them, but still…

And then we get to the weaknesses. The American (Native American) influence resonates in ‘Wolf’, with tribal drumming and the “hye-ey-ahhs”. A little odd, to say the least. ‘In the Hearts of Men’ is pretty but it’s a little pedestrian, a little too much like a lullaby. You know they can write a song like this, and it’s not exciting. Same goes for ‘To a Poet’, though it’s nice to hear a string section behind them. If anything, this is the track that shows what American studio muscle can produce.

Finally, I’d like to bring your attention to the last two tracks show the two differing faces of First Aid Kit. ‘New Year’s Eve’ is sparse, slow and pensive and despite my initial impressions, the sisters insist this is a hopeful song. ‘King of the World’ on the other hand is hand clappy, ukulele driven, and features the Felice Brothers in their quest for what is described as “mariachi hoedown”. I’ve either just thoroughly amused or terrified you with that last comment. While I do think everyone should have a listen to ‘The Lion’s Roar’, I can see how you might not pick it up again. For myself, I really wanted to love this album after falling in love with the first two singles, but ultimately I was disappointed.

6.5/10

‘The Lion’s Roar’, the second album from First Aid Kit, is out today on Wichita Recordings. The duo are heading out on a UK/Irish tour in the second half of February; we’ve got all the details here.

 

Video of the Moment #677: First Aid Kit

 
By on Wednesday, 11th January 2012 at 6:00 pm
 

First Aid Kit‘s new video for track ‘Emmylou’ is more gorgeous evidence of the sisters’ beautiful voices and spot-on songwriting. The song name-checks American country greats “Emmylou” Harris, “June” Carter Cash, “Gram” Parsons and “Johnny” Cash. They should all be very proud.

Their new album ‘The Lion’s Roar’ will be out on the 23rd of January. Ellie reviewed the title single here (already out now on Wichita Recordings), and we featured the promo video for the single as a previous Video of the Moment, watch it here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PC57z-oDPLs[/youtube]

 
 
 

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