First Aid Kit: Some strange music draws me in
February 14, 2012 11:01 AM   Subscribe

"Lots of people write storytelling songs about trains and set it to acoustic music and do pretty harmonies, but First Aid Kit transcends that cliché. Their songs sound like they’ve gone away and seen too much and come back tired but still alive. Their music kind of has its own way of breathing: filled with tension for a little while until it goes over the edge and exhales while the instrumental parts just seem to grow. This part of every few songs of theirs is most thrilling in concert, when Klara plays guitar so intensely you’d think it’s her only way of communicating, while Johanna stands perfectly still and lets her voice carry out so that it seems kind of infinite, or like it’s been waiting to come out for forever, and I kind of can’t help imagining that it comes from under the ground up through her mouth, or that a little part of the sky exists in her diaphragm or something. They can sound like freaking angels, or like women demanding life’s answers and who can make Patti Smith cry." Tavi interviews First Aid Kit on Rookie

First Aid Kit is a Swedish folk duo composed of sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg, born in 1990 and 1993, respectively. Their father, Benkt Söderberg (formerly Svensson), was in the 1980s Swedish rock group Lolita Pop (Swedish Wikipedia page through Google translation; fan-made discography in English).

The sisters grew up listening to The Velvet Underground, Patti Smith, Television and David Bowie being played by their parents, and they say their vocals are "inspired by Björk, Billie Holiday and Judy Garland" (print view of an interview with The Sun). Singing together since they were girls, they covered a song by Fleet Foxes in 2008 (compare with the original version), which got them lots of attention on the internet. That same year, they released an EP called Drunken Trees (sample track with a fan-made video). The EP got expanded into a mini-LP and was re-released by UK-based Wichita Recordings, home to Bright Eyes, a favorite of the sisters. The sisters recorded their first album, The Big Black & Blue in 2010 (sample video), and the next year toured with Bright Eyes. First Aid Kit's dream of working with producer Mike Mogis, a Saddle Creek staple. That album is The Lion's Roar (title track video).

But this is skipping over why Patti Smith was crying during First Aid Kit's performance of Patti's own song. First Aid Kit were invited to perform at the 2011 Polar Music Prize ceremony, where Patti Smith was an award recipient for "[demonstrating] how much rock’n'roll there is in poetry and how much poetry there is in rock’n'roll".

Bonus: 51 First Aid Kit videos, including interviews and live performances, uploaded by YouTube account Drunken Trees, a First Aid Kit fan channel.
posted by filthy light thief (14 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Strange coincidence. I just discovered those two about 10 minutes ago, in this pretty cool video.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 11:07 AM on February 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

They were on NPR a couple weeks ago. I bought the album that night and have been listening to it pretty constantly since. "Emmylou" and "This Old Routine" are particularly amazing.
posted by gauche at 11:12 AM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

The album was recommended for me by Rhapsody a couple of weeks ago; it made an awesome soundtrack to a roadtrip up to Flagstaff soon thereafter. Good to know it has the Filthy Light Thief Mondo Linkfest Seal Of Approval.
posted by MrVisible at 11:38 AM on February 14, 2012

Great find. It's just where my heart is today.
posted by mochapickle at 11:48 AM on February 14, 2012

Is it creepy to the a 61 yo American male and to have fallen totally in love with these people?

Because I have.
posted by Danf at 11:51 AM on February 14, 2012

It's Valentines day and all that jazz, so I think it's suitable to point out the four Greek words for love. I like agape, because it can "denote feelings for a good meal, one's children, and the feelings for a spouse." But if you don't love this like you love really tasty or satisfying food, perhaps you're feeling philia? That can be used for love between family, between friends, a desire or enjoyment of an activity, as well as between lovers. Focus on the enjoyment of the activity of listening to good music, and I think you're in the clear.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:08 PM on February 14, 2012

I had never heard of them until recently due to them playing an unannounced acoustic gig at my bar in Tokyo. Video is only available in Japan, but here's a cute picture.
posted by billyfleetwood at 12:22 PM on February 14, 2012

Wow. I love them! Thanks!
posted by rtha at 12:24 PM on February 14, 2012

In their set at The Green Man Festival in 2010 (I think) they did Tiger Mountain Peasant Song (linked above) and it fucking floored me. I was left standing alone in a crowd of people fighting back tears. There's a video of it on YouTube that - you'll not be surprised to learn - doesn't do it justice.

As with so many thing in life, I blame the cider.

Great band. Lovely, lovely women.
posted by Jofus at 12:26 PM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh wow, I loved their cover of Tiger Mountain Peasant Song, and I didn't realize they had all this released music. Looks like their local-to-me April show is sold out, rats.
posted by rivenwanderer at 1:23 PM on February 14, 2012

Wichita Recordings has a six-track live EP available online here, which is a link that points to a dropbox link. It's 6 tracks of the 9 tracks played on Morning Becomes Eclectic.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:49 PM on February 14, 2012

What wonderful singing!
posted by bardophile at 3:27 PM on February 14, 2012

Great post! I found them through their fantastic Fever Ray cover.
posted by a halcyon day at 6:38 PM on February 14, 2012

Man, I am now absolutely obsessed with this band. Thanks. The Lion's Roar...holy hell, let it flood.
posted by iamkimiam at 6:06 AM on February 16, 2012

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