Monday, March 5th, 2012
Dance To Another Tune
Review of First Aid Kit’s The Lion’s Roar and giveaway
Neil KrugThe Söderberg sisters of First Aid Kit make no attempt to represent themselves as anything other than what they are – two girls barely on either side of 20 harmonizing on heartfelt songs that conjure the spirit of bygone and world-weary Appalachian folk traditions a world and era away from the from the Stockholm suburbs where they grew up. It’s a contrast and harmony that made their first two releases – 2008’s debut EP Drunken Trees and the 2010 full-length The Big Black & The Blue so interesting; feeling simultaneously young and old, wise yet naive, clearly foreign yet still so authentic.
It’s a tension that’s less pronounced on their second album The Lion’s Roar, but that’s because rather than tip things one way or the other, they’ve managed to not just balance their elements but blend them. Credit must go to veteran producer Mike Mogis, an expert at helping bands bloom creatively while keeping their roots firmly intact – sonically, the album stays close to the sparer arrangements of the debut but when it needs to get big, it does – but you cannot discount the experience the duo have gained in the past couple years on the road; they’ve simply gotten much better, and were pretty good to begin with. The weightiness that’s always existed in their songwriting feels more comfortably borne, and yet Roar also contains some of their most buoyant songs to date – “Emmylou”, a gorgeous paean to two of the great partnerships of country music, is an early frontrunner for one of the songs of the year and “I Found A Way” soars close behind.
I don’t think there was ever a time when First Aid Kit were regarded as any sort of novelty – “oh look, young Swedish girls who think they’re country!” – but if anyone ever took them less seriously for any of that, they’ll be hard-pressed to hold onto those prejudices. The Lion’s Roar is a strong statement and demands to be heard.
MTV UK has an interview with First Aid Kit, who kick off a headlining North American tour at the end of this month and will be at the Great Hall in Toronto on April 4. Tickets for the show are $18 in advance but courtesy of Embrace, I’ve got two pairs of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want a First Aid Kit” in the subject line and your full name in the body. Contest closes at Midnight, March 31.
In talking about another young female Swedish artist worth watching – Amanda Mair – I’ve been saying that her self-titled debut was supposed to come on back on February 15; that it did, but only in Sweden, apparently. about.com has a June 5 North American release date written down and DIY reports that it will be out officially in the UK on June 11. To tide us over, another single is now available to download to go with the previously released video. It’s good.
Under The Radar brings word of a collaboration between the wonderful I Break Horses and the I-hadn’t-heard-of-them-before-now Philadelphia-based electronic outfit CSLSX, the first fruits of have both a downloadable and video. I Break Horses are at The Sound Academy on May 5 opening for M83.
DIY chats with Norwegian pop collective Team Me, who are on my to-see list at SXSW next week (NEXT WEEK). If all goes well, you’ll be hearing more about them hereabouts. Their debut To The Treetops is out next week.
Stream: Kiasmos – “Thrown”
DIY and The Sun get to know Dry The River, the next great folk-rock hope out of the UK. Their debut Shallow Bed is out April 17 in North America, and they’re streaming the excerpts of the whole thing with commentary over here. The intrigued can see them March 27 at The Garrison opening for Bowerbirds.
Those scamps in Radiohead have announced another block of North American dates and Toronto is in the mix. They’ll be at Downsview Park on June 16 with Caribou, and I’ll save you from double-checking the calendar – that is indeed the Saturday of NXNE. The festival has managed to hold its own agains interloping major shows in the past, but if it takes a free Iggy & The Stooges show to counter Pavement/Broken Social Scene, they’re gonna need something pretty major to keep the kids in the city this time around. But whatever you end up doing that day, let’s not overlook the fact that this means the Caribou machine is back in action, and that’s good news for everyone. Tickets for Radiohead go on sale at noon on Friday.