Tag Archive | "First Aid Kit"

Small Feet – From Far Enough Away Everything Sounds Like The Ocean

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Small Feet – From Far Enough Away Everything Sounds Like The Ocean

Posted on 14 August 2015 by Joe

The pool of talent in the Swedish folk scene just got deeper. Hoping to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Tallest Man on Earth and First Aid Kit is Stockholm based trio Small Feet.

SmallFeet_FromFarEnoughAway

With the epic folk of the Fleet Foxes, a band who inspired First Aid Kit, coupled with the intimacy of Ireland’s Villagers, Small Feet certainly have the sound to match their countrymen and women.

Another strength is singer Simon Stalhamre’s emotional tenor, that warbles in just the right places and is more than a little reminiscent of Neil Young. Fans of Young’s  earlier solo work will find a lot to like here in particular.

Listening to this album it’s quite a surprise to discover it’s a debut. They seem like the finished article already, with their own distinct sound, albeit drawing on influences across folk both old and new.

There’s a lovely chorus on opener Gold, such passion on Rivers and then on All And Everyone there’s a great single albeit odd at times.  I think I caught Stalhamre mention unicorns at one point.

That’s just three tracks in and it continues, The Backwards Falconer bringing more pastoral feel and is amongst the best of the rest. In fact, I haven’t found a duff track yet.

Looking through the press release I can see why this album has such a feel of completeness, of a band fully formed and ready to take to festival stages and large venues. It details how Stalhamre inherited the lease to a 18th century cabin on Sodermalm, an island in central Stokholm that is popular with artists. Here he converted the cabin into a studio and a perfect isolated, creative setting  was created to produce this remarkable debut album.

9/10

by Joe Lepper

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Glastonbury Festival 2013 Preview – The Best Acts To Watch Out For

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Glastonbury Festival 2013 Preview – The Best Acts To Watch Out For

Posted on 04 June 2013 by Joe

The choice of music at the Glastonbury Festival can be bewildering: from the well known Pyramid Stage, which forms the bulk of the BBC TV coverage, to the smaller stages and bar venues.  To help out we’ve compiled our list of the key bands to watch out for, many of which have already impressed us live. It’s worth noting that the BBC Introducing tent line up had not yet been announced at the time of publishing and we urge you to check out that stage as well to find your new favourite band. It was one of our favourite locations when the festival was last held in 2011.

Dinosaur Jr

The Park Stage is shaping up to be one of our favourite line ups this year especially with indie rock veterans Dinosaur Jr making the Friday line up. Don’t expect witty stage banter from the maudlin J Mascis and the band but do expect some of the best guitar soloing and all round fret noodling you will ever hear.

Django Django

Django Django will have fond memories of Glastonbury having played the BBC Introducing Stage long before the release of their critically acclaimed, self-titled debut album in 2012. Back with a Friday evening Park Stage slot they are now highly experienced at delivering a stunning festival set with their idiosyncratic take on the notion of indie pop.

Tame Impala

They played twice at Glastonbury 2011 but mud and life conspired to ensure we missed them both times. Not this time as we will ensure we see this Australian act’s very modern take on psychedelic rock. Their Friday, Other Stage slot shows the wide appeal for their two stunning albums Innerspeaker and Lonerism.

Portishead

We champion local acts in our key areas of Brighton and the south west of England and they don’t come bigger for us than Bristol’s Portishead. Back from a hiatus in 2008 with the stunning album Third they are one of the most innovative acts in the UK and not to be missed live when they grace The Other Stage on Friday night.

Billy Bragg

Billy Bragg at Glastonbury Festival 2011

Billy Bragg at Glastonbury Festival 2011

At the last Glastonbury festival in 2011 Bragg was headlining and organising the Leftfield stage. He proved once again what a consummate festival act he is. Armed with just his guitar, voice and wise words he provided this reviewer with shelter from the rain and one of the highlights from the festival. He’s back again at the same venue on the Friday night, this time with a full band. As an indication of how high his star is once again rising he has also bagged a Saturday afternoon Pyramid Stage slot, where he will bring his songs about love and a politics  to a wider TV audience.

Bridie Jackson and The Arbour

Bridie Jackson and The Arbour at the Glastonbury ETC finals

Bridie Jackson and The Arbour at the Glastonbury ETC finals

This year we were among the judges of the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition (ETC) which was won by this north east of England  folk act. They quite simply stole the show at the finals of the competition with their haunting, stunning interpretation of English folk. Their prize is to open proceedings on Saturday at the Acoustic Stage, one of the most warm spirited venues at the festival.

Calexico


Another of our favourite acts is Arizona band Calexico, who put in a superb festival set at Pavement’s All Tomorrow’s Parties in 2010. Expect to be dazzled by their excellent blending of indie rock and mariachi music as they play tracks from the past and last year’s excellent album Algiers  at the Park Stage on the Saturday night.

First Aid Kit

First Aid Kit at Bristol O2 Academy, 2012.

First Aid Kit at Bristol O2 Academy, 2012.

If you want stunning vocals from tiny Swedish women then look no further than sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg, aka First Aid Kit. We caught their set at Bristol’s 02  Academy last year and were struck with the power of their vocal talents. Their cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s America is not to be missed should it make their set. It is an indication of how far they’ve come since we first saw them in a pub in Brighton many years ago that they now have a Sunday afternoon Pyramid Stage slot.

Stealing Sheep

Stealing Sheep at The Fleece, Bristol, 2012

Stealing Sheep at The Fleece, Bristol, 2012

The best support band we have ever seen. A packed Fleece in Bristol was left in awe last year when they supported Field Music. Now they headline in their own right and are firm favourites on the UK festival scene with their wholly original merging of indie folk bizarrely reimagined as a Quentin Tarantino soundtrack. Their Sunday afternoon slot at the Park Stage is well deserved after a busy year for this Liverpool band.

Matthew E White

Matthew E White at Thekla, Bristol, 2013

Matthew E White at Thekla, Bristol, 2013

Matthew E White skips across genres effortlessly, from gospel to funk to soul to country to rock. The eclectic West Holts is therefore the perfect venue for him to showcase tracks from his debut album Big Inner. We caught his set at Bristol’s Thekla this year and were left impressed not only with the quality of the music but his witty and engaging stage banter. Not to be missed when he takes to the stage on Sunday afternoon.

Phoenix

One of the best pop acts around. Following the success of 2009’s superb album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix they are back in 2013 with the release of Bankrupt! With a Sunday headline slot on the John Peel stage this French band will be primed to show Glastonbury how guitar pop should be played.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

The Pyramid Stage line up is arguably the most impressive it has been in years, offering a great mix of old and new artists. Last time we attended in 2011 we managed to avoid the stage entirely. This time we’ll be regulars at the venue with Sunday’s set by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds among those not to be missed. They and Cave in particular have still got it as a recording and live act all these years on. A true legend. Just watch the clip above and brace yourselves for amazement.

Words and pictures by Joe Lepper

 

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First Aid Kit – O2 Academy, Bristol (27 Nov, 2012)

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First Aid Kit – O2 Academy, Bristol (27 Nov, 2012)

Posted on 28 November 2012 by Joe

Back in 2009 we met up with First Aid Kit when they supported Fanfarlo at the small Hanbury Arms venue in Brighton. At the time the Sweden sisters, Johanna and Klara Söderberg, had only released one mini album and had become an unlikely Youtube hit with their outstanding cover of Fleet Foxes’ Tiger Mountain Peasant Song. Aged just 18 and 16 at the time, playing just acoustic guitar and keyboards they provided one of the best support slots we will ever see; confident and perfectly showcasing their sumptuous, country tinged harmonies.

First Aid Kit: Johanna (l), Klara (r)

Clearly we were not the only ones to be impressed. Since then they have become one of the most respected and popular bands treading the world’s stages and have produced two more albums, including this year’s excellent Lion’s Roar. Now the venues they play are far larger and it was with no surprise to see the 1,600 capacity Bristol O2 Academy packed out to see them.

Despite their increasing popularity and an expanded, more dramatic catalogue of songs, as well as being accompanied by drums, they proved at heart the same two young sisters we saw in front of 100 or so people three years ago.

It takes some skill to make a venue this size feel intimate but it was a trick they pulled off well, filling the gaps between songs with engaging banter, including an endearingly tongue in cheek plug for the crowd to fill their Christmas stockings with the deluxe version of Lion’s Roar.

They also daringly declared they would “abandon technology” including microphones to provide one of the high points of their set, a totally acoustic version version of Ghost Town, from their debut full length album Big Black and Blue. It was an electrifying performance with the crowd obediently joining in with the chorus and staying quiet in the verse, where only the sisters’ voices, soft guitar and the hum of the lights could be heard.

Understandably, it was Lion’s Roar that dominated the set, with tracks such as Blue, Emmy Lou and To A Poet particularly standing out as Johanna and Klara, dressed in long flowing vintage dresses, floated around the stage.

Among the surprises were the night’s two cover versions. Not Tiger Mountain Peasant Song, but instead a breathtaking version of Simon and Garfunkel’s America, which they performed in front of Paul Simon at the Polar Music Prize Ceremony in Stockholm earlier this year. Their other cover was a tender version of Fever Ray’s When I Grow Up, a great choice for Klara to take lead vocals on as she is still only 19.

It’s hard to fault the performance, but if there was one caveat to add it’s that there is now scope with their music to add more instruments to their live set. While Johanna’s keyboards fill out the sound well enough, on final track in the encore King of  the World (from Lion’s Roar), the performance would have been even better with the recorded version’s trumpets and violins. Given their engaging stage presence and extraordinary vocal skills there’s no danger that such a move would destroy the sense of intimacy they created here  and the far larger venues that will surely be filled on future tours.

 By Joe Lepper

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November Preview

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November Preview

Posted on 01 November 2012 by Joe

Here is our November preview of the best music releases and events in the coming month. Items marked with an * are currently scheduled for review on the site.

Album of the Month

Darren Hayman and the Long Parliament – The Violence

In the final instalment of the former Hefner man’s trilogy about his native Essex he turns his attention to the county’s 17th century witch trials in which more than 300 vulnerable, often destitute women, were slaughtered. It marks a poignant and sad end to the trilogy in which Hayman finally realises his potential as one of the best English folk artists around. See our review here.

Album/EP Releases

Nov 5 Friendly Fires – Late Night Tales•
Nov 5 Revival Hour – Clusterchord•
Nov 12 Crystal Castles – III

Live

Rotifer

Nov 3, London, Half Moon in Herne Hill, with Willard Grant Conspiracy
Nov 17, London, Rambling Rose/Haringay Arms, as part of The End festival

Rotifer

Tigercats

Nov 17, Paris, L’international
Nov 27, London, The Lexington with Let’s Wrestle
Dec 8, Nottingham, Chameleon Arts Café, with Fever Dream and Young Romance

First Aid Kit

Nov 20 and 21, Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London
Nov 22 HMV Ritz, Manchester
Nov 24, Queen Margaret Union, Glasgow
Nov 27, O2 Academy, Bristol


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First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar

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First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar

Posted on 27 January 2012 by Joe

The road to Nebraska is littered with the ghosts of Americana and getting there demands a humble homage to the stoic wraiths of bearded plaid shirts to navigate its precise route.

It’s rare for outsiders to succeed and unknown for the path to start from suburban Sweden, yet First Aid Kit have majestically transposed their whimsical folk deep into the mid-west, repairing the genres often passive conservatism, to redefine the contours of alt-country.

The Lion’s Roar sees sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg honouring the emotive song writing traditions of Americana while brandishing a distinctly European edge, their subtle harmonies, which a childhood swinging on a southern porch would harden, sweeping away the genres dusty rut.

Whereas their 2010 debut, The Big Black and The Blue, was a pleasure, it still felt like yet another acoustic duet album to add to the pile. Since then, buoyed no doubt by their deserved acclaim, the sisters have grown in to genuine songwriters.

First Aid Kit’s second album represents a shift not only in themselves buts also Americana, it introduces beautiful sense of serene openness which the heavy weight Fleet Foxes’ and Wilco’s shun for a classical conformity. Their intent is laid bare as an English prog’ flute weaves through the records opening title track painting The Lion’s Roar’s synesthetically green hue over the mustard of most Americana.

Although the driving Emmylou leans most heavily towards truck stops with its pedal steel and Emmylou Harris connotations, the sisters haunting voices have a gentle sadness which country singers often relay as bitterness. It’s this emotional maturity which makes The Lion’s Roar such a game changer.

Their talent is in an ability to nose dive into the depths yet emerge with a soft smile. Dance To Another Tune is suffocating in a bleak gloom, condensing “A child will die who nobody embraces” into a death march even the Bad Seeds would avoid, yet manages to blossom into strings with psychedelic “Ba Ba Bas”, exuding First Aid Kit’s engrained hopefulness.

Blue is an altogether different affair. Although it’s filled similarly with despair (“You just decided love wasn’t for you, every year since then has proved it to be true”) it’s perfectly juxtaposed with tinkling xylophones and plucked strings from the start which makes a hazy summer antidote to anything. It’s a theme tune to a sit-com you would actually want to watch,

It’s not all down to the Söderbergs, Mike Mogis’ superb production has taken the root of Americana to give it a stylistic depth their debut lacked, yet has used his Bright Eyes experience to give it alt-indie edge, widening the girls’ appeal.

This comes to the fore on The Lion’s Roar’s rousing closer King Of The World which features Conor Oberst and The Felice Brothers, perfect for appealing to the upstate hipsters,  with Calexico-esque horns  slamming down the shots.

The Lion’s Roar feels at home in the mid-west but it still wants its own Gravlax and Fläskkorv and has managed to meld it’s influences the create one of 2012’s truly great albums.

9/10

by David Newbury

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Album Releases To Watch Out For In 2012

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Album Releases To Watch Out For In 2012

Posted on 14 December 2011 by Joe

Here’s Neon Filler’s five key album releases to look out for during those first few cold months of 2012. Looks like it’s going to be a good year for independent and alternative music releases with some contenders for our end of year best of 2012 list already beginning to emerge.

Guided by Voices –  Let’s Go Eat the Factory

Release date: January 1, 2012 (global outside US). Label: Fire Records

In 2010 the classic Guided By Voices line up of Robert Pollard, Tobin Sprout, Mitch Mitchell, Greg Demos and Kevin Fennell reunited for a series of shows in the US. But this was no mere trip down memory lane. The band has also been working on new material and plan to release two albums in early 2012. The first of these is Let’s Go Eat the Factory, which includes the single The Unsinkable Fats Domino. We’ve been given an exclusive  listen and according to our reviewer it’s a “21 song set of vintage Guided By Voices lo-fi pop brilliance.” Read our full review here.

First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar

Release date: January 24, 2012. Label:  Wichita Recordings

This Swedish duo, who are still only young and were made moderately famous on YouTube a couple of years ago for their cover of Fleet Foxes’ Tiger Mountain Peasant Song,  have already released two impressive albums. This, their third album, which has been produced by Mike Mogis from Bright Eyes, is set to  take them to the big time. The title track video has already been released and shows a new depth to their music. What’s more their vocals sound better than ever.

The Twilight Sad – No One Can Ever Know

Release date: February 6, 2012. Label: Fat Cat Records

Forget the Night Ahead, the last album by this powerful, moody Scottish band made our Top Ten Albums of 2009 list. It quite simply blew us away.

We’ve had a listen to their next album. They’ve upped the production quality and clearly listened to a few later Depeche Mode albums but  have lost none of their power. The full track list is: ‘Alphabet’/ ‘Dead City’/ ‘Sick’/ ‘Don’t Move’/ ‘Nil’/ ‘Don’t Look At Me’/ ‘Not Sleeping’/ ‘Another Bed’/ ‘Kill It In The Morning’.

Shearwater – Animal Joy

Release date: February 13, 2012. Label: Sub Pop

Shearwater, the band formed by members of Okkervil River and now a full time project for its singer and chief songwriter Jonathan Meiburg, have moved label to the mighty Sub Pop but look set to lose none of their trademark beauty. It’s all about nature with Shearwater, with their last three albums focusing on environmental splendour and tragedy. Animal Joy was recorded in their native Texas, includes the track Breaking the Yearlings and was produced by Danny Reisch. Their previous two albums have both been listed in our 2008 and 2010 end of year lists. We are already predicting a placing in our 2012 list for Animal Joy from what we’ve heard.

The Magnetic Fields – Love at the Bottom of the Sea

Release Date: March 5 (UK) March 6 (US). Label: Domino (UK), Merge Records (US)

The Magnetic Fields 1999 classic album 69 Love Songs reached the top 10 in our Top 100 Indie and Alternative Music Albums list. Love at the Bottom of the Sea marks a return to Merge, the US label that released 69 Love Songs.

This move bodes well for another stellar release from Stephin Merritt and his band. Contributors include Claudia Gonson, Sam Davol, John Woo, Shirley Simms, Johny Blood, and Daniel Handler. Merritt has promised a mixture of synth and acoustic instruments this time round.

Compiled by Joe Lepper

See Also: Top 10 bands to watch out for in 2012.

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First Aid Kit – The Big Black and the Blue

Posted on 21 September 2010 by Joe

Whilst First Aid Kit’s debut album title may reference Steve Abini’s Chicago noiseniks, the sound couldn’t be more different. The Söderberg sister’s focussing in the main on soft instrumentation and soaring vocal harmony, with no distortion, drum machines or buzz-saw guitars in evidence. The DIY ethic of the band does have something in common with Albini and co. The album was written, sung and played almost entirely, save for a few drums, by the sisters and produced by them and their father.

The sisters are perhaps best known for their YouTube promoted cover of the Fleet Foxes ‘Tiger Mountain Peasant Song’. So, on their first full album the sisters begin the battle of proving that they are more than just a pair of interesting vocals and that they have the song writing skills to carry a full long playing set.

On first listen the album is a slight disappointment, especially after last years Drunken trees EP. There is a sense that the new songs and sounds are too similar to what has come before, but don’t push things forward enough. Subsequent listens dispel this as the depth and subtlety of the music become apparent. The first four songs on the album showcase the band’s strengths perfectly, the sparse instrumentation and soaring vocals of ‘In The Morning’, the single ‘Hard Believer’ the bouncy country of ‘Sailor Song’ and the purer folk sound of ‘Waltz For Richard’.

The album, taken on pure merit, is a strong one but in the context of the sisters age (both in their teens) it is an amazingly mature and accomplished work. The vocals will be the thing that most people will take away from the album, the girl’s vocals having a unique sound and being just the wrong side of on-key to make them interesting and memorable. It would be a mistake, however, to ignore the strength of playing, command of melody and quality of lyric that are on show on the album.

The production is one area that can let the album down, not in terms of sound, but in terms of consistency. ‘Hard Believer’, one of the strongest songs on the album, sounds flat and a little muffled after the crystal clarity of ‘In the Morning’. This is a small criticism, however, as the simple production sounds close to perfect on most tracks, retaining the beauty and simplicity of the songs.

‘Ghost Town’ could be the album’s highlight and in the hands of a better known, less interesting, female artist, Norah Jones perhaps, would surely be a hit. Again, it is a remarkably mature offering from such a young and relatively inexperienced act.

The final third of the album does tail off a little, the quality of the songs remains good but there are some similarities to songs that have come before that mean that these tracks don’t stand out as strongly. The quality of singing and playing never falter though and a little revising of the album sequence could have solved this problem.

The album has much to admire and is one of the most promising debuts that I have heard in quite some time.

8/10

By Dorian Rogers, Mar 2010

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First Aid Kit and Fanfarlo – Live at The Hanbury, Brighton, UK, Oct 2009

Posted on 20 September 2010 by Joe

In a good night for gigs (The Fiery Furnaces were playing just across town) it was irresistible to see two of the best rated new acts play together, in one of my favourite venues, for a paltry £7.50.

Fanfarlo were the headliners, but I’ll talk about them first. They played a strong and confident set, but were disappointing in many areas. Their songs sounded so often just like another act that they came across as an acoustic indie rock Stars In Their Eyes (“Tonight Matthew we are The Arcade Fire!”). Latest single ‘The Walls Are Coming Down’ is a great tune, but only Beirut themselves could tell it isn’t one of their songs. Elsewhere we are treated to The Arcade Fire, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and The Spinto Band. These are all great reference points, but they just emphasise that if Fanfarlo want to be a great band they need to find their own sound.

They played very well, but also misjudged the venue. The Hanbury is a small and intimate venue. The ear rattling drums, although very effective, swamped the rest of the instruments and needed to be toned down. Despite these criticisms they were a good act that could be a great act if they refined their sound and made it their own.

First Aid Kit were different story entirely, they were a revelation. I had heard bits of their songs, and liked them, but not really paid much attention. Seeing them live I was unprepared for how good they would be. Their songs have a sophistication that belies their years, yet retaining a charming naivety. The instrumentation, mainly just acoustic guitar with some keyboards was accomplished but it was the voices that set them apart.

Their voices, impressive on record, are even better live. Strong, distinctive and showcasing some really wonderful harmonies. The country tinged ‘You’re Not Coming Home Tonight’ and latest single ‘Hard Believer’ perfectly showcasing their voices. Already confident performers they joked about not singing ‘Tiger Mountain Peasant Song’ before inevitably launching into it. Being known for a cover version can be problematic, but their performance was better than the Fleet Foxes original. And given that their own songs are of such a high quality it doesn’t seem that it will be a problem.

One of the best new acts of 2009, and a real class live act. Something that Fanfarlo struggled to follow.

9/10

By Dorian Rogers

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