Posts Tagged ‘Johanna Söderberg’

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It’s been almost four years since Stay Gold, the critically acclaimed album full of Cosmic American Music-tinged folk, put Swedish sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg on the map. As fans eagerly awaited a follow-up, the sisters slowly broke down. Subjected to the draining tedium of a never-ending tour, they found themselves going through the motions as the ground beneath their feet never stopped moving. Written largely in Joshua Tree, where they hunkered down after the dissolution of Klara’s engagement, Ruins is a mature record.

Compared to their previous work, Ruins feels subtle, a little more grown up. While it is missing some of the energy of earlier singles like “Stay Gold” and “Silver Lining,” this album expands upon their mastery of the American songbook. Never feeling like outsiders, the Söderbergs are consistent and confident in their execution. Working with producer Tucker Martine and Peter Buck or R.E.M. fame, Ruins has the requisite twang that has charmed listeners since their debut EP Drunken Trees (2008). The perfect combination of the sisters’ voices remains the heart of their music. Their harmonizing is organically crystal clear in a time of over-synthesized production; the purity is shocking.

Ruins may not recapture the intensity of Stay Gold, but its strength lays in the duo’s swooning vocals and lyrical romance. Where it misses the loud, creative production of past albums, folk vocals with a little extra (those harmonies!) pick up the slack. Ruins is a charismatic, concise send-up of a style unclaimed by many young American musicians in 2018, but exquisitely executed by these special Swedish talents.”

Not that it’s darker, per se; their gorgeous, blood-close harmonies and the sunny streaks of pedal steel guitar keep it from ever feeling too morose. Instead, there’s a gentle weight of experience that permeates the album’s lyrics, a freshly sharpened edge of cynicism explored across several different sounds. There’s the classic country of the easy-riding “Postcard,” the ‘50s doo-wop vibe of “Fireworks” and a return to their folk roots with “To Live a Life.” 

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First Aid Kit

With head-banging, strobe lights, and electric guitar solos, First Aid Kit brought a new energy to the Palace Theatre in January. Sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg just released their fourth album, ‘Ruins.’ The album features songs that fit the texture we’ve come to expect from First Aid Kit folksy sounds with beautiful harmonies  as well as expanding the group’s palette to include a harder-rocking sound.

Live, they channeled that energy with songs like “You Are the Problem Here,” which expresses the sisters’ frustration with the discussion surrounding sexual assault. “I think I can speak for every woman when I say that we’re really really f—ing tired of being afraid,” Klara said after the song ended, inspiring loud cheers.

The stage setup was simple; a white sheet behind the duo acted as a projector screen. Videos of country roads, mountains, hearts, and more were projected behind the group. The sisters were both dressed in red, with Johanna wearing a red shirt and Klara wearing a red dress. The other members of their band wore black cowboy-style shirts.

In addition to their edgier new material, First Aid Kit also delivered the warm, acoustic sound they’ve become known for with songs like “Postcard,” which Johanna said is the “most country-sounding song we’ve ever written.”

The live version of “You Are The Problem Here” was originally recorded in honor of International Women’s Day and is exclusive to this Record Store Day 2018 single. First Aid Kit special 7” for Record Store Day, which will include the live and studio versions of You are the Problem Here. The band have also shared a live version of the song for International Women’s Day 2018 and to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the song’s release.

“You are the Problem Here” is a powerful, direct statement against sexual misconduct and rape culture with proceeds donated to Women for Women International. Given the worldwide #MeToo movement and current landscape which is seeing women speak out against sexual harassment, the song is more pertinent now than ever.

First Aid Kit Say: “You are the Problem Here is a song that was written out of pure frustration and anger. We, as women, felt really sick of being afraid all the time. We wanted to ask the perpetrators of rape crimes why they commit such horrendous acts. Instead of putting the blame and shame on the victim, we wanted to put it back where it belongs. The song has been gaining more and more attention since its original release last year, especially with the #MeToo movement growing. It’s sad that it’s so relevant, but we’re glad to be talking about these issues and taking sexual assault seriously. We all need to keep the conversation going.

“You Are The Problem Here (Recorded Live in Stockholm)”/“You Are The Problem Here (Studio Version)”

First Aid KitYou are the Problem Here (Live From the Rebel Hearts Club)

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Swedish folk duo First Aid Kit have unveiled the title track from their forthcoming LP, Ruins, due out on January. 19th via Columbia Records.

Following the release of advance tracks “It’s A Shame,” “Postcard” and “Fireworks,” “Ruins” is a more somber affair, its introspective folk musing on the end of a relationship with the duo’s vocals beautifully weaving in and out of one another, surrounded by minimal, calming instrumentation.

The “Ruins” video is a live performance from the Rebel Hearts Club Austin Texas, featuring a witty introduction from an older British man before the duo’s acoustic song gently mesmerizes with its lap-steel guitar and luscious, tender country vocals. Watch the live video for “Ruins” below.

The duo’s fourth studio album, Ruins was produced by Tucker Martine (My Morning Jacket, Laura Veirs) and recorded in Portland, Ore. where the Söderberg sisters collaborated with R.E.M.’s Peter Buck, Wilco’s Glenn Kotche and Midlake’s McKenzie Smith.

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So many songs have taken on new meaning over the past nine months or so. Ask Van William about his song “Revolution” and he’ll tell you that it “started as a song about the anxieties of being in a relationship, where both people want to fix its broken parts, but disagree on the means,” but “became something else during and after the 2016 election.”

However, that original inspiration was the video’s guiding force, Van William . “Something simple and stark that followed a linear progression into the madness found in the waning days of a romantic relationship. I wanted the video to show the claustrophobic feeling that can form by sharing too much of each other’s lives and being unable to repair the damage from inside the walls of what was built together.” It’s an idea, he says, that came while binge-watching Ingmar Bergman films.

Director Grant James wrote to tell me that “‘Revolution’ is an emotional performance delivered by Van, as well as First Aid Kit’s Klara and Johanna Söderberg, within the confines of a black void. The focus was to compose moving portraits of the artists that express the meaning behind the lyrics of the song as the musicians go through an emotional journey individually and together. The result delivers a variety of raw and striking imagery that balances the fine line between high-fashion cinematography and keeping our subjects grounded in their own natural aesthetic and realism.”

When Van William was listening to a version of his song in the studio, it was clear to him that he wanted the duo First Aid Kit to add their sibling voices to his song. “We have all known each other for almost ten years, when they opened for my old band Port O’Brien on a European tour. Life and the Atlantic Ocean separated us from continuing a real friendship for many years, but we reconnected at a mutual friend’s house party in L.A. early last year. We rekindled our connection into one of the most important friendships I’ve ever had, and tracked this together before they went back to Stockholm. When the three of us are together, it feels like family in the best possible way.”

The Revolution EP is the solo debut for Van William having been in previous bands Waters and Port O’Brien

The Revolution / Cosmic Sign (Demo) 7″ is out today at indie retailers. Go support your local record store.

 

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First Aid Kit, noted Swedish pop duo consisting of sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg, have released the latest single from their upcoming album Ruins. “Fireworks” is somewhere between a gentle waltz and a march, bolstered by a lithe string arrangement, backing vocals, intricate guitar interplay, and as usual, a remarkably tuneful lead melody. “Why do I do this to myself every time,” Söderberg sing in harmony, in a chorus that sounds like it could have been cribbed from a Righteous Brothers single. “I know the way it ends even before it’s even begun/I’m the only one at the finish line.” Listen below. Ruins is out on January 19th.

“Fireworks” off First Aid Kit’s upcoming album ‘Ruins’ is available now.