I recently read somewhere online that indie music fans, or “indians” (I have real issues with this fandom name), discover at least three “life-changing” bands every year. Funny as it may sound, it is basically true. In fact, a year might be an understatement.
For me, it is every month that I fall in love with at least three new bands. My latest discovery has been the First Aid Kit, a Swedish sister duo. Life-changing indeed. This indie-folk-rock duo has affected my heart in a way that no other band has in a long, long time.
Gaining their first speck of fame through a cover of Fleet Foxes’ “Tiger Peasant Mountain Song” on YouTube, they have come a very long way, releasing their third studio album “Stay Gold” last June and gaining a great deal of well-deserved acclamation.
For those of you who are not aware of the First Aid Kit, here is a little trivia. Like I already mentioned, they are a Swedish folk-rock duo, comprising the Soderberg sisters, Johanna and Klara. With their voices syncing in perfect harmony, finding a balance with their traditional folk instruments (bass, mandolins and xylophone being the dominant ones), their music sounds very pure and rustic, even if not as authentic as the other Swedish musical projects (like Fleet Foxes, for instance).
They released their first EP “Drunken Trees” in 2009 and shortly after that, their first studio album titled, “The Big Black and The Blue“. The album, although a promising debut into the music industry, sounds rather laid-back or something like just another local band singing at a cafe, but this is one of those bands that you just know are going to make it big.
Its a couple of strums here and a couple of strums there but what is outstanding is their ultra strong voices. Damn, these girls can sing. Not only do they deliver the notes with skill and precision but do so in a very polished fashion. This is probably where you can actually see the influence of their musically-rich Scandinavian roots.
It is their silvery voices singing those heartfelt lyrics that are going to make you want more of them. After listening to the whole album one might find the tracks to be quite similar, maybe because of the small scale pattern of instrumentation. Nevertheless, there are a few tracks like “I Met Up With A King” and “Winter Is All Over You” that manage to really shine.
The sophomore album came out in 2012, titled, “The Lion’s Roar“. It introduced the duo to international fame and proved that they were here to stay. Obliged with the help from the producer, Mike Mogis, better known for his work with Bright Eyes, this album turned out to be much fiercer and bolder, much like the name of the album itself. It was clear that they had learned and improved from the last album.
They sound even more confident and stronger than they did on the first album if that’s even possible. The lyrics also reflect this new-found self-assertive character. From a daring name-dropping song (“Emmylou”), they even go as far as calling themselves the “King Of The World”. They were not just a duo anymore, but included a full-blown orchestra, introducing more instruments into their songs, giving them a much stronger appeal. Their track “Emmylou”, a folk song with very country-like lyrics continues to be one of their best tracks so far. The band as their sidekick blends with their harmonious voices in a way that helps them become more elegant while maintaining their original, authentic and rustic character. They started out with the motto of “aiming for the hearts, and not for the charts”. With this album, they have touched the hearts alright, but featuring on the charts seemed rather inevitable. A collateral bonus, if you will. “The Lion’s Roar” went platinum in their home country, Sweden and silver in the UK.
Just last month they released their third album, “Stay Gold” which introduced me to their music and I will be ever so grateful for that. This album has a more positive and mature attitude as compared to the previous releases.
Talking about all kinds of hardships, they give stirring harmonies to the very unharmonious, monotonous issues of life. The name of the album,”Stay Gold” is inspired by Frost’s poem, “Nothing Ever Stays Gold”, signifying one’s ongoing fight against the inevitable.
The tracks on this album are not as merry as much they are positive; they are more subtle; they are about accepting the failures and striving for success, and being realistic. They are just..happy. This is reflected in the lyrics of the tracks like, “Master Pretender”, “Waitress Song”, “My Silver Lining” etc. This album clearly indicates how much they have matured as artists, learning from the mistakes and improving on the way.
Who would have thought that two girls strumming a lonesome guitar in a remote forest singing a Fleet Foxes song would gain as much success as they have. It is definitely an intimation of pure talent, and if we were to go by their past record, it would seem that for these sisters, the only way is up.
In my opinion, this is definitely a band to look out for. To get you started on them, here is a list of their top ten tracks. This is a list based on my personal views and is open to discussion.