Archive for the ‘First Aid Kit’ Category

2016-12-05-21-06-09SOUNDTRACK: FIRST AID KIT-Tiny Desk Concert #204 (March 28, 2012).

I’d published these posts without Soundtracks while I was reading the calendars.  But I decided to add Tiny Desk Concerts to them when I realized that I’d love to post about all of the remaining 100 or shows and this was a good way to knock out 25 of them.

firstThis Tiny Desk Concert is what first introduced me to First Aid Kit.  It was “The Lion’s Roar” that really sold me on this exotic duo with the beautiful harmonies (they are sisters from Sweden–that’s Johanna Söderberg with the lighter hair and Klara Söderberg with darker hair singing lead).

For the first song, “New Year’s Eve,” Johanna plays the autoharp as Klara sings lead.  They both do the lovely harmony chorus.

For “The Lion’s Roar” Klara plays guitar.  And while she sings a lovely lead, it’s Johanna’s haunting low harmonies that really make the song amazing.  The album version has keys but they are not missed in this beautiful rendition.

I also fell in love with “Emmylou,” a song about Emmylou Harris Graham Parsons, Johnny Cash and June Carter.  Klara’s lead is beautiful, but when both sisters sing lead in the second verse it’s stunning.

I have listened to the audio of this many times but haven’t actually watched it for a while.  This looks like it was filmed after hours at the NPR offices.  It is very dark with just one light shining on them.  It’s a shame as it would be fun to see them a little better.  But it also gives the whole recording a kind of subversive feel.

What a great introduction to a great band.

[READ: December 5, 2016] “Pet”

Near the end of November, I found out about The Short Story Advent Calendar.  Which is what exactly?  Well…

The Short Story Advent Calendar returns, not a moment too soon, to spice up your holidays with another collection of 24 stories that readers open one by one on the mornings leading up to Christmas.  This year’s stories once again come from some of your favourite writers across the continent—plus a couple of new crushes you haven’t met yet. Most of the stories have never appeared in a book before. Some have never been published, period.

I already had plans for what to post about in December, but since this arrived (a few days late for advent, but that was my fault for ordering so late) I’ve decided to post about every story on each day.

This is the first story I read in this calendar (I received it on the 5th).  I wasn’t sure if the stories would be thematic or if they would avoid dark subjects (it being advent after all), or if they would just be a box of good stories.

I was pleased that the first story was by Unferth, whom I really like.

This story is told in a very interesting way–a strange sense of removal that comes with the first line: “Somehow they have wound up with these two turtles.”

The “they” are a mother and her teenaged son.  The mother rescued these turtles from her sister.  She was house sitting and saw the turtles down there–pathetic, one rock between them in a dark basement.  And she felt compelled to take them home.  Her sister is all too happy to get rid of them.

Her son is dismissive.  Of the turtles and of her in general.

And the story telling also seems to be dismissive of her, in a way.  The story is not told from her point of view and yet it seems to take on her voice for this paragraph, but it seems to slowly morph into her son’s:

Besides, the turtles aren’t much work.  She has to feed them and check their water temperature and turn the light on and off.  She has to clean the tank each week.  She has to take the tank’s water out, cup by cup, pour it into a bowl, then carry the bowl to the tub, walk through two rooms to do it (drops of dirty water falling on he floor).  She has to empty bowl after bowl….

One of the turtles is sick and she takes it to the vet.   But the vet only deals with mammals and has no advice (and charges her $40).  Then she is stuck carrying the turtle with her everywhere else that day–even to her AA meeting, where they all insist she leave with the smelly thing.

She gets some medical advice from a friend and the turtle gets better.  But then it starts fighting with the smaller turtle.

Her son tells her to just leave them in the road and let them get run over.

The story seems to loom as a story of helplessness, but then she sees a ray of hope.  A man from her AA meetings asks her to dinner.  Her son, of course, is dismissive of him as well.  But he is willing to come over and help with the turtles.

And I love that he gives her an answer she was completely unaware of.

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[ATTENDED: July 25, 2015] St. Vincent

2015-07-25 20.41.29I’ve enjoyed all the St. Vincent records–each one more than the previous one.  This past year Bob and Robin from NPR both claimed that the St. Vincent live show was the best that they saw that year.  Since then, I have been hell bent on seeing her (she played NY right after they raved about her but it was sold out).  She has been touring Europe for a while now so I never expected to see her anytime soon.

And then it was announced: St. Vincent AND My Morning Jacket, another band that I’ve been dying to see, would headline this years XPNFEST.  As with last year’s fest, we considered going to the all day show–again, $45 for a 3 day pass (and when I found out that kids can get a day pass for $5–jeez!).  So maybe next year if we don’t like the headliners, we’ll go for the day (I wouldn’t keep the kids up till midnight watching headliners).  But as we saw this year, the venue is shaded, there’s lots to see and lots of free stuff (which the kids love) they even have a Kids Corner section, so next year, if there’s some good bands like this year (Calexico, First Aid Kid, Fly Golden Eagle), it would totally be a fun day out.

But never mind that, we were there for St. Vincent. (more…)

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decwalrusSOUNDTRACK: FIRST AID KIT Live at Newport Folk Festival July 28, 2012 (2012).

jacobs-folkfest-44I discovered First Aid Kit through NPR and I liked the two or three songs so much I bought their album, The Lion’s Roar.  And here’s a full set at Newport Folk Festival.

There’s three members of First Aid Kit, two sisters and a boy drummer all from Sweden.  I don’t know if coming from Sweden has any impact on their singing, but their voices are extraordinary  especially when they harmonize.  “Blue” is one of their great songs and it sounds amazing live.

They also do a stunning cover of Joan Baez’ “Diamonds & Rust,” and on their final track, “King of the World,” Conor Oberst gives a guest vocal (he’s on the album too).

Lyrically, the band is interesting too.  I love the premise of “Emmylou” and the phrasings in “The Lion’s Roar.”  In this show, they dedicate “Hard Believer” to Richard Dawkins, so the band are definitely not lightweights.

It’s a great set and a wonderful introduction to this compelling Swedish band.  I hope they get some more airplay in the States.  You can check it out here.

[READ: December 10, 2012] “Flesh and Numbers”

Stephen Marche publishes a lot of stories in The Walrus, and I find that I’m hit or miss about him.  And, indeed, I was even hit or miss about this story.  I feel that Marche is often trying to go for shock in his stories–and this one has two kinds of shock in it.

The first is that a husband pays his wife for a blow job.  (A bright red Canadian $50).  And later he starts paying her a $50 every time they have sex.  This all begins because she wants to buy a pair of boots that she deems too expensive.  The story kind of looks at the idea of prostitution and power roles in marriage, but only glancingly.

The story talks about their financial situation (they are both successful, although there is a marked discrepancy in who makes how much and how they divide up the bills).  But once this casual money-for-sex situation arises, she finds that she is enjoying the feeling of getting the money.  Indeed, since he always pays with a red 50, she stars getting mildly turned on whenever she sees them in her daily life.  They both find that they are having sex more and doing more interesting things in bed.  In fact, hen the new iPad comes out she offers anal sex as an option for more cash. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: FIRST AID KIT-Live on KEXP, April 1 2012 (2012).

I’d never heard of First Aid Kit before listening to this set.  They are primarily comprised of two Swedish sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg– although there are other musicians on the album and live here.  And they’re quite a formidable band. They play a kind of folkie alt-country, but when the two sisters harmonize (one with a slightly disconcerting low voice) is sends chills up my spine   The chorus of  “The Lion’s Roar”: “I’m a god damned coward but then again so are you” makes the hairs on my next stand up.  “Emmylou” really highlights their songwriting skills.  They talk about this song in the chat with the DJ, and she admits that she wasn’t sure if the metaphor worked, but the DJ and I agree it does.

The harmonies on “Blue” are just spectacular and the subtle application strings and glockenspiel really flesh out the sound.   I’m thinking of them as a maybe a more dynamic/indie sounding Indigo Girls.

They DJ also mentions their cover of Fleet Foxes’ “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song,” which has garnered the attention of Fleet Foxes (and millions of views).  You can add to that number :

You can also hear their set.

[READ: October 16, 2012] “Fischer vs. Spassky”

This story opens with the unusual note that Marina cried for a long time after her husband died–she would bite her arm in grief, leaving marks that looked like “irregular postage stamps.”  Her husband died 30 years ago and she can still feel the marks tingle.

I say that note was unusual because the story is a flashback that is brought on by the death of Bobby Fischer.  Marina remembers back to  the monumental chess match between American Bobby Fischer and Russian Boris Spassky.  Although most of Soviet Russia supported Spassky, many Russian Jews supported Fischer because of the freedom he represented.

Indeed, Marina and her husband followed the match very closely and her husband even made a pact that if Fisher won, they would flee Russian for America.  Marina didn’t believe that he was serious, so she went about her daily life as any practical person would. (more…)

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