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Folk - Released January 19, 2018 | Columbia

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When they released The Big Black and the Blue in 2010, Johanna and Klara Söderberg were 20 and 23 years old respectively. The two Swedish sisters quickly made a name for themselves at the top of the charts thanks to their covers of songs by Fleet Foxes, Lorde, Jack White and even Black Sabbath… Though throughout it all, First Aid Kit imposed their own style. A sort of dreamy folk that was as fresh as it was mesmerizing, at the heart of which shimmered vocal harmonies… For their fourth album, the Söderbergs flew off to the West Coast of the United States. Written in California (Los Angeles) and recorded in Oregon (Portland), Ruins is without a doubt  their most beautiful achievement. It’s the strongest tie between their native Sweden and the America of their dreams. Produced by the wonderful Tucker Martine, an expert in classy country, this is a record that above all draws its inspiration from America's rich heritage (from the Gram Parsons/Emmylou Harris period to the recent Fleet Foxes) while staying true to its authors. Sparkling arrangements, smooth rhythmics, intense vocal harmonies and notable guests (Peter Buck from R.E.M., Glenn Kotche from Wilco and McKenzie Smith from Midlake), everything’s there to make their folk-rock even more luxurious than on The Lion's Roar (2012) and Stay Gold (2014). It’s almost impossible not to role out the old cliché: an album of maturity. © MD/Qobuz
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Pop - Released March 26, 2021 | Columbia

A Swedish take on Leonard Cohen: why not? A few months after the death of the titanic artist on 7 November 2016, the sisters Söderberg, Johanna and Klara, aka First Aid Kit, gave two performances at the Royal Dramatic Theater in Stockholm to pay tribute to him. It must be said that the two Swedes have always had a passion for covers, and their career was launched by their rereading of Tiger Mountain Peasant Song by the Fleet Foxes in 2008, when they were only fifteen and eighteen years old respectively. This performance opened their path to success, a deal with a label and a first album. The latter, which they wrote themselves, attracted a fair bit of attention when it was released in 2010. They have not forgotten their taste for covers and in that same year they were invited by Jack White himself to his studios to record their versions of a few songs, including Universal Soldier by Buffy Sainte-Marie and It Hurts Me Too by Mel London and Tampa Red. The result was a record produced by White and released on his Third Man Records label. In 2011, at the Polar Music Awards gala in Stockholm, they performed Dancing Barefoot in front of that year's winner, Patti Smith. Smith was moved to tears to see that cover of one of her songs... Other covers followed, including a moving version of America by Simon & Garfunkel on the set of David Letterman's Late Show in 2015, and covers of pieces by Bob Dylan when he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016. So it should be clear: covers come as second nature to First Aid Kit. This 2017 concert is more than just a tribute: it is a celebration of Leonard Cohen, with more than twenty of his best-known songs. Note that the two Swedes are not alone on stage. They are joined by a long delegation of musicians and friends from the great family of contemporary Swedish music, from Loney Dear to Jesper Lindell or Maja Francis, but also actresses, including Maia Hansson Bergqvist, famous for her role in David Fincher's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (on a spellbinding You Want It Darker). Also present at their side are a string section and a choir of twenty people... The talent of First Aid Kit is to offer something unique of their own every time, appropriating the songs with variations and changes in arrangements, moving away from the original version to make their performance an experience rather than a simple cover. To begin with, their vocal tone is far removed from the late singer's dark voice. Some purists will probably not like this way of doing things, and others will welcome this change. In their deconstructions of Everybody Knows or The Future, the latter becomes unrecognisable. More classical covers follow, of Chelsea Hotel #2 with Jesper Lindell, or of the monumental, the legendary Hallelujah. In the end, a sincere love letter, exotic and not lacking in charm. Leonard Cohen would surely have approved. © Yan Céh / Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released June 6, 2014 | Columbia

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 17, 2012 | Wichita Recordings

Described as the Swedish answer to the Pierces, sisters Johanna and Klara Soderberg, aka First Aid Kit, blend autumnal folk and wistful '60s Americana, and have gathered a pretty illustrious following since their cover version of Fleet Foxes' "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song" became a YouTube hit back in 2008. As well as releasing their debut single through the Knife's Rabid Records label, they have since made Patti Smith cry with their rendition of her 1979 single "Dancing Barefoot," been courted by Jack White, who invited them to appear on two tracks for his Third Man Records' Blue Series, and now find themselves under the guidance of producer Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes) for their second album, The Lion's Roar. It's an impressive turn of events for a duo that hails from a small suburb of Stockholm, but the follow-up to 2010's The Big Black & the Blue reveals why First Aid Kit have attracted so much attention. Juxtaposing the girls' glorious ethereal harmonies with a genuine sense of melancholy, the bittersweet alt-country of "Emmylou," a tribute to the musical partnerships of Ms. Harris and Gram Parsons, and Johnny Cash and June Carter; the twinkling Mama Cass-esque "Blue"; and the lush acoustics of "I Found a Way" are all beautifully heartbreaking. The medieval-tinged opening title track and the infectious handclaps and mariachi horns on "King of the World," the latter of which features guest appearances from Conor Oberst and the Felice Brothers, are convincing forays into rousing nu-folk, while it's impossible not to be charmed by the low-key dreaminess of "In the Hearts of Men" and the campfire singalong of "This Old Routine," both of which bear the hallmarks of the long Scandinavian dark winters. A change of pace toward the midway section is less absorbing, with the intimate balladry of "To a Poet," "Dance to Another Tune," and "New Year's Eve" all drifting into the same slightly bland troubadour territory. But for the most part, The Lion's Roar is a mesmerizing listen that -- alongside recent releases from the likes of the Tallest Man on Earth and Anna Ternheim -- suggests the Swedish folk scene is currently hitting something of a purple patch. © Jon O'Brien /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 13, 2015 | Columbia

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Alternative & Indie - Released June 8, 2018 | Columbia

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Alternative & Indie - Released February 20, 2012 | Wichita Recordings

Swedish sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg made their recording at the ripe young ages of 18 and 15, respectively, with this quietly accomplished EP (really more like a mini-LP) of amiably homespun acoustic folk. If the artists' ages are the most immediately noteworthy aspect of this release, their considerable vocal abilities are a strong, striking second: whether singly or (more typically) in sisterly harmony, the Söderbergs sing in full, earthy, expressive tones that belie their years. The same can't quite be said for their songwriting: if the cutesy "lets pretend" intro to the lullaby-like "Little Moon" opens the album by overtly tipping their hand to youth, the several songs about frustrated domestic relationships (a curious preoccupation -- perhaps it seemed like an appropriate topic for the genre?) are even more of a giveaway, tellingly informed by imagination and hearsay rather than than lived experience (sometimes, as on the confusedly personal-cum-political "Our Own Pretty Ways," it's just hard to tell what they're trying to get at.) Still, if the second-person failed-marriage saga "You're Not Coming Home Tonight" feels more like a transposed runaway-child fantasy than a defiant feminist statement, that doesn't make its strummy amble and deliciously catchy chorus harmonies any less infectious. First Aid Kit are -- as well they should be at this stage of the game -- still in the process of refining their craft, and still taking plenty of cues from other artists (the gorgeous cover of Fleet Foxes' "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song" appended to later versions of this release makes their connections to the contemporary American indie folk revival all the more explicit), but the raw materials they've got at their disposal -- beyond-solid vocal chops and a sure way with a melodic hook -- all signal great things to come. Without straying too far from comfortably rootsy folk territory, Drunken Trees also offers a fair amount of range -- not nearly as straightforwardly sugar-sweet as they may at first seem, the duo can pull off poppy, dead sober, retro-rock ("Cross Oceans," which piles on the handclaps, electric organ, and rollicking drumbeat) and spooky (check the spare, ghostly "Jagadamba" -- they're not signed to the Knife's Rabid label for nothing) with equal conviction -- which makes it all the more intriguing to see where they'll go from here. © K. Ross Hoffman /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 14, 2018 | Columbia

A companion piece to First Aid Kit's January 2018 LP Ruins, the appropriately titled Tender Offerings presents four songs from the same recording sessions that were left off the album, mainly for thematic reasons. The Söderberg sisters still liked how the tracks turned out and wanted to share them, so they compiled this generally soft-spoken EP to follow eight months later. Not only are the songs worthy of their own release but, in most cases, quite moving, or even devastating, as in the case of "Ugly." A spare piano ditty that eventually adds a full band and vocal harmonies in the chorus, its early lyrics include "I thought if you found me pretty, then I'd be fine/I thought if you loved me, I'd be a person." It goes on to consider other attributes, like smarts and maturity, but they all get tangled up in misunderstanding and inadequacy (and eventually resilience). Like much of First Aid Kit's material, particularly the break-up album Ruins, its emotional anguish is offset by a catchy, lilting melody and vivid harmonies; it's sad and pretty. The unrequited-love ballad "I've Wanted You" also spotlights lyrics and Klara's poignant vocal delivery with an arrangement limited to arpeggiated acoustic guitar and light piano and organ. The title track goes on to encapsulate the spirit of the EP with the opening line "Perhaps I am bound to be restless/Always yearning, never satisfied." Still, the closer, "All That We Get" feels more uplifting, musically and lyrically, and without condescension; its decision to be grateful for what one does have is bittersweet. With four affecting, memorable songs, this is a release that fans and the folk-embracing discontented shouldn't overlook. © Marcy Donelson /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 25, 2020 | Columbia

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Pop - Released August 14, 2020 | Jagadamba AB

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 1, 2014 | Columbia

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 30, 2012 | Wichita Recordings

Described as the Swedish answer to the Pierces, sisters Johanna and Klara Soderberg, aka First Aid Kit, blend autumnal folk and wistful '60s Americana, and have gathered a pretty illustrious following since their cover version of Fleet Foxes' "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song" became a YouTube hit back in 2008. As well as releasing their debut single through the Knife's Rabid Records label, they have since made Patti Smith cry with their rendition of her 1979 single "Dancing Barefoot," been courted by Jack White, who invited them to appear on two tracks for his Third Man Records' Blue Series, and now find themselves under the guidance of producer Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes) for their second album, The Lion's Roar. It's an impressive turn of events for a duo that hails from a small suburb of Stockholm, but the follow-up to 2010's The Big Black & the Blue reveals why First Aid Kit have attracted so much attention. Juxtaposing the girls' glorious ethereal harmonies with a genuine sense of melancholy, the bittersweet alt-country of "Emmylou," a tribute to the musical partnerships of Ms. Harris and Gram Parsons, and Johnny Cash and June Carter; the twinkling Mama Cass-esque "Blue"; and the lush acoustics of "I Found a Way" are all beautifully heartbreaking. The medieval-tinged opening title track and the infectious handclaps and mariachi horns on "King of the World," the latter of which features guest appearances from Conor Oberst and the Felice Brothers, are convincing forays into rousing nu-folk, while it's impossible not to be charmed by the low-key dreaminess of "In the Hearts of Men" and the campfire singalong of "This Old Routine," both of which bear the hallmarks of the long Scandinavian dark winters. A change of pace toward the midway section is less absorbing, with the intimate balladry of "To a Poet," "Dance to Another Tune," and "New Year's Eve" all drifting into the same slightly bland troubadour territory. But for the most part, The Lion's Roar is a mesmerizing listen that -- alongside recent releases from the likes of the Tallest Man on Earth and Anna Ternheim -- suggests the Swedish folk scene is currently hitting something of a purple patch. © Jon O'Brien /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released December 18, 2017 | Columbia

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Folk - Released February 1, 2010 | Wichita Recordings

Suburban Stockholm's Söderberg sisters put their best foot forward on this, their first full-length outing as First Aid Kit: the album opens nearly a cappella, with a few slow strums and then a full minute of nothing but the haunting close harmonies that are the duo's strongest and most distinctive musical asset. In the 40-odd minutes that follow, the sisters' simplistic, repetitious song structures may start to grow stale, and their fine but unfussy folk instrumentalism may seem less than inspiring, but those harmonies are never far from hand, ensuring that The Big Black and the Blue is never less than an entirely pleasant listening experience. And it has potential to be much more than that -- taken individually, many and even most of these tunes have ample charms to offer, among them the sweetly melodic "Waltz for Richard," the wistful "Heavy Storm," and the intriguing "I Met Up with the King" (which bears a striking resemblance to Neko Case). Taken as a whole album, though, the songs lose a lot of their distinctiveness, and the uninterrupted loveliness can start to feel oddly dreary. The Big Black certainly doesn't dash the promise suggested by the duo's Drunken Trees EP (which in its final form was only four songs and 14 minutes shorter than this album) -- although that release's mild, playful experimentalism and small inklings of stylistic range are scrapped here for a more sober-minded American folk traditionalism that's perhaps commendable but not altogether compelling -- but it leaves that promise yet to be completely fulfilled. It feels entirely probable that they'll get there: the Söderbergs are still (astonishingly) young -- 20 and 17 at the time of this album's release -- and they've shown clear evidence of their raw talent and artistry. Their level of engagement is admirable: in addition to their genuinely prodigious vocal gifts and their more than competent handling all of the varied instrumentation here, save for the drums on several tracks, the sisters are credited with co-production and mixing, and they're also responsible for album's stunning, antiquarian-styled artwork. If they want to secure their place in this young century's burgeoning classicist folk wave (see also: Laura Marling, the Tallest Man on Earth), they'll merely need to come up with some songs that can truly make good on their otherwise considerably distinguished overall package. © K. Ross Hoffman /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released August 22, 2019 | Columbia

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Alternative & Indie - Released March 10, 2017 | Columbia

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Pop - Released January 1, 2008 | Closer records

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Alternative & Indie - Released December 21, 2012 | Wichita Recordings

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 9, 2012 | Wichita Recordings

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Alternative & Indie - Released February 13, 2012 | Wichita Recordings

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First Aid Kit in the magazine
  • First Aid Kit, once upon a time in America...
    First Aid Kit, once upon a time in America... When they released The Big Black And The Blue in 2010, Johanna and Klara Söderberg were 20 and 23 years old respectively. The two Swedish sisters quickly made a name for themselves at the top of the charts thanks to their covers of songs by Fleet Foxes, Lorde, Jack White and even Black Sabbath… T...