Tag: Bright Eyes

New Video: Acclaimed Swedish Folk Duo First Aid Kit Tackle a Beloved Willie Nelson Classic

Acclaimed Stockholm-based sibling folk duo First Aid Kit — Klara and Johanna Söderberg   can trace the origins of their career to growing up in a rather creative household — their father was a member of the Swedish pop rock act Lolita Pop and their mother taught cinematography. As children the Söderberg Sisters loved performing, often giving concerts using a jump rope as a pretend microphone. Klara wrote her fist song when she was six. 

When Klara was 12, a friend introduced there to Bright Eyes and it led her to Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, The Carter Family, The Louvin Brothers, Townes Van Zandt, Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris. That same year, she received a guitar as a Christmas present and quickly learned to play it.

Johanna Söderberg grew up listening to a wide range of music including Britney Spears and German techno; however, watching O Brother, Where Art Thou and listening to the film’s soundtrack changed her life: both the film and the soundtrack inspired her to sing “Down in the River to Pray” with her sister. Fascinated and impressed by how they sounded together, they started to get more serious, eventually busking in the Stockholm metro and in front of liquor stores. 

As the story goes, Klara came up with the band name when she was 13. She was looking through a dictionary and found the term “first aid kit,” and thought it best descried what she wanted her music to be. As they were getting more serious about being a band, the Söderberg Sisters began writing their own original material inspired by Devendra Banhart, CocoRosie and others. 

In 2008, they began to receive attention across the blogosphere for their cover of Fleet Foxes’ “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song.” And since 2008, the Söderberg Sisters have managed to receive international acclaim — they’ve been nominated for two Brit Awards for Best International Group while releasing four critically applauded albums, four EPs which include 2018’s Ruins and Tender Offerings EP, as well as a number of singles and covers. 

Recorded close to a decade ago and unreleased until recently, the acclaimed Swedish duo recorded a straightforward yet gorgeous cover of Willie Nelson’s beloved 
“On The Road Again.” And while marking the first bit of material from the duo since the release of the aforementioned Ruins and Tender Offerings, their latest single adds to a growing list of covers. But more important, proceeds from the single will be donated to Crew Nation, a charitable fund created by Live Nation to help those working backstage, who have lost work this year as a result of pandemic-related lockdowns and quarantines. Of course, interestingly enough, because of the lockdowns and quarantines, Nelson’s classic feels more relevant and hits much deeper and differently than ever before. I’m longing for live shows, travel and adventures; of the new friends I’d meet; of the new food I’d have; the new things I’d see and know.

As we speak, I think of being with some newfound friends in Montreal and how we passed along a bottle of beer while we were walking from dinner to a showcase; of an older woman crowd surfing during Corridor’s set at Le National; of chatting with a group of incredibly Midwestern women in between sets at The Wood Brothers and Nicki Bluhm at The Vic Theatre; of randomly running into a new festival friend in an airport bar and cheering to our safe travels home; and of so many more things I can’t do and miss so much. The video adds to that dull and constant ache I feel lately — but while capturing the Söderberg Sisters (who are absolutely adorable, by the way), their backing band and crew goofing off on the road, playing in front of enraptured fans and more. 

“We’re excited to release our version of ‘On The Road Again’ by Willie Nelson. We recorded this cover a couple of years ago and recently found it while digging through the archives,” the Söderberg Sisters explain in a statement. “The song is a country classic, it feels like we’ve known it forever. Because of the situation with COVID, sadly, the theme of the song has never felt more relevant than it does today. 

We made a video for the song using cellphone footage from our tours throughout the years. Going through all those videos made us emotional. It made us realize how much we appreciate being able to roam freely around the world. How much we love the feeling of playing live for people, in the flesh. How much we miss our incredible band and crew. 

All the proceeds from the streaming of the song will go to Crew Nation. So much of the magic happens behind the stage. It’s easily taken for granted, but without our touring and venue crew live music wouldn’t be possible. It’s important that we help them out right now. 

Oh, how we wish we could get back on the road again! Hopefully we’ll see you down the road sometime soon.”

Singer/songwriter and guitarist Laura Weinbach is the Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles-born daughter of a horror filmmaker and the sister of a cult comedian. As a child Weinbach grew up in a household and community that proudly embraced eccentricity: her next door neighbors were circus contortionists with emus and fang-toothed monkeys as pets — and some of her favorite childhood activities included snail hunting and spying on celebrity neighbors like Slash, Ice-T and Mark Linn-Baker, the guy who played Larry on Perfect Strangers. Unsurprisingly, Weinbach’s upbringing manages to be present throughout her work in Foxtails Brigade — from the lyrical imagery, to the hand-drawn artwork and the sophomoric Insstagram cartoons she posts.

Since their formation, the project has released three full-length albums — 2011’s full-length debut The Bread and the Bait, released through Antenna Farm Records; 2012’s sophomore effort Time Is Passed, released through DIY Records; and 2016’s self-titled album released through OIM Records. Their previously released material was centered by hazy chamber folk melodies and spectral strings with songs reaching inward – but interestingly, Foxtails Brigade’s Jeff Saltzman-produced third album found the Bay Area-based act completely reinventing their sound. The material on that album featured peculiar percussion and synths paired with Weinbach’s guitar work with the band’s sound exploding outward in all directions. Additionally, the band focuses on crafting material with a directness and clarity without sacrificing the intricacy of their previously released work.

Foxtails Brigade support the release of their third album with touring across the Pacific Northwest, Southern California, the Midwest and South, as well as a tours opening for Emily Jane White across the East Coast, France and the rest of the European Union. Live, the Bay Area-based act’s live show is a meshing of junkyard beats, warped orchestral sonics, Weinbach’s gorgeous vocals and classically trained guitar work paired with a rotating cast of collaborators, who have played with Bright Eyes, Van Dyke Parks and John Cale.

According the band’s website, they’re currently working on their fourth album but in the meantime, Foxtails Brigade released a split 7 inch single with the Colorado-based act Kramies. The Bay Area-based act’s contribution to that split 7 inch is the contemplative “On The Other Side.” Centered around a shimmering and atmospheric arrangement of looping, classically-inspired guitar, twinkling keys and Weinbach’s gorgeous vocals, the song may be the most straightforward folk song they’ve released in some time — but while evoking the wintry chill of a Northeastern winter night.









Laura Burhenn is a Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, musician, activist and restless creative mastermind behind The Mynabirds, an act that has released four critically applauded and stylistically different albums through Saddle Creek Records — 2010’s What Was Lose in the Fire, 2012’s Generals. 2015’s Lovers Know and 2017’s Be Here Now. Burhenn also had had stints as a touring member of critically applauded and commercially successful acts The Postal Service and Bright Eyes. Burhenn has helped found Omaha Girls Rock, a non-profit that helps young girls find their creative voices — and she has given a TED talk based on her New Revolutionist photo project, which explored what it meant to be a revolutionary woman in this day and age. (Before all of that Burhenn was a member of Washington, DC-based indie act Georgie James with Q and Not U’s John Davis and released two-self produced solo albums through the label she founded, Laboratory Records.)

Interestingly, this year marks the 25th anniversary of Portishead‘s classic debut Dummy, an album that was highly-influential to Burhenn. “Dummy was my all-time favorite make-out record in high school and is in my permanent top ten, period,” Laura Burhenn says in press notes. To celebrate the occasion, The Mynabirds’ creative mastermind recently released a Patrick Damphier-produced cover of “Glory Box” that retains the original’s slow-burning and sultry nature and quietly defiant feminism — but while giving it a subtle, old-school country vibe. “That Beth Gibbons slid that feminist anthem into my teenage brain — that song completely rewired me.” Certainly, when women’s rights are being edged backwards, the song and its refrain “I just want to be a woman” would have to feel more powerfully necessary than ever before.

The track was released through Our Secret Handshake, a womxn-driven, women-focused creative strategy collective that Burhenn co-founded last year. A portion of the proceeds from the single will benefit Omaha Girls Rock.


Currently comprised of Kyle Morton (vocals, piano, guitar), Tony Tanabe (bass, vocals), Dave Hall (guitar, vocals), Shannon Steele (violin, vocals), Jef Hufnagel (violin, vocals), Pieter Hilton (drums, vocals), Alex Fitch (drums, vocals), Tyler Ferrin (horns, guitar, piano, vocals), Ryan McAlpin (trumpet, vocals), Eric Stipe (trumpet, vocals) and Devin Gallagher (percussion, ukelele, vocals), the 11 member Portland, OR-based indie act Typhoon has received attention for a sound that meshes elements of indie rock, baroque pop  and orchestral pop as their material is rooted around complex arrangements and lush orchestration, as well as a penchant for restless experimentation with various styles including classic sea shanties, Country and Western, Eastern European folk and others. And unsurprisingly, they’ve drawn comparisons to Frightened Rabbit, Bright Eyes, Beirut and Arcade Fire among others. Along with that, they’ve received attention for live sets that routinely feature 12 (or more) musicians performing on stage. However, with the release of Hunger & Thirst and A New Kind of House EP the collective’s material revealed an increasingly consistent sound paired with a greater attention on crafting a thematic through-line — with much of their material based around a preoccupation with mortality, based primarily around (and making references to) Morton’s childhood struggles with Lyme Disease.

Adding to a rapidly growing local and national profile, they’ve had their music appear on SyFy’s Being Human, NBC’s Chuck and the major motion picture Veronica Mars, and they’ve opened for the likes of The Thermals, Quasi, Yann Tiersen, Explosions in the Sky, The Decemberists, Belle and Sebastian and The Shins and have toured with Lady Lamb the Bee Keeper, Portugal, the Man and Grouplove. Thanks in part to the success of album single “The Honest Truth,” which was ranked #3 in Paste Magazine‘s Top 50 Songs of 2011 List, and 2013’s White Lighter, which reached #105 on the Billboard 200, #2 on the Heatseekers and was 37 on Paste’s Best Albums list, the members of the collective played sets at 2014’s Lollapalooza and Outside Lands.

After the release of 2015’s live album, Live at Crystal Ballroom, which features the band playing material from off Hunger & Thirst and White Lighter, Morton released his solo debut What Will Destroy You — and during that time, the members of the collective spent time working on the material, which would comprise their soon-to-be released fourth album Offerings. Thematically, the album is centered on a fictional man, who is losing his memory — and in turn, his sense of self.  “I’ve always been preoccupied with memory, losing memory, and trying to recapture memory. I wanted to explore the questions: What does a person become if they don’t know where they came from? What is the essential quality of the person if you strip away all memory?” explains singer/songwriter Kyle Morton in pres note

As the story goes, motivated by his own preoccupation with “losing it,” Morton was inspired by the films of David Lynch, Christopher Nolan’s Memento and Fellini’s 8 1/2, as well as several different books on his nightstand, including Samuel Beckett’s famed Three Novels — in particular, Malloy. “It made it a much darker album for sure,” Morton says in press notes.  Structurally, the album is divided into four different movements — Floodplains, Flood, Reckoning and Afterparty — meant to represent each of the four mental phases the main character goes through when he first realizes that something is wrong, then struggles through the chaos of his situation, and finally moves into acceptance before succumbing to a terrible and unimaginable fate.

Musically, the band evokes an impending doom and chaos that’s supposed to mirror the main character’s sense of fear and anxiety. And to set the set the tone, Morton and company decided to write the material with much more guitar than horns and string arrangements.  “I wanted it to be a darker, more intense rock record, so it’s very guitar-based. It’s going back to my rock roots before Typhoon,” says Morton. But along with that, the material parallels the contemporary world. “I was also reading historian Timothy Snyder and was inspired by his take on how America is at risk of losing their sense of history. If we haven’t learned the lessons of our past, historically, we can’t recognize when elements come back to haunt us, which is what’s happening right now,” Morton adds.

Interestingly, Offering‘s latest single “Darker” is from the album’s third movement, and as Morton explains, the song details some of the final stages of the album’s main character’s memory crisis in which he loses the critical distinctions separating self from other. And naturally all kinds of chaos and confusion ensue. And while the arrangement balances a hook laden arena rock friendliness with a sweeping, cinematic quality, it possesses a tense and creeping anxiousness of someone, who’s fully aware of something horrifying happening to them and that they’re utterly powerless to stop it — but along with that, there’s the strange recognition that whatever it was that it was happening to them is something they’d have a difficult time explaining to someone else. Personally, what makes the song interesting is that Morton as a songwriter has revealed himself to have a novelist’s attention to psychological detail, capturing the fractured thoughts and uncertain emotions of someone slowly losing it all.


The band will begin 2018 with a lengthy US and European tour, and it includes a January 27, 2018 stop at The Music Hall of Williamsburg. Check out the tour dates below.




New Video: The Playful and Summery Visuals for Umm’s “Black Summer”

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site throughout the course of the summer, you’ve likely come across a couple of posts featuring the  Los Angeles, CA-based indie rock duo Umm. Comprised of Stefanie Drootin, best known for stints in The Good Life, Big Harp and in the backing bands of She & Him and Bright Eyes, and her Big Harp bandmate and husband Chris Senseney, the duo specialize in a 90s alt rock-inspired sound, full of fuzzy power chords, propulsive and forceful drumming paired with swoon-worthy boy-girl harmonizing and anthemic hooks; in fact, as a child of the 80s, who started to come of age in the 90s, “I’m in Love,” off the duo’s recently released full-length debut Double Worshipper instantly reminded me of the countless hours I spent watching 120 Minutes, of scanning the radio stations to make mixtapes of my favorite songs of the moment and of borrowing friends’ tapes and CDs and dubbing them on a Sony boombox stereo I had owned. 

Double Worshipper’s second single “Black Summer” continues along a similar vein as its predecessor, as it clearly 90s alt rock-inspired. And although the song manages to possess  some rather dark lyricism, there’s a breezy and old timey pop accessibility that bolsters both the song’s anthemic quality, as well as its mischievous irony; after all, the song is about rejecting the idea of some kind of stable, acceptable adulthood — and pretty much saying “Fuck it, it’s all bullshit. Just exist, man.” 

Directed by Mike Stillkey and shot with what looks like grainy Super 8 film, the video features the duo goofing off on a glorious Southern California day at the beach and in the desert, playing together and naturally a horse’s head mask, because — well, why not? 

Over the past month or so, I’ve written a bit about the  Los Angeles, CA-based indie rock duo Umm. Comprised of Stefanie Drootin, best known for stints in The Good LifeBig Harp and in the backing bands of She & Him and Bright Eyes, and her Big Harp bandmate (and her spouse), Chris Senseney, the Southern California duo specialize in a decidedly 90s, alt-rockinspired sound, full of fuzzy power chords, plaintive and swooning harmonizing and anthemic hooks reminiscent of The BreedersThe Posies and others. And in that same month or so period, you may recall the 120 Minutes-like “I’m in Love,” and the dark yet breezy “Black Summer” off the duo’s soon-to-be released debut together, Double Worshipper.

Double Worshipper‘s third and latest single is the slow-burning and moody ballad “Yeah I Want It,” and while further cementing their growing reputation for crafting anthemic, 90s alt rock-inspired tracks with rousing hooks; but what makes this particular track different is its emphasis on swooning boy-girl harmonies and a dreamily wistful melody, which makes the song the most summery, if not most dream pop-leaning song they’ve released to date.





Last month, I wrote about the  Los Angeles, CA-based indie rock duo Umm. Comprised of Stefanie Drootin, best known for stints in The Good Life, Big Harp and in the backing bands of She & Him and Bright Eyes, and her Big Harp bandmate Chris Senseney, the duo specialize in an alt rock-inspired sound, complete with fuzzy power chords, plaintive and swooning harmonizing and anthemic hooks reminiscent of The Breeders, The Posies and others; in fact, as a child of the 80s, who started to come of age in the 90s, “I’m in Love,” off the duo’s soon-to-be released full-length Double Worshipper instantly reminded me of countless hours watching 120 Minutes, making mixtapes of my favorite songs off the radio, spending even more hours in record stores and trading cassette tapes with friends.  Interestingly enough, the album’s latest single “Black Summer” will further cement the duo’s growing reputation for crafting 90s alt rock inspired material; but in the case of their latest single, the song possesses a breeziness that underlies both the dark lyricism and anthemic nature of the song.



Comprised of Stefanie Drootin, best known for stints in The Good Life, Big Harp and in the backing bands of She & Him and Bright Eyes, and her Big Harp bandmate Chris Senseney, the Los Angeles, CA-based indie rock duo Umm specialize in a sound that features fuzzy power chords, plaintive and swooning pop-leaning harmonizing and anthemic hooks reminiscent of The Breeders, The Posies and others as you’ll hear on “I’m in Love,” the latest single off the duo’s forthcoming full-length debut Double Whisper. Certainly, as a child of the 80s, who started to come off age in the 90s, “I’m in Love” reminds me of making mixtapes, dubbing my friends tapes and making dubs for friends and spending countless hours in record stores.