Tag: folk

Lyric Video: Acclaimed Canadian Duo Twin Flames Release a Slickly Produced and Empathetic Single

Twin Flames is a highly celebrated Ottawa-based husband and wife duo featuring:

Chelsey June, an Ottawa-born singer/songwriter, who is a part of the Mètis, a multi-ancestral indigenous group who can trace their descent from both indigenous North Americans and European settlers and can claim Algonquin Cree ancestors.

Jaaji, a Nunavik-born singer/songwriter who’s part Inuk and Mohawk.

The individual members of Twin Flames have had their own respective critically applauded, multi-award winning and nominated careers when they met, decided to work together, and fell in love during the filming of APTN’s Talent Autochrones Musical (TAM). Since the pair joined together personally and professionally, they’ve had an enviable run of success as a result of work l that meshes the contemporary and traditional with lyrics sung in Inuttitut, English and French:

They’ve been nominated for 25 awards, including two Canadian Folk Music Awards wins and three Native Music Award wins.
They’ve had two #1 hits on the Indigenous Music Countdown’s Top 40.
They’ve played 1000+ shows across Canada, the States, Australia and France
They were selected as artist-in-residence for last year’s Folk Alliance International conference.
The Canadian duo partnered with UNESCO to write the official song celebrating the International Year of Indigenous Languages.
“Human” was chosen as part of last year’s CBC’s Music Class Challenge.
The music video for “Broke Down’Ski’Tuuq was the first Inuttitut language video to be featured on Canadian music channel MuchMusic.

The indigenous duo’s third album OMEN is reportedly a sonic departure from their previously released material — with the album finding the duo’s sound incorporating edgier elements of alt pop, and indie rock as the duo explain in press notes is “concept-based around a dystopian reality, global warming, and humankind free of social classes, mental health, and addictions.”

OMEN’s first single, “Battlefields” is a perfect example of what listeners should expect from the album: shimmering and glistening synth arpeggios, big thumping beats, a rousingly anthemic hook, some indie rock-styled guitar lines and the duo’s plaintive boy-girl harmonies singing lyrics in English and Inuttitut. The end result is a slick, radio friendly and accessible pop anthem. But underneath the slick polish, the song possesses a gentle yet urgent plea to the listener — especially those within the Indigenous community — to seek help if they’re struggling. True strength is when you acknowledge you need help, that you can’t face it all alone. Along with that, there’s the tacit understanding that everyone struggles with their mental health at some point; being a caring, kind and thought personal in a morally bankrupt and nonsensical world is difficult as it is.

“Mental health is a battle that many people face in silence,” Twin Flames’ Chelsey June says. ““This song speaks to the stigma associated with it.” Jaaji adds, “In the Arctic of Canada, Inuit People face the highest amount of suicides in the world. ‘Battlefields’ is a song to remind our people we have to fight our own minds to survive, we are fighters, and together, we can feel less alone and win this battle.”

Portland, OR-based The Parson Red Heads — currently Evan Way (guitar, vocals), Brette Marie Way (drums, vocals), Robbie Augspurger (bass), Raymond Richards (multi-instrumentalist, production), the band’s newest member Jake Smith (guitar) and a rotating cast of friends, collaborators and associates — can trace their origins back to when its founding members met while attending college in Eugene OR back in 2004, studying for degrees that as the band’s Evan Way once joked “never used or even completed.” 

The members of the then newly formed Parson Red Heads spent the next year writing songs and rehearsing constantly. “We would rehearse in the living room of my house for hours and hours until my roommates would be driven crazy — writing songs and playing them over and over again, and generally having as much fun as a group of people can have,” Way fondly recalls. “We weren’t sure if we were very good, but we were sure that there was a special bond growing between us, a chemistry that you didn’t find often.”

In 2006, the band relocated to Los Angeles, with the hopes that they would take music seriously and become a real band. The members of the band moved into and shared a one bedroom apartment in West Los Angeles. “Eventually the population of our 1 bedroom ballooned to 7 — all folks who played in our band at that point, too,” Way says of the band’s early days in Southern California. The Parson Red Heads quickly became mainstays in a growing, 60s-inspired folk and psych folk scene primarily based in Los Angeles’ Silverlake and Echo Park sections. “We played every show we could lay our collective hands on, which turned out to be a lot of shows. We must have played 300+ shows in our first two years in L.A.  . . . . We practiced non-stop and wrote a ton of songs, and eventually recorded our debut album King Giraffe at a nice little studio in Sunland, with the help of our friends Zack and Jason,” Way recalls.

After the release of King Giraffe, The Parson Red Heads spent the next three years writing new material and touring, which eventually resulted in their sophomore album, 2011’s Yearling. The album was partially recorded at Los Angeles-based studio Red Rockets Glare with Raymond Richards, who had then joined the band to play pedal steel and in North Carolina at Fidelitorium with The dB’s Chris Stamey. After finishing the album, the members of the band decided to quit their day jobs and give up their apartments to go on a lengthy tour with their friends Cotton Jones. After the tour was completed, they relocated to Portland. 

With their first two albums, the band had developed a reputation for performing an uninhabited live show, in which they could easily morph from earnest folk to ass-kicking rock anthems with their sound and approach being inspired by The ByrdsTeenage FanclubBig StarCrosby, Stills, Nash and Young and Jackson Browne. Interestingly, with the band’s third album 2013’s Orb Weaver, the band desired to capture the energy and sound of their live sound.  “We’re always made records that were more thought-out,” Way says of Orb Weaver

2017’s Blurred Harmony found the JOVM mainstays actively intending to do things much differential than their previously released work — with the band recording and tracking themselves. They would set up drums and amps and furiously record Blurred Harmony‘s material after everyone put their kids to sleep, finishing that day’s session before it got too late. And as a result, Way says  “the record is more a true part of us than any record we have made before — we put ourselves into it, made ourselves fully responsible for it. Even the themes of the songs are more personal than ever — it’s an album dealing with everything that has come before. It’s an album about nostalgia, about time, change, about the hilarious, wonderful, bittersweet, sometimes sad, always incredible experience of living. Sometimes it is about regret or the possibility of regret. These are big topics, and to us, it is a big album, yet somehow still intimate and honest.”

After the release of Blurred Harmony, the band’s founding member Sam Fowles left the band, and the members of the band were forced to ask themselves tough questions about both the future of the band and its creative direction. The remaining founding members recruited touring guitarist Jake Smith to join the band full-time, and then they decided to approach any new material with a completely new lens. Slated for a November 13, 2020 release through their longtime label homes Fluff and Gravy Records across North America and You Are The Cosmos across Europe, The Parson Red Heads’ fifth album Lifetime of Comedy reportedly finds the band excavating the bedrock of their well-honed sound and allowing it to be remolded. While remaining a quintessentially Parson Red Heads album, the material as Way contends in press notes are the most collaborative they’ve written and recorded to date. 

Initially starting the recording of Lifetime of Comedy earlier this year, The Parson Red Heads quickly found themselves and their plans in limbo as a result of pandemic-related lockdowns and quarantines. And once studios could reopen, sessions continued at a snail’s place for small, very intimate sessions. With the material being recorded in a delicate, touch and go period, the album’s material seems to be deeply informed by a sense of perseverance and hope. 

Earlier this month, I wrote about “All I Wanted,” Lifetime of Comedy‘s first single was classic Parson Red Heads — a breezy yet carefully and thoughtfully crafted song centered around shimmering guitars, twangy steel pedal. rousing sing-a-long choruses, saccharine bursts of multi-part harmonies, Evan Way’s plaintive vocals and incredibly earnest lyricism, born of lived-in experiences. And while superficially sounding as though it could have easily been part of the Blurred Harmony sessions, the track possessed a subtly free-flowing, jammier vibe, that evokes the sensation of longtime friends creating something new with a revitalized sense of togetherness. Interestingly, Lifetime of Comedy‘s second and latest single “Turn Around” is a shimmering and heartfelt declaration of devotion but unlike its predecessor, it sound as though it were influenced by classic 80s and early 90s jangle pop, complete with soaring organs. It’s the sort of sweet and timeless love song that’s deceptively simple yet absolutely necessary. Sometimes all that ever needs to be said to our loved ones is “I’ll be always there.”

“‘Turn Around’ started as a lot of the songs I’ve been writing these days do – as a half-jibberish sung melody line, sung into my phone’s voice memo while driving,” The Parson Red Heads’ frontman Evan Way explains in press notes. “It stayed in that form for a good year before I found it, dusted it off, and brought it to the band. This song is a testament to the strength of the bands collaborative writing on this album. Everyone’s parts are so integral to the song’s small and simple beauty. It’s a simple love song, the lyrics a statement of devotion – in many ways, it is like a classic old Parson Red Heads song, in both theme and sound, but it has this element of The La’s or The Charlatans in it that I just love. And Raymond (Richards, multi-instrumentalist and producer) was able to help us get such a great mix of guitar sounds, 12-strings, Nashville strung electric – a great balance of being lush without being over-crowded.”  

New Audio: Acclaimed Rwandan Act The Good Ones Release a Nostalgic Ode to Soccer and Innocence

Acclaimed Kigali, Rwanda-based folk act The Good Ones — co-lead singer Janvier Hauvgimana, co-lead singer and primary songwriter Adrien Kazigira and Javan Mahoro — can trace their origins back to roughly 1978 when the founding members of the band were children. Hauvgimana’s older brother taught them music — and they’ve been writing and playing together ever since. Starting off a long list of heartbreaking tragedies and unthinkable horrors, Hauvgimana’s older, who was also blind, later died in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

The members of The Good Ones formed the band as part of the healing process after the genocide and interestingly enough, the band’s original trio featured individual members of each of Rwanda’s three tribes — Tutsi, Hutu and Abatwa — symbolically and metaphorically reuniting a country that had been split apart at its seams. But on a personal level, for each of the band’s founding members, the band was an active attempt to seek out “the good ones” after witnessing and enduring unthinkable horrors.

Most of the members of the band are small plot, subsistence farmers — with two of the band’s members living on family plots that have been passed down through several generations. Because most Rwandans are very poor, instruments are very rare. And yet, they find creative ways to play and create music: Sometimes they may find and use a broken guitar. But in most cases, they’ll make their own instruments, sometimes incorporating their farm tools.

Last year, the Rwandan folk act released their critically applauded album Rwanda, You Should Be Loved through Anti- Records. The album was written and recorded during periods of profound loss and heartbreak for their producer: Adrien Kazigira’s 13 year-old Marie Claire had a life-threatening tumor that afflicted her left eye. Producer Ian Brennan’s mother and a former bandmember and founding member had both died during the sessions. The album was recorded in a very simple fashion without overdubs at Kazigira’s family farm — and thematically, the album focused on their experiences and lives. Although, written and sung in their native tongue, their work has drawn comparisons to bluegrass, country, Americana and acoustic Mississippi Delta Blues as it talks about the plight of their fellow farmers, their countrymen and off working men everywhere struggling to get by as best as they can.

“Soccer (Summer 1988)” is the first bit of new material from the act since last year’s Rwanda, You Are Loved. Much like all of their work, the song was recorded at Kazigira’s family farm — without overdubs. Centered around a deceptively simple yet mesmerizing arrangement of plucked acoustic guitar and a milk jug filled with milk from Kazigira’s prized cow for percussion, the band’s founding duo effortlessly interweave intricate and achingly earnest harmonies. Fittingly, the song is an end-of-summer song — a tale of of nostalgia for Rwanda’s beloved soccer club Rayon Sports F.C. in the more innocent days before the 1994 genocide, which later claimed some of the club’s players and countless fans. And as a result, the song is an acknowledgment of time passing, the prerequisite losses of time and a longing for when things were as simple as going to a soccer game and rooting for your beloved club with friends, family, coworkers and others. Other than memories, you can never get that back. But we push on as we always do.

Portland, OR-based The Parson Red Heads — currently Evan Way (guitar, vocals), Brette Marie Way (drums, vocals), Robbie Augspurger (bass), Raymond Richards (multi-instrumentalist, production), the band’s newest member Jake Smith (guitar) and a rotating cast of friends, collaborators and associates — can trace their origins back to when its founding members met while attending college in Eugene OR back in 2004, studying for degrees that as the band’s Evan Way once joked “never used or even completed.”

The members of the then newly formed Parson Red Heads spent the next year writing songs and rehearsing constantly. “We would rehearse in the living room of my house for hours and hours until my roommates would be driven crazy — writing songs and playing them over and over again, and generally having as much fun as a group of people can have,” Way fondly recalls. “We weren’t sure if we were very good, but we were sure that there was a special bond growing between us, a chemistry that you didn’t find often.”

In 2006, the band relocated to Los Angeles, with the hopes that they would take music seriously and become a real band. The members of the band moved into and shared a one bedroom apartment in West Los Angeles. “Eventually the population of our 1 bedroom ballooned to 7 — all folks who played in our band at that point, too,” Way says of the band’s early days in Southern California. The Parson Red Heads quickly became mainstays in a growing, 60s-inspired folk and psych folk scene primarily based in Los Angeles’ Silverlake and Echo Park sections. “We played every show we could lay our collective hands on, which turned out to be a lot of shows. We must have played 300+ shows in our first two years in L.A.  . . . . We practiced non-stop and wrote a ton of songs, and eventually recorded our debut album King Giraffe at a nice little studio in Sunland, with the help of our friends Zack and Jason,” Way reminisces.

After the release of King Giraffe, The Parson Red Heads spent the next three years writing new material and touring, which eventually resulted in their sophomore album, 2011’s Yearling. The album was partially recorded at Los Angeles-based studio Red Rockets Glare with Raymond Richards, who had then joined the band to play pedal steel and in North Carolina at Fidelitorium with The dB’s Chris Stamey. After finishing the album, the members of the band decided to quit their day jobs and give up their apartments to go on a lengthy tour with their friends Cotton Jones. After the tour was completed, they would relocate to Portland.

Simultaneously, the band had developed a reputation for performing an uninhabited live show, in which they could easily morph from earnest folk to ass-kicking rock anthems with their sound and approach being inspired by The ByrdsTeenage FanclubBig StarCrosby, Stills, Nash and Young and Jackson Browne. Interestingly, with the band’s third album 2013’s Orb Weaver, the band desired to capture the energy and sound of their live sound.  “We’re always made records that were more thought-out,” Way says of Orb Weaver.

The Portland-based band’s fourth album, 2017’s Blurred Harmony found the band actively intending to do things differently than they did on their previously released work — with them and recording and tracking themselves: frequently, they would set up drums ad amps and furiously record Blurred Harmony‘s material after everyone put their kids to sleep, finishing that day’s session before it got too late. And as a result, Way says  “the record is more a true part of us than any record we have made before — we put ourselves into it, made ourselves fully responsible for it. Even the themes of the songs are more personal than ever — it’s an album dealing with everything that has come before. It’s an album about nostalgia, about time, change, about the hilarious, wonderful, bittersweet, sometimes sad, always incredible experience of living. Sometimes it is about regret or the possibility of regret. These are big topics, and to us, it is a big album, yet somehow still intimate and honest.”

After the release of Blurred Harmony, the band’s founding member Sam Fowles left the band — and the members of the band were forced to ask themselves tough questions about both the future of the band and its creative direction. The remaining founding members recruited their touring Jake Smith to join the band full-time, and then they decided to approach any new material with a completely new lens. Slated for a November 13, 2020 release through their longtime label homes Fluff and Gravy Records across North America and You Are The Cosmos across Europe, The Parson Red Heads’ fifth album Lifetime of Comedy reportedly finds the band excavating the bedrock of their well-honed sound and allowing it to be remolded. While remaining a quintessentially Parson Red Heads album, the material as Way contends in press notes are the most collaborative they’ve written and recorded to date.

Initially starting the recording of Lifetime of Comedy earlier this year, The Parson Red Heads quickly found themselves and their plans in limbo as a result of pandemic-related lockdowns and quarantines. And once studios could reopen, sessions continued at a snail’s place for small, very intimate sessions. With the material being recorded in a delicate, touch and go period, the album’s material seems to be deeply informed by a sense of perseverance and hope.

“All I Wanted,” Lifetime of Comedy‘s first single is classic Parson Red Heads — breezy yet careful and thoughtfully crafted song centered around shimmering guitars, twangy steel pedal, rousing sing–a-long choruses, saccharine bursts of multi-part harmonies, Evan Way’s plaintive falsetto and incredibly earnest lyricism, born of lived-in experiences. And while superficially sounding as though it could have easily been part of the Blurred Harmony sessions, the track manages to possess a subtle free-flowing, jammier vibe. If you pay close attention, you can literally feel longtime friends creating something with a revitalized sense of togetherness.

Featuring a regretful and brokenhearted narrator, “All I Wanted” thematically is full of the hindsight and regret of someone looking back at the past — their past selves, their past mistakes and misgivings — and wishing that there was some way that they could undo it, so that they could remain in a relationship that they desperately prized above everything else. And yet, there’s a tacit recognition that while you may pine for the past, you can’t ever get it back. In fact, life does what it always does — pushes and forces you forward.

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The Bland is a rising Swedish indie pop/folk act that can trace its origins back to when its five members met serendipitously while traveling through New Zealand as teenagers. Feeling an instant musical simpatico, the members of the band promised to keep in touch and reunite when they returned home. Upon their return to Sweden, the band’s frontman Axel Öberg rented a big house, so that the members of the band could live and work together. That living space had an ad-hoc rehearsal space — the basement.

Although they didn’t initially have big career plans, they wrote a number of songs, which they returned in their home studio, Röda Paradise, a red wooden hut in Southern Stockholm — and for money, they tagged along with a friend’s band, selling milkshakes at music festivals. In between sets they played music to entertain themselves. But little did they know, their folk pop sound caught the attention of a small, local production company, a company that managed to run one of their homeland’s music festivals.

With the release of last year’s Beautiful Distance, the members of the Swedish folk pop project started to built up a growing international profile with captivating and critically applauded live shows across Scandinavia and Europe that included stops at Hamburg‘s Reeperbahn Festival and others across the international festival circuit. Building upon a profile, the members of The Bland are currently working on their forthcoming album, La Hata Vitoye, a concept album that tells a Romantic tale of an imaginary bar and town by the name of La Hata Vitoye. The band created a detailed historical background for the town that goes back to the 1300s, then created characters and situations and wrote detailed stories, which they then wrote accompanying music to them.

The album’s concept story begins at La Hata Vitoye, a tiny bar, located by the coast. As the band explains, the bar and its town, is the sort of place where caravans and traveling entertainers take refuge after long periods of touring and traveling. It’s the sort of place that returning travelings tell stories about — stories that seem way too good to exist in real life. But every character within this world brings something new to the story. As the world begins to hear more about the town, it starts to grow — and dramatic events occur to develop the town’s destiny. The album’s latest single, album title track “La Hata Vitoye” is an exuberant, breezy and mischievous track that draws equally from Tropicalia, Afro pop and Latin music, centered around a euphoric hook. While sonically recalling a deliriously upbeat Graceland-era Paul Simon, that exuberance is actually a bit deceptive in light of the pandemic. In many ways, the song evokes the chance encounters, the late nights in some sweaty and dark club, dancing to a band or a DJ that has the room rocking, the friends and regulars you’d encounter at your bar, your favorite club or what have you and so on.

.“When we were on tour in Germany last February, we heard about the first Corona cases,” The Bland’s frontman Axel Öberg explains. “Over the next few months, as a practicing doctor in Sweden, I saw how social isolation harmed people. With ‘La Hata Vitoye’ we want to try to look at life differently again, to come together and share a positive attitude towards life. This place called La Hata Vitoye, which we are talking about, will become a real actual place at our own festivals next summer. And we can’t wait to meet as many as possible there. If the situation permits.”

Currently based in Oakland, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Lauren Hulbert has had a rather nomadic life, spending time living on both the East Coast and West Coast, as well as Thailand and Ecuador, among other places. Interestingly, Hulbert’s career has revealed an artists who has specialized in genre-defying diversity: as a child, the Oakland-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist was a classically trained pianist, who competed in Bach and classical festivals. As she got older, she taught herself guitar, eventually becoming a folk/pop artist, whose work sonically features elements of folk, alternative, country rock and pop — and thematically explores the human experience, while drawing from her own experiences. As a result, Hulbert’s work is deeply personal yet accessible, and reveals an article, who has her feet planted in the classical training of her youth and the folk and pop of her adulthood, while centered around her dreamy and soulful vocals.

Superbloom, the Oakland-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist’s forthcoming EP is slated for an October 30, 2020 release, and some of the EP’s sound and approach was inspired by Hulbert figuratively blooming back to life: Hulbert suffered a serious foot injury while on a surfing trip in Indonesia. For the next six months, she was immobile and it was unclear if she would ever be able to walk again. Understandably, it was a very dark period for her — life as she had knew it, had seemingly ending and whatever artistic and creative momentum was quelled as a result. Fortunately, over a year later, Hulbert has healed and she credits the experience as terrifying but ultimately beneficial, as it forced her to reassess her life and align herself with what’s really important. Additionally, the experience has also made her much more grateful for her health and the opportunity to write, perform, and share her music again.

Superbloom EP’s latest single is the Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea-era PJ Harvey-like “Gone in One.” is centered around jangling guitars, propulsive and shuffling drumming, subtle Flamenco handicapping and Hulbert’s expressive vocals within an alternating quiet, loud, quiet song structure. Sonically and thematically, the song is meant to evoke the sensation of being pushed away and pulled back in a romantic relationship that’s dysfunctional and unhealthy — but while featuring a narrator, who develops the strength to run as fast as she could from it.

“This song is a vulnerable, personal account of unknowingly losing oneself in someone else, which is lonely, confusing, and scary,” Hulbert explains in press notes. “It was like being stuck in a fog not knowing how to get out, looking to others to show me the way but just becoming more lost. I was constantly running internally, but getting nowhere, until I was exhausted into total indifference and I felt like the real me had been erased. Eventually, I realized I was the only one that could really save myself, so I dug really deep and found the strength to get out, which was incredibly hard. I didn’t know when or how I’d heal, but I knew I was on the right path.”

New Video: Xanthe Alexis Releases a Cinematic and Symbolic Visual for “Moon”

Born near Arizona’s Superstition Mountains, the rising singer/songwriter Xante Alexis spent much of her early youth in Michigan, where she grew up deeply steeped in mysticism. When Alexis turned 15 she relocated to Colorado Springs; at 19, she became pregnant with her first child; and when she turned 20, her sister died of a heart defect. Those tumultuous years helped cement her desire to create — while leading her towards a life centered around helping and healing others through language and music. 

After opening a healing centered with her mother, the Arizona-born, Colorado Springs-based singer/songwriter released her full-length debut, 2016’s Time of War to critical praise from the Colorado Springs Independent and a Best of 2017 award from Roots Music Report. Building upon a growing profile, Alexis played sets at Folk Alliance International, Americanafest and a three-week residency at the New York-based art collective, The Mothership. After more than a raced of touring the States and the European Union by car and van, Alexis eventually traded the road for the rails, supporting the album with a series of tours that crisscrossed the Western United States by train. 

The Colorado Springs-based singer/songwriter’s sophomore album The Offering is slated for a Friday release — and although written way before the pandemic, the album’s material is decidedly of our time: centered around soaring lush melodies and hypnotic soundscapes, the album thematically grapples with anxiety and strength, worry and comfort, heartbreak and hope. Influenced by Angel Olsen, Sharon Van Etten, Julien Baker, and Feist, the album’s material finds Alexis at her most compassionate, unflinchingly honest and most vulnerable, as her narrators — and in turn, the songwriter — seeking  much-needed acts of radical empathy and connection. Drawing from the Arizona-born, Colorado Springs-based singer/songwriter’s newfound sobriety and longtime passion for social activism, the album’s material finds her advocating for Native rights alongside the Water Protectors at Standing Rock, demanding racial justice in the streets with Black Lives Matter protestors and more. 

“Moon,” The Offering’s lush and mesmerizing single is centered around looping and twinkling, arpeggiated keys, a sinuous bass line, stuttering beats paired with Alexis’ ethereal yet achingly tender vocals and a soaring hook. And while sonically the song seems to nod at Stevie Nicks’ and Peter Gabriel, “Moon” is written from deeply lived-in, personal experience, which gives the song’s yearning an added emotional punch. 

Created and edited by TruLu Design’s Inaiah Lujan, the recently released and cinematically shot video for “Moon” follows a woman clad entirely in black — long black dress and black boots — as she walks purposefully through the forest with a wicker bag with white roses and other provisions for her journey. At a river clearing, we see the woman stop and make several small offerings to the river and to Mother Earth.  

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.”

New Video: Emerging Singer/Songwriter Enoch Porch Releases a Gorgeous Visual for Plaintive New Single “Grand Army”

Growing up in a hyper-fundamentalist Christian, home-school cult, the emerging Indiana-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Enoch Porch was isolated from all popular and secular music: as a child, he listened to his parents vinyl collection of classical music, church songs recorded in the 70s and Sousa marches. “I remember, age 5 or so, loving the rhythm and excitement of Sousa marches, the hypnotic repetition of Ravel’s ‘Bolero’, and the drama and emotion of The Nutcracker,” Porch recalls in press notes. “Many of my creative choices are still heavily influenced by early that musical diet.” 

When he turned 11, Porch quit school and learned to play multiple instruments and to record himself. “I was more excited about this particular path than were my folks, and I found myself locked inn a battle of wills with my ex-Marine fighter pilot/electrical engineer father for several years,” Porch says. The Indiana-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist adds that his father had a latent musical talent of his own and although he taught him to harmonize and to hear major and minor intervals — but he didn’t think that it was possible to make a living as a musician. However, his folks allowed him to work, mowing lawns around his small town to save up money for a guitar, then other instruments and recording instruments. As a teenager, Porch was a busy musician — and what he believed a recording engineer. 

Porch eventually moved to Nashville. And while in Music City, Porch had difficulty landing a job; so to get by, he gave plasma at a local blood bank to pay for his bills. He wound up landing a gig with a touring band and worked at local restaurants to keep afloat. 

The Indiana-born singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist then relocated to New York, where he found a partner, lost partner and fell into a deep depression. He found his way to a therapist, who taught him to un-learn false beliefs he has had since his childhood and to replace them with a certain type of care for his inner child. “It was not properly love, but the closest I had gotten to it. Eventually the seeds of care grew and I began to hold myself in high regard and to protect this precious heart,” Porch says. 

The emerging Indiana-born, Brooklyn-based artist’s solo debut single “Grand Army” is a lush, 70s AM rock-like track featuring shimmering guitars, a supple bass line, Porch’s plaintive vocals, twinkling keys and a soaring and expressive guitar solo. Centered around some quietly ambitious yet earnest songwriting, the song as Porch explains is inspired by deeply personal experience: “I fell deeply, painfully, in love with someone who was close to me but couldn’t love me back,” the Indiana-born, Brooklyn-based artist explains. “I lost contact with myself, as if my center had ripped right out of me. This song came out of exploring how this experience echoed the feelings I had as a child of my mother who, while in proximity, wasn’t able to give the kind of love her children needed.”

Directed by Gabriel Kurzlop, the recently released video employs a simple concept in a gorgeous fashion: We see Porch standing at the shore in a blue work coveralls as the camera slowly and gradually zooms closer throughout. Just before the song fades out, we see a brief flash of playfulness with Porch giving a sign to the camera.