Swedish sisters Klara and Johana Söderberg formed First Aid Kit when they were just teenagers, releasing their first EP when Johana was 17 and Klara was 15. Ten years later, the duo is still going strong, having released their fourth album Ruins in January. The record shows them maturing even further in their songwriting, and more deeply exploring the country music influences which have flavored their previous releases. Their tour for the record brought them to the Lincoln Theatre on Friday, where they performed for a sold-out audience.
In 2008, Klara and Johanna Söderberg were just two Swedish kids with powerful voices and an undeniable love for American country and folk music. That same year, a video of them performing the Fleet Foxes track " Tiger Mountain Peasant" rocketed them into the spotlight, and they've never really left. On their fourth album Ruins, the duo moves beyond merely celebrating the American folk canon; they take their place as masters of the craft alongside the artists they idolize.
PLUS! Singer/guitarist Lauren Calve and her band Run Come See have taken a hard look at the state of Trump's America, and on their latest single they're making it clear that they're not gonna take it anymore.
If you think about the sheer quantity of music that was released in 2012, the thought of compiling anything into some sort of consensus seems a fool’s errand. Yet, this year, like every year, our prehistoric brain takes over and we are once again force to assign, rearrange, tabulate and label until we are able to put together one of man’s greatest contributions to the universe: The list.
This year, eleven voters ended up contributing over seventy different albums to a pool that ultimately had to be whittled down to just ten. Every single staffer here has one thing in common - THEY FUCKING LOVE MUSIC – and I think this list represents not only the diversity of the ChunkyGlasses team, but why what we do is so much damn fun.
But the time for writing is done this year. Now we hash it out, mano y mano, for your listening pleasure. For the faint of heart, we’ve broken this booze soaked supersized podcast into ten bite size nuggets to consume at will should you choose. Either way, strap in, grab a cold one (or ten) and get ready to find out what happens when a bunch of music nerds with no filters lock themselves in a basement and hit record.
The Official ChunkyGlasses Top 10 Albums of 2012!!
Episode 18: Best Of 2012
Alt J - An Awesome Wave
"It’s nearly impossible to describe the album, which won this year’s Mercury award in Britain, without referencing that Alt-J has clearly found the soul and innovation Radiohead abandoned over the past five years. Joe Newman’s reedy voice weaves the best threads of world influence into ridiculously layered electronics, and the entire album runs like a drug-addled trip around the globe. The band’s name is written Alt-J because that’s the keyboard shortcut on a Mac to make the Delta symbol (?) – if this album weren’t spectacular, the whole thing would smack of a project by a bunch of art school jackholes, but fortunately for them it is spectacular." - Carrie
#10: Alt-J - An Awesome Wave
Dinosaur Jr. - Bet On Sky
"...I Bet On Sky doesn’t break much new ground, nor would Dino Jr.’s fans want it to. The leadoff single “Watch the Corners” starts with a crunchy one-chord intro before finding its way to the melodic noise that Mascis excels at. At 46, Mascis’ voice has never sounded better, inasmuch as a voice that doesn’t actually sing as much as mumble with style can sound better. He manages to convey some emotion on a slower tune, “Stick A Toe In,” which hearkens back to another Dino Jr. song, “I Don’t Wanna Go There,” with Mascis asking in both songs if he’s doomed to “walk alone.” “Pierce the Morning Rain” may cover the most ground in terms of illustrating all Dino Jr. does well; the opening riff throws a nod to Nirvana’s “Scentless Apprentice” before seguing into the kind of jaunty rock found on songs like “The Wagon,” then right back to the Sabbath power chords. It’s a garden of delights." - Justin
#9: Dinosaur Jr - I Bet On Sky
Frank Ocean - Channel Orange
"It’s a concept album. It’s a confession. It’s a snapshot of LA life unlike anything we’ve seen in years. Landing somewhere between Steely Dan and Stevie Wonder, Frank Ocean has made the album of his career and lucky for all of us, he’s just getting started. channel Orange is topping best of lists everywhere you look and it’s with good reason: It’s simply that good."
#8: Frank Ocean - channel Orange
Hundred Visions – Permanent Basement
Good morning class, my name is Dr. Jim Sullivan and I’ll be your instructor for this semester’s class; Introduction on How to Rock Face 101. Here is your first assignment. I want you to go home, put on Hundred Visions Permanent Basement and loosen up your rock maneuvers along with some serious rock face. Although, there is one condition, you cannot, and I repeat, do not, at any point in this exercise rock face to this album into or near a mirror or any other reflective surfaces. I’ll see you all tomorrow for our discussion.
Welcome back class. Well, based upon the look on all of your melted faces, you probably think that I’m disappointed to see that you all have failed to follow the instructions. Billy, what was the last instruction I gave? Uhhhmmm, don’t look into a mirror or reflective surface while rocking face to Hundred Visions? Correct Billy, and based on your experience, why would I give you that instruction? Uhhhmmm, because even the reflection alone of how hard this album makes us rock face would cause us to melt our own faces off? Correct Billy, but sometimes the best education is experiencing the true power of rocking face first hand. You can thank Hundred Visions for that one. Good job class, now let me tell you about an album I like to call U.F.O.
Damien Jurado - Maraqopa
Similar to Jim Sullivan’s 1969 masterpiece U.F.O., Maraqopa is a lush, multi-layered and mysterious sounding folk album that may not get the credit it deserves in its day and age. This album is also one of the few examples of how to tastefully use strings and choirs in modern music. But, like a fine wine, this one will definitely age well and stand the test of time so that it can be lauded when the Space Jesus returns (listen to podcast 17, time stamp 52 minutes for further explanation on that front.) I just hope Damien doesn’t mimic Sullivan and decide to walk into the desert and get summoned back to another planet where the general public appreciates his music in the time when it is actually happening. So, as Carrie would say, sometimes you have to ask yourself What Would Alien Jesus Do? Well, apparently he would listen to Damien Jurado.
First Aid Kit – The Lion's Roar
The Soderberg sisters have grown up in a hurry and keep getting better. This alternately beautiful and haunting album doesn’t have a weak spot on it, and a guest appearance by the Felice Brothers (among many others) makes for a fun ending.
Dent May - Do Things
The album we all wish the Beach Boys had released this year, Do Things was the best album of the summer and, it turns out, one of the most fun records of the year.
They say that some things only get better with time, and for the sake of argument let’s just assume that it’s true. The thing about time though is that…it’s takes TIME. So how does one explain the rapid ascent, now complete domination of First Aid Kit? Not four years ago, the sisterly duo of Johanna and Klara Söderberg were sending adorable love letters to America’s Fleet foxes via YouTube. Judging by their gleefully “over the top” performance this past Tuesday it’s hard to believe that these days they couldn’t command a crowd 100 times that of the sold out Sixth and I Synagogue.
That they are simply better now is no surprise. Over the course of two albums, and EP and a few years of touring, the two have honed their craft to perfection. Earlier this year they delivered a stellar show here in DC at the Black Cat, and if there was anything to nitpick, anything at all, it seemed that while they had the singing down in spades, the performance side of things slightly - but only slightly - short.
Jump forward to this week and a performance replete with sing-a-longs, head banging and at times, stadium worthy lighting effects that left everyone in the room with a grin on their face that said “Where the hell did these kids even come from?” Through older songs like “In The Morning,” “Hard Believer” and a foot stomping take on The Big Black And The Blue’s “Sailor Song,” the sisters, along with drummer Mattias Bergqvist, gave the audience a sense of just how the group got to where they are today, but it was the material off of their latest release, The Lion’s Roar that sent the evening soaring.
The pairing up of bands for a tour can be a daunting proposition. On hand, the business one to be exact, you’ve got to consider your demographic spread. That’s a terrible term to be used when talking about music, but it’s a simple economic fact. If you don’t put butts in seats (or feet on floors if you’re at The Black Cat) then the chances that you’ll be off on tour again, especially if you’re the opener, greatly diminish with each stop along the way. One way, the easy way to sell out a venue is to put two artists on the bill who, in theory, could swap their musical genomes at will without much muss or fuss - and on the surface that’s what Friday nights show at The Black Cat offered. But you didn’t have to dig very deep to discover that any attempt at homogeneous commercial bliss is of little to no consequence when dealing with two bands this talented.
Sounds Like: Name of the song says it all; Jenny Lewis; Emmylou Harris; Fleet Foxes
Why you should care: Stellar harmonies and name checking Emmylou, Gram, Johnny and June never hurt anyone. And..these kids are f@#@ing ADORABLE.
Sweden is the last place you'd expect to find a duo of talented singer/songwriters that pick harmonies from the ether like a ripe frui....wait..wtf am I talking about? Sweden is EXACTLY the place where you would expect a duo like this to come from!!
Sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg, first gained widespread attention in 2008 with a YouTube video of them covering Fleet Foxes "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song" that went viral. That performance eventually landed them on stage actually performing the song with the Foxes, and into the hearts and earholes of lovers of folk-rock everywhere.