#4 on the 2012 Musical Bacon Calendar
Lion’s Roar by First Aid Kit
The album at #4 for the year also contains my #1 song of the year. I don’t tend to chart my favorite songs, as I’m very much an album listener over any one song on a record, but I have to make an exception for “Emmylou,” the second song on First Aid Kit’s lovely album Lion’s Roar. An ode to the beauty of famous country songwriter couples Graham Parsons & Emmylou Harris, Johnny & June Cash, the song feels like a fictionalized country & western past brought to life through drippingly sappy dual harmonies. It is gorgeous, and that song alone, shown in the video above, will make me think of 2012 more than any other song.
The album is equally breathtaking. These two Swedish sisters know how to craft a song. You may think you don’t like country music, but as cliché as it sounds, this isn’t anything like the country music you’ve tried hard not to hear before. I beg you to give this a listen, to hear the earnestness in their voices, the finger-picking and slide-playing guitars, those harmonies. Total beauty in recorded sound.
I got to see the band perform at the Croc back in April, and I wrote a long piece about the show over on Another Rainy Saturday:
First Aid Kit, sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg — 22 and 19 respectively — have been playing and performing together for a very long time. The first time I (and probably most everyone else at the show) heard them was in 2008, when they posted a video of the two of them beautifully singing Fleet Foxes’ “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song.” Unfortunately, I missed the release of their Karin Dreijer Andersson-produced EP, Drunken Trees, shortly after that video was posted, as well as their 2010 debut album, The Big Black & The Blue. But when I heard “Emmylou,” from their 2nd album The Lion’s Roar for the first time earlier this year, the memory of what I loved about that original video — the range of their amazing vocal talents — came rushing back.
There were some great little moments in that performance at the Croc that really sealed the deal for me on First Aid Kit:
For the song “Ghost Town,” from their debut album, they chose to do an experiment. Asking the crowd to get quiet, and the Croc to cut the loud fan hanging above, the sisters came out to the edge of the stage. Encouraging the crowd to sing along, and Johanna on an unplugged guitar, they proceeded to sing the song entirely mic-less. Their voices were strong enough to be heard over the crowd, quietly singing along with the chorus. It was gorgeous.
And also some rather big moments:
First Aid Kit’s songs make them appear wholesome and sheltered, even though this isn’t the first time they’ve been on a worldwide tour. But they managed to shatter that image with the performance of a single cover song, Patti Smith’s “Dancing Barefoot.” It was as if a new band had come out after a brief break. They were head banging, going a little wild with their instruments, and Klara, the younger of the two, did a great job with the spoken-word portion at the end of the song. It was raw, rough, and guttural — completely unlike the rest of the set.
Be sure to watch these other videos from the band: “Blue,” and “Wolf.” I’m going to be listening to this album for many many years to come. It comes with a built-in timelessness that will make it all the more easy to pick up at any time, in any era, and just bathe in it’s sound.
5. Maraqopa by Damien Jurado
6. Shallow Bed by Dry The River
7. Valtari by Sigur Rós
8. The Heist by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
9. Heaven by The Walkmen
10. State Hospital EP by Frightened Rabbit
11. A Thing Called Divine Fits by Divine Fits
12. Some Nights by fun.
13. Tramp by Sharon van Etten
14. Fear Fun by Father John Misty
15. Love This Giant by David Byrne and St. Vincent
16. To The Treetops! by Team Me
17. The Master: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by Jonny Greenwood
18. There’s No Leaving Now by The Tallest Man On Earth
19. Transcendental Youth by The Mountain Goats
20. A Church That Fits Our Needs by Lost In The Trees
21. Hospitality by Hospitality
22. Free Dimensional by Diamond Rings
23. History Speaks by Deep Sea Diver
24. A Different Ship by Here We Go Magic
25. Negotiations by the Helio Sequence
26. Moms by Menomena
27. The Sound of the Life of the Mind by Ben Folds Five
28. Shields by Grizzly Bear
29. Every Child A Daughter, Every Moon A Sun by The Wooden Sky
30. Fragrant World by Yeasayer
31. Reign of Terror by Sleigh Bells