We’ve all heard a sweet, drooling mouthful from American critics about the unique harmonies of Seattle band Fleet Foxes. But their modern take on traditional folk music has made them particularly popular in Northern Europe, especially so with Swedish sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg.
In the summer of 2008 the teen sisters, who form the band First Aid Kit posted a simple video cover of the Fleet Foxes’ Tiger Mountain Peasant Song on YouTube. In the video the sisters sing the song sitting on a log in the forest near their hometown of Eskede, a suburb a little over four miles from Stockholm.
This very Pacific-Northwest-themed video gave me and 3 million other Fleet Foxes fans perpetual chills. The sisters have voices of silk and stone. Like Fleet Foxes themselves, they’re heavily influenced by 60’s and 70’s folk musicians like Bob Dylan and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Their songs bring forth intimacy and honesty with their graceful and truthful lyrics accompanied by perfectly melded harmonies.
The Tiger Mountain Peasant Song video captured the attention of Robin Pecknold, front man and lead guitarist for the Fleet Foxes. In late 2008, First Aid Kit shared a stage in Holland with the Fleet Foxes, and their career caught fire from there.
“When artists write pretty folk songs with perfect vocal harmonies it’s not too hard to get people’s attention, although it definitely helps to have Robin Pecknold point people in your direction.” said Stranger music critic Jeff Kirby in an email.
Before their Fleet Foxes cover, First Aid Kit released a debut EP called Drunken Trees on a local Swedish record label. In 2010 the band came out with its first full length album, The Big Black and the Blue, and played close to 100 shows around the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and parts of Europe.
Their newest album, The Lion’s Roar, was released January 23 by London-based Wichita Records. The album is strong and bounding with singles like ‘The Lion’s Roar” and “Emmylou,” which reflect the bands’ folk-county roots.
First Aid Kit is currently touring New Zealand and Australia, and are going to start their tour of the US in the end of March. On April 11th they’ll be back where it all started (in a way) to play a sold-out show at the Crocodile.