stockholm

concert: first aid kit

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on 1st november, first aid kit played shoreditch town hall in london. three days later, i am still happily caught in their harmonies like in an autumn fog.

the evening began with van william, whom i had once seen with his band port o’brien when i had a stubborn cold. this time, he seemed more earnest as he played his new solo songs, even as he made jokes about how he kept losing his guitar string at difficult notes and guessed his way to his next london gig. he also took us back to port o’brien times with “fisherman’s son” (whee), and was joined by first aid kit for “revolution”.

first aid kit‘s set went from new fireworks skating across frozen lakes towards lonely finish lines, to nights cutting like knives in “it’s a shame” (oh my, do i feel for klara in this video), from singing about cold stockholm and dancing to trombone solos in “emmylou” to “you are the problem here” which, as klara said, was written as a response to brock turner but sadly “keeps remaining relevant”. johanna and klara took the time to introduce their wonderful band warmly and their friend van came back out to sing on “king of the world“. apart from all the singing, dancing, and exuberant smiles exchanged freely between audience and band, one of my favourite moments was the first encore, “ghost town”, which johanna and klara performed by themselves and acoustic. they invited everyone to join in, even if they didn’t know the lyrics and people sang softly, like a ghost choir.

a gig like a seaside campfire, lovely and brilliant all around. and, judging from “fireworks”, “it’s a shame”, and “postcard”, their upcoming album ruins, out on 19th january 2018, will be one for the “repeat” button.

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leonard cohen afterworld

when i was about fifteen, i fell for the line “give me a leonard cohen afterworld, so i can sigh eternally” in nirvana’s “pennyroyal tea“. i asked pa whether he had any leonard cohen albums – he said no but i did find a best of leonard cohen cassette tape in his shelves. and oh. i played it over and over. on a class trip i made my friends listen to it on a walkman. i used the line “we are ugly but we have the music” in an english exam in school. i made friends with so many lines in leonard cohen’s songs. so much so that when someone says “new york is cold”, i can’t help saying “but i like where i’m living“. i learned “hey, that’s no way to say goodbye” on the ukulele with one friend and have sung it with many others since. i read beautiful losers and book of longing, not always following but always inspired. and inspired by the places he went, too. turning from literature to music in his thirties, living in a monastry in his sixties, going on tour again in his seventies.

considering how long he’d been around for, i never thought i’d be able to see leonard cohen play anywhere. until i did. once on my own in stockholm in 2008. i cried and laughed, especially during “tower of song” (you’ll hear some of the wonderful audience giggles, as well as a leonard cohen secret, in this video). and shaking with excitement and surprise at hearing “suzanne” and “avalanche” and “take this waltz” and “the partisan” and “heart with no companion” and “famous blue raincoat” and basically almost every song that means the world to me (look, what a setlist!). leonard cohen also charmingly spoke of walking through stockholm earlier in the day and finding that everyone was taller and more handsome than himself. and in that moment, it was difficult to believe anyone could be. and then i saw him again, with my parents, in berlin in 2010, where he even sang “chelsea hotel” and “lover lover lover” and literally skipped across the stage with such delight that we were all love.

it is awfully sad to lose leonard cohen. 2016, you really have gone too far. but there is so much to remember, to read, to look at, and to listen to. like this lovely bittersweet two pints story on leonard cohen by roddy doyle, this picture of amanda palmer, and these words by first aid kit. like leonard cohen’s last album you want it darker, which is a fine companion for getting lost and finding cracks where light gets in.

we are lonely but we have the music ♥

 

the wave pictures

the wave pictures catch surreal moments and disappointments with silly lines and sad hooks. they like words and amateurism, designed all but one of their album covers themselves, and in their music videos, they’ve been known to walk on glasses, eat spaghetti while singing and play polaroids.

we met david tattersall, franic rozycki, jonny “huddersfield” helm and their friend david beauchamp for an interview before their daylight music gig at the union chapel. they told us about a birthday tradition, apologising to hull and an unsuccessful joke; debated whether or not they are grown-ups, and shared a couple of daydreams.

they also played us two songs from their upcoming album and a grateful dead cover for stockholm clouds (lookee here) and drew us a baffled cat! much love from us to the wave pictures for all these saturday morning adventures ♥

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stockholm clouds | the wave pictures

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before their daylight music gig at the union chapel, we traded david tattersall, franic rozycki and jonny “huddersfield” helm of the wave pictures three bananas (with their names on, as in their song “canary wharf“) for an interview and three songs for stockholm clouds. together with their friend david beauchamp, they played “remains” & “a letter from hull (dom’s song)” off their upcoming vinyl-only album a season in hull (out tomorrow!) and “friend of the devil” by grateful dead.

“remains”

“a letter from hull (dom’s song)”

“friend of the devil”

billie the vision & the dancers: the key to my magic world

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at the beginning of december, lars lindquist, maria thenor, sofia janninge and silvio arismendi of billie the vision & the dancers released their ep the key to my magic world. a world in which, i think, trees and human beings grow freewheelingly; which is lit up by music like by fairylights and campfires; which is magic because it is loved.

spanning over ten years and six brilliant albums with glow-in-the-dark titles, the band’s history is full of that kind of magic. they called their record label love will pay the bills; they turned a carpenter’s workshop in a forest near bräkne-hoby, sweden, into a home, a studio and an excellent cultural venue for the local community; their song with hello saferide and the covers that musical friends such as the pipettes, maia hirasawa, little marbles and seasick steve made of their favourite billie songs sound like love letters; they have an admirable habit of making strangers into friends and their songs are like conversations about personal ghosts under beds, political nightmares walking the streets in broad daylight, not fitting in and, at the same time, delighting in human beings. their songs throw glitter at hate and are met with declarations of love (look at their youtube and facebook pages!). i think i first fell for this one and, of course, that one.

the key to my magic world is no less scintillating. i think it also gave us billie the vision & the dancer’s first official music video.

the ep is about making up your mind, letting in spring air and tomorrows, dangling from the captain’s hook and needing to give up on someone. with giddy chord progressions and exhilerating syllable hooks, it invites human beings to sing and be heard (especially poignant considering the heartfelt welcome to refugees in the last seconds of the video), offers music as both a healing drug and a religion and makes idiosyncratic troubles oddly relatable (and so catchy that, even as you recognise yourself, you feel better immediately). with lines like “if i could keep from crying, if my words would get through, i would call you up instantly and try to explain again“, the lyrics, as usual, look like conversation transcripts rather than songs but, oh, they sound like watercolour groove.

if you know billie the vision & the dancers already, i daresay you’ll be pleased to add this key to your collection, if you don’t, then, wheeee, pick it up and come on in! also, if at all possible, be good to yourself and dance with them on their it’s my drug it’s my religion tour 2016.

stockholm clouds | friska viljor

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friska viljor excavate sad moments, life-changing decisions and the extraordinary everyday with a mandolin, a melodica, exuberance and a friendship based on a childhood mud fight.

one sunny saturday in june, we ambushed daniel johansson and joakim sveningsson with caramel candy in hornstull. they refused the candy but agreed to sing their song “dreams” about unanswered questions and childhood friends. the sea was as intrigued as we were and came a bit closer to listen properly, resulting in a few wet feet and mid-song smiles ♥

“dreams” is on their latest album my name is friska viljor which is out today, awoo!