Posts Tagged ‘Fireworks’

A mere two weeks after our last snow event, summer visited the Delaware Valley yesterday and Friday. Temperatures hit 84 degrees Fahrenheit both days, and then skipped out the backdoor last night. It’s a chilly and damp 50 degrees as I type, 9:02am Sunday morn, and the weather forecast for the week all but guarantees that the comforter will return to the bed tonight, and that the cat will be back beneath it, between my feet, for at least part of the evening.

Anyway, enough of the preamble. For yesterday’s Top 5, I looked back 40 years. For today’s Top 5: Suspended in Time. Just ‘cause.

1) Juliana Hatfield – “Suspended in Time.” Way back in February, I wrote of the announced track listing for the Juliana Hatfield Sings Olivia Newton-John album that “[t]he only change I would make: swapping out ‘Suspended in Time’ for ‘Come on Over.’” So it stands to reason that, now that I’ve lived with the album for a week and a half, it’s become one of my favorite songs from the set. It just floors me.

2) Courtney Marie Andrews – “Warning Sign.” I’ve shared this song before, but not this specific performance from the Schubas Tavern in Chicago on March 31st. On it, Courtney lets loose her inner Aretha…

3) First Aid Kit – “Fireworks.” To be honest, I’d just about forgotten that Ruins was released this year – seems like a lifetime ago. But here they are, on Jimmy Kimmel Live last week, performing my favorite track from the album….(update 6/4/18 – the clip was removed at some point in the past month. So here they are on KCRW from earlier in the year.)

4) The Staves & yMusic – “The Way Is Read.” Uploaded just last month, this performance is spellbinding. The song, of course, is from the Staves’ collaboration with yMusic, The Way Is Read.

5) Lone Justice – “East of Eden.” I mined this YouTube gem on Friday night: Maria McKee and Lone Justice circa 1985. The song is still a shotgun blast of sonic newness to my ears, as is their self-titled debut as a whole. (And I didn’t realize until just now that I bought it 33 years ago this week.)

And because one LJ song or clip is never enough, at least for me this morning, here are a few more… 

And, finally, “You Are the Light.”

So I’ve cobbled together this missive from an assortment of sources, aka a handful of favorite young(er) acts, and am sharing their works today because, quite frankly, after a long day at the office such things improve my mood.

1) Lucy Rose – “All That Fear.” Believe it or not, this tasty treat – released just last week – was an outtake from Lucy’s stellar 2017 release, Something’s Changing.

2) Courtney Marie Andrews – “Kindness of Strangers.” And so CMA rolls along with another track from her forthcoming album, May Your Kindness Remain. (Here’s hoping they make a mistake and ship my bundle next week, not next month. It’s going to be beyond great.)

3) Phoebe Bridgers – “Funeral.” I was unfamiliar with Phoebe until this evening, when Mary Lou Lord shared this clip (which also features Conor Oberst). Which now has me kicking myself for not knowing about her before.

4) Bedouine – “One of These Days.” Bedouine, who’s real name is Azniv Korkejian, was born in Aleppo, Syria, and spent of her childhood – like me – in a gated American community in Saudi Arabia. Fascinating woman. And a fascinating artist.

5) First Aid Kit – “Fireworks.” How could one of my Top 5s of new music not include something from the new First Aid Kit album? Here they are performing this stellar Ruins track on BBC Radio 6.

Love, lust, loss, regret, recrimination, and reflection – those are the raisons d’être for much, though certainly not all, popular music. From alternative to zydeco, and all the in-betweens, songwriters chart matters of the heart and soul with lyrical laments and exultations set to melodies and rhythms that, they hope, impart similar sentiments. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. And success or failure depends not upon a strict set of rules, but who’s listening.

Which is to say, Ruins is a sterling set of songs from sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg, aka First Aid Kit, that grows stronger with each listen. One way I know an album has staying power is that, when I’m not listening to it, snippets splash from the back of my brain like a soft rain in the summertime. And just as often happens with a soft rain, those initial drips gradually pick up in intensity and, within minutes, a downpour ensues. Such was the case this week with this album. First one song…

… then another…

… and then another.

By now, I’d wager, most fans know the backstory to Ruins: After the Stay Gold LP and tour, the sisters parted ways – not from an acrimonious falling out, but because of life. Klara followed her heart (and boyfriend) to Manchester; Johanna stayed put in Stockholm. By the time they came together to begin work on their next project, however, Klara’s relationship had ended…and, thus, an album was born. (Klara delves deeper into it in this informative Paste interview.) In short, it’s a 10-song quest for the light at the end of a dark tunnel.

Pitchfork calls “Fireworks” and several of the other tracks “bold stylistic departures.” Honestly, they’re no more radical a departures than “Wolf” was back in 2012. As FAK (or their social-media person) said in a Facebook post at the time, it’s “very different from anything we’ve ever done before.” It’s called evolution. Growth. The willingness to tackle a new style – or, in this instance, old, given that the song conjures the R&B ballads popular during the 1950s – is what happens when artists follow their muse.

As a whole, the songs delve into heartache, heartbreak and hard truths, and often attempt to wish away the pain – “Lately I’ve been thinking about the past/How there is no holding back/No point in wasting sorrow/On things that won’t be here tomorrow” – while being unable to do just that. It’s a shame, indeed, but that oxymoron is the grist that’s often milled by living life.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the final song, “Nothing Has to Be True,” an emotional epic about self-doubt and self-awakening, and the vagaries of both. It’s one of their greatest works, easily, and is the song I’m most excited to hear live.

I’ll close with this: A relationship-gone-wrong has resulted in many a great song and album through the decades. While it’s far too soon to say where this LP lies in that pantheon, it’ll be interesting to see how it grows in stature (or not). The songs may not become a Parthenon for heartache, but my hunch is that these Ruins won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

Ruins, the first long-player from First Aid Kit since Stay Gold in 2014, is due out on Friday, Jan. 19th. As has become somewhat customary in today’s music-marketing world, quite a few of the album’s songs have already seen official release – instead of a stand-alone single released a month or two ahead of the album, some acts now release three or more individual tracks over a period of months. It’s just the way it is.

The downside: If the songs aren’t strong, they can lessen one’s expectations of the album. And, too, the availability of those early tracks can and do diminish what should be a series of welcome surprises on release day. Instead of hitting play and being amazed (or, sometimes, dismayed) by the music seeping from the speakers, it’s somewhat akin to a fill-in-the-blank exercise. The knowns can overshadow the unknowns on first listen, in other words, giving a false sense of the album’s overall strength or weakness.

The upside, at least in the case of Klara and Johanna Söderberg: New songs! Good songs! And cool videos! The four early songs all sound great to my ears – “Fireworks,” especially, seems destined to be embedded in playlists for decades to come.

And, with all that said, here’s a roundup of songs (both TV appearances and aforementioned cool videos) from Ruins:

1) “It’s a Shame” – FAK appeared on The Graham Norton Show in the UK last week. (Stay tuned after the song for a brief interview with them.)

2) “Fireworks” – The official video:

3) “Postcard” – An official video. The song sounds like a lost country treasure from the ‘70s.

4) “Ruins.” Another official video, from the same set as “Postcard.” The title track from the album is a meditation on a relationship gone wrong; and it’s a low-key wonder.

And here’s a clip that captures a cool cover that, hopefully, First Aid Kit will include in their set on their forthcoming tour. (It features the Tallest Man on Earth who, at least from afar, looks shorter than Johanna. )

5) “Graceland” –

And, finally, a very cool and illuminating two-part interview with the sisters Söderberg: