Darlingside: Indie Folk Plus Cello Equals ‘Lush Musical World’
Remember the great quartet harmonies of the Grand Ol' Opry, with all four singers leaning in close to a single microphone? Picture that same arrangement but with one of them playing a cello and you have an idea of how the band known as Darlingside performs.
The best capsule description comes from the group's Facebook page: "An indie folk band whose music is largely acoustic, with plenty of vocal harmonies, violin, and cello throughout."
Or as one critic exults, “The band’s sweeping sound features phenomenal vocals, crisp instruments, and surprising musical turns.” Another says, "a powerhouse of vocal, instrumental, and performing talent...their expansive sound is aston¬ish¬ingly more con¬gru¬ent than the sum of its parts.” And yet another: "Darlingside effortlessly draw audiences into their lush musical world."
To say that the four guys who make up Darlingside have varied backgrounds is an understatement. Before they met up at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, and found that their voices blended, David Senft (vocals, bass, guitar) was a street musician; vocalist and guitarist Don Mitchell lists his bio as "former boy alto"; Auyon Mukharji (vocals, mandolin, violin) was a classical violinist who studied mandolin in Brazil and Ireland; and Harris Paseltiner (cello, guitar, bass, vocals) was a classical cellist and guitarist.
In their shows they mix original material and cover songs, the latter ranging from Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark" to The Smashing Pumpkins "1979." As Mitchell says about their choices of covers, "When it comes to 'off-the-radar' ideas, we find that our audiences are SO hip that basically no song exists outside their purview."
The album "Pilot Machines" is a good example of their diversity. It includes originals such as "Drowning Elvis" and "Blow the House Down" as well as the traditional "Sweet and Low" and a string duet of Mozart's "The Woods."
Pilot Machines had a unique release style, featuring a set of pre-release EPs beforehand. "We decided to make Pilot Machines a subscription album," Mukharji says, "because we were excited to bring our fans along with us on the final few months of the journey toward the full release in July. We were able to deliver a couple of tracks at a time to our subscribers as they arrived, hot off the vinyl (and/or digital) presses.
"This also allowed us to explore the 7-inch vinyl format, and we have thoroughly enjoyed pairing up tracks off of the album--7-inch 45s allow for one song on each side--designing the jackets, and working with some incredible letterpress artists on the packaging and foldable download inserts. In short, we're an impatient group of guys with a great fondness for both hand-stamped cardboard and petroleum discs with sound waves etched into them."
Touring in a maroon-colored van they've named "Chauncey," the band has had a jam-packed spring and summer--ranging from concerts at The Purple Crayon in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, to the Midtown Mainstage in Reno, Nevada. They'll be driving to Beartrap direct from a show at the Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse in Berkeley.
And while rolling stones may not gather any moss, Darlingside has gathered a prize review from David Fricke of Rolling Stone, who writes: “a quartet with a rich line in acoustic textures and chamber-rock dynamics.”
Which, for a young traveling band, is better than moss any day.