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Archive for the ‘James Ellis Thomas’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: DARLINGSIDE-XPN Fest (June 29, 2018).

There’s no bad way to see Darlingside, although perhaps the worst way is at an outdoor festival.  The band is all about closeness–harmonies, quiet instruments, with them all gathered around one microphone.

The first time I saw them was at XPN Fest in 2016.  And they were amazing.  When we saw them in a small club later, they were doubly amazing.

 Darlingside opened their set with their song “Singularity.” The song perfectly showcases their harmonies, as they all sing around one shared mic. Their soothing vocals are accompanied by an acoustic guitar, and the addition of other instruments throughout the song creates drama, especially the banjo, which adds a new feeling. No voice is ever hidden when they sing together, and they all sound great singing solo.

These four guys can harmonize like no one I’ve heard before.  The song segues via violin into the synth box device that they added for the Extra Life album.  “Eschaton” features just bass and the synth box until the bridge when the violin comes in.

Harris Paseltiner says Hi in his excited way and tells everyone how they were “things got a little loopy on our way down the New Jersey Turnpike today. We got stuck in line waiting for gas at the Molly Pitcher Plaza.  Which is a lovely plaza, I must say.”  Then turning to the festival: “I was discombobulated when I arrived, but they’re giving away shots of mango jalapeno coconut water over there.  I took a good five of those to the face.  I’m still a but discombobulated but in a better way.

“We were here to the first time two years ago, it was 100 degrees.”  [I was there and it was!] “So today is like a nice brisk autumn day.”

“Go Back” is the first older song and it sounds amazing.  After a violin melody while the mandolin tunes up, they launch into a gorgeous “White Horse.”  This song is so delicate, so lovely, that it’s hard to imagine it at a festival (especially when the truck behind the stage starts honking midway through the song–the band doesn’t flinch).

Then Auyon introduces the band:

  • Dave Senft plays kick drum and bass and guitar and Dave enjoys caffeinated coffee.
  • Don Mitchell plays banjo and guitar enjoyed caffeinated coffee however he enjoyed it too much and is now on decaf.
  • Harris Paseltiner play cello and guitar enjoyed caffeine a lot but he became concerned about his health and switched to decaf but decided to re-prioritize and is now now back on caffeine.
  • Auyon Mukharji plays violin and mandolin and I drink decaf.

Harris: I think we all might have had jalapeno coconut water.
Don: I followed it up with a chocolate coconut milk.
Dave: I didn’t see any of this, I don’t know what’s happening.

They then play the wonderful “My Gal, My Guy” which might just be my favorite Darlingside song.  The melody is just dynamite.  And their harmonies are, of course, outstanding.

 “Extralife” brings the the synthy thing back.  It’s interesting to me that their general music style doesn’t change at all–nice melodies and gorgeous harmonies.  This new instrument simply adds a new, modern sound to their setup.

“Blow the House Down” is an older song (on their first album).  Its’ quite different from the others because it has a loud kick drum, mandolin and is mostly sung only by Dave.  It’s neat that the low notes mostly come from the other guys going “bah bah bah.”  One doesn’t really expect Darlingside to rock out but they certainly do here with a ripping guitar solo that segues into a ripping violin solo.

“The God of Loss” returns to the beautiful slower songs.  With harmonies galore.

They end the set with a song from the new album, “Best of the Best of Times.”  It is not a happy song, despite the melody.  But the melody makes it feel happy as the sing us out.

Darlingside always sound great, but must be seen live to fully appreciate them.

[READ: June 15, 2019] “The Saturday Morning Car Wash Club”

This story is set around a car wash.

When you were sixteen, a July Saturday was the best.  You got up early even though you didn’t have to.  Even the unemployed got up early because the unemployment office was closed so no one could tell you to get your ass to it.

Everyone gathered at the semi-automated car wash in Cedar Heights.  The first car arrived at 8 and the drivers got to work, vacuuming wrappers and french fries.  Then more cars would arrive, some driven by girls (they would allow the boys to clean their cars for them).

But this story is about outsiders of the (unofficial) Saturday Morning Car Wash Club.  Chester had a beat up hooptie.  It was an ugly brown rustmobile that the kids at the car wash called “Doo-Doo Brown.”

Chester is proud of his hooptie and believes that he would score a woman with it because, hell, it beat taking the bus. (more…)

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