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Darlingside ~ Photo by Cameron Gee
Darlingside ~ Photo by Cameron Gee

Darlingside at Mississippi Studios Thursday

By SCOTT CUNNINGHAM // Band's latest release "Extralife" soars on their innovative approach to writing, recording, and performing.

Genre-defying is usually a term used by reviewers as code for throwing up their hands in confusion, admitting that they aren't really sure what to make of a band. Darlingside could certainly fall into that all-encompassing category.

Instead of going that route, however, I think I'll go with the more direct approach of just saying "Wow!"

The band has just released "Extralife" and will appear at Mississippi Studios in Portland Thursday evening. I'll forgive any of our loyal readers for not reading this preview and going directly to the ticket link at the bottom, for Darlingside is a band that deserves some serious attention for their innovative approach to their craft, lyrics, sound, and performance.

The quartet is comprised of bassist Dave Senft, guitarist/banjoist Don Mitchell, violinist/mandolinist Auyon Mukharji, and cellist/guitarist Harris Paseltiner. I talked with Mukharji earlier this week by telephone and as we talked it became apparent that the quartet has developed a refreshing approach to their work, particularly in their songwriting.

"We didn't have a design at the outset that we would all write lyrics together but all of us enjoy writing together. When we started, one person would write a song and then bring it to the group. The rest of us would workshop it a little bit, maybe tweak some arrangement stuff, but it would remain generally the same song," Mukharji explains.

Most bands follow a similar process and usually have one, maybe two, primary songwriters. Over time, however, Darlingside developed a fairly radical approach.

"Over the course of the last several years of writing together and once we started singing in harmony for the bulk of the show and all of us were expressing these lyrics on stage, what we came to was to start even earlier in the process."

The process the band came up with is one of the more unique ones I've come across and could be called a musical version of the old telephone game where people in succession whisper in each other's ear, then eventually something completely different emerges at the end of the line.

"Once someone has the seed of a song, it will get brought to the rest of the guys and we'll discuss it and talk about it. Sometimes that person will go back and work on it, other times it will get handed off to someone else. No two songs are written the same way.

"Different members will start writing a song and it will get handed off to another member. There's typically one or two people who are stewarding a song all the way through, but the way we work is that everyone gets a chance to look over lyrics but you don't necessarily have a chance to see what the exact first draft was."

For the band's current tour, it is interesting to note that a lot of the material was written in late 2015 while the band was on a West Coast run.

"We normally like to write at home, but we were under the gun to finish up some songs. We were writing a lot in this area in November 2015, right around election time. To get to start the tour in the west where the inception point for a lot of the album was is a really cool thing."

ON TOUR: Darlingside perform at Mississippi Studios on Thursday, March 15. Doors 7:00PM / Show 8:00PM. Tickets are still available as of this writing.

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