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MIXTAPE: The Musical Inspirations Behind Darlingside’s New Album

Jul 31, 2023

MIXTAPE: The Musical Inspirations Behind Darlingside's New Album

Our past albums were written very collaboratively and we sang together almost all the time, whether in harmony or unison, trying to create a unified voice where individuals were difficult to pinpoint. For our new album Everything Is Alive, we made a conscious effort to let the individual voices and minds of our four singers/writers show through. Here are some of the recorded songs by other artists that inspired us in writing and producing the album, to give you (and maybe each other?) a sense of where we were coming from and who to blame if you don’t enjoy the results! – Darlingside

“Cecilia” – Simon & Garfunkel

I enjoy how the energy of this song comes from snaps, claps, and non-traditional-drum-kit percussion — it’s uptempo, but also sparse. I referenced it a number of times while working on “Eliza I See,” whose percussion is mainly the sound of slapping my legs and banging on a desk in my bedroom. – Harris Paseltiner

“A Rose for Emily” – The Zombies

I’ve always been sweet on the key change into the chorus here combined with the entrance of the harmony vocals. I love a moment in a song where I get transported into a whole new place, even while the basic instrumentation maintains course — that’s the same basic move I tried on our song “Darkening Hour,” where the minor chord you’ve been hearing in the verse pivots to major right at the downbeat of the chorus and the harmonies drop in all at once right on top. – Don Mitchell

“King of Carrot Flowers Pt. 1” – Neutral Milk Hotel

There’s so much in this track that I love, but the two easiest things to point to are the double-tracked vocal and the louder-than-expected Uilleann pipes that come in at 0:46. “Right Friend” features both double-tracked (triple-tracked, even!) vocals and a loud, buzzy pad coming in on the second verse. – Auyon Mukharji

“I Love You Always Forever” – Donna Lewis

I heard this song for the first time in years at a friend’s wedding and was reminded of how incredible it is. A few days later I asked Don (middle name Lewis, no relation) to come up with a “Don(na) Lewis” guitar part (mimicking the guitar that comes in at 0:38) for “All the Lights In the City,” and he did, and I love it! – Dave Senft

“Simple Man” – Graham Nash

I’ve always loved the distant, nostalgic piano sound at the beginning of this song — it brings memories immediately back to life, like the sound of my brother practicing piano down the hallway in another room of the house. For our song “Sea Dogs” we decided to stick with a distant iPhone recording of the piano rather than a hi-fi recording because it had this same quality. – HP

“Santa Fe” – Beirut

I love how angular and buzzy the brass is on this track — it was definitely in the back of my head while I was putting an early, MIDI, brass-heavy demo of “Baking Soda” together. – AM

“We Did It When We Were Young” – Gaslight Anthem

We listened to this song on a loop when our band was in its early youth, and something about that insistent eighth-note pulse stayed lodged deep in our brains. A decade later, Auyon was learning guitar and sent out a voice memo with that familiar rhythmic feel which became the starting point for “Lose the Keys.” (The vocal melody doubled in octaves later in the song also points back to Gaslight origins!) – DM

“If You Could Read My Mind” – Henry Jamison, written by Gordon Lightfoot

This song was a guiding light for me while I was working on “Can’t Help Falling Apart,” and I think it influenced “All the Lights In the City” a bit as well. It feels honest and confessional and unresolved in a way that I’ve always admired and just feels like an emotional gut punch to me. I love the original, but the version I have been listening to more recently is this great cover by Henry Jamison. – DS

“Amie” – Damien Rice

There were a good few months of my early 20s wherein I was listening to this track daily. The plaintive, orchestral strings in “Down Here” can claim lineage. – AM

“Gulf War Song” – Moxy Fruvous

I think of this song as the gold standard for handling controversial/political subject matter in an effective way. “How Long Again” was very consciously informed by it from its inception. – DS

“Dancing and Blood” – Low
Some songs make me feel things by sounding “real” — humans playing music in a room. This song goes the opposite direction: Everything is surreal and a little unsettling and it seems like things are about to go off the rails at any moment. I think this Low album inspired me to push the boundaries a bit with gated/distorted/off-kilter sounds around the margins of songs that still have a real human performance at the core. – DM

“Bloom” – Radiohead

This song is built on a few measures of extemporaneous piano noodling looped over and over, like an infinitely repeating moment of humanness. For our song “Green Light” we used an old voice memo of a mandocello that I was trying to learn how to play in Dave’s basement, which, when looped, resulted in the rhythmic core of the song. – HP

Photo Credit: Shervin Lainez

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MIXTAPE: The Musical Inspirations Behind Darlingside's New Album
MIXTAPE: The Musical Inspirations Behind Darlingside's New Album