The Corner News

Jesse White

April 1, 2009


Critical Rock by the Critical Darlings



This Friday, April 3, Rooster’s (now known as The Independent) will be presenting Chris McKay and The Critical Darlings, a pop / rock band from Athens, Georgia. Their new album is “Satisfactionista,” and on it the Darlings combine classic rock influences with modern sounds. Think the Rolling Stones mixed with Modest Mouse.

The Darlings draw from blues and Beatle-esque songwriters like Ty Tabor of King’s X. The result is a rock sound, but with clean guitar parts rather than the distorted hard rock identified with groups like Led Zeppelin.

The tune “Waiting For The Siren” has spacey keyboards with guitar rhythms that are equal parts “Rock The Casbah” and “Honky Tonk Women”. McKay has a voice that is a record executive’s wet dream; very accessible and (with) tons of hooks.

The new album features production from David Barbe, who has worked with R.E.M. and the Drive-By Truckers. The result is a slick, tight record with multiple layers and extreme danceability. Guitarist Joe Orr lays it on thick, with tasteful and technical leads like the wah-wah drenched “The Only Way” and the lightning fast harmonies of “Sadder Day.”

The Critical Darlings have already developed quite a following, going from relative obscurity a few years ago to rave reviews. While they are talented, some music fans may find them to be too middle of the road; not hard enough for rockers and not saccharin sweet enough for top 40 fans.

That being said, however, there is a large market for bands such as this. Fans of Hightide Blues or even indie rockers Vampire Weekend will dig Chris McKay and the Critical Darlings. They have a high energy show and enough complexity to distinguish them from other similar but less accomplished bands. But you be the judge.

For more on the band, visit