Devil in Outer Space: An Operetta
According to the New York Times, Portland's music scene is going through a rebirth following the beer, the food, and the bike lanes. Categorically challenged, intentional, defiantly indie. Strangled Darlings arrive to play the sound track for Portland quirky march. Hailing from the land of DIY, the Darlings fashion original art and music that insessantly wriggles out of tight fitting genres. The band's eponymous EP came out last year and was a frenetic set of songs ranging from a gypsy styled garden sex-song Dandelion Wives, to a gentle, swelling blues number about drowning Virginia Woolf style. According to the Oregonian, the group "immediately established itself as no gentle folk act and a band not afraid to take risks". Their forthcoming CD on Mudfarm Records was, recorded by Dylan Magierek (Starf***er, Mark Kozelek, Thao Nguyen) features an eclectic blend of styles, born out of a self imposed locked down in a Vermont mid-winter. Their operetta was based on the inspired question of what might happen if God commandeered the Devil's space ship. Strangled Darlings' name conjures dark image but is in fact a reference to author William Faulkner's disciplined editing. The band's sound is acoustic, something your mom can listen to, just distract her from the lyrics. George Veech's lyrics tend to plumb the depths of gentle tragedy, abject bleakness, and William Blake-esque apostasy. William Blake-esque what? Yeah, they're a bit geeky. Perhaps they are aligning the music/literary imagery of Tom Waits and Sufjan Stevens: Literary doom pop. Then there is the groove. That falls to cellist (not bassist- though she records like one) and general rhythm princess, Jessica Anderly. She grew up playing classical violin but never quite got that last all night trance rave out of her system. She picked up the cello recently and discovered she could write. So much for being a Suzuki trained typist in Portland Youth Philharmonic. The band moves from simple acoustic sounds of cello and mandolin as seen on their gentle opening track "White Wondermaker". "Mousetrap" bends genres as an off kilter waltz about domestic implosion and it is followed by an almost hip-hop-swing number about sex with the she-Devil in Georgia in "Circus". If banjo and cello we're to become instruments of an all night rave, you'll hear it first on "Mary". "Angel" is a bizarre austere piece out of Madam Butterfly with Veech singing as a castrati. They close the CD with a wrenching quiet number called "Sail Along" that starts with the line "Well the cancer's back, it's the simple facts/ that, make me reach for a beer". It's the beautiful, sad and absurd woven together that make Strangled Darlings unique in their approach to taking pop music out of it's safety zone and into a naked examination of faith, mortality and really hot sex. You have to hear it to believe it. Strangled Darlings are: George Veech (mandolin, guitar, tenor banjo, vocals) and Jessica Anderly (cello, violin, saw, vocals) - Sharon Cannon plays violin and Jolie Clausen plays percussion. Reviews of Strangled Darlings debut self-titled EP from 2009: You can hardly hop a freight train in Portland these days without running into some sort of wistful folk band. It takes more than old-world instrumentation, well-crafted songs and a vintage look to stand out. But there is certainly no blending in for the six marvelously creative tracks on Strangled Darlings' debut EP. ---Jason Simms the Oregonian, 2009 [FREAK FOLK] Imagine Tom Waits and Jack White drinking in a Romani dive bar, then haphazardly mixing DNA. That miracle baby might resemble PDX art-folk quartet Strangled Darlings. Using an arsenal of old-time instruments-mandolin, accordion, violin and more-the group wades through a spooky realm of melting-pot Americana that resembles Waits' music. The band seems to have appeared from nowhere, but with a sound this stark, it's not likely to vanish. AP KRYZA ---AP Kryza, Willamette Week, 2009 I happened upon this group of 4 musicians at a neighborhood bar this spring as they were refining their art-rock-folk sound that truly defies a simple label. Since that time, they completed their first successful tour of Northwest cities and just recently released a CD. It's their live performance, however, that brings out the essence of who this group is - mixing instruments as varied as a cello, a violin, an accordian, a banjo, a saw?! and multiple guitars, their sound is truly unique and their act, totally fun. ---Ranjit Bhaskar, Portland Live Indie Music Meetup, 2009.