There’s no place like home for Darlingside

By Dave Coffey

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Courtesy Myspace

The Noho-based five-piece group Darlingside is set to light up their hometown stage at the Iron Horse music hall in downtown Northampton.

Operating under the self-described genre of “string-rock,” the homegrown quintet has earned the unique stylistic descriptor by adapting an eclectic twist to the usual rock ‘n’ roll instrumentation. In addition to drums, guitars and vocals, Darlingside spruces up their sensible pop-rock sound a notch by employing the use of instruments such as violin, cello, mandolin and pennywhistle. The result is a refreshing, yet highly listenable, batch of soft and smooth folky tunes carried by a classical sense of melody, precocious rhythmic timbre and, last but not least, an extremely keen ear for vocal harmonies.

After a couple lineup changes and a resultant two-year hiatus, the band has been hard at work for the last year hitting the road and wowing audiences across the country while honing their organic and infectious musical stylings. Playing anywhere from sold-out theaters in Vermont to packed-house club gigs in Portland, Ore., Darlingside’s relative youth contradicts their road-tested experience and astounding musical maturity.

In addition to keeping busy in the gigging department, Darlingside have also had a productive year recording. Earlier this year, they released their self-produced six-track debut. The simply titled “EP 1” offered up half a dozen songs. The melodic depth and harmonic chemistry not only betrayed the album’s accessible immediacy, but also leaves the listener surprised they were merely listening to a band’s first effort. Offering up slices of rock, pop, folk, classical and even jazz and hip-hop, all complete with lush five-part harmonies, “EP 1” further established Darlingside as an envelope-pushing, sonically-relevant local music presence.

On top of releasing their debut to critical acclaim, Darlingside also lent a musical hand to Vermont singer-songwriter Caitlin Canty on her latest album, “Neon Streets.” In addition to providing virtuoso level instrumental accompaniment to Canty’s album, Darlingside also provided vocal harmonies as well as production and engineering duties to “Neon Streets.” Darlingside also played several shows along with Canty, gathering even more attention and acclaim to both artists.

Darlingside is currently playing shows in the northeast to promote “EP 1,” while also working on future potential recording material. Darlingside’s shows are not only known for their high energy and near-spotless execution, but also for surprising audiences with quirky yet masterfully performed covers. These include anything from a Lady Gaga/Ke$ha medley to a rousing acoustic rendition of the Muse hit “Knights of Cydonia.” A version of the latter can be found on their website – which is currently in the process of updating and revamping – where a video section shows various live cuts of Darlingside originals and covers.

The show is Friday at 10 p.m. with supporting act Tallahassee at the Iron Horse. Tickets cost $8 in advance and $10 at the door. For more information, visit www.iheg.com. For more information on Darlingside, including video and show schedules, visit www.darlingside.com.

Dave Coffey can be reached at [email protected]