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Infectious handclaps and group singalongs serve as nifty accompaniments to plucky violin strings, searing guitar solos, and danceable bass riffs.
They have added gravity to their songs with immediately gripping lyrics, fantastic vocals, dynamite production (from Paul Butler), and all-around stout writing.
For many bands, and especially those who have been together for several years, recognizing maturation, progress, or palpable evolution is a daunting task. Is it continued creative accomplishment that signals progression? Or perhaps it’s profitable commercial endeavors? The answer is often quite unclear. Six years, two albums, and countless gigs after first forming as a band, River Whyless, the North Carolina-bred folk-rock outfit has discovered their evolution is a subtler albeit monumentally important one. Deep in the throes of writing and recording their bold new album, Kindness, A Rebel, the group’s four musicians reached a necessary and collective understanding. Namely, this band is their lifeblood, their family, and their love. To that end, with unspoken acceptance, the members of River Whyless, each songwriters in their own right, collectively put aside their respective egos, coalesced around each other’s creative vision, and fully embraced the beauty of their enduring partnership.
“It was a feeling of openness and hope and acceptance,” says singer-violinist Halli Anderson of the multi-week sessions with producer Paul Butler (Devendra Banhart, Michael Kiwanuka) that resulted in some of River Whyless’s most dynamic, genre-bending and heartfelt material yet. Creatives regularly waver between honoring their own creation and rallying around larger ideas for the benefit of the group. But with every member of River Whyless now charting a life outside the band, and also writing on their own, when coming together to record Kindness it was never more crucial they be open and honest with each other.
Despite having never felt more unified in their vision for the future, much as they’ve navigated their freewheeling career to date, River Whyless is choosing not to predict what lies ahead. Allowing their creative union to continue guiding them, they insist, remains their only constant. “It feels like you’re on a journey with your family,” Alex McWalters says of the satisfaction of being in a band like River Whyless. “It’s a beautiful thing.”
Boston-based quartet Darlingside’s signature superpower harmonies draw frequent comparisons to late-60s era groups like Crosby, Stills & Nash; Simon & Garfunkel; and the Byrds. And yet, their penchant for science fiction and speculative futurism counteracts any urge to pigeonhole their aesthetic as “retro.” The four close friends construct every piece of their music collaboratively, pooling musical and lyrical ideas so that each song bears the imprint of four different writing voices. NPR Music dubs the result “exquisitely-arranged, literary-minded, baroque folk-pop,” and calls the group’s new album Extralife “perfectly crafted.” Darlingside perform all of their music around a single vocal microphone, inviting audiences into a lush, intimate world where four voices are truly one. Their 2016 performance at the Cambridge Folk Festival “earned an ecstatic reception and turned them into instant stars,” according to The Daily Telegraph. The band tours regularly throughout the United States, Canada, the UK, and Europe.