CL Feature: Those Darlins, a Tennessee garage pop-punkabilly foursome that opens for Old 97's next Wednesday at Skipper's Smokehouse (with video)

Lyrics are witty, brashly honest and delivered with charming flippancy, whether they’re reflecting on the false and fleeting comfort of money (“No matter how you get it, it’ll leave you behind / That’s why the green in my pocket ain’t no friend of mine”), divulging the not-so-cute effects of a crush (“I’m breaking out so bad that I just want to die / Oh, you give me hives”), or yearning to be treated like one of the guys (“I just wanna run and play in the dirt with you / you just want to stick it in.”) According to Jessi, that particular track, "Be Your Bro," was inspired by real experiences. “We’ve toured with a few people that acted kind of weird towards us because we’re girls,” she remarked. “Not like they were mean to us or anything, but like they were afraid of us or intimidated or something. Which I thought was stupid because we’re doing the same thing every other band is doing, we just happen to be girls.”


Ovvio Arte husband-and-wife creative team Veta Cicolello and Theo Antoniadis – the couple who designed the cover art for both of the band’s albums – approached The Darlins about producing a video for “Be Your Bro.” Not only did the couple have an appealing, fully-visualized idea, but a secure location to shoot it (their gallery space), and the ability to execute it within the Darlins’ time constraints. “It all just seemed to fall into place,” Jessi said. “So we decided to give them a shot.”


The process turned out to be an easy one. “We filmed the whole thing in one day – they did all the makeup, the hair, the wardrobe.” Jessi admitted that if had been anyone else, “We would’ve been a lot more uncomfortable. But they made it so fun and it was just like hanging out for a day. And then when we finally saw the footage, we were really happy with how good it looked.”


The video for “Be Your Bro” offers a contemporary update of Andy Warhol's famous Screen Tests, with black-and-white shots of band members dressing, undressing, drinking, smoking, sprucing up, and getting straight-faced rowdy interspersed with footage of the band performing in stylized color. The video premiered on Spin.com a few weeks back and has fueled the hype for the release of Screws Get Loose, which drops March 29 via Oh Wow Dang.


"Be Your Bro" video below.


Jessi, Kelley and Nikki “Darlin” have covered some rather impressive ground in the four years they’ve been active as Those Darlins, from jamming retro country tunes on the front porch of a shack they once shared, to premiering a video for their own twang-punk number on Spin.com earlier this month. [Photo credit: Veta & Theo.]

The Murfreesboro, Tenn. musicians/friends started playing together casually, writing songs as a trio on guitar, bass and baritone ukulele, gigging around Nashville, and doing the odd mini-tour. “But we put them together for fun,” Jessi told me in a phone interview last week. “We always wanted to record music, but really, just to have it recorded, not to sell or anything.”

This cavalier attitude might have persisted indefinitely had the threesome not met current manager John Turner. “He was the one who really encouraged us, and told us we could probably do this professionally.”

Jessi said they had their “Whoa, we’re actually a band” moment when they began recording their first album in 2008. Producer Jeff Curtin and various fill-ins worked drum duty until the trio drafted drummer roommate Linwood Regensburg, who was an official full-time member by the time the band’s self-titled debut dropped in 2009. That album served as an introduction to the hard-partying Southern belles who make up the band’s core, their unruly behavior summed up in the snotty single, “Wild One”: “If you can't handle crazy, then go ahead and leave / if you don't want a wild one, don't hang around with me."

Those Darlins hit the road in support of the album, honing their live chops and gaining the sort of confidence that comes with playing night after night for audiences ranging in appreciation from some to none. Along the way, they earned high praise from Rolling Stone, Pitchfork.com, and The New York Times, supported acts OK Go, Dan Auerbach and Langhorne Slim, among others, and made a few very memorable SXSW appearances.

Curtin was re-enlisted to produce their sophomore LP, Screws Get Loose, a mix of big beat garage pop, revved-up country punk, psyche-stoner drone and retro surf rock twang, the three Darlins’ vocal harmonies evoking the feel of ‘60s-era all-girl pop groups but carrying the drawling sneer and raw ferocity of modern rawker chicks. [Video after the jump.]

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