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The Lowdown:

Those Darlins

Jessi Darlin (guitar/vocals), Kelley Darlin (guitar/vocals), Nikki Darlin (bass/vocals), Linwood Regensburg (drums/vocals)

Based In:
Nashville, Tennessee



Screws Get Loose

Release Date:
March 29, 2011

Oh Wow Dang Records

Previous Releases:
Those Darlins (2009)

Americana,, cowpunk, rock, indie rock, garage rock, punk rock


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Those Darlins, Screws Get Loose album artwook

Rating: 9 out of 10



May 25, 2011


June 2011 Featured Review

Those Darlins: Screws Get Loose

by Jason D. 'Diesel' Hamad


Those Darlins: (clockwise from top left) Nikki Darlin, Kelley Darlin (no relation), Jessi Darlin (no, no relation), Linwood Regensburg (really no relation). Photo by Veta&Theo.

You gotta love Those Darlins. For one thing, they’re committed to promoting record stores. In this digitized world, their website actually asks you not to buy their album online, but instead to get it from your friendly local establishment. They push Record Store Day like Macy’s pushes Thanksgiving. They love tweeting about underground purveyors of grooved-plastic dope like Euclid Records in St. Louis, one of my favorite places on Earth. And not only did they release their new album on vinyl and recommend it to all their fans, but they’ve released several songs on 7 inch singles. No Surf gives them major props for that.

Second, they covered one of the wackier songs from one of country’s most brilliantly wacky poet savants, John Prine, and they did it well. “Let’s Talk Dirty in Hawaiian” closed out the Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows tribute album last year and it was a highlight on a compilation that featured better-known acts like Old Crow Medicine Show, the Avett Brothers, Justin Townes Earle, My Morning Jacket and Drive-By Truckers. Anyone who can do Mr. Prine justice is alright in my book, and the song was delivered with just the right amount of cheekiness to match the spirit of the original, yet remain fresh in its new, harder rocking incarnation.

And let’s talk about that cheekiness, which may be Those Darlins’ prime attraction. It just oozes out of them in a way that only works for a girl band (well, a ¾ girl band). It drips from their lyrics, bounces around in their guitar chords, slips slyly from their eyes on stage and in videos. These hard drinkin’, hard partyin’ gals will smile at you just to get you to buy ‘em a whisky, and then keep smiling while they kick you in the balls for your trouble. But you’ll love ‘em anyway, even while you’re curled up on the floor squealing like the 12-year-old cousin at a redneck family reunion.

The band’s eponymous debut album Those Darlins was a raucous take on cowpunk, sometimes drifting musically into straight country even while the lyrics remained snide, harsh and punkish. It even included a lighthearted Carter Family cover in the form of “Cannonball Blues.” But one gets the idea that while they respect their country roots, the group felt constrained by the boundaries of the genre. The new album, Screws Get Loose, moves on from that foundation, not so much drifting away but building upon it. Even the Southern accents seem to have been toned down on all but a few tracks, although the classic grammatical eccentricities still remain. Its sound is markedly harsher, markedly more rock-based, and—if possible—infused with even more of the punk attitude that makes them so much fun to listen to. It actually feels like it may have been recorded in a garage, and that’s a good thing.

The best song on the album is “Be Your Bro.” I can’t put my finger on it, but it has an oddly 80’s feel, as if the Go-Gos and the Pixies crashed head-on at 75 miles-an-hour and the twisted shards of tunage that resulted became the album’s second track. Or maybe it’s a through-the-looking-glass, polar-opposite take on the Bangles’ “In Your Room.” I can’t decide. I think the feeling results from a combination of the hard-sung, hard-hitting lyrics and the distinctly lighter vocal harmonies (specifically on the “I’s” and the “whoas”), along with guitar accents that seem to float above the sonic tapestry.

On its face, the song is a rebellion against the sexual objectification inherent in a life spent on stage showin’ it off (or for that matter simply being born with tits), but in some ways it is also an embrace of it. It’s a musical encapsulation of the dual (and often dueling) struggles of modern femininity. On the one hand there’s the quest to be independent actors with an equal footing and to leave sex out of the equation. On the other, there’s the wish to maintain sexuality (and, frankly, the power that goes along) without it leading inevitably to dehumanization and subjugation. The song’s biting rebuff is delivered with just slightly tongue-in-cheek language, such as in the lines:

I just wanna be your brother.
You just wanna be my boyfriend.
I just wanna run and play in the dirt with you.
You just wanna stick it in.

I just wanna be your brother
I don't wanna be your lover
Whoa-oa-oa, I wanna be your bro

You don’t care to look with lust in your eyes at me
Even when we’re hanging with my man.
He don’t have to look in your eyes to read your mind
‘Cause it’s a’showin’ through your pants.

Even on a subject so tangibly personal, Those Darlins’ most endearing quality may be the fact that they never seem to be 100% serious about anything (anyone who uses the term “girlie parts” can’t be), and that attitude only enhances the duality.

This is even truer when the music is complemented by its mostly black-and-white video, in which all four band members spend the bulk of their screen time barely clothed.  French New Wave chic, it is undeniably sexy—chipped teeth, hairy armpits and all (the hair on the girls’ part; Mr. Regensburg is rather well shaved, at least by the end of it). The question is whether that sexuality is used with degrading cynicism to bring in googly-eyed fans and lust-driven dollars or as a stamp of feminine power. As the video progresses and passes the halfway mark, the group goes through a reverse transformation, deconstructing their glammed-up stage personas and devolving into the haggard, frumpy, muss-haired tomboys that in their hearts they are. Taken as a whole, it’s a brilliantly dissociative work that mirrors a world in which women are forced to have multiple personalities.

Speaking of dissociative, the next best song is the album’s title track, also penned by Jessi. In the narrative sense, it is a song about a New York decompression trip she took on a break from touring, but really it’s just a song about being fucking crazy. I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for crazy girls (just ask anyone I’ve ever dated more than twice… if Nurse Ratched will let you in the door), so I find it highly endearing.

The sun and the shine was a’rattlin’ my mind
So I got underneath the ground.
The subway was a’stinkin’, my brain just wasn’t thinkin’
And I rode it to the outskirts of town.

With lyrics like that, it perfectly mirrors the distracted, frazzled mindset of a minor manic episode. This feeling is complemented by the music, with its harsh, screaming vocals and rough, throaty undertone, but oddly airy three-part harmonies on the whoas (ladies, why are your whoas so damn happy?). It also features a complex, dissonant break with minor key guitar and toy xylophone accents that metaphorically describes a break with reality in its own fractured, perfect tone.

The song is accompanied by another glam-packed video, complete with mind-bending effects and some freakidy-deakidy costuming that does a good job of capturing the paranoiac effects of the piece.

Dominated (and I mean dominated) by acoustic guitar and more melodically pleasant than any of the other songs (despite hard-edged lead vocals), “Waste Away” is a parting of ways song. In it, the character is being dragged down by someone whose morose attitude has gotten to be too much.

What has been that makes you want to go face first into the ground?
What has been to me that I keep followin’ you around?
Now it’s time to forget our love and let you fade away.

I don’t wanna watch you waste away.
I seen you fall in it all.
You don’t wanna watch me do the same.

“Mystic Mind,” is surreal and harshly dreamy, like a nightmare from which you don’t want to wake. It is infused with Eastern influences in both the lyrics and the music, with guitar licks stylized to sound like an electric sitar, something even George Harrison never quite stretched his mind into conceiving.

Other tracks of note include “Fatty Needs a Fix,” a punky tribute to pigging out. In between a frenetic reiteration of the title in increasingly high ranges, it features some damn entertaining lines, such as:

Starving for something and it ain’t your touch.
Baby baby baby too hungry to hump.
I got the traction. I’m not in the mood.
Baby baby baby just gimme some food.

Remember, none of these people want you to find them attractive in any way (especially Linwood, who didn't appreciate that men's room grope). They want to engage in strictly platonic relationships based on a mutual love of music. That's why they insist on getting their pictures taken scantily clad in hard light that highlights their statuesque features. Photo by Veta&Theo.

Bouncier than most songs on the album, “Boy” is sort of a gender-reversed version of the Beach Boys’ “California Girls.” With a sailor in every port, Kelley seems to be enjoying the attention much less than would Mike Love. Featuring some of the only four-part harmonies evident on the album, the final track is enjoyable despite less-than-deep lyrics, the vocals mostly consisting of the repetition of a misspelling over and over: “B-U-M-D, I’m bumd.”

I honestly can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t like this album. It. Fucking. Rocks. Hardcore. Then again, there are people who do like Celine Dion, so de gustibus non est disputandum (or lack of taste, as the case may be). But if you like, there’s just enough twang (and more than enough questionable grammar) left in Screws Get Loose to make you happy. If you like garage rock, dad’s car is parked permanently in the driveway. If you like punk, fuck the man and everything he ever stood for. And if you love cheeky, crazy girls, well fuck you, you selfish, insensitive, sex-crazed bastard. Aw, I’m sorry baby. I love you. Now go get me some fried chicken.


Buy Screws Get Loose on Amazon!
mp3 cd vinyl SGL extended single


No Pop. No Crap. No Surf.