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May 7th, 2014 ANDREW STEINBEISER | Music Stories
 

Oh Darling: Saturday, May 10

Not even L.A. could bum out Portland’s shiniest, happiest band.

music_ohdarling_4027OH DARLING: (From left) Daven Hall, Jasmine Ash, J. Marie, Jake Endicott. - IMAGE: Jillian Doughty
Almost any write-up you can find on Oh Darling describes the Portland band with a few choice synonyms: “Cute.” “Adorable.” “Cheerios in chocolate milk.” It’s like reading reviews for the Frozen soundtrack.

Good thing the band basks in its reputation for sugarcoated indie pop. For the quartet, the music is just a reflection of the feelings the band members get when making music together—which are, unsurprisingly, joyful.

“I guess it’s just built into us,” says guitarist Daven Hall. “We’re all pretty easygoing, happy people. When we play, it’s like a family get-together. We just try to keep it upbeat.”

When it comes to Beauty in Commotion, Oh Darling’s latest exercise in cheeriness, “upbeat” is an understatement. Even Hall admits that no matter how bold he and the rest of the group tried to be in the studio, vocalist Jasmine Ash always brought them back to Candy Land with her soft, enchanting swoons. Her voice is reminiscent of Lauren Mayberry’s of Chvrches, just five octaves higher. If things don’t work out for Oh Darling, Ash could have a second career recording lullabies.

“I think the catchiest part of the songs are Jasmine’s melodies,” Hall says. “Her voice is key. That’s our sound.”

Modest as Hall is, the group’s appeal extends beyond one voice and into a much more powerful resource: relationships. Hall is married to bassist J. Marie, who has been good friends with Ash since before the group formed in 2006. They’ve been one big, happy family ever since, packing their bags and moving to Los Angeles in 2010. Naturally, sunshine and palm trees only ripened their jubilance, making way for media crossovers via placements on a litany of TV shows, including Ugly Betty, Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill and Grey’s Anatomy.

“We didn’t have to change our sound; these people just got what we did,” Hall says. “It made it a lot easier for us, because we could still do the stuff that we wanted to.”

But the allure of endless sunbaths and post-show tours of wine country—not an easy task in a tour van, Hall says—still couldn’t shake the group from its Northwest roots. After making several trips back to Portland to record at the studio inside the Secret Society, the group decided it was time to come home permanently.

“In L.A., it feels like the people are just there to study you when they’re watching you play. There’s just so much going on,” Hall says. “Portland is just a supportive place. When we play here, it feels especially good.”

But the feel-good family’s latest studio effort still owes a great deal to the Golden State. When preparing Beauty in Commotion, the members of Oh Darling shared an apartment where they could write and test new songs at any given moment. With endless opportunities to experiment, the group wound up with more songs than it knew what to do with.

“It’s been an interesting process for us to pick the best songs,” Hall says, “but there’s some that always get left behind.”

There will most likely be an Oh Darling EP released in the near future, but why settle for that? There are already rumors of Frozen 2, after all.


SEE IT: Oh Darling plays the Secret Society, 116 NE Russell St., with Sean Flinn & the Royal We and DJ Cooky Parker, on Saturday, May 10. 9 pm. $8. 21+.

 
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