Chris McKay & The Critical Darlings
Hailing from South Carolina and choosing Athens as his home, nationally known photographer Chris McKay earned a couple of handfuls of ASCAP Music Awards for his solo work but had wanted to be back in a group since his days with Q-Sign, which was named “one of the best unsigned bands in America” by Musician Magazine.
In 2004, McKay and his bass-playing high school friend Frank DeFreese formed The Critical Darlings. When word started to spread, the offers for shows came. “For the first year, we never booked gigs. We only accepted invitations,” McKay said. “I thought that was a great sign.”
Eventually, the Darlings went into the studio to record C’mon, Accept Your Joy! Before the CD was finished, leaked tracks had garnered airplay in 3 states. Since the official release of Joy, the songs have been picked up by over 150 stations around the world (from Poland to New Zealand to London and back to the States).
In 2007, the Critical Darlings expanded to a quartet (with the addition of guitarist / vocalist Joe Orr and drummer Josh Harrison) and have started work on their second album, tentatively titled Satisfactionista with GRAMMY nominated producer David Barbe (R.E.M., Drive-By Truckers, Betty LaVette) behind the board. Of special interest is the collaboration with David Bowie’s inimitable pianist Mike Garson (Aladdin Sane, Diamond Dogs, Young Americans) who appears on the track “Something Unseen” (which also finds Drive-By Truckers’ Brad Morgan on drums). If that’s not enough, The Darlings are one of the first to employ Pete Townshend’s Lifehouse Method in “co-composing” several tracks with The WHO’s songwriter / guitarist via software that produces a unique song based .. input.
It's no wonder that Lee Valentine Smith of Creative Loafing has named the Critical Darlings “a great little buzz-worthy band” and dubbed McKay “power pop potentate.”