1 Aug 2012

Duke and the Darlings: Music Review

Surely you couldn't expect me not to blog about another Manchester band? So here it its...this band were getting mentioned a fair bit by people I follow on Twitter and I decided to see what they were tweeting about. I am glad I did.  The band have only been together since 2011 and so the back catalogue is not yet overflowing, not yet.

A twitter buddy of mine - can I coin the term 'Twuddy' (@luvthafrobro) thought they sounded like early Bluetones. I can actually remember having the Bluetones first album but I have real difficulty picking tracks for comparisons, mainly due to the fact that I get totally distracted and end up listening to everything, and so the Bluetones track I have chosen is my favourite from their first album - and quite possibly irrelevant, but lets have a listen to some early Bluetones anyway....

Bluetones - Can't Be Trusted'

They did remind me of  The Seahorses a bit...

The Seahorses - Love Me and Leave Me

So let me introduce you to...

Duke and the Darlings

Courtesy of Duke and the Darlings

Their EP, Live at Abbey Road, was released in May 2012 and is made up of three tracks:

                                                 1. Stop And Go
                                                 2. House of Cards
                                                 3. Let Me Down

Now this is a first for me because I can't insert any YouTube clips because there aren't any, and no soundcloud tracks uploaded either :( So I suggest checking them out on Spotify or MySpace (yes, it still exists) and listen to them there before you buy them or jump right in and buy the tracks from iTunes.

But.. there is an EP trailer..

...and a couple of acoustic tracks sung by the lead singer Alex Reed that aren't on the EP, so for your listening pleasure...

Don't Need To

Modern Man

I would hazard a guess that 'Stop and Go' is probably the most popular track on the EP. But recently I have been listening more to acoustic bands and this has lead me to crave somethings a bit rockier and this is why my favourite track from the EP is 'Let Me Down' (slight arctic monkeys feel to it).  I would recommend listening to them both and you should complete the hat trick with their slow number that is House of Cards.

What did my research* turn up? Not much except that they are well liked but this was great because it meant I could ask some questions that would tell us what we want to know. A highlight of the research was coming across their tumblr page, (see question below) as it isn't often that bands write anything but preferring instead to post photo's, its really interesting, well written and refreshing to see and I look forward to reading more especially after getting to know a bit more about the band through their interview...


Can you give me a brief history of the band to date?

During the Summer of 2011, Alex Reed, Jonny Saatchi, Grant Tildsley and Luke Wilkinson formed Duke and the Darlings. Their debut EP was recorded live at Abbey Road Studios, which was subsequently released on May 15th by Sweet Sweet Records.

The name of your band is Duke and the Darlings, where does that come from?

The name is derived from the darkest caverns our minds: It is very difficult to name a band, afterall, there are so many bands, and all the best names have been taken! It would paint us as neurotic to describe the criteria which we set when naming our band (Alex and Jonny both have Masters in Linguistics, so it got very particular at points), but needless to say it took a very long time. Names that didn’t quite meet the criteria include Old Warrior, Dorsal Front and Drink More Milk.

What was your first gig as Duke and the Darlings & what was it like?

Our first gig under this particular moniker was at Manchester Academy 3, a venue which all bands should play: The sound is great, it can fit a decent crowd without looking like a bad idea, and you are half-paid in beer. That night was particularly special as we gave away our EP for free during our set. There is nothing like the buzz of being onstage, but playing a gig is also about the crescendo leading up to your slot, and the sweet sweet ale-fuelled comedown.

Who or what do you think has been the biggest influence on your music?

A great open question! There isn’t a band which we all like, and so our sweat-box practices can sound somewhat collagic, but generally speaking we all appreciate good music, by our definition at least. We all bring something different to the table, certainly, but in fear of not giving you a concrete answer we’ll say Bucks Fizz: Bucks Fizz have been the biggest influence on our music.
What was the first album you bought yourself?

Alex bought Americana by The Offspring, while Luke bought Crush by Bon Jovi. Grant was raised on his father’s eclectic music taste, which fortunately included Led Zepellin and Van Halen, but unfortunately didn’t include Room for Squares by John Mayer, so he eventually bought this. Don’t tell a soul, but Jonny never really ‘bought’ music; Definitely Maybe by Oasis was a tape he had very early on, though. This answer probably best sums us up.

If you were to co-ordinate a flash mob, where would it be and what would everybody dance to?

Funnily enough, we have been working on a flash-mob (watch this space!). Only Grant can dance, so we would have to let him choose the music. There is a song which we rarely play live called Momma Fle, which would really get the crowds moving.

I have read your tumblr page and the first thing I noticed was that it contains words, and the majority of bands I follow tend to post photographs. I like that you show this other side and briefly discuss the music industry of today with a cheeky link to your EP, but who is it’s author?

Many thanks for reading. Alex writes the blog, but he takes influence from conversations had with the band with the aim to encapsulate the band’s ethos; we are lucky that there is a common moralistic and political thread through the band, and we channel this through the blog. There is simultaneously nothing to write about and too much to write about when it comes to the music industry of today, and makes for an interesting subject. Our Twitter feed is our garrulous side, the social monster within us.

Finally, what’s coming up for you guys for the rest of the year and any plans to do a gig in the South?

We have made it our mission to play as many free gigs as possible, so expect Duke and the Darlings to be spoiling you rotten this year. We are always meeting cool bands and aim to play with them all, especially if they are based outside of Manchester, so no stone unturned, but there is nothing planned in The South just yet; London, especially, is a hard nut to crack. On a different note, it would be great to have the next EP done by Christmas. We want to have a studio recording, rather than a live recording, just to contrast with the Live at Abbey Road EP....we just hope we can agree on a name


The guys sound as indecisive as me! Ok, well maybe not that bad. I for one am looking forward to hearing more from these guys, deciphering their moral code through tumblr, practicing my dance moves for a flash mob and keeping my fingers crossed for a London gig.

Keep an eye out for the gig review. If you like what you hear check out some of the links below and share this blog post. 

*research consisting of first 10 pages of google - pretty technical stuff, eh?


Other Links


  1. Just the thought of a flash mob breaks me out in hives! But another great review (as per usual!).

  2. Great introduction to a new, up and coming band, Kate. Thanks for sharing their music with us!

    1. Youre welcome - I hope you will give some of the other bands a listen too :)

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