by Daniel Warren Hill
When Jamie Darken first began writing the songs that would appear on his debut solo EP, Burial, he imagined he was crafting demos for Cherry Ames, a local Washington DC area indie-rock band that Darken performs as vocalist, guitarist, and bassist. With Cherry Ames on hiatus amidst the global shutdown and performing in venues unavailable as an option, Darken’s drive to make progress with the ideas on his own eventually brought the tracks to the place where it simply felt right to release as his own project. The result is five songs written, produced, and performed by Darken, with the exception of leading single “This Could Be Your Home” co-written with fellow DC area musician Christopher Mathews-Larsen.
“I guess you could say this is my contribution to quarantine music,” says Darken. “I was inspired by a lot of ambient music and video game background music. Burial is a very different writing and recording project than I’ve ever done before. It was very DIY. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to do everything.”
Darken is no stranger to audio-engineering, or to the DMV music scene. Originally from Chapel Hill, NC, and relocating to the region over a decade ago, he has found the kind of music community in the region that many of us have fallen in love with and been inspired by. He lived in Maryland while attending University of Maryland studying in the field of anthropology, though he most often found himself spending his time in his dorm room producing music. That would eventually lead him to transfer to Washington D.C.’s American University to take part in their Audio Technology Program. After graduation he provided live sound engineering for venues like Blues Alley and Gypsy Sally’s.
He has released collaborations under the moniker ‘Little Hunts’ and also performed in: Miss, Understand Me; and Drive TFC, but with Burial has made the leap to fully fledged singer songwriter.
What you hear on Burial is a unique combination of traditional and nontraditional recording techniques. “Some of the recordings started on my phone and then got snipped together with other ideas,” says Darken. Those ambient influences give each track an ‘easy listening’ quality that fans of shoegaze and dreampop are sure to identify. A track like “Amicus” containing no lyrics wears those influences on its sleeve, but it is incredibly interested to hear those musical concepts creep in to the other four tracks including opening track “Delecarlia Joyride”, title track “Burial”, and closer “Your Heart’s Not Broken”. In many ways these remind me of tracks from Foo Fighters’ 1997 album The Colour And The Shape such as “Doll” or “February Stars”, though Darken would reference Yo La Tengo, Low, Phoebe Bridges, and Beabadoobee as perhaps more current inspirations.
Jamie Darken exhibits a strong enthusiasm for Burial. These are ‘candid Lo-fi recordings blended with soaring keys and strings evoking late night conversations about the future or lack thereof.’ You can tell that he’s much more interested in capturing the feels and the vibes of his artistry rather than highlighting specific pieces of technology, or even his expertise. It should serve as an inspiration for anyone using minimalistic home recording equipment to effectively capture the tugging of their heart strings, noting: “Here’s something I made in my basement!”
I’ve decided to share the lead single from the EP, “This Place Could Be Home” because it obviously holds a special place in his heart, and we believe it will find a special place in yours.
This track has been added to our Alchemical Weekly Spotify Playlist. Check it out!
Daniel Warren Hill is an American musician, writer, and motivational speaker. He is best known as the frontman for Washington DC area Alternative Rock band YellowTieGuy, as co-founder of Capitol Groove Collective, and increasing the exposure of artists on a global scale through his work with Alchemical Records.
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