Best Case Scenario: A Studiography

by Chris McKay And The Critical Darlings

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about

The Critical Darlings began not long after the death of my father in late 2003. I had recorded some demos to share with friends, and one night, at a rock trivia match in Athens, Georgia, one of those friends (Tom Bavis) said, "Nice songs. Too bad they don't have a real drummer" while he pointed at himself. I didn't even know he was a drummer.

The band really helped me deal with those difficult times and got me back on my feet.

After drafting my high school friend Frank DeFreese, and getting him to move to Athens, The Critical Darlings began officially in 2004. We were just having a good time. We didn't look for shows, but we accepted them, and they kept coming. Not too many. Not too few.

After a while, the offers got better, and we decided that maybe we'd record. We did.

We released our first album, C'mon, Accept Your Joy in 2005, and after some lineup changes, released our final album in 2009.

Lots happened in between. Feel free to visit www.chrismckay.com if you wanna dig through the history.

We opened for bands as disparate as A Flock Of Seagulls and King's X.

We made a lot of friends and we put on some pretty rocking' shows.

When it came time to release this compilation, I wanted it to not only be a great overview of what the band did, but I wanted it to include the final Critical Darlings recording, "Feels Like Yesterday". It also includes 3 new tracks that I did on my own, and ends with my home recording of a song that would've been on the 3rd Darlings album.

I apologize if your favorite didn't make the cut. A few of mine didn't make it either. Seek out the complete original albums to hear everything.

I tried to pace this compilation as I would a live show and I think it puts the songs into different environments than the original releases did. There are some sonic surprises thrown in, too.

Even though people generally don't do it anymore, this album is a 4 sided double album and it's intended to be heard in that manner. You'll likely get different insights into the band and music if you listen to it as intended.

I hope you like it. Thank you to everyone that booked us, came to a show, shouted about us through your megaphones, or supported us in anyway.

I will continue on performing and playing solo and with bands, but The Critical Darlings can now, officially, be tossed into the "where are they now" file. That is, of course, if it can be considered that we were ever there.

Dig in.

ROCK!

credits

released 25 October 2014

See individual songs for specific performer information for each song.

This is a list of people that played with The Critical Darlings at shows over the years. Thank you.

Chris McKay (2004 - 2014, Lead Vocals, Guitar)
Tom Bavis (2004 - 2005, Drums, Backup Vocals)
Frank DeFreese (2004 - 2010, Bass)
Michael Rietveld (2005 - 2007, Drums)
Joe Orr (2006 - 2009, Guitar, Vocals)
Josh Couillard (2007, 2010, Drums)
Joshua Harrison (2007 - 2009, Drums, Vocals)
Andy Ainsworth (2010, Guitar)
Kate Powell (2011, Keyboards, Vocals)
Alex Powell (2011 -2012, Drums)
Mark Crowley (2011, Bass)
Robert Caruthers (2011, Guitar)
Ash Miltiades (2011 - 2012, Guitar, Vocals)
Adam West (2011 - 2012, Bass)

Produced by Chris McKay, David Barbe, Tom Bavis, and Kyle Spence.

Recorded by Chris McKay, David Barbe, Asa Leffer, and Kyle Spence.

Cover art by Manda McKay

(www.mandamckay.com)

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Track Name: Chris McKay - Best Case Scenario
Best Case Scenario

(Music and lyrics by Chris McKay)

Some days are blue and some days are gray
And some days you barely make it through
But either way, you're gonna get old
And these are the days that you're gonna want back again

That's the best case scenario
That's the best case scenario
That one day you're gonna live to be old
Yeah, that's the best case scenario

Some days are hardly worth the work
And tell me, is it ever really worth the worry?
'Cause either way, you're gonna get old
(Yes, you are.)
And these are the days that you're gonna want back again

That's the best case scenario
That's the best case scenario
That one day you're gonna live to be old
Yeah, that's the best case scenario
Track Name: Chris McKay - That Excites Me
That Excites Me

(Music and lyrics by Chris McKay)

Don't ask me to hurry.
I've got nothing to prove.
I won't let myself worry, 'cause there's nothing that I can do.
I've done all they've asked me, everything I can.
Now I'm doing what I want.
I'm being who I am.

And who that is, I'm not sure,
But that excites me even more.

I've lost track of time now or it's lost track of me.
That's how I like it. That's the way it oughtta be.
It gives me time to wander and kill time on my own.
Until it catches and kills me, you'll find me where I go.

And where that is, I'm not sure,
But that excites me even more.

Don't ask me to explain it.
There's nothing I can prove.
I won't let myself worry, 'cause there's nothing I can do.
Don't ask silly questions, 'cause I won't hear a word.
If you've really been listening, you've already heard.
Track Name: The Only Way
The Only Way

(Music and lyrics by Tom O'Gorman and Chris McKay)

You give me something I don't even want
and never knew that I needed
The only way

You did it because you knew you could
Just like I knew that you would
The only way

I know I'm taking my time
I know this city is mine
So why am I standing in line?
Standing 'round thinking 'bout
The one, the only way

My life has become an easy ride
Just like you knew that it would
The only way

I did it because I knew I could
Just like you knew that I would
The only way

I know I'm taking my time
I know this city is mine
So why am I standing in line?
Standing 'round thinking 'bout
The one, the only way

I'm talking 'bout the one,
the only way
I'm thinking 'bout the one,
The only way
Yeah I'm talking 'bout the one,
The only way

Because I'm happy
don't mean I'll smile
Even though I could
The only way

'Cause maybe then you could
Figure me out
And I don't know if you should
The only way

I know I'm taking my time
I know this city is mine
So why am I standing in line?
Standing 'round thinking 'bout
The one, the only way

I'm talking 'bout the one,
The only way
I'm thinking 'bout the one,
The only way
Yeah I'm talking 'bout the one,
The only way
Track Name: Feels Like Yesterday
Feels Like Yesterday

(Music And Lyrics By Chris McKay)

Remember that time we spent out in the parking lot
Nothing to do but hang out with our friends
Didn't give a damn about school or what we ought to do
I really did believe those days would never end

Was it really so long ago?

Because it feels like yesterday, and it could be tomorrow
Or it could be right now if you want it to

There's hardly been a day since then when I don't reminisce
The boredom of the truth has faded since way back then
No matter how far we go or what might come between
Rest assured you'll always be my friend

It wasn't really so long ago.

It feels like yesterday, and it could be tomorrow
Or it could be right now if you want it to.
It still feels like yesterday, and it could be tomorrow
Or it could be right now if you want it to

Every time I see you in my mind, I realize we were right.
We thought those days were never going to end.
And here I go reliving them again.

It feels like yesterday, and it could be tomorrow
Or it could be right now if you want it to.
It still feels like yesterday, and it could be tomorrow
Or it could be right now if you want it to
Track Name: Sadder Day
Sadder Day

(Music by Frank DeFreese / Chris McKay. Lyrics by Chris McKay)


I've been sliding down this mountain
Ever since you're not around
But I've finally caught my footing
About halfway down

So I've started for the top again
Without you by my side
And I'm relearning how to smile
With every step I climb

And when you went away
I had nothing to say
But if I had my deepest wish
There will never be a sadder day

Heat lightning crossed the sky
With the roman candles
on the beach
But those days are all
lost and gone now
Since you're so out of reach

The thunder that
you're hearing now
is much, much different than mine
But I'll carry all those
memories with me
Even though they slow my climb

And when you went away
I had nothing to say
But if I had my deepest wish
There will never be a sadder day
There will never be a sadder day
There will never be a sadder day
There will never be a sadder day

And when I reach the top
I'll thank God I found my way
And then I'll think of you again
And there will never be a sadder day

There will never be a sadder day
There will never be a sadder day
There will never be a sadder day
Track Name: Waiting For The Siren (Full Length Version)
Waiting For The Siren

(Music and lyrics by Chris McKay)


Everybody's having fun except for you
So of course my eyes zoom in
Just like they can see right through

If I could make you smile
That would make my night worthwhile
But when you look me in the eyes
To ask me why

I don't know what to say
And I don't know what to do
It's like I never even knew
I was waiting for the siren

All your talk of disaster,
destruction and doom
Still can't turn my eyes
To elsewhere in the room

And I don't need someone to save
I should turn and walk away
But I just can't defend
From the way you're pulling me in

I don't know what to say
And I don't know what to do
It's like I never even knew
I was waiting for the siren

Waiting for the siren
Waiting for the siren
Waiting for the siren
And I don't even stand a chance...

I don't know what to say
And I don't know what to do
It's like I never even knew
I was waiting for the siren

I don't know what to say
And I don't know what to do
It's like I never even knew
I was waiting for the siren
Track Name: Scared Of Myself
Scared Of Myself

(Music by Chris McKay / Tom O'Gorman. Lyrics by Chris McKay)

I walk alone down a crowded street
I see myself in every person I meet
They'll never see what I have inside
They'll never know what is in my mind

And when I feel it burning inside me
I know I need help
And when it comes upon me, y'know I'm
Scared of myself

Don't give me your reasons
This is the way that I feel
I want the minutes back from a life God decided to steal
I want the sun & the moon & the stars to move when I ask
I want the power, I want it all, & I want it fast

And when I feel it burning inside me
I know I need help
And when it comes upon me, y'know I'm
Scared of myself
Track Name: Tonight Never Happened
Tonight Never Happened

(Written by Chris McKay)

Tonight never happened
No watch hands recorded this moment
The sun never went down
The time froze and nobody noticed

All our dreams came true
All our prayers were answered
Everything was perfect
Everything was right
Our spirits were up and our guards were down
Too bad we all had to miss tonight

Tonight never happened
The seconds were stolen away
When clocks started moving
The morning was burning today

And who saw it coming?
Who saw it speeding us by?
We didn't feel a thing
No wish can recover those moments

When all our plans worked out
And all we needed we had
Everything we saw with our second sight
Everyone got what they deserved
Too bad we all had to miss tonight

I can't believe that we missed it
I wish I didn't know a thing
This clarity is vicious

Tonight never happened
Tonight never happened
Tonight never happened
Tonight never happened...
Track Name: Phony
Phony

Music: McKay / O’Gorman
Lyrics: McKay


Everyday it’s the same.
I get up. I get out of myself.
Every night it’s the same old thing
That doesn’t matter at all
I’ve been stuck in the same progression
So long I don’t know…
A single night that’s lasted for a thousand years

And when the morning comes around
It’s another story to tell
And when the morning comes around
I know it’s gonna feel phony

I don’t walk with the same step
I used to have a long time ago
When people saw me
They knew they were seeing somebody

And now it seems that I’m just another
…another other

You know, I don’t even think
That I like what I’ve become

And when the morning comes around
It’s another story to tell
And when the morning comes around
I know it’s still gonna feel phony

Isn’t there someone who can shake me awake?
Isn’t there anything I can do?
Isn’t there a life for me somewhere out there?

‘Cause when the morning comes around, it’s always the same
It’s another lonely story, when the morning comes around
It never changes at all, it never changes at all
When the morning comes around,
You know I just can’t take anymore
I can’t take it
‘Cause when the morning comes around
I know it’s still gonna feel phony
Track Name: An Uncertain Flight
I'm in a plane and I'm looking down
At the shadows clouds cast on the ground
And I see as the wind will blow
How darkness goes

Looking at myself in glass I see
The same things that I've always seen
Though it's changing I can't relate
Is it too late?

So I ride across the sky on an uncertain flight
And I never wonder why I do the things I have to do
'Cause I know it.
It's always true.
It's for you.

Looking back I can't believe what I've seen
Looking forward I can't see through the steam
Of things to come from all that's past
It won't last. It won't last.

So who's the victor and who's the fool?
I don't know. Do you?
I don't think you do and neither do I
But that's alright. That's alright.

So I ride across the sky on an uncertain flight
And I never wonder why I do the things I have to do
'Cause I know it.
It's always true.
It's for you.
Track Name: Towel Cape Song
Why do you wear that around your neck?
You know, it can’t really make you fly.

It’s just a towel, not a cape.
If you jump, you’ll die.

You’re just feeling confused
But you’ve got to get right

Before you go too far.
I don’t want to see the impression of you
On the roof of a parked car.

So just come down and get real.
Don’t be crazy and try.
If you jump, you’re gonna fall like a brick,
Regret it…and die.

Oh yeah

Daydreaming grandeur through your life
Is no excuse.
When the night time comes and the door bell rings,
It’s not a villain gunning for you.

So just come down and get real.
Don’t be crazy and try.
If you jump, you’re going to fall like a brick,
Regret it…and die.

Don’t be stupid, can’t you even hear?
You’re just gonna die if you fall.
I won’t watch you leap to your death.
Sooner or later, delusions will kill us all.

Oh yeah.

Well, I heard people gasping.
So I looked to the sky.
Just imagine my surprise
To see you smiling and waving
From up high…oh yeah.

Goodbye.
Track Name: Sometimes I'm Sam
Sam sits in the room with the curtains drawn
Thinking how nice it would be to never be born
Flipping ‘round the TV with the stereo on
Laughing at the fools it shows when things go wrong

Chorus:
Sometimes I’m Sam
And sometimes I’m smarter than that
Sometimes I’m Sam

Sam regrets the tons of things never did
And forgets the way it felt back as a kid
Something crawled inside and got the wires all crossed
Now everything left is focused on what’s lost

Repeat Chorus

Sam knows everything and is full of advice
“This game is for losers and idiots throw the dice”
Sam is aware that the whole thing is rigged
That’s why Sam never plays and why the head is so big

Sam is appalled by the people who rule
But never does anything about it so Sam is a fool
Sam is the victim when it pays to be
And Sam is the same when you add an ‘e’

Repeat Chorus

Sometimes I’m Sam…
Track Name: Chris McKay - The Best Of What's Around
It doesn't matter how I feel as long as I get through the day
I've thought about it lots of times, it doesn't matter anyway
The grass is shining and the sun is on the ground
I've gotta make the best of what's around.

There's never been a sadder day to feel so much alive
All these smiles can't cover up the tears I'm trying to hide.
But I'll keep on moving on for as long as I can
'Cause that's the only thing I understand.

Time just keeps moving on.
I just keep moving on
Trying to make the best of what's around.

Every time that I get hit, knocked right off my feet,
It's just a couple of days 'til I get a hold of me
One thing after another is what defines a life
And I have to believe it'll be alright

Time just keeps moving on.
I just keep moving on
Trying to make the best of what's around.

There's more to life than dates upon a stone
There's more to us than we could ever see
And maybe that's the beauty of who we are
That we'll never see ourselves but for the trees

It doesn't matter how I feel as long as I get through the day
I've thought about it lots of times, it never mattered anyway
The grass is shining and the sun is on the ground
I've gotta make the best of what's around.

Gotta make the best of what's around
Gotta make the best of what's around
Track Name: Happy Here And Now
I'm broke like a 45 that your mother used to love
And I'm feeling a little less than down
You know it seems that I harder I work
The harder everything gets
That dark cloud's following me around

Why can't I ever find the silver in the clouds?
Why can't I ever just be satisfied?
And be happy here and now.

Happy here and now
Happy here and now
Happy here and now

I don't know why it's such a hard time
For me to have a good time
I can't take two steps without finding a trip
But I'm doing the best that I can
I'm just trying to see this through
And if I can't well I did all I could do

Why can't I ever find the silver in the clouds?
Why can't I ever just be satisfied?
And be happy here and now.

Happy here and now
Happy here and now
Happy here and now

Why cant I be happy here and now?

Happy here and now
Happy here and now...
Track Name: Taking Its Toll
Do you walk the line of the undefined?
Do you use your own advice or not use it at all?

So you wanted to see what being free could be
But you know it's taking its toll

Are you in limbo time? It keeps moving along
Or are you in the land of what's going wrong?

So you wanted to see what being free could be
But you know it's taking its toll

You put it back to try and make it.
The spirit's strong so don't you tear it.

You've waited long now don't you waste it.
'Cause you know it's taking its toll.

Are you in limbo time? It keeps moving along
Or are you in the land of what's going wrong?

So you wanted to see what being free could be
But you know it's taking its toll.

You put it back to try and make it.
The spirit's strong so don't you tear it.

You've waited long now don't you waste it.
'Cause you know it's taking its toll.

You lay down, you lay down
You lay down, you lay down…
Track Name: Something Unseen
You stare at the dawn
And you wonder what's going on
Because lately everything has changed
And you wonder if you can stay

Yeah and you know it's not even real
Not even a dream
Are you willing to risk everything
For something unseen?

You stare at the sun
And you think about what's gone
You notice your eyes aren't dry
But you know it's just the light in your eyes

And you know the chances are good
That you won't be here again
But that's okay ‘cause we've got today
And tomorrow's the wind

Yeah and this time it just might be real
Do everything that you feel
This time you might be your fate
Now maybe ‘cause you know that it's late
Don't hesitate

You turn away from dusk
And you do only what you must
It's important to release the past
But the future will never last

Yeah and you know it's pulling away
To never return
And you know that you'll never get back
The chances you've burned

Yeah and you know it's not even real
It's not even a dream
Are you willing to risk everything
For something unseen?

Yeah, ‘cause this time it just might be real
Do everything that you feel
This time you might be your fate
Now maybe ‘cause you know that it's late
Don't hesitate…
Track Name: Chris McKay - Everything Must Go
Everything Must Go

Music and Lyrics by Chris McKay

How have you been?
It's been a while
Not long enough I know
For feelings to resolve or even fade

We had some good times in our day
We really shared some laughs
Sometimes it's sad how nothing seems to last

Everything must go away
Everything must disappear

You know that I can't stay here long
'Cause it really does no good
Especially with the storm clouds rolling fast
But even as the thunder shakes the ground
And darkness takes our view
Let's remember that all of the bad things will pass, too

Everything must go away
Everything must disappear

I know that this has all been said
By ones much brighter than you or I
But in times such as these,
It really bears repeating...
Yes, it really bears repeating

That everything must go away
Everyone must disappear
All of this will melt away
And the world will know that we were here...

Even when we disappear