Press from 2005

  • Independent Weekly

    Centered by vocalist and guitarist Django Haskins, the Old Ceremony’s self-titled debut is brimming with beguiling picaresque tales like the wistful track “Pennsylvania,” whose refrain of “And we can just pretend/This never happened/But we won’t be fooled for long/My love” is as close to the unpredictably high peak as they get.
    Shandy Casteel,

  • Independent Weekly

    "The Old Ceremony evolved from a pick-up backing band for singer/songwriter Django Haskins' increasingly baroque arrangements into a supple cabaret jazz pop outfit with a life of its own." - Independent Weekly, 11.23.05

  • Independent Weekly

    "When discussing the Chapel Hill-based music collective The Old Ceremony, it's not just a good idea, it's apparently the law: You have to mention that the group's name is a nod to the album New Skin for the Old Ceremony by that esteemed drama king Leonard Cohen. And, appropriately enough, there's a palpable sense of in-a-strange-place unease across the dozen songs on this self-titled debut. You might also recall that several Cohen songs were used to excellent effect in Robert Altman's McCabe & Mrs. Miller back in the '70s. On a similar note, much of this album feels like a soundtrack in search of an eccentric, eclectic film festival highlighting some 50 years of flicks. There's the song ripe for accompanying the opening credits ("Shadows"), another well suited for the closing crawl of gaffers and caterers ("The Motions"), a couple perfect for Eastern European art films ("Ole" and "You Left Something Out"), and a pair ready for a movie where the music director couldn't get Tom Waits ("Carry the One" and "Late Shift"). There's even one, the jittery orchestral-billy number "Blood and Oil," that plays out like a James M. Cain script.

    How self-conscious you think this whole enterprise is could probably be measured by your reaction to the rhymes in "American Romeo," the likes of "Paris way/fairest way" and "Crete/three winds to the sheet." But, really, the album is much more about mood than words. To create this ode to moodiness, The Old Ceremony goes 11 musicians strong, with violins, cello, accordion, piano, trumpet, saxophone and vibraphone joining guitar, bass and drums and with everything getting at least a healthy cameo. You might expect dense layers, but instead the players tend to create a lot of space, graciously stepping aside to allow for individual moments like the suspense-signaling piano figure on "Shadows" and the vibes solo on "Blood and Oil." It's a wall of sound built with patience, not bricks. And atop it is singer/songwriter Django Haskins (former Regulars leader and International Orange guitarist), his vocals more often than not sounding like Joe Jackson's American nephew.

    Speaking of Jackson, this record's yin and yang core, the slow-building "Out of the Blue" and the lively-from-word-go "Morning Glories," could have wandered straight off his Night and Day--which, for what it's worth, is also the title of a Cary Grant movie about Cole Porter directed by Michael Curtiz. For some reason, that seems like a trio that would get along famously in the quirky but tuneful cinematic world created by The Old Ceremony." - Independent Weekly, 11.16.05

  • Raleigh News Observer, 6.24.05

    "Moody and very fine old-world pop." - Raleigh News Observer, 6.24.05

  • Amps Eleven

    "Walking into the club in fashion, about twenty-five minutes after the show starts, I see this gorgeous set up with tube lighting surrounding microphone stands and a stage crowded with artists exploding. Classy dressing and hometown humble voices spoke through the system of what was about to be played. I had done the unthinkable that any self-respecting photojournalist would not; I went to a show without my camera. The point being… day in and day out I see some of the most talented and mind blowing shows but I don’t get to truly enjoy them because I’m worried about atmospheric lighting, and blurry headshots, how to see the stage unlike others do. It is all about angles and trying to catch some form of music between my shots, this night I just wanted to be one with the music and the scene. Don’t get me wrong I’m not complaining at all it’s what I live for. Seeing some familiar faces and being persuaded to get my camera, another thirty minutes back to retrieve my camera and thirty rushed minutes back to shoot my heart out.. later. I came up with a few trinkets on film and still had the chance to enjoy the show.

    On stage were The Old Ceremony, they have a sort of character that takes you back to the 50s and 60s, with a rhythmic jazzy swing feel to the chords, story placing lyrics, and sinful engages with the soul. Their evocative sound puts you in to a Halloween-ish mode regardless that it was a blazing August day when they came to our doorstep with the tunes. The groups as a whole are a bunch of clever musicians from all walks of time and life coming together to make something strangely familiar though you will not find this anywhere else. It is not everyday you see an upright bass, double keyboard, vibraphone and lights wired around a microphone with vocals so crisp and orgasmic that you just want to take yourself in the crowd. Wishing for that one note to send you over the edge to have you reaching for bed sheets and walls that are not there.

    Lead singer Django Haskins, of International Orange (with Robert Sledge and Snuzz) and Django & the Regulars, is a seasoned stage crooner-songwriter who brings an element of stardom to The Old Ceremony. He knows how to work a crowd, invoke pack-wide smiles, and who will not fall for a crafty sing-a-long? Portions of the songs propel you so far out into oblivion it’s hard to bring you in again; there is something to be said for real talent these days and formal song writing, clean time changes, duality in beautiful songs with somber lyrics, and pieces that leaves a lasting impression enough you want to sit down at this electronic contraption and grab at words to share it with everyone. Sure it’s my job, just like taking photos on nights when my camera was to rest, sometimes things seize you and keep your attention and you don't mind a bit.

    The collaboration of so many distinctive friends and oh so many styles makes for an interesting set played. They are a pulse finding non-eulogized part of the North Carolina underground just waiting to be explored and embraced.
    -- Dianna Augustine, Amps Eleven

  • Music Monitor

    "Django Haskins - a gifted Chapel Hill-based penman/ now in the middle of the 11-piece The Old Ceremony, with trumpet, violin, cello, and organ among the pieces. The collective's name is a nod to the Leonard Cohen album New Skin for the Old Ceremony, which fits the mood often enough on the band's self-titled debut, but you could just as easily stamp "symphonic cabaret" or "noir pop" on TOC's business card. As for the latter, a couple of tunes would fit the bill if "sunset Boulevard" or "The Sweet Smell of Success" were looking for after-the-fact soundtrack contributions for some of their more sardonic scenes. Alongside other subtle treats, the mid-album pair of "Out of the Blue" and "Morning Glories" sound like keepers that were accidentally left off Joe Jackson's Night and Day. And you will leave these proceedings thinking that vibes are cool as shit."
    - Music Monitor, 8.24.05

  • Independent Weekly

    "Polyglot perhaps best describes Django Haskins, songwriter and bandleader for The Old Ceremony, Chapel Hill's eight-piece, carefully debauched chamber pop band. At 28, he's recorded under several guises, fronting the lustrous Django & The Regulars in New York until 2002, then moving to Chapel Hill to pursue his solo songcraft before joining International Orange, the harmony-high, tightly wound rock quartet that split earlier this year. Django recently took time to rave about some of the influences that shine through in The Old Ceremony's eclectic eponymous debut." - Independent Weekly, 6.22.05

  • Independent Weekly

    "Whether he be the acoustic singer/songwriter, the focal point of cabaret pop noir group The Old Ceremony, or the punchy power popper with International Orange, [Django Haskins] is a pop stylist, with a quick lyrical wit and a card shark's finesse in delivering a hook." - Independent Weekly, 4.27.05

    "[Django writes] darkly evocative, often unsettling American music" - Creative Loafing

  • Independent Weekly

    "From cocktail jazz to Brill Building pop, Django Haskins has found another outlet for his inestimable talents...The Old Ceremony strikes a balance between the cabaret-noir stylings of Tom Waits or Serge Gainsbourg and sophisticated chamber pop." - Independent Weekly, 3.23.05

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