Press from 2007
The Old Ceremony Perfects Their Pop Noir at IOTA
A lot of effort goes into attending a concert -- paying outrageously high ticket prices, figuring out transportation and putting up with obnoxious crowds are the first things that come to mind. This is why we tend to reserve our hard-earned dollars for those bands we really like. But something drew us to the 'burbs last night to see Chapel Hill's The Old Ceremony at IOTA, a band we weren't entirely familiar with. In the end, we can safely say it was $10 well spent.
Starting off the show was Death Ships, an alt-country quartet from Iowa City. With a name like Death Ships and a debut album titled Seeds of Devastation, you would expect the Midwest's answer to Finnish super metal band Lordi. (We just had to throw a Lordi reference in there). Instead, lead singer and guitarist Dan Maloney crooned over slide guitar-filled ballads and upbeat rockers about the complexities of relationships and politics. Maloney's singing and songwriting carried the band, especially his vocal work on "Little Mystery," available for a listen on the band's myspace page. Our only complaint is that the little flourishes in the recordings didn't carry over into their live show, which left the performance a little bland at times.
The Old Ceremony, on the other hand, pulled all the bells and whistles from their recordings onstage with them, with seven people playing every instrument imaginable. We'll take this moment to commend lead singer Django Haskins, who is hands down a fantastic frontman. He gave his best Nick Cave impression for opener "Poison Pen" by taking the role of a storyteller, complete with dramatic hand gestures. The band kept up nicely, switching musical stylings with every single song, from the blues-soaked "Reservations" (complete with a deafening guitar solo) to the psychedelic "Get to Love." Particularly impressive was pianist James Wallace's performance with what appeared to be a bandaged hand. His one-handed piano solo during one song (we believe it was the crowd pleaser "Ole") dropped some jaws in the audience. We'd also like to point out that the Ben Folds-esque "Papers in Order" is easily the catchiest song we've heard all year and it's too bad Wallace's injury kept him from playing some of the cooler parts. Maybe next time, guys. We'll definitely be there.
by Matt Sedlar, DCist, April 2007
Is describing a band as inimitable the highest of compliments? Is a band that unabashedly reveals its inspiration less reputable than one whose sound emerges from a hidden source? If influence-borrowing is the gaffe referenced in the title of The Old Ceremony’s Our One Mistake, it’s an implied blunder I’ll gladly live with. Lead man Django Haskins does his best McCartney in “Papers in Order” over a happily unsophisticated—but terribly funky—backing track. It’s a damnably catchy song, the type of song I’d love to hate. The driving and Spoon-sleek “Get to Love” hammers out a piano-led tour-de-force, anthemic and melodic. In the mildly political, lyrically Newman-esque “Poison Pen”, The Old Ceremony effortlessly co-mingles the disparate sounds of Nick Cave and Ben Folds through a goth-pop vibraphone/piano pairing. Moving into to darker territory, “Believer” vamps a sultry vibe, then builds into a transcendent, effects-laden, organ-frenzied close. Eastern influences inspire both the Mandarin-sung, cello-enchanted “Bao Qian” and the psychedelic and even pummeling six-minute stretch-out “Prove Me Wrong”. Ultimately, I’m in the glorious dilemma of trying to ascertain whether I love the vibraphone, piano and keys, lyrics, or hooks the most—or perhaps just the way they all fit together. On my tenth enjoyable listen, I determined that these sleek, catchy, and often beautiful sounds just might be inimitable after all, and that you should hear them, too – because Our One Mistake actually has very few faults.
by Mark W. Adams, Popmatters, April 2007
“Talk Straight”, the first track of the disc, sounds a bit like a Randy Newman penned song. As a matter of fact, the whole album sounds a bit like it was written as the soundtrack for a movie. “Papers In Order” is a soulful, upbeat little ditty that captures the feel of Sir Paul McCartney during the eighties. “Get To Love” kicks things up a notch without completely changing the overall mood. The title track sort of leaves me wondering where the albums momentum went. It’s a good song all in all but it takes a bit of the wind out of the sails at this point. The is a great album to chill out to at the end of a stressful day if something like that is your style. Favorite track: I like “Baby, What Is Going On” and I think it’s because it sounds a lot like Elvis Costello.
Ear Candy, April 2007
The Old Ceremony is an arsenal of Chapel Hill, NC-based musicians who muster ferociously tight early-world melodies on their second album, Our One Mistake. In what can best be described as Ben Fold Five-meets-Decemberists dramatic pop, they’re showmen of the truest kind. With influences that can be traced to Motown, Leonard Cohen, and Randy Newman, as well as the grandeur of Sinatra and the cabaret of Tom Waits, The Old Ceremony’s sound is difficult to nail down. The record is propelled by a romantic combination of keys, marimba, vibes, and strings, while the attack is lead by guitarist/vocalist Django Haskins, a Yale grad whose literate lyrics tell gloomy sagas taking the listener to an exotic time and place. From the rollicking piano ballad, “Papers in Order,” to the funky soul of “Radio Religion,” to the Mandarin Chinese of “Bao Qian,” this is one worthwhile excursion.
Silent Uproar, April 2007
Our One Mistake by The Old Ceremony was featured on Paste Magazine's list for top albums of 2006. It's delicate and charming, and the band makes great use of instruments that sometimes don't necessarily stand out on a recording. I'm loving the vibes on this song!
5acts.com, April 2007
The Old Ceremony had this album voted at the top album of 2006 by Paste Magazine. This is a huge accomplishment and one that this critic pays attention to. Let me just say that this album didn’t disappoint. These guys are one of the most talented bands I’ve heard in some time. They’re sound reminds me of Wilco, yet not to the extent that you feel they are trying to be copycats. No, these five guys are doing something that is totally their own, but fans of Wilco will find a lot to like about this band. Highlights for me are the piano ballad, “Talk Straight,’ the pop/rock masterpieces “Papers in Order” and “Get To Love” and the funky “Radio Religion.” The whole album is absolutely brilliant though, and I would suggest you check these guys out! (James Morovich)
A modern band that utilizes classical musical elements (i.e. violins and cellos) is definitely a rare breed these days. Some may mistake the Old Ceremony as being an “old” sounding band. Yes, there may be pinches of jazz and pop-noir in the mix, but listeners are simply mistaking the bands unique and mature style for music that sounds like it’s missed its appropriate decade.
The track “Poison Pen” exploits the group’s musical advantage of having a large number of orchestral instruments. Songs like “Get to Love” and “Believer” could even be compared to a more symphonic version of Cake. Every note on this record is played with perfect precision. It is apparent that everyone in this group can play their individual instruments superbly.
The most impressive of tracks on the album is the track “Papers in Order.” The talented lead vocalist, Django Haskins, takes the track to a higher level with his enchanting smoky voice. All in all, Our Own Mistake is definitely a collection of songs that could appeal to everybody in many different ways. Your grandma may identify with the group’s Rat-Pack influences, while your little sister may want to dance to the record’s more energetic tunes. This album certainly offers a little bit of everything for everybody.
Rag Magazine, March 2007
Chosen as one of the "PASTE TOP 100 ALBUMS OF 2006."
Paste Magazine, Jan 2007
Chosen as one of the "GREAT EIGHT ACTS OF THE TRIANGLE" by David Menconi.
Raleigh News-Observer, 1.26.07
BEST BETS: Then there's The Old Ceremony, one of the most inviting local acts in memory, their sweeping flair and tight-as-a-tie McCartney melodies given wings by a love for Sinatra grandeur.
Independent Weekly, 1.31.07
(The Old Ceremony) stirs in Ben Folds' raucous piano and those Fiona Apple moments that make people shed clothing.
Style Weekly, 1.24.07
Chapel Hill's The Old Ceremony is a band (whose) sound bridges the exotic and the American in much the same way that Waits and Gainesbourg could, and the new album, Our One Mistake, comes across as both nostalgic and anachronistic in charming ways.
Flagpole Magazine, 1.20.07
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