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Essential New Music: The Old Ceremony’s “Sprinter”

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When you christen yourself after a revered Leonard Cohen classic, much is expected, and the Old Ceremony has met and exceeded those expectations over the course of 11 years and five albums. On Sprinter, guitars shimmer and shriek, keyboards swirl, rhythms thump and roll, and tendrils of Karl Wallinger (the title track), Bruce Springsteen (“Go Dark”), My Morning Jacket (“Mission Bells”) and Chris Whitley (“Hard Times”) are woven into the proceedings; there are even Spoon-esque references to “Louie Louie” on “Over Greenland.”

Although Sprinter exhibits the Old Ceremony’s trademark lyrical richness and musical complexity, the band’s new pop diversity is linked to frontman Django Haskins’ involvement in the concert series presentation of Big Star’s Sister Lovers/Third where he collaborated with Ray Davies, Robyn Hitchcock and members of the Posies, Yo La Tengo and Teenage Fanclub, among others. That experience led to the direct input of three hugely influential individuals: producer Mitch Easter, arranger/dB’s sparkplug Chris Stamey and former R.E.M. bassist/vocalist Mike Mills, all of whom contribute substantially to Sprinter’s vibe and direction.

—Brian Baker

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Best Of 2012, Guest Editors: The Old Ceremony’s Django Haskins On The Vibraphone

As 2012 comes to an end, we are taking a look back at some of our favorite posts of the year by our guest editors.

The Old Ceremony, the orchestral-pop quintet Django Haskins has led since 2004, just released its fifth album, Fairy Tales And Other Forms Of Suicide. The band’s first LP for Yep Roc is also its first to receive a vinyl pressing, as well as its first to be released in Europe. In other words, it’s the perfect time for a provocative album title. Like many of the reinvented and rejuvenated performers the band now calls label mates (such as Robyn Hitchcock, Nick Lowe, John Doe and Paul Weller), the Old Ceremony makes music unencumbered by the ever-shifting demands of new and now. Haskins will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our brand new Old Ceremony feature.

Haskins: Nobody seems to quite know what to call the vibraphone when they see it in person. Marimba. Xylophone. Glockenspiel. But after helping to haul our mallet wizard Mark Simonsen’s set of vibes around for the past eight years, I’ve come to realize the vibraphone is ubiquitous: This American Life segues, Tom Waits records, car-insurance commercials, nearly every soundtrack every recorded. I’ve become convinced that the vibraphone is the stuntman of musical instruments. You may not know its name, but it makes everyone else sound better.

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Best Of 2012, Guest Editors: The Old Ceremony’s Django Haskins On Megafaun

As 2012 comes to an end, we are taking a look back at some of our favorite posts of the year by our guest editors.

The Old Ceremony, the orchestral-pop quintet Django Haskins has led since 2004, just released its fifth album, Fairy Tales And Other Forms Of Suicide. The band’s first LP for Yep Roc is also its first to receive a vinyl pressing, as well as its first to be released in Europe. In other words, it’s the perfect time for a provocative album title. Like many of the reinvented and rejuvenated performers the band now calls label mates (such as Robyn Hitchcock, Nick Lowe, John Doe and Paul Weller), the Old Ceremony makes music unencumbered by the ever-shifting demands of new and now. Haskins will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our brand new Old Ceremony feature.

Haskins: If you want to feel like the world is a good, if psychedelic, place, do yourself a favor and check out the band Megafaun. Listening to these guys is like going on a camping trip with a group of buddies that happens to include both Alan Lomax and Timothy Leary.

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Best Of 2012, Guest Editors: The Old Ceremony’s Django Haskins On E.B. White’s “Here Is New York”

As 2012 comes to an end, we are taking a look back at some of our favorite posts of the year by our guest editors.

The Old Ceremony, the orchestral-pop quintet Django Haskins has led since 2004, just released its fifth album, Fairy Tales And Other Forms Of Suicide. The band’s first LP for Yep Roc is also its first to receive a vinyl pressing, as well as its first to be released in Europe. In other words, it’s the perfect time for a provocative album title. Like many of the reinvented and rejuvenated performers the band now calls label mates (such as Robyn Hitchcock, Nick Lowe, John Doe and Paul Weller), the Old Ceremony makes music unencumbered by the ever-shifting demands of new and now. Haskins will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our brand new Old Ceremony feature.

Haskins: There are a lot of clever writers out there these days. Brooklyn cranks them out like the world’s most efficient English post-doc genius factory. But rarely will you find a stylist so precise, so elegant as E.B. White in this classic essay about New York. “On any person who desires such queer prizes, New York will bestow the gift of loneliness and the gift of privacy,” White begins. Each compact sentence expands in the mind like a drinking straw wrapper dropped into water. Every word matters. In a world of universal blogorrhea, the value of this lost art can’t be overstated.

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Film At 11: The Old Ceremony

Thanks to the Old Ceremony for guest editing our website all week. Be sure to check out the band’s new LP, Fairytales And Other Forms Of Suicide. Watch a video for the title track below.

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From The Desk Of The Old Ceremony’s Django Haskins: The Vibraphone

The Old Ceremony, the orchestral-pop quintet Django Haskins has led since 2004, just released its fifth album, Fairy Tales And Other Forms Of Suicide. The band’s first LP for Yep Roc is also its first to receive a vinyl pressing, as well as its first to be released in Europe. In other words, it’s the perfect time for a provocative album title. Like many of the reinvented and rejuvenated performers the band now calls label mates (such as Robyn Hitchcock, Nick Lowe, John Doe and Paul Weller), the Old Ceremony makes music unencumbered by the ever-shifting demands of new and now. Haskins will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our brand new Old Ceremony feature.

Haskins: Nobody seems to quite know what to call the vibraphone when they see it in person. Marimba. Xylophone. Glockenspiel. But after helping to haul our mallet wizard Mark Simonsen’s set of vibes around for the past eight years, I’ve come to realize the vibraphone is ubiquitous: This American Life segues, Tom Waits records, car-insurance commercials, nearly every soundtrack every recorded. I’ve become convinced that the vibraphone is the stuntman of musical instruments. You may not know its name, but it makes everyone else sound better.

Video after the jump.

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From The Desk Of The Old Ceremony’s Django Haskins: Raymond Chandler

The Old Ceremony, the orchestral-pop quintet Django Haskins has led since 2004, just released its fifth album, Fairy Tales And Other Forms Of Suicide. The band’s first LP for Yep Roc is also its first to receive a vinyl pressing, as well as its first to be released in Europe. In other words, it’s the perfect time for a provocative album title. Like many of the reinvented and rejuvenated performers the band now calls label mates (such as Robyn Hitchcock, Nick Lowe, John Doe and Paul Weller), the Old Ceremony makes music unencumbered by the ever-shifting demands of new and now. Haskins will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our brand new Old Ceremony feature.

Haskins: Early pulp-fiction writers were generally a pretty prurient, formulaic lot. A couple of steamy scenes, a sucker punch or two, some wise guy cracks, and you pretty much had the formula. But then Dashiell Hammett entered the scene with lean, fearsome prose that showed that detective noir could be more than just cheap thrills; it could be art. Following quickly on Hammett’s heels came Raymond Chandler, my favorite noir author. Chandler added a certain continental irony to the hard-edged dialogue and a poetic eye for detail that showed tough-guy fiction could be not just art, but good art. His most famous novel, The Big Sleep, pretty much set the L.A. detective formula for good. It also provided the basic plot for The Big Lebowski, which proved that the unhallowed stoner-comedy genre could also be good art, or at least endlessly quotable.

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From The Desk Of The Old Ceremony’s Django Haskins: Anchovies

The Old Ceremony, the orchestral-pop quintet Django Haskins has led since 2004, just released its fifth album, Fairy Tales And Other Forms Of Suicide. The band’s first LP for Yep Roc is also its first to receive a vinyl pressing, as well as its first to be released in Europe. In other words, it’s the perfect time for a provocative album title. Like many of the reinvented and rejuvenated performers the band now calls label mates (such as Robyn Hitchcock, Nick Lowe, John Doe and Paul Weller), the Old Ceremony makes music unencumbered by the ever-shifting demands of new and now. Haskins will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our brand new Old Ceremony feature.

Haskins: I used to hate these harsh little fish, but then I discovered that they work best behind the scenes, as a flavor enhancer that doesn’t leave any fishiness. They’re like the MSG of the sea. Whenever I can slip them into pasta sauces, I do. This requires finesse, as they’re not particularly popular at my house. Sometimes I wonder if learning to appreciate anchovies is like getting excited about seeing birds in the wild—a sure sign of premature dotage.

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From The Desk Of The Old Ceremony’s Django Haskins: Our Daily Bard

The Old Ceremony, the orchestral-pop quintet Django Haskins has led since 2004, just released its fifth album, Fairy Tales And Other Forms Of Suicide. The band’s first LP for Yep Roc is also its first to receive a vinyl pressing, as well as its first to be released in Europe. In other words, it’s the perfect time for a provocative album title. Like many of the reinvented and rejuvenated performers the band now calls label mates (such as Robyn Hitchcock, Nick Lowe, John Doe and Paul Weller), the Old Ceremony makes music unencumbered by the ever-shifting demands of new and now. Haskins will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our brand new Old Ceremony feature.

Haskins: We all know the old saw about Eskimo languages having 50 words for snow. The ways that languages reveal our attitudes, fears or preoccupations fascinates me. For instance, the Chinese has no word for “privacy,” in the way we mean it. Having lived in mainland China, this makes sense to me. But even though I was an English major in college, I never quite appreciated until recently just how much one particular man enriched our language. And he did so in ways that help us understand ourselves, not just as English speakers, but as humans. It floats to the surface in commonplace references to something rotten in the state of Denmark, a lady who protests too much or someone mad but north by northwest, to name a few just from Hamlet. When Keith Richards talks about his songwriting process as sticking a finger up into the atmosphere and occasionally grabbing some divine inspiration, it makes me think that Shakespeare must have spent his entire adult life hanging from a church spire, conducting lightning bolts.

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From The Desk Of The Old Ceremony’s Django Haskins: Dexter Romweber

The Old Ceremony, the orchestral-pop quintet Django Haskins has led since 2004, just released its fifth album, Fairy Tales And Other Forms Of Suicide. The band’s first LP for Yep Roc is also its first to receive a vinyl pressing, as well as its first to be released in Europe. In other words, it’s the perfect time for a provocative album title. Like many of the reinvented and rejuvenated performers the band now calls label mates (such as Robyn Hitchcock, Nick Lowe, John Doe and Paul Weller), the Old Ceremony makes music unencumbered by the ever-shifting demands of new and now. Haskins will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our brand new Old Ceremony feature.

Haskins: The word “legend” gets tossed around pretty freely, making it hard to find the real ones among the merely “esteemed.” But one live experience with Dexter Romweber will set you straight. The Old Ceremony has played with him a few times, and I loved his sound—and soul—so much that I went home and wrote a song called “The Death Of Me” for him, which he generously put on his most recent record. Dex has grabbed the tail of rock ‘n’ roll and is riding out a wild ride to the end. Thank goodness he’s making records to document his journey into darkness and back.

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