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Our One Mistake

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Album Review

Although Chapel Hill's the Old Ceremony have the chamber-pop-orchestra size of the Polyphonic Spree minus the choir (nine members, including a full-time string section and accordion player), their second album is surprisingly intimate. The twin focus on Our One Mistake is on frontman Django Haskins' low-key vocals and James Wallace's Randy Newman-influenced piano, leaving the rest of the band to fill in the arrangements sparsely, adding a bit of boulevardier élan here (the aforementioned accordion) and some '70s album rock moves there, especially when Mark Simonsen is showing off his clavinet skills, as on the white-boy funk of "Radio Religion." The overall effect is pleasantly like a much less smarmy Ben Folds fronting the Decemberists, with the same blend of somewhat arch lyrics and melodic folk-rock-based tunes. One surprising highlight is the delightful "Bao Qian," an otherwise straightforward pop song sung almost entirely in Mandarin. (Haskins was a Chinese language and literature major in college.) Clever but heartfelt, Our One Mistake will likely appeal to fans of brainy pop.

Biography

Formed: 2004 in Chapel Hill, NC

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Blending artful textures and eclectic instrumentation with the force and emotional impact of a full-on rock band, the Old Ceremony are fronted by singer and songwriter Django Haskins, who was born in Florida to a musical family. Haskins played in a variety of teenage garage bands before leaving Florida to study literature, and then lived in China for a spell, where he taught English. After returning to America, Haskins settled in New York City and formed Django & the Regulars, who released three...
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Our One Mistake, The Old Ceremony
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Contemporaries