The Old Ceremony + R.E.M.’s Mike Mills, “Fall Guy” from Sprinter (2015): One Track Mind

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Known for its lush, cinematic gothic Southern pop, the Old Ceremony goes to the source on “Fall Guy,” tapping the soaring vocal talents of Mike Mills of R.E.M. on a project produced by Mitch Easter and arranged by Chris Stamey of dBs fame.

The song, part of an upcoming Old Ceremony album called Sprinter, seem to have been likewise informed by frontman Django Haskins’ recent participation in the Stamey-curated concert performances of Big Star’s Third/Sister Lovers album, which have also featured Easter, Mills and Jody Stephens, the last surviving member of Big Star.

All of it combines to add new depths of color, shade and meaning to the sound of a group that’s always had a way of spinning deeply involving yarns. Here, the old Ceremony — named after the 1974 Leonard Cohen album New Skin for the Old Ceremony and based out of Chapel Hill, North Carolina — focus on the way our fates lead us to wander, looking for the next thing once the first thing begins to seem comfortably established.

Haskins used Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner’s mind-boggling freefall from inner space as a creative leaping off point, but he could very well be discussing the Old Ceremony’s restless desire to expand their creative vision here. Five albums in, the group could easily have rested on the many laurels that followed the release of the Old Ceremony’s most recent project, 2012’s Fairytales and Other Forms of Suicide. Instead, they have stirred in the creative visions of legendary figures who helped set the template for the Old Ceremony’s career.

In so doing, they’ve turned “Fall Guy” into a fizzy moment of old-meets-new alchemy, something that informs this group’s present even as it connects the dots with the foundation elements of their muse. The Old Ceremony’s Sprinter is due on July 10, 2015 via Yep Roc Records. Mike Mills, who is also featured on bass, guests on two tracks.

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