Welcome to John-Ralston.com where you can find all my music..
Welcome to John-Ralston.com where you can find all my music..
I live in Lake Worth, FL and always have, mostly. When I haven't been there, I have been traveling around and around North America playing music. I have played at the dregs and at the pearls. I have played at places long-gone but not forgotten: Places like the Fireside Bowl in Chicago and CBGB's in NYC. I have played at places with names soon forgotten and I have played at MSG. I have played basements and I have played outside in the winter cold after shows. I have played to no one and I have played to sold out shows.
My first album, Needle Bed, was made with the help of some friends in 2005. Then I re-released Needle Bed on June 6, 2006 with Vagrant, with whom I also partnered for my second album Sorry, Vampire. White Spiders EP and a UK tour came next. Since then, I have been battling. Winning and losing. But, in the end, I was able to make a beautiful album with some of my closest friends in the world. That album is called Shadows of the Summertime. Life is beautiful like that. In the words of Beckett, "I can't go on. I'll go on." I also just released a vinyl single "Jesus Christ" b/w "A Marigny Xmas" with some new friends at 24 Hour Service Station. Wheels are turning. Good vibrations.
Shadows Of The Summertime LP NOW AVAILABLE on VINYL for $15 USD PPD Additional Charge For International Shipping
I teamed up with the good folks at 24 Hour Service Station to release a new single: “Jesus Christ” b/w “A Marigny Xmas” Dan Bonebrake and Deric Dickens provide the rhythm section here. Pressed on white and red vinyl just in time for the holidays. Purchase the vinyl and receive the digital versions of both songs via email as well as a demo version of “A Marigny Christmas.” Pressing is super limited to 300 total copies; 150 red and 150 white. Order your copy of Jesus Christ | A Marigny Xmas 7 Inch Vinyl Record
LosingToday.com ‘Jesus Christ’ is a bit of gem all said, the draping of looping drone chimes endow it with an enchanting quietly epic demeanour that sounds for all the world as though through the silent flurry of blurring snow drifts an oncoming cavalry is navigating the frost tipped landscapes homeward bound whilst despatched amid a sonic coda that not for the first time (and I suspect not the last) in this missive loosely coils itself delicately around a melodic motif subtly threaded from ‘little drummer boy’ - that said we here are thinking that long time admirers of Cheval Sombre and the like should lap this up. Flip the disc for the utterly adoring and disarming honey toned countrified traits of ‘a marigny Christmas’ - a softly tendered swaying strum drilled nugget tempered and turned with just the right requisite amount of smoked and stoked homebound and heart heaving warmth as to have you stopping dead in your tracks and sparing time for a moment of reflection. May break hearts.*Photography by Monica McGivern
I made a beautiful album with some of my closest friends in the world. This new album is called Shadows of the Summertime. Pressed on Vinyl, hand numbered, limited to 500 copies, and comes with a digital download of the entire album. Price includes shipping.
If The Blood Wasn't Tainted Before, It Is Now June 25, 2008 Words by Sean Moeller Illustration by Johnnie Cluney Sound engineering by Patrick Stolley Not quite sure what's worse, are you? Dealing with a life as it stands or the anticipation of pre-birth, when there's this naivet that there's a 50-percent chance of good or bad things there to greet you with a cookie bouquet and an energetic slap on the ass that, after the sound has died down, takes on a crisp sting. You're here and there's no going back. No one's been put back in yet. Florida songwriter John Ralston takes us into the birth canal, into the waiting room, on "When I Was A Bandage," one of the numbers from his 2007 released Sorry Vampire and gives us a snippet of that "waiting to be born," that "can't wait to be born" perspective that's been utterly lacking for far too long. He doesn't stop there though, deciding to chronicle the entire way, like the man who started a journal when he was a day old and entered something meaningful every day on like clockwork, whether he had anything to write or nothing. Some find it extremely difficult to write anything when they've got starry light in their eyes and their heart's filled with cheery laughter. The good times are rotten for prosing productivity. They're just good for eating cake - as much cake as you'd like - but writing songs or passages for the printed page takes an extra dimension, some dark matters. Ralston finds them, pinpointing them and then finding good uses for them in his straight-ahead rock and roll. It's rock and roll that should be emanating from the Heartland, not the swampy marshes and sandy beaches of Florida. It's all worn out lumber and rusty nails. It's about driving over one of those rusty nails with a car, not once, but twice in the same week, cussing under your breath as you patch another one in the work shop. He probably hasn't bothered to memorize all of the commandments or the Bill of Rights, but I'd bet the farm that Ralston could recite all of Murphy's Laws. Those are the ones he's intimate with. They are code and there's honor in surviving them time and time again. On "Fragile," the first song of this session, which was recorded late last year, he uses the line, "Little baby birds are weak and dumb," and we're immediately given the privileged view into a gloomy outlook that doesn't even stop at the things that people have to deal with. It's okay to not think on the lighter side of things. It's easier too. He never comes across as being heavy or depressed, just jilted by a world that maybe was promised as something more there in the delivery room or when he was first learning to walk. It's okay to be tepid when it comes to optimism. Ralston admits later on Sorry Vampire - (and is that title supposed to be an apology to a Bela Lugosi-type for there not being any or enough blood in him for a meal or a snack?) - his thesis: that it's hard work being a human being. He uses those works exactly, so you know exactly where he's coming from. It's hard work for the birds, for the people, for masses. It's just the way luck has us - in a noose. That's perverse, but Ralston might nod and what would make the response so interesting is that we couldn't be positively sure if it was agreement of just his way of coping. If he had a guitar in his hands while doing the motion, it would just be his way. It's how he gets by. THE SESSION: 1. Fragile 2. When I Was A Bandage 3. Lesson 1 and 2 4. White Spiders Daytrotter's Site
I was asked by my friends at 24 Hour Service Station to record a song for their project, Ceremony - A New Order Tribute, released February 20, 2010. I covered "All Day Long" for the 32 track double CD honoring the music of New Order and dedicated to Tony Wilson: A portion of the proceeds from record sales will benefit the Salford Foundation Trust's Tony Wilson Awards, established in memory of Tony Wilson, the founding father of landmark independent record label Factory Records, who died of cancer in 2007. The trust will benefit children and young people who can demonstrate a special talent or ambition in the arts or creative skills. Available At: NewOrderTribute.com iTunes Amazon
Salford Star: "John Ralston flips "All Day Long" into a classic ballad format wallpapered with shimmering guitars" Whiskey Dregs: "John Ralston's similarly rootsy interpretation of All Day Long, another highlight, driven by electric piano, Hammond organ, and acoustic bass guitar, sounds like The Band in 1973 backing a low-key singer from mid-1990s Madchester." Popshifter "The best offerings from Ceremony are the rockier tracks, which owe more of a debt to Joy Division than to New Order. The standouts include John Ralston's version of All Day Long (off of 1986's Brotherhood) which has a country tinge to it"
My first album, Needle Bed, was made with the help of some friends in 2005. I then re-released Needle Bed on June 6, 2006 with Vagrant Records.
Harp Magazine: "Brian Wilson's'teenage basement demos to God." Alternative Press: "..channels the spirit of the late Townes Van Zandt to create a piece of reflective folk-rock nouveau that even bests Bright Eye's I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning" ReviewerMag.com: "Just bursting with great melodies; calling it an aural treat is not saying too much." "Imagine a twist between Brian Wilson and the late Elliott Smith and you'll get a general sense of what I'm talking about." Cover Art from Original Needle Bed Self-Released Version TRACKLIST: 1. No Catcher in the Rye 2. It's Not Your Fault 3. Hang a Sign 4. When We are Cats 5. I Believe in Ghosts 6. No One Said It Was Easy 7. Gone Gone Gone 8. Time for Me to Ruin Everything 9. Keep Me 10. Avalanche 11. Our Favorite Record Skips
Pop Matters: "Sorry Vampire is a beautiful album full of color that allows for fresh interpretation and the discovery of detail with each successive spin. On some projects, such deliberation leads to an overwhelming number of sounds and/or an overly slick product, but no such errors befall this album. While Sorry Vampire is not quite to the level of being a masterpiece, the album proves that Ralston may just be the type of artist who has a masterpiece in him." "Sorry Vampire is an album for those who can appreciate the beauty that is found both in simplicity and in ornate design. Ralston is indeed a good songwriter but he is also one of those performers who really give meaning to the term recording artist. The skill and invention employed in the making of this record do not go unnoticed and place the music world on notice for what is to come from Ralston." Boston Globe Review/Interview: Ralston Becomes a Studio Monster on 'Sorry Vampire' Layered New Disc Explodes Boundaries of Earlier Work By Jonathan Perry The Boston Globe - February 22, 2008 Unlike the layers of mud caked on John Ralston's car windshield making it nearly impossible to see the road, and the scrape of wipers making it tough to hear anything else, the layered beds of sound on Ralston's latest album, "Sorry Vampire," allow you to hear more and more all the time. "There's tons of snow here, and a truck just blasted me with mud," the 30-year-old singer-songwriter explains en route from Wyoming to Colorado for a show. "I can't really see, so it definitely makes the drive a little bit exciting." Not wanting to contribute to a road mishap, I prepare to shed about five layers of questions from our chat. But Ralston is in a gregarious mood, ready to talk about why and how the opulent, lushly textured "Sorry Vampire" came about. "On 'Needle Bed,' I wasn't even really intending to make a record," Ralston says of his mostly acoustic 2005 debut. "The idea was to get out of town for a couple of days and record some songs with a friend of mine. I immediately became interested in [the recording process] and the question of how we can build on this sound, and spend more time on it, and really layer." Really layer is right. "Beautiful Disarmed," a sad, striking ballad that resembles some of the late songwriter Elliott Smith's gorgeously fragile work, is embedded with 20 vocal tracks. Floating together amid synthesized strings and accents of piano, they sound ethereal and endless. The tune eventually drifts and dissipates before a full, flowering bloom of electric guitars announces the next track, "No One Loves You Like I Do." Before "Sorry Vampire," Ralston claims, "I really didn't have experience in the studio." Working again with "Needle Bed" co-producer Michael Seaman and Grammy-winning mixer Charles Dye "really opened my eyes about what we could do in the studio. I realized that we could really push the boundaries of what I had done before and experiment." Hence the title of the latest album. "['Sorry Vampire'] was about ignoring the different things that can really suck the life out of a project, and keeping really focused on making something unique," says Ralston. "The goal was making something you could listen to over and over again, and you'd hear something new each time. I think we did that." Dye was stunned when he began working with Ralston again. "It was apparent to me really quickly that his whole vocabulary about engineering and mixing had increased tremendously," says Dye, who has mixed albums for Aerosmith and Lauryn Hill, among others. "It had been two years almost [since 'Needle Bed'], but I've never experienced somebody coming into the studio not really knowing much of anything and then coming back and knowing so much. I didn't expect it, but he had clearly done his homework." In keeping with his desire to experiment, Ralston recorded "Fragile," the track that leads off "Vampire," with ex-Wilco multi-instrumentalist and noted studio junkie Jay Bennett. "He's obviously a talent and a tireless worker," says Ralston. "There would be times when I would be exhausted and crash out at 2 or 3 in the morning and he'd keep going." Ralston has since become something of a studio junkie himself. He has built a home studio and is about to release an EP, "White Spiders," that marks the first time Ralston has written, recorded, produced, and mixed all of the tracks. But his newfound fascination being "behind the board," as he puts it, is merely a new twist on an old love. Ralston regularly sang at Sunday gatherings with his extended family in Florida. "Music was always around when I was growing up," he says. "It seems kind of antiquated when I talk about it now, but singing with a group of people was really fun. I remember listening to my mom's old records like Neil Young's 'Harvest' and the Byrds and the Band, but I didn't think about playing or writing my own songs until I was about 16. One day I had my mom teach me a few chords. She's a guitar player - she's still better than I am." Broward-Palm Beach New Times Album of the Year 2008: "There could have easily been a drop-off after his amazing 2005 solo debut, Needle Bed, but Lake Worth native John Ralston never succumbed to a sophomore slump. Instead, Ralston got to work immediately on what would become Sorry, Vampire, pairing up with ex-Wilco keyboardist/engineer Jay Bennett and even enlisting the vocal talents of fellow South Floridian Tim Yehezkely of the 2007 Best Album-winning the Postmarks. The result is a beautiful, endearing album that only gets better with each listen. Vampire is Ralston's dollhouse a winding, orchestral journey through the talented songwriter's psyche, powered by a staggering array of instrumentation and layering. From the angst-ey drive of "Fragile" to the potent imagery of "When I Was a Bandage" (Little bits of cloud, go on and bite your lip/I was just a bandage when you lost your tourniquet), each track feels dense and full of detailed mystery, the aural equivalent of a Wes Anderson film. Ralston might be Florida's best songwriter. And if Vampire is any indication, he's only getting better." Amplifier Magazine: "Studio geeks are truly a breed apart. These are the folks who find joy in toiling away in the control booth after the tape has rolled and the musicians have put away their instruments. Taking a near-perverse pleasure in agonizing over the minutiae behind the music, no album would be the same without these talented individuals culling away all of the dross that threatens to drown a song. And more than any other aspect of John Ralston's new album'Sorry Vampire,it's the production work that takes center stage. Entering the studio with a wide array of sound-making devices and a slew of catchy folk-pop songs, Ralston and co-producers Michael Seamen and Jon Wilkins carved out a rich, deep album that manages to avoid sounding overly ambitious or over-produced." Drive Far Off: "This intensely layered and meticulously crafted record is truly something to behold. The somber, swaying, gloomy melodies lend the perfect audio-backdrop for the commonly gray fall weather. Each track is its own intricate and developed work of art. I find it hard to imagine how Ralston will follow this up or how these songs will be performed live. Miami New Times: " Florida homeboy John Ralston builds on the strength of his critically acclaimed debut, Needle Bed. He has created something akin to a seminal milestone. Finding the perfect mix of attitude and ambiance, Ralston crafts a sound that begs an instant connection - rich, textured, atmospheric anthems imbued with brooding discontent...instrumental overdubs and an agitated underbelly give Sorry Vampire a heady mystique as affecting and provocative as its title implies." "reincarnated himself as a creator of mind-blowing, almost orchestral pop songs. Imagine Elliott Smith, perhaps, but happier, and often backed on a recording by a bed of, literally, 100 different tracks. Ralston must be a madman in the studio, but the songs are so strong that live and pared down to a regular band, they still work. "TRACKLIST: 1. Fragile 2. The Only Evidence 3. When I Was A Bandage 4. I Guess I Wasted My Summer Now 5. Lessons I & II 6. A Small Clearing 7. Ghetto Tested 8. Beautiful Disarmed 9. No One Loves You Like I Do 10. Second Hand Lovers 11. Haven't Missed You All My Life 12. Where You Used To Sleep
The White Spiders EP was self-released March 11, 2008. On this record, I had some help from Dan Bonebrake (bass), Nick Eberhardt (guitar), and drummer Nathan Gilleran along with friend Jon Wilkins of The Postmarks (who contributed drums on two tracks). White Spiders was produced, recorded, and mixed at my studio, Elegbaland in our hometown of Lake Worth, FL. Except "Room With A View" recorded at Listen Up! Studios, New Orleans, LA. Nick Eberhardt created the EPs artwork and photography.$8 USD PPD
When We Are Cats on Vinyl Art by John Ralston. Clear vinyl. Limited to 500. SIDE A: 1. When We Are Cats 2. You Will Come Down SIDE B: 3. Fake Emergency 4. Quarantin'd
For a limited time I am offering you the 3 vinyl releases I currently have in stock: 1) the brand new Shadows of the Summertime LP 2) the new "Jesus Christ" b/w "A Marigny XMAS" single (Red OR White Vinyl; limited to 150 copies of each color) 3) the "When We Are Cats" 4 song EP (Clear vinyl; limited to 500).