Sorry Vampire

John Ralston - Sorry VampireMy second album, Sorry Vampire was released on October 2, 2007 with Vagrant Records.
 
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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


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