HEAR: Leon III – “Mannequins”

Leon III, psychedelic music, mannequins, something is trying to change my mind

Texas-based psychedelic songweavers Leon III (pronounced Leon the Third) are thrilled to announce their third full-length studio album along with the release of the album’s opening, two-song suite; “Mannequins” and “Dogwood Blooms.”

The new album, Something Is Trying To Change My Mind is due out everywhere on October 13 via Monosonic Records / Soundly Music.

“After Antlers in Velvet, I really wanted to try and write shorter songs,” says Andy Stepanian.  “My tendency is to write slow burners that don’t pay off until the end. “Mannequins” tries to be the opposite of that – more like a T. Rex vignette. It leads off the album to set a different tone. The electronic vibe is immediately present and the sparseness blooms into the most pop moment in Leon III history. Then the whole thing falls to pieces and merges like a dream into ‘Dogwood Blooms.’

I like to write ghost stories and “Dogwood Blooms” is another one.  I read something about the notion of a bhoot in Hinduism. It’s a type of restless spirit which can shapeshift into various forms from animal to human. Often the real humans they encounter can’t discern that it’s a ghost – until it’s too late. This song imagines an encounter between some kind of bhoot and a young man, maybe a soldier who has deserted, in my hometown of Richmond, Virginia. I won’t fill in on all the details but that’s the concept anyway. The song is meant to be a bit like a fever dream. A passing encounter with beauty that may or may not be real. Sri Lankan sitarist Mahesh Pathmakumara adds quite a bit to this one. I literally found him by Googling Sitar player and reaching out via email. Hope to meet him one day.”

The band’s core duo of Andy Stepanian and Mason Brent have been friends since grade school, playing together in the acclaimed country-rock group Wrinkle Neck Mules since 1999. With Leon III’s self-titled 2018 debut, they retained their twangy roots, before 2021’s sophomore effort Antlers In Velvet drifted into a panoramic sound inspired by Pink Floyd and the Dead. Once again co-produced by Mark Nevers (Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Lambchop, Silver Jews), the band’s third LP introduces a newfound sense of brevity, packing compact songs with sly pop hooks, while maintaining their boundless experimentation.

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