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The Cleveland folk-pop trio make their stunning debut.
Published: 22/04/2020   Author: Eleanor Osada
Photo: Josh Perelman-Hall, Ayana Cheston and Hannah Rae Leach, from left to right. 
The Prom Queens have an interesting origin story: one of three young, inspired musicians itching to create together, and bring to life a bold, beautiful vision. The band’s vocalists, Ayana Cheston and Hannah Rae Leach, found each other through an ad that Cheston posted on Craiglist, in which she listed artists like First Aid Kit and Lucius as influences - a meeting that was purely a product of good timing, and maybe courtesy of fate. Despite a tentative first meeting, their connection was obvious, and the musical magic already so palpable. They immediately bonded over shared long-time loves of Paramore, Lana Del Rey, Lucius, and even JoJo (plus some musical theater), then got to sculpting their musical ideals together: finely-tuned twin harmonies, innovative reworkings and arrangements of songs they loved, and most importantly, their own material.

Ayana, as a former voice major, and Hannah, as a former playwriting major, had a grand, borderline-cinematic plan for the aesthetic and emotional life of their project. Their first gig was at Cleveland Public Theater’s Pandemonium 2018, but Ayana and Hannah needed a band — that’s when Josh Perelman-Hall came into the picture. A former coworker of Hannah’s, Josh joined the group with a level of instrumental skill and versatility that brought The Prom Queens to a whole new level. It didn’t take long to convince him to join the band as a full member, and as they brought Josh into the creative process, he brought his love of 60’s-era harmony and songwriting to the group as well. The glam, harmony-driven folk-pop trio of dreams was formed.

Now, their collective, perfectly-polished vision has come to fruition in the form of their very first EP. It’s both luxe and lovingly-worn, a freshness bursting through the vintage haze - one that transcends beyond their retro, prom-era concept shoots and into their sonic bubble. Funneling alt-folk, old-timey harmonies (see: their gorgeous rendition of “It’s My Party”) and the familiar gloss of guitar-fuelled 1980s pop into the pot - “Menagerie”, as a title, gestures towards the stylings and sentiments that make them. From the pastoral EP opener “Old Perfume,” to the delicate and yearning “Home Alone” and closing on the volatile and vulnerable “Last to Leave,” each song is highly characteristic in sound, yet fit into a cohesive narrative of longing, loss, and ever-shifting ground. Ayana’s classical training, Hannah’s clear theatric directive and foresight and Josh’s artistic agility - as a multi-instrumentalist and producer - create a powerful musical triad, one that shines especially brightly, considering their infancy as a group. Not neglecting to mention the lyrical content, which merges the worlds of traditional folk story-telling and modern confessional, rupturing with truths and radiating with personality atop some pretty driving instrumentals. It’s a really promising beginning for The Prom Queens, who take the crown for delivering a sparkling, genre-bending first chapter in their story.

Listen to “Menagerie” on, Spotify or Apple Music.



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