It can be difficult to gain a balanced perspective on an album after reading a single summary of the music. Bias can tilt a review, as can personal taste, history and just about everything else that is unique to the person writing it. So in an effort to offer an expanded perspective in such a medium, here are Four reactions, Four impressions, Four Takes on Bad As Me by Tom Waits.
Eschewing the dark and clanging noise of Real Gone and Blood Money (actually every record since Bone Machine) Tom Waits’s new album Bad as Me may not be as caustic but its production style is just as extreme. It mimics a mono mix, a mono mix that is then played back through a transistor radio making the album sound like some forgotten crooner’s old 78s. Which of course with Waits is always the point, rarely has someone identified as a “singer/songwriter” taken such pains to create a complete sound world, an alternate reality where torch song singers fronted junkyard jazz bands and had albums produced by Harry Partch that were only released in Mexico.
On the first couple of spins none of the tunes here jumped out as obvious classics and nothing here isn’t anything Waits’s hasn’t done before, which is not to say that he’s phoning it in or the performances aren’t up to snuff. He is in clear voice throughout, showing off his falsetto range (“Talking at the Same Time”) and his gruff bark (“Hell Broke Luce”) in equal measure. The record’s comparatively sunny disposition makes it a throwback to Waits’s 80s material, especially Frank’s Wild Years. “Chicago” kicks the record off, pounding like an urgent, almost frantic swing number and “Let’s Get Lost” he sings with real joy and glee. Backed, not only by his usual cast of players, Marc Ribot, David Hidalgo, Casey Waits, and Greg Cohen, but also Keith Richards on several songs, including “Satisfied” an answer tune of sorts to “Satisfaction”. As always with Waits there is also going to be a certain amount of shtick, but on Bad as Me it feels mostly turned down. The ballads aren’t as maudlin or schmaltzy as they could be and he certainly doesn’t abandon his love of noise, “Hell Broke Luce” could have been on the first Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds record. The sequencing of the record is a little odd, it never gets a real flow together with a series of ballads all coming together on the first half and “Hell Broke Luce” sitting awkwardly between “Last Leaf” and the closer “New Year’s Eve”. Overall, it’s a tighter and more direct album, coming in at a brief 45 minutes (as mandated but his wife and writing partner Kathleen Brennan), maybe not a classic, but hardly a disappointment.
I can’t believe its really been seven years since Real Gone already. How time flies. Not for Tom Waits though. Despite the years Waits seems perpetually stuck in his own time-averse version of Americana, a niche that is easily described in most contexts as “Waitsian.” If you don’t know by now what Tom Waits sounds like by now I am going to leave it for you to discover on your own. Waits’ newest record Bad As Me finds the artist once again growling and crooning over a set of brand new songs. And despite the generally universal acclaim the album has already received (as well as my own Waits fandom) I am only really into about half of the new album. Most of the first half of Bad as Me is decent but somewhat forgettable, with the possible exception of “Chicago” and definite exception of “Talking At The Same Time,” which I had to look up to make sure that, yes, that was in fact Waits singing in a spooky falsetto. The worst of the lot is “Satisfied” with its cringeworthy lyrics and “Hell Broke Luce,” which sounds like Waits made up on the spot. On the flipside I have found that Waits’ sadder side seems to improve exceptionally over time – his ballads ‘Kiss Me” and “Last leaf on the Tree” I would name as amongst his best sad sack blues joints. Overall it adds up to some exceptional, some mediocre and some in the middle. Frankly I’ll take it. Despite bad As me not really tickling me all the way through I am still just grateful that Waits is still out there making records.
Tom Waits has always been an artist that keeps you on your toes, from album to album changing his sound and always mixing and matching his first love of back alley ballads and his penchant for chain rattling, Howlin Wolf inspired folk dirges. On his latest album, Bad As Me, he changes the game from song to song, showing both his tender and introspective side and his massive, earth shaking rock and roll growl, making an unsteady but rewarding LP. Waits is tender and worn on tracks like “Talking at the Same Time,” “Face to the Highway,” “Pay Me,” “Back in the Crowd,” “New Years Eve,” “Kiss Me” and the heartbreaking lament “Last Leaf.” The other half is pure hell and brimstone Waits, lead by the raucous title track and the sinister “Hell Broke Luce.” He is joined by his friend Keith Richards on the album and you can hear his influence on the rootsy “Satisfied” and the wobbly swing of “Chicago.” A listener who is jacked up from the more upbeat material or lulled into tranquility by the slower songs will be quickly snapped back into the reality of listening to a genius chameleon like Waits. His madcat ideas are so exciting to soak in and his style, indebted to many but beholden to none, is a breath of fresh air in a world full of fakers and thieves. After waiting seven years since his last LP and then hearing the bursting waves of material so full of life, one can only hope we don’t have to wait so long for his next LP.
It’s been seven long years since we’ve last heard anything new from Tom Waits and let me tell you this: it’s been worth it. Bad As Me is 17th album from Waits and is all co-written with his wife Kathleen Brennan and features the usual cast of characters we’ve come to expect on a 90s and beyond Tom Waits record: Marc Ribot, Keith Richards, Flea, Les Claypool, etc. Where Bad As Me starts to differ is the programmed elements, samples, turntables experiments and similar have started working themselves back out of the mix into a more classic Rain Dogs era sound.
The records kicks off in a flurry of banjo and horns (not to mention Richards on guitar) with Chicago. “Raised Right Men” is pretty standard fair for a post-90s Waits, punctuated by sharp stabs of Organ. “Talking At The Same Time” is a wonderful piece of hazy jazz noir hearkening back to the Rain Dogs era which fades into the souped up Eddie Cochran rock n roll of “Get Lost”. Waits slows down on a couple of tracks as well, the accordion ballad “Pay Me” and the scratchy record sound of “Kiss Me”. We even hear Waits hitting his heaviest with the metal-esque guitars and stomp of “Hell Broke Luce”. It’s the title track however that is the standout of the entire album with a split personality set of vocals and Marc Ribot’s always fascinating guitar playing.
Bad As Me is the strongest offering we’ve seen from Tom Waits in a few albums and one of the better things I’ve heard all year. It seems that the longer we have to wait (Bone Machine to Mule Variations was the last 7 year break between albums) the better we get.
FORMER JOPLIN POLICE DETECTIVE PLEADS GUILTY TO WIRE FRAUD.
Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a former detective with the Joplin, Mo., Police Department has pleaded guilty in federal court to a wire fraud scheme in which he used his law enforcement access to steal the identity of another person.
Joshua D. Myers, 31, of Carterville, Mo., waived his right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge James C. England on Monday, Nov. 14, 2011, to a federal information that charges him with wire fraud.
Myers admitted that, while employed as a detective with the Joplin police department, he used his law enforcement access to Missouri Department of Revenue computers to locate another individual with the name Joshua Myers and to find that person’s date of birth, Social Security number and other identifying information.
Using the stolen identity information, Myers applied for and received credit cards and student loans, including two student loans totaling $13,821, credit cards from Kay Jewelers, Target, Capital One and Citibank, and a GE Money PayPal credit account.
Myers made payments on some of the accounts, but defaulted on a student loan and two credit cards for a loss of $6,727.
According to today’s plea agreement, the crime was discovered when Myers defaulted on a $6,000 student loan he obtained from JP Morgan Chase on Nov. 20, 2007. Chase attempted to contact the university, and learned that no one with the date of birth and Social Security number listed on the loan application had attended the university. However, Myers had provided an accurate address, and law enforcement investigations were able to determine that he attended the university and had given false information to obtain the loan. An FBI agent interviewed Myers on Sept. 16, 2010. in our site chase student loans
Myers pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud related to the Chase student loan.
Under federal statutes, Myers is subject to a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000 and an order of restitution. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Milligan. It was investigated by the FBI.
Local (by way of Denver) songwriter Paul Fonfara has been performing with a diverse cast of musicians under the name Painted Saints for years. While Fonfara initially seemed drawn to the same kinds of folky, Eastern-European influenced melodies of his former band, DeVotchKa, he has since branched out into a wider ranging sound that incorporates elements of rock, jazz, and the blues. Painted Saints’ newest record, No Match For Greater Minds, showcases Fonfara’s newfound expansive sound and also capitalizes on the talents of several of the local scene’s similarly minded local artists, such as Nona marie Invie (Dark Dark Dark) Channy Casselle (Roma Di Luna) as well as members of the Poor Nobodies and Breaksea Caravel.
Whereas much of Painted Saints earlier output was very heavy on both the accordion and clarinet, No Match relies more heavily on electric guitars and swirling string accompaniments. Fonfara generally sings over the dense orchestrations in a reedy, high baritone that’s a bit reminiscent of crooners like Scott Walker, giving some of the tunes (notably “I am No match for Greater Minds”) the feel of a Broadway musical score. In “Sunlight through Eyelids” Fonfara’s vocals are joined by Channy Casselle, who brings a beautifully ghostly mood to the song’s gothic country melancholy. “Water Street Waltz” is also accompanied by another female vocalist who isn’t named (but sounds like Invie). Other standouts include the spare, bluesy meditation “Contender” (written from the perspective of a boxer in the milliseconds just after he’s knocked off his feet) and “Whimsy Shutter Shine,” which combines blues guitar with exotic, Eastern-sounding string psychedelia.
There is a lot going on throughout the course of No Match For Greater Minds. While Fonfara and company dabble in all sorts of differing musical genres, the tie that binds them together is the dexterity with which each strand is incorporated. Occasionally the sound does still get a bit too crowded, and in that case the record’s density actually works against it. For the most part though what Fonfara has orchestrated here works. No Match is a very listenable piece of music and is a great evolutionary step for Painted Saints.
– Jon Behm
The record release show for No Match for Greater Minds will be on November 19th at the Cedar Cultural Center.
Sun Araw are physic warriors, kings of mind warping synth voyages, creators of some of the most adventurous mind fucks of the last few years. Almost to a fault. I can, and do, enjoy the plethora of work that the band (actually just one dude named Cameron Stallones) have released over the last few years, but whenever I start writing about their music it feels like nailing jello to a wall. This isn’t helped by the fact that their amorphous sound is often a result of live studio jamming (often hard to quantify) and that loose structure allows for the band to release as much material as they can get to tape, so often that an old recording is out of date before you can even gather your thoughts.
No longer. Sun Araw are back with their latest (at least as far as this moment when I am writing) LP Ancient Romans, and it is complex and engaging as their previous work has always proven to be. The songs are always centered around psyched out, syrupy synths, and Ancient Romans is no different. Highlights include the bubbling bass and hazy electronic surf rhythms of “Crown Shell,” and the 8-bit sonic mind warp of “Crete” which is a dizzying journey through an electronic forest, with scattered voices calling out from the distance and warbling sounds darting in and out of the speakers. They go about as “pop” as they possibly can on the smooth instrumental jam “Lute and Lyle,” which sounds like a more wonked out Animal Collective, melding a euphoric pop sound and putting it into a koshmice, psyched out blender. While there are many highlights that really show their strong and engrossing sound, it is tracks like “At Delphi” that , while giving them ambient indie street cred (if there is such a thing), are the tracks that scare people away from ambient music in general.
Sun Araw are clearly pysch warriors, shown both from the quantity and the quality of the material they have released over the last year. Their sound can be amorphous and wandering, but Ancient Romans is a good attempt at the band trying to “ride the tiger” to 4th dimension synth utopia. While a lot of the genre (and Sun Araws’) work seems to be free flowing to a fault, there is a concerted focus found on this LP that reigns in the bands sound about as much as would be possible without giving up what makes them so great. While their most focused work is still probably considered sheer madness by a large majority of the population, Ancient Romans is probably the groups most focused and realized work to date. Whether fans take that as a good thing or not is up to them, but the band will surely have some new material to chew on any day now.
Eleven years may seem like a long time. But when those years are in the doubledigits, it’s all the more memorable in hip-hop. Raekwon put out a successful sequel to his long lauded debut, OnlyBuilt 4 Cuban Linx, which was well revered as a hip-hop classic, and when heput out the long awaited sequel two years ago, it was definitely a welcomereturn to form after two albums that had been long lauded as mediocre efforts at best. The Unknown Prophets, the local Northside Minneapolis duo consisting of MaD SoN and Big Jess, put out theirfirst effort, World Premier, whichhas been regarded to as a classic, but the duo have followed up with a lot of great albums after that. Throughout theyears they’ve maintained their great chemistry and consistency. So when word got out that there was a sequel being put out, it wasn’t an effort at garnering attention, it was more about bringing things full-circle.
That’s what you get when the UP’s follow back up with World Premier 2; Big Jess and MaD SoN decide to go back to their roots of what made them great and the memories thatbrought about their well-celebrated career as a duo. Right from the onset of “Take It Back,” the well-orchestrated harpsichords make way with Big Jess’s thumping boom-bappercussions, and allows the duo to reflect on the current state of hip-hop andwhat World Premier 2 is out to do,and that is to critique the current state of hip-hop and bring it back to the essence of what they originally created. “Nowhere” name-checks pretty much all the things in the Twin Cities hip-hop scene hip-hop history, from The Beat Box on Radio K to Rhymesayers, RawVilla and the Abstract Pack, while “Higher Ground,” strikes on as afull-fledged banger, which serves moreor less as the thank you to the scene that birthed them and the neighborhood that raised them, whereas the organs on“Louder” with its mischievous organs and benefits from MaD SoN’s energetic delivery. “Everyday” harkens back tosounding like a cut that wouldn’t sound out of place on the original World Premier, while “Life Is What YouMake It,” takes opera and places a Kanye West twist on it, making it sped-upand chipmunked, which isn’t a bad thing at all.
World Premier 2 also benefits from having a diverse production roster, with the bulk of productionhandled by Big Jess, who has always laid claim to being one of the bestproducers in the Twin Cities, however there are times when folks like Lazerbeak(“Both Fists Up”), Chickenbone (“Higher Ground”), and Last Word (“Nowhere”)participate in the fun, and what’s greatabout World Premier 2 is the lack of cameos, aside from one from Fatima Lily who lends some vocal duties to the album’shighlight, “Ready For Whatever”, whichis a great way to tinker with the formula of the original. Regardless though of your current localmusical tastes, in the heyday of Rhymesayers, Doomtree, and others, The UnknownProphets still make a great case as to why they’re one of the local scene’sgreats, by just providing great, good old-fashioned boom-bap hip-hop on World Premier 2.
I was a late comer to the Oneohtrix Point Never camp, not really finding out about the subtle electronic soundscapes of Daniel Lopatin until after the release of his excellent Returnal LP. Going back and digging into his older work (particular Rifts, a 3xLP collection of his earlier material) it became obvious how much of a chameleon OPN architect Daniel Lopatin (also of Games/Ford and Lopatin) really is. Ranging from harsh soundscapes to gentle ambient passages and back again, Lopatin is a sonic wizard that uses his commanding talents to really brig the listener on a roller coaster ride. His latest LP, Replica, switches gears again and is a more sample focused, meditative journey that features less of the jagged edges of his previous work and is the most instantly accessible and rewarding album of his career.
Replica is a 10 song collection of buzzing noise based tracks that are similar to what has been found on Lopatin’s previous work in the form of hazy synth soundscapes, but he has stretched his pallet into new territories. The two tracks released prior to the album’s release, the curiously dark “Sleep Dealer” which juxtaposes twinkling synths and dark twisted lyrics, and the hypnotic piano hymn “Replica,” both work from the same template as his previous work while sounding fresh and experimental. Lopatin really gets sample friendly on the bubbly, effervescent “Nassau,” which is a shining highlight in the middle of the LP. Things really pick up with the last portion of the record. Starting with the hushed beauty of “Submersible” and leading into the raucous (for Lopatin) and freewheeling “Up” and then “Child Solider,” which find Lopatin really broadening the OPN sound. The record closes out with the gentle but forceful seven minute rumination “Explain,” which nicely encapsulates the records breadth and experimentation into seven dazzling minutes.
One wouldn’t expect someone who creates the kind of buzzing, avant-noise music that Oneohtrix Point avant Never does to rest on their laurels. It wouldn’t seem right, or in line with the spirit of the music, for Replica to sound like Returnal 2. With the challenging and adventurous work on his previous records in his back pocket, Lopatin brings the listener along for his latest journey, this time chopping and screwing samples and really creating a warmer texture and auroa while still unleashing his tapestry of noise. When I say Replica is OPN’s most “accessible” recored yet, don’t be fooled into thinking he made a Washed Out record. While the sounds on Replica are warmer and find Lopatin pulling back a few layers of the haze, you shouldn’t worry that he created a Washed Out album as he still maintains the noisy dissonence that has made him such a central figure to the noise scene over the last few years. Replica is the latest, and possibly best, example of how far Lopatin can strech this genre and shows again why he is held in such high regard.
LONGWOOD ESTABLISHES LEADERSHIP TRAINING CENTER BASED ON ’7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE’
US Fed News Service, Including US State News April 6, 2010 FARMVILLE, Va., April 5 — Longwood University issued the following news release:
The old adage, “the third time is a charm,” held true recently as the Longwood University College of Business and Economics dedicated the SNVC Institute for Leadership Values following two attempts earlier in the year that were canceled due to snow and ice.
The SNVC Institute for Leadership Values will offer training in the principles pioneered by Dr. Stephen R. Covey, whose book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has sold more than 20 million copies in 38 languages since its first publication in 1989. The Institute is a partnership among Longwood, SNVC, an information technology company, and FranklinCovey, a leadership development, assessment, and consulting services firm.
Dr. Paul Barrett, dean of the College of Business and Economics (CBE), orchestrated a ribbon-cutting following a reception and program on March 23 that featured keynote speaker G. Gilmer Minor, chairman of Owens & Minor Inc. and comments by Shawn Moon, general manager for government and education services, FranklinCovey; and Longwood alumnus Tom Dewitt, president and CEO of SNVC. “This is a campus wide initiative,” said Minor. “It has the potential to reach across campus and eventually the Commonwealth of Virginia and beyond.” “This is the first-ever university-based full training center for FranklinCovey in Virginia,” said Dr. Paul Barrett, dean of CBE. “These are universal principles that are internationally famous and are used by many organizations, including the Department of Defense. We know these principles foster effectiveness, by which we mean a successful product or service in which the measures of success occur over and over. The seven habits are the ingredient to that success.” Training will be done for Longwood faculty and staff at least once an academic year and possibly every semester. Most of the sessions – some are two days, others three days — will be held on campus, though some might be held in Richmond or Northern Virginia. For organizations wanting the training outside of Longwood University, other sessions will be scheduled, and net proceeds from the training (a fee will be charged) will be put into college scholarships. The Institute is patterned most closely after a similar center at California University of Pennsylvania, which Barrett said has helped “radically transform” that institution. this web site 7 habits of highly effective people
Some 46 Longwood faculty members and administrators and two SNVC staff members attended a training session Jan. 4-6 that was hosted by CBE. Some 10 of the Longwood participants were then invited to attend a leadership training session Jan. 28-29 that enabled them to become certified to teach the program. All 10 are faculty members, primarily from CBE but from across campus as well.
“Over time all Longwood faculty and staff will be trained,” Barrett said. “The training in January was for middle-management and above, but the next training, in May, will feature people from higher and lower levels. Synergy is one of the seven habits, so we want people in the training from diverse strata, which makes for a better one-campus, one-team approach. This is a widely important mission to build citizen leaders everywhere.” Also, Dr. Ken Perkins will begin to train Longwood Seminar (LSEM, a mandatory course for all new students, overseen by Perkins) instructors and will inject the seven habits into LSEM. The overall idea is that we will train students on values and effectiveness, and we will also train values-based organizations that want to hire those students, and let them meet in the middle.” In addition to training Longwood faculty and staff, the Institute’s mission will include outreach to high schools. “I’ve met with the superintendents, and they’re excited,” Barrett said. “We’ll start with principals and guidance counselors, then eventually work with teachers and students. In this manner, we will get young people early and have them take on the seven habits for a lifetime of success. We realize it’s a stretch goal, but ultimately over time we want the Commonwealth of Virginia to be a recognized leader for high standards for highly effective people and their values.” During the dedication program, FranlinCovey’s Shawn Moon agreed about outreach to young people. “Can the seven habits apply to younger people…Yes!” The Institute has three co-directors who also participated in the ribbon cutting and who will direct a division based on their respective expertise. They are Bill Baxter, director of the McGaughy Professional Development Center, who will handle the for-profit division; Cheryl Davis, senior lecturer in computer information management systems, who will lead the education division; and Dr. Jim Haug, assistant professor of management, who will oversee the nonprofit and government agencies division.
“We received a sizable donation from SNVC to name and sponsor the Institute,” Barrett said. “SNVC staff members will be trained each time, and eventually all of their employees will be trained.” The “brainchild” behind Longwood’s involvement in this effort, said Barrett, was Claire LaRoche, associate professor of business law.
“My daughter, Julia, introduced me to The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens when she was in high school,” said LaRoche. “She said ‘Mom, you really ought to read this book…it’s great!’ I read the book and thought it would be a wonderful addition to my Longwood Seminar class. I became a certified facilitator for the seven habits collegiate program almost five years ago. I searched for training opportunities on the Internet and found a certification course for The 7 Habits of Highly Effective College Students in Raleigh, North Carolina. I have been using this as the framework for my Longwood Seminar classes. For the past five years, I’ve wanted to bring the seven habits to Longwood, but given budget constraints, I knew it would be a challenge.
“Last summer I attended an education summit sponsored by FranklinCovey and California University of Pennsylvania (Cal U). I realized that The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People could create a ‘win-win’ at Longwood, actually a win-win-win-win. By offering the course to the public, like Cal U, we could raise money for scholarships; create a win for businesses; and positively impact the lives of faculty, students, staff and alumni and also promote citizen leadership, and by becoming a training center, we will spread the message of the seven habits: a win for FranklinCovey. After the summit, I approached Dean Barrett about bringing an expanded version of the Cal U model to Longwood, and he said he could help make this happen. This never would have been possible without the tireless efforts of Paul Barrett and the generous support of Tom DeWitt and SNVC.” “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective College Students” is one of four training programs in the series. The others are “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” the signature course; “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens”; and “The Leader in Me,” for ages pre-kindergarten through pre-teens.
“The seven habits will change your life,” Barrett said. “It’s a very powerful set of tools. It’s particularly timely these days with the ethical breakdowns in business and life; there’s been a tidal wave in the breakdown of values. The principles that many of us grew up with in the 1940s and ’50s have been diffused. The only way to fix these breakdowns is education. The seven habits are based on integrity. We’re bringing in and building relationships with organizations that operate on the seven habits values system, we’re looking at ethics in curricula, and last spring the College of Business and Economics adopted a values statement, which is very similar to the seven habits. At a recent lunch meeting of the Better Business Bureau of Virginia, in Richmond, in which the topic was ‘Ethics in Business,’ the College of Business and Economics was featured. go to website 7 habits of highly effective people
Barrett cited two companies that operate on seven habits-type principles: Owens & Minor Inc., based in Mechanicsville, with which CBE has had a relationship for several years, and Frito-Lay, headquartered in Dallas. “Not surprisingly,” Barrett said, “both of these values-based companies have seen record high revenue and profits even during this great recession. These types of firms are proof that you can do the right thing and make money doing it.” Barrett also pointed out that CBE students and faculty on Jan. 19 attended Owens & Minor’s “Cultural Orientation Day,” and G. Gilmer Minor, the company’s chairman of the board, who was an executive-in-residence at Longwood in 2004, has been involved in discussions leading to the SNVC Institute for Leadership Values. Al Carey, president and CEO of Frito-Lay North America, will speak at Longwood in September 2010 on the topic of the “speed of trust” as part of the executive-in-residence series in Longwood’s business school. Also, CBE is exploring internships with the Better Business Bureau of Virginia through a relationship Barrett has with its CEO, Tom Gallagher.
“The revenues and profits of companies that operate on these principles continue to climb,” Barrett said. “Why? Because people trust them. If you operate by these rules, you generate trust. It’s also important to have a win-win outcome. You have to make sure that others win, which generates trust.” “We’re helping to establish this Institute because at SNVC we embrace and value leadership,” said DeWitt, a 1980 Longwood graduate who co-founded SNVC in 1998, two years after retiring from the Army following a 16-year career in which he attained the rank of major. “The Institute will be based on three principles,” DeWitt said during the dedication program. “We must have synergy, we must have partnerships, and we must have a commitment to education. Tonight we begin to make a difference in our part of the Commonwealth.” SNVC, based in Fairfax, provides technical expertise ranging from program management support to technical and engineering services. A wholly owned subsidiary, CDS Telecom, provides managed telecommunication services to the federal government. Most of SNVC’s 86 employees reside and work in the Washington, D.C., area. A seven-member SNVC team supports a client in Sierra Vista, Ariz. The firm is owned by veterans, and its biggest customer is the Department of the Army.
“We have always been firmly grounded in three corporate values: leadership, integrity, and commitment,” said Beth Miller-Herholtz, SNVC’s vice president for corporate communications. “We instill integrity throughout our business practices, and most importantly, in our business partnerships. This partnership with Longwood University and FranklinCovey is a testament to staying committed to an ideal, operating with integrity, and leading toward a brighter future.” DeWitt served on the Longwood Board of Visitors from 2005 to 2009, and previously he was a member of CBE’s Corporate Advisory Board. DeWitt, commissioned in Longwood’s first class of ROTC graduates, returned to campus in 1987 and taught in the ROTC program for two years. His wife, Cindy, is a 1989 Longwood graduate.
It can be difficult to gain a balanced perspective on an album after reading a single summary of the music. Bias can tilt a review, as can personal taste, history and just about everything else that is unique to the person writing it. So in an effort to offer an expanded perspective in such a medium, here are three reactions, three impressions, Three Takes on Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming by M83.
There’s no contesting the fact that Anthony Gonzales’ new album Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming is a grand statement. It’s a a double-album in the truest sense: 22 songs over 72 minutes. There are flashes of full-blown pop, unwinding instrumental interludes and cascades of spacey soundscapes fans have come to know from the band. While the album is a clear display of Gonzales pushing his own conceptual boundaries, the sounds within play out like retrospective, with him not only showing his new confidence as a singer, but also making continual nods to his discography. It’s a bold move for any musician nowadays to drop the double album and it’s daunting as a listener. In a lot of ways I think the album is incredibly bogged down by its length, but it’s not without its rewards.
Luckily, Hurry Up kicks off with six excellent tracks that each feed off the energy that comes before them. Together, “Midnight City,” “New Map” “OK Pal” and “Reunion” show a more confident Gonzales stepping up and delivering some of the best and biggest vocal performances in his catalog. His voice reaches out of the synth haze that once washed over them and it becomes the main focal point. This is probably the biggest difference that longtime M83 fans will notice on the new album. And for how good all of the tracks play out, it’s kind of a shame that it took so long for him to step up and command mic. The album then drips into the kind of ambient headspace that he’s always dabbled with before coming back with the piano ballad “Splendor.” One of the better standout tracks towards the end is the head-spinning “Steve McQueen,” which will probably be a great live staple.
Now, in all honesty, I’m pretty back and forth with the record as a whole. I want to dislike it just because it’s so long and I rarely want to sit through the whole thing, but there are some tremendous songs on this album and plenty that I enjoy. And just like his other releases, there’s an abundance of wonder and nostalgia and adolescence that cast a really dream-y mood to the whole thing. In the end, though, I think this album is better, and more enjoyable, in small EP-sized doses – which it has about 4 of. What’s really impressive is that throughout the 20+ song album there aren’t as many interlude tracks as I was expecting. And many of the songs clock at 4+ minutes. It’s a real feat that Gonzales was able to realize this album for better or worse, even if some will feel like me. Props to him for seemingly doing the unthinkable: making a double album in a time when the “album” seems obsolete.
Steve Skavnak (@steveskavnak)
Maroon 5. Matchbox 20. 30 Seconds to Mars. There have been plenty of bands that have taken a giant turd on the ‘numbered’ band name. Enough so that instant skepticism shrouds my subconscious whenever any band, no matter the positivity of their past output, releases a new record under a numerical moniker.
M83’s first record since 2008’s slightly over-hyped Saturdays = Youth is a behemoth in both size and scope. The fact that Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming is double album is a bit curious, though. Over the two discs we’re given 22 songs, 6 of which clock in at under 2 minutes each, almost acting as interludes than songs themselves, and often times seeming a bit pointless & unfinished. While a good percentage of the rest of the tracks are smartly constructed and feature epic crescendos, the half-dozen shorties really seem out of place. Oh, and then there’s “Raconte-Moi Une Histoire,” a seemingly childish tale that is actually about tripping on frogs, which seems oddly ok even though a 7 year old is narrating the story.
Overall, this is a nice change of pace record. Rather than fixating on the backing sound wall, M83 expertly executes some addictive hooks that take a page from the MGMT playbook, but are obviously created more for a live setting than the album itself. Is this an album of the year contender? No. Is it even in the Top 10? Probably not. It is, however, the kind of kick-you-in-the-pants fun suitable for 6pm on a Friday, when you’re sick of the U2 & 3 Doors Down your less interesting coworkers have been streaming all week.
You know, its become too few and far between that we get some multi-disc efforts. And maybe perhaps we have Joanna Newsom to thank, after all her last opus “Have One On Me”, sprawled over 3 discs, was surprisingly consistent for anything of a multi-disc effort. When talk arose that M83 would do the same with his newest record, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, many never questioned it, especially being the talented visionary that Anthony Gonzales is. Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming picks right up in creating a similar mood and feel to Saturdays = Youth, although he focuses more on the youth sound of the equation, especially after hearing the slick dance jam of the lead single “Midnight City.” Elsewhere, there’s “Reunion” which is more along the lines of XTC meets Talking Heads, whereas such interludes as “Where The Boats Go,” and “Train to Plutton,” among many others serve as great segways between the energetic tunes and the odes to the 80s new-wave, dashed in shoegaze. Without contention, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming continues the streak that M83 has continued to ride on since he put out Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts. Gonzales and company have yet to make a mediocre record.
In just a few short days Secret Seven records will be releasing a new compilation of little- known country singer Blaze Foley’s collected works. While many of the songs have been released before, a large portion will also be seeing vinyl for the first time. A history of bad luck kept many Foley releases on the shelf during his turbulent recording career. It’s just a shame that the artists isn’t alive today to see the day when he finally catches a break (Foley died of a gunshot wound in 1989). He might have written a song about it. And chances are, if he did, he’d find a way (purposely or not) to make even the good news sound sad. For while Foley often brought as much hope as he did tragedy to his songwriting, even his happiest works are tinged with the melancholy that Foley earned from a lifetime of difficulty.
Foley (born Michael David Fuller) dealt with tough issue all his life (drugs, booze, homelessness) and as a result his oaky baritone conveys a tremendous sense of weight while his skillfully picked guitar always seems to find the most woebegone notes. The titular track of this collection “Clay Pigeons” is a story of making a new start. Foley sings of hopping on a bus, meeting new people, and starting over. And as hopeful as this sentiment feels, Foley’s words still contain an ache to them that can only be attributed to what is being left behind.
More often than not though Foley doesn’t even sound hopeful. Some of his most emotionally stirring work comes in heartbreaking tunes about loves frittered away and lost. In “For Anything Less” it’s impossible not to be powerfully affected by lines like “I know so many arms that are waiting just to hold you / but noone could want to hold you more than me.” Not because the words are incredibly poetic so much as because of the deep despair behind them. “My Reasons Why,” is similarly an emotional heart-wringer and is included here in a live recorded version that’s profoundly spare and unpolished.
Clay Pigeons also contains a few of Foley’s nods towards political songwriting. Most notably “Oval Room” which seems to be addressed to Reagan but deals with the same issues we’re currently facing today (big business’s influence on American politics). “Election Day” isn’t quite as straightforward in its criticism, and it’s also a bit of an odd man out concerning the rest of the record since Foley’s voice sounds about an octave lower than it does in the rest of the recordings.
As far as tragic stories go – Foley seems to share a certain aesthetic as well as a history of bad decisions with his friend and contemporary Townes Van Zandt. Van Zandt even joked that he had to dig up Foley’s grave in order to get the pawn ticket for the deceased artist’s guitar, a morbid story that was later reflected in Van Zandt’s own tragic life. Townes though was only one of Foley’s many admirers. Others include Lucinda Williams, John Prine, Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson, all of whom have covered Foley’s tunes at one time or another. Considering how many people were touched by Blaze Foley’s songs it’s a real pity he never saw as much success as many of his peers. Hopefully now that more of his recordings are coming to light though we can appreciate Foley for what he was: one of the country’s most talented country singer/songwriters.
Movimento Perpétuo (“perpetual movement”) was a pretty accurate name for Portuguese guitarist Carlos Paredes’ 1971 record. Paredes played the guitar with a dexterity that was as fluid as it was unceasing and Movimento is like one long torrential cascade of Portuguese classical picking. They didn’t call him “the man with a thousand fingers” for nothing. Listening to Paredes plucking the twelve strings of his guitarra portuguesa, it’s difficult to believe that he could manage it on ten fingers alone.
And while instrumental classical guitar (even skillfully played) can often be a frightful bore to listen to, Paredes’ musicianship was such that he transcended the traditional boundaries of his genre to create a bold new “modern” style. On Movimento one can particularly hear elements of classical music and jazz, giving the tunes structures that are inventive and often wildly unpredictable. One tradition that remains untouched, however, is the incredibly emotionally evocative sense the music brings without the assistance of a single word. It’s not hard to hear the sadness in “Cancão,” for instance – the artist weaves an intricately melancholy melody that seems infinitely more telling than words could ever express (Paredes’ audible sighed breathing also heightens the effect).
Occasionally throughout Movimento another instrument, namely the flute, makes notable appearances. It does nothing, however, to take the focus off the maestro and his guitar. Movimento Perpétuo is an intensely moving, brilliantly played, and expertly executed classical guitar record. Even more so considering that Paredes was able to manage such a complex sound without the benefit of loop pedals or modern recording equipment. Movimento Perpétuo is the sound of a true musical genius at work, and now due to Drag City reissuing two pieces of his back catalogue, perhaps Paredes will achieve the notoriety in the U.S. that is his due.
Music fans drawn to the debut LP Crazy Master simply because of their idiosyncratic name will be lulled in by the first 25 or so seconds of the soft, docile tones and the gentle ambience. The subsequent 40 minutes straightens that out pretty quickly, as the revolving cast of players from the Minneapolis music scene churn out four songs of intense, hypnotic and full throttle noise flavored dance music. A knock I often hear circling Marijuana Deathsquads is that they are too “improvisational” or “jammy,” which is often the lead in to someone saying they are just a bunch of dudes twisting knobs on delay pedals and screaming into mics drowning in effects. I would challenge 99% of the people who say that to take the equipment that the band utilizes, the “machines” that are just toys for experimenting in the minds of these people, and create a record with the emotional breadth and the ability to push and pull the listener half as well as Crazy Master. That isn’t to say there are not things that could be done differently on the LP, but it is a record that is about as concise as you would want from the band and a highly entertaining encapsulation of the sound the group have been cultivating in their high energy live shows over the last few years.
Two of the four songs on the LP (long album opener “Crazy Master” and longer album closer “Sisters of Silence”) are basically albums to themselves, with crescendos that build and drop off, jaunts into left field noise excursions and the kind of euphoria enduing dance funk buildups that can make the bands live show so exciting. “Sisters of Silence,” the only song to grace the flip side of the LP because it is so long, is an especially epic track, a song that the listener can easily get lost inside of as it morphs and flows over its 20 minute life span. Noise fans generlly are a patient folk, but the meandering synths don’t reach their peak and have the beat really start pounding until the 14(!) minute mark of this track, which will test even the most ardent fan of the band the first time they listen. For those who make it, the song is a thick sludge of beeps, hisses and beats for the last brooding quarter of the song. The middle two tracks of the record are shorter (three and six minutes) and feature a more focused approach by the band. “Sex Accident” is the shorter of the two and maintains a heavy, bass fueled groove and “Pink Dust” is darker, with a hazy atmosphere hanging over the shotgun snare hits and the gurgling synth excursions.
While some would argue that making a Marijuana Deathsquads LP is like trying to nail jello to a wall, with Crazy Master the group have shown their ability to capture at least some of the frantic energy that they have proven so adept at creating in the live setting. While there are moments when the band test the listener with extended ambient passages, the band really make it worth it when they hit their full stride in their electro funk noise grooves. The only constant about a band like Marijuana Deathsquads is change, so Crazy Master will surely be a very temporary time stamp on the bands sound (in fact, I bet it is already out of date), but as a debut LP it is a confident shot across the bow and a tangible document that reiterates the power and creativity this group has shown in more abstract forms in live shows over the last few years. You can decide if it is “jammy” or too “improvisational” for your tastes, but with their exhilarating debut LP the band have left little doubt in my mind that the knob twisting tomfoolery of their live show is much more than that. Grab the LP from the Totally Gross National Product site HERE.
The band will be joined by friends and “special guests” at their record release show tonight at Nick and Eddie.