Morrissey breathes new life into 12 songs from the 60s and 70s to craft a very 2019 album

Photo from morrisseyofficial.com

In music and film, there’s a certain sweet spot of nostalgia for the middle of the latter half of the 20th century, probably because so many people alive today have lived through it. Hollywood often loads its period pieces of that time, like Boogie Nights, Inherent Vice or Starsky and Hutch, with classic songs like “Afternoon Delight,” “Close to You” or “Stayin’ Alive.” But on California Son, Morrissey’s new cover album of 60s and 70s songs, he digs deeper than radio hits to repurpose for his own narrative use, choosing songs that have ties to our own historical moment. Continue reading Morrissey breathes new life into 12 songs from the 60s and 70s to craft a very 2019 album

On his latest offering, Groove Denied, Stephen Malkmus dives into electronic rock of yesteryear while never entirely shaking his indie rock roots

Photo from Matador Records

Stephen Malkmus’ signature brand of abstract and non sequitur lyrics can most often be found floating over the instrumentals of Pavement and his own band, The Jicks. Raucous guitars and bombastic drums match his frenetic singing and shrieking crescendos, shirking any notions of predictability.

But on Groove Denied, his long awaited stab at electronic music, Malkmus allows synthesizers, drum machines and loops to bubble to the surface. Over a well-paced 33 minute runtime, Malkmus explores the different eras of electronic music and plugs his own charisma into the digital landscape. Continue reading On his latest offering, Groove Denied, Stephen Malkmus dives into electronic rock of yesteryear while never entirely shaking his indie rock roots

Mark Kozelek’s societal frustrations boil over on Sun Kil Moon’s ‘I Also Want to Die in New Orleans,’ his latest musical journal entry

Photo from Caldo Verde Records

For the better half of the past decade, singer Mark Kozelek has refined a style of songwriting that marries folksy guitar-swirled instrumentation with poetic, often painful lyricism.

After releasing two sharply personal records last year, a self-titled under his own name and This Is My Dinner with his band Sun Kil Moon, Kozelek emerges for the first time in 2019 to meditate on his blessings and concerns throughout Sun Kil Moon’s tenth and most politically-charged album I Also Want to Die in New Orleans. Continue reading Mark Kozelek’s societal frustrations boil over on Sun Kil Moon’s ‘I Also Want to Die in New Orleans,’ his latest musical journal entry

Amplified Observations: ‘Every Breath You Take’ encapsulated the good and sinister of love and loss

Link: http://www.thepostathens.com/article/2017/03/every-breath-you-take

The Police released no singles that matched the popularity and longevity of 1983’s “Every Breath You Take.” It marked a high-water mark in the group’s career, despite the circumstances surrounding it.

Accompanied by a solid b-side, “Murder by Numbers,” and a clean and ageless music video, the band’s four-minute signature song creates a tender atmosphere that dives straight through the chest and into a place of deep vulnerability reserved only for inner-monologues.

Sting’s ambiguous and heartfelt lyrics find safe haven behind Andy Summer’s steadily uncertain strumming, two components the song that would earn the band two Grammy awards and an endless flow of royalties.

But for all the acclaim placed on “Every Breath You Take,” the song’s meaning — or rather multiple meanings — is not typical of a record with such a level of popularity. Unlike the generally straightforward contemporary pop songs by artists like Adele or Ed Sheeran, Sting’s relaxed composition suggests multiple interpretations with a narrator who is either exceedingly devoted or exceedingly obsessive. And the only way to discern among the two possibilities is by the recipient of the song’s message.

Each time the “Every Breath You Take” plays on a classic rock radio station or in the background of a restaurant, without fail someone comments on the creepy, stalkerish undertones within Sting’s lyrics. In interviewers, Sting himself has called the song “sinister” and “ugly,” despite initially intending to write a love song.

However, this question is the entire draw. The narrator reaches into a gray area of love and loss that only makes itself known within the level of the subjective psyche. Is it worth trying to hold this together, is it no longer love but jealousy, and when is it time to let go?

Sting wrote the track in the Caribbean between a divorce with his ex-wife and a blooming relationship with his future wife. Writing in the same space that Bob Dylan did for 1975’s Blood On the Tracks, Sting inhabited a strange limbo of emotional loss and newfound affection. Knowing this position, it is difficult to decipher which person the song is more directed toward.

Perhaps the residue of the former relationship lingers in the narrator’s mind, stalking him with curiosity. But it’s also possible that the narrator simply wants to give his new lover the attention that he feels she deserves, giving notice to her every move out of pure affection.

The lyrics simultaneously contrast endearing love with what we mistake for love after it has left.

Additionally, the song might also apply to the sort of relationship between a government and its citizens. The government loves its citizens so much that it needs to monitor their every breath and every move, which adds to the “sinister” aspect of surveillance whether by authority or a former partner.

With the syntax of such simple statements, Sting manages to leave enough ambiguity in the song to keep people wondering about its real meaning, which is undoubtedly in human nature to do.

If anything, “Every Breath You Take” exemplifies that great works of art can arise during times shrouded with domestic unraveling general tension. It shows that, if harnessed correctly, energy from the lowest point can lead to success and recognition.

Certain truths and revelations can only be expressed by those engulfed by them, and the expression in “Every Breath You Take” is not one from a commonly explored space, but one that manages to encompass the full spectrum of loving and loathing.

Volunteers in Ambridge assemble bicycles for foster children nearing independence

Photo by Emily Matthews

Link: http://www.timesonline.com/timestoday/volunteers-in-ambridge-assemble-bicycles-for-foster-children-nearing-independence/article_090fc6ce-68c4-11e7-9c4c-2f50feecb659.html

By Luke Furman for The Beaver County Times

AMBRIDGE — More than a dozen student volunteers grabbed the handlebars Friday morning and worked to assemble 50 bicycles for foster children about to reach self-independence.

The students, who belong to a University of Pittsburgh PittServes program called Jumpstart, broke into small teams at Allison Park Church in Ambridge with a stack of cardboard Huffy boxes scattered throughout the large room.

The nonprofit Together We Rise, which helps to improve the lives of children in foster care, donated the bikes to the church for one of its annual Serve Day outreach programs, but the charity left some manual assembly required.

Bethany Jarmul, who handles public relations for Allison Park Church, said it had never before held a bicycle assembly outreach program.

“Children are the future, and it’s important for us to have programs and give back to our communities,” Jarmul said. “Foster-care children usually can’t afford a car after emancipation and don’t have means of transportation.”

The church takes part in the annual Serve Day, formerly known as Servolution, with hundreds of other congregations nationwide. While talking about the meaning of the outreach project, Thomas Manning, director of Allison Park Church’s Ambridge campus, paraphrased part of Matthew 20:28 that reads, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.”

“In the past, we’ve given backpacks to children, paid for customers’ ice cream at an ice cream shop, brought people groceries and served people breakfast at a bus stop,” Manning said. “We’re happy PittServes students came to partner with us.”

PittServe’s Jumpstart discovered Allison Park Church’s Serve Day project from a grant application by the Network of Hope and decided to take part, said Christine Chua, a student executive of Jumpstart.

Network of Hope functions as a nonprofit connected to Allison Park Church’s main campus, Ambridge campus, Deer Lakes campus and its soon-to-be-opened Butler campus.

Julie Mikus, who serves as director for the decades-old entity, said this year’s Serve Day consists of more than 30 outreach projects, which range from lot beautification in Homewood to working on a garden that feeds local refugees in Troy Hill.

“The vision of Serve Day is to communicate the love of God in a real and tangible way and to reach those who are hurting or lost,” Mikus said.

Mikus estimated that 1,000 volunteers would turn out for the projects over the weekend, and the Pitt students in Jumpstart ranked among the first of them, beginning their work at 9:30 a.m. Friday.

“We usually work with kids in low-income areas,” Chau said. “We can only do service projects on Friday because we work with preschoolers from Monday to Thursday for kindergarten preparedness.”

However, not everyone in Jumpstart volunteers on the basis of being an education major. Several volunteers major in the sciences and other nonpedagogical studies.

“A lot of it is helping people from low-income areas,” said Sid Dash, who studies biology at Pitt.

The project presented many of the student volunteers with their first opportunity to assemble a bike straight from the box. Unlike home assembly, instruction manuals proved a must, at least for the first one.

“It’s my first time assembling a whole bike, but not the first time putting on a wheel,” Pitt student Robert Brown-Gartei said.

“We haven’t really had experience with assembling bikes, but we are happy to learn,” Chau said.

The bicycles came in two styles: a white street bicycle with sea-foam-green accented tires and a black mountain bike with streaks of an intense forest green.

Manning said he expected the bikes to be completed and donated to a local foster home on Saturday.

Open arts studio in Beaver Falls allows children, adults to follow artistic passions

Photo by Emily Matthews

Link: http://www.timesonline.com/community/news/open-arts-studio-in-beaver-falls-allows-children-adults-to/article_cc7e537c-6276-11e7-9853-e36c23d60b50.html

By Luke Furman for The Beaver County Times

BEAVER FALLS — An open arts studio in Beaver Falls allows residents of all ages to express imagination and creativity long after the school dismissal bell rings.

For over a decade, the Center for Creative Arts Expression has provided children and adults of Beaver Falls the opportunity to channel creative energy into artwork.

Geraldine Jackson McCorr, 61, of Beaver Falls, founded the center, or CCAE, in 2006 in addition to her job as an art teacher at Beaver Falls High School.

Now the nonprofit’s executive director, McCorr first encountered the idea of an open arts studio when visiting one in Chicago during her studies for a graduate degree in arts therapy at Seton Hill University in Greensburg.

“I thought, ‘that would be something I would want to do,’” McCorr said. “The goal is to contribute something positive to the community.”

The CCAE operates in a building previously owned by Reeves Bank. McCorr said on opening day of the CCAE, she briefly locked herself in the vault that now serves as a very secure pottery studio.

Along with pottery wheels and a kiln, the CCAE also includes several desks and tables with arts and crafts supplies for open studio time and the many classes and summer camps it offers. Already, the center has held two camps that conclude with a field trip either to The Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Washington or Gateway to the Arts in Pittsburgh. McCorr said these trips act as “a nice bonding experience for families.”

The CCAE also has a music annex two doors down with several keyboards, a piano and a drum set. The annex provides a performance space and the center offers piano lessons there.

“We have different teachers for different things and we create new classes whenever we need,” McCorr said.

Vickie Gant, of Beaver Falls, who volunteers at the center and attended high school with McCorr, expressed her admiration for the center’s contribution to the community.

“I think it’s beautiful,” she said. “There are all different crafts and it gives the kids something to do.”

Betty Kirkland, of Beaver Falls, also volunteers by leading “one or two” arts and craft classes per week, like one that involved transforming soup cans into Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax-themed pencil holders during open studio time from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

McCorr stressed the community aspect of CCAE with most of the work there being undertaken by volunteers. In 2015, WQED awarded McCorr with a Volunteer in the Arts (VITA) award for her work.

The center has only one paid employee, Anita Underwood, who has worked as the center’s receptionist for three years. Underwood said the center “is a wonderful place and everyone should take advantage of it.”

CCAE runs on $15 and $20 membership fees, donations and allotted money from the county. McCorr said she has a core of around 15 frequent visitors, but camps, classes and events like “Art in the Park” draw in around 40 or more participants. Seasonal sports causes enrollment to fluctuate, however.

“We didn’t want cost to be a deterrent, but we need to keep the lights on,” McCorr said.

“There’s part of me that doesn’t want grants. Everybody has a stake in it and you should have to give something so you can appreciate it.”

McCorr grew up in Beaver Falls and her family owned both Jackson’s Barber Shop, founded by her grandfather in 1923, and Jackson Transport.

Her husband, Walter McCorr, died in March. She said he believed in her and helped run the center every step of the way.

“A lot of people helped and supported me and I couldn’t do it without volunteers,” McCorr said. “Everybody pitches in and works to give back to the community.”

Mary Beth Leeman, principal of Beaver Falls High School where McCorr has taught general and fine arts for the last 18 years, said McCorr is a “phenomenal” teacher with “great rapport among students and staff.”

McCorr has scheduled educational field trips for art students, including one to Europe in 2015 and one to China in 2016.

Leeman said some of McCorr’s students volunteer at CCAE, and faculty at Beaver Falls High School have helped the center by donating art supplies.

“Whether it’s pottery or drawing, she gets the kids interested,” Leeman said.

Along with a fluid relationship with the high school, the center has collaborated with nearby Geneva College holding “Crafternoon” events from 2011 to 2015. McCorr said she looks to work with the college again in the future.

She said she plans to make efforts to make more arts and craft supplies available in the community to spark interest in art. Two of her students at Beaver Falls High School will help with the enterprise.

Beaver Falls senior Maddi Frishkorn and junior Ethan Funkhauser will assist McCorr for the rest of the summer as part of a job-training program for non-profit. Their tasks include organizing, helping children make crafts and participating in community outreach programs like the new “Art on the Move,” which looks to bring art supplies to area parks and playgrounds.

“I think it’s nice to see people engaging in the creative aspects of their lives,” Frishkorn said.

In addition to the job-training students, Liz Pagley and her son, Cameron, a sophomore at Beaver Falls, often volunteer their time at the center. Cameron took one of McCorr’s general arts classes at the school and helps at the center during summer and fall.

“(Ms. McCorr) makes sure you’re on task but also lets you go your own direction creatively,” Cameron said.

The center will continues its “Art in the Park” series throughout the summer and continue to incite creativity among the city’s residents.

“Art is for everyone,” McCorr said. “Everyone has some kind of creativity in them. I think that’s what we are about here, creating a safe place for people to express themselves.”

‘Queen Aliquippa’ returned to family of painter

Photo by Sylvester Washington

Link: http://www.timesonline.com/community/news/queen-aliquippa-returned-to-family-of-painter/article_4ae38868-578c-11e7-9e1c-8f990aed9f4d.html

By Luke Furman for The Beaver County Times

ALIQUIPPA — Alice Kirby never thought she would reunite with a particular painting her father created early in his life.

At 19 years old, Charles Williams, Kirby’s father, painted a portrait of Queen Aliquippa on a noncanvas pressboard and donated it to Aliquippa High School, his alma mater, in 1933.

The swirling painting depicts the eponymous Native American woman from the 18th century, who led a Seneca tribe in western Pennsylvania. Significant enough to have George Washington seek her company, Queen Aliquippa now primarily lives on through the town to which she gave her name.

Williams’ “Queen Aliquippa” remained on display in the school building’s entrance for the next 76 years.

During the painting’s extended exhibition, Williams worked at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, an art institution, during the Great Depression before returning to western Pennsylvania to work at J&L Steel Corp. as a roll grinder.

However, despite taking on a trade to support his family, he valued art and painting above all else, Kirby said.

Along with “Queen Aliquippa,” Williams created paintings of his daughter, his wife, also named Alice, and his father-in-law using charcoal, landscapes and still lifes. He partook in plein air, or outdoor, painting in scenic local spots, as well.

Williams died in 1972, with his paintings and sculptures going to his son and Kirby’s brother, Bill Williams, in Spokane, Wash.

Alice Kirby and her friend Rose John, whom she now travels here to visit from Atlanta, grew up in Center Township and attended Aliquippa High in the early 1960s, when they experienced the painting of the Native American leader firsthand each morning.

“As you walked in the main entrance, you could see it hanging on the wall. You were so used to seeing it that you almost didn’t notice it,” Kirby said.

Recently, Kirby traveled back to Pennsylvania and wanted to see if she could buy the painting from the school. She contacted the junior and high school building secretary, Kathleen Dulaney, to try to make an offer.

“She was trying to get a hold of it for years,” John said. “We didn’t know where it was.”

After the district razed the old high school building in 2009, it kept the painting in a storage room for eight years, Dulaney said. But after some searching, the painting resurfaced.

“She called up asking for the picture,” Dulaney said. “I asked the superintendent if she could buy it, and he said we could just donate it to her.”

After nearly 30 years of perseverance, Kirby finally gained ownership of her father’s painting from Aliquippa Principal Alvin B. Gipson on Tuesday.

“They were kind enough to donate it to us,” Kirby said. “Instead of throwing it away, they stored the picture for eight years, which is unusual since it was in bad shape. It’s really something.”

John, who will ship the painting to Georgia for Kirby, said it is in decent condition but is “rough around the edges with a couple of cracks.” Kirby said she plans to have it restored to recapture its former effect.

“I never thought I would get that painting back in my wildest dreams,” Kirby said. “I have a lot of paintings but none mean as much as this particular painting. It was my father’s past, and I just feel elated.”

In addition to Williams’ past, Kirby said the painting captures the cultural significance of its namesake town.

“To me, it resembles Aliquippa itself,” Kirby said. “It was the (school’s) mascot, and everybody knew the painting. It makes me proud, and it was a wonderful feeling to be given it.”

Shortly after the donation, “Queen Aliquippa” even drew immediate recognition from a former Aliquippa teacher.

“When I took the painting (to John’s house), (Rose LaSala), who was a music teacher at Aliquippa, came in and said, ‘That’s Queen Aliquippa. How’d you get that here?’” Kirby said.

Kirby said she plans to give the painting to her son, Chucky, so that it can pass down through a third and eventually a fourth generation in her family.

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