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Category Archives: War On Drugs
Posted: August 20, 2017 at 6:44 pm
Manila Archbishop Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle arrives at the Synod Hall on Oct. 8, 2014, in Vatican City, Vatican. Tagle has called for an end to the bloody war on drugs in the Philippines. Franco Origlia/Getty Images hide caption
Manila Archbishop Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle arrives at the Synod Hall on Oct. 8, 2014, in Vatican City, Vatican. Tagle has called for an end to the bloody war on drugs in the Philippines.
The head of the Catholic Church in the Philippines has harshly criticized a government campaign of alleged extrajudicial killings of drug suspects that has claimed thousands of lives, calling it a “humanitarian concern” that cannot be ignored.
Police have killed an estimated 3,200 people in the past 14 months in encounters they claim involved suspects who put up armed resistance. Another 2,000 have died in drug-related killings in many cases carried out by motorcycle-riding masked gunmen who human rights groups say are either police in disguise or their hired hit men. In a single day last week, police in the Philippines killed a record 32 people in drug raids, according to Reuters.
“We knock on the consciences of those who kill even the helpless, especially those who cover their faces, to stop wasting human lives,” Manila Cardinal Luis Tagle said. “The illegal drug problem should not be reduced to a political or criminal issue. It is a humanitarian concern that affects all of us.”
Tagle was supported by Archbishop Socrates Villegas, who said Sunday that church bells would ring every night for the next three months to spark greater awareness of President Rodrigo Duterte’s crackdown.
“The sounding of the bells is a call to stop approval of the killings,” Villegas said in a statement read Sunday in churches in his district in Pangasinan province, according to The Associated Press. “The country is in chaos. The officer who kills is rewarded and the slain get the blame. The corpses could no longer defend themselves from accusations that they ‘fought back.'”
The Church was initially silent about the anti-drug campaign, but has in recent months stepped up calls for its end.
Duterte’s campaign, which has drawn international criticism, has gotten high marks from President Trump, who in a leaked transcript of a phone call praised the Philippine leader for an “unbelievable job on the drug problem.”
Duterte has compared his crackdown in the Philippines to the Holocaust, saying he’d like to deal with drug addicts the way that Nazi Germany dealt with the Jews.
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Posted: at 6:44 pm
When Adam Granduciel finished work on Lost in the Dream, the 2014 album by the War on Drugs, the Philadelphia guitarist and songwriter was satisfied with his creative life and career trajectory.
I had a very full life in Philadelphia, said Granduciel, sitting down in the bands new South Philly rehearsal space to discuss A Deeper Understanding (Atlantic ****), the more-majestic-than-ever fourth War on Drugs album, which comes out Friday.
I had a clear identity of myself and my life, and what music meant to me, says the 38-year-old rock auteur, who will lead his band into the Dell Music Center in Strawberry Mansion for former Eagle Connor Barwins Make the World Better Foundation on Sept. 21. I felt like I knew who I was. And then the record came out, and I went out on tour. And I never came back.
Lost in the Dream saw to it that Granduciel wasnt the only one who knew who the War on Drugs were. After their breakthrough, sodid nearly everyone else. Or, at least those who cared about the state of rock and roll at a time when pop music is more likely to be made on laptops than with the arsenal of guitars that hang on the wall in the bands capacious practice room. (Its also equipped with two pinball machines and a Michael Jordan growth-chart poster from bass player Dave Hartleys teenage bedroom.)
That album topped many critics year-end lists (including mine), and by the time Granduciel and his bandmates were done with 18 months on the road, they had graduated from medium-size clubs to well-known venues, like Radio City Music Hall and Los Angeles Greek Theatre.
The band was big and destined to get bigger, as evident from indications such as Apple Music mahoff and legendary music exec Jimmy Iovines quote in 2015: They should be gigantic.
And A Deeper Understanding could do the trick: Its already being greeted rapturously, as the New Yorker last week called the band bassist Hartley, keyboard player Robbie Bennet, drummer Charlie Hall, guitarist Anthony LaMarca, and sax player Jon Natchez the best American rock band of the decade. New York magazine, not to be outdone, called them Americas Next Great Rock Band.
The bands ebbing and flowing, peaking-ever-higher songs bear the influence of classic rockers like Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan, as well as steady-rolling German motorik bands like Neu! and Kraftwerk. Theyre typically painstakingly put together in the studio by Granduciel, who uses the contributions of his mates in creating the illusion that a band was playing together in a room, he says.
On the road for Lost, the War on Drugs came together as a band. For the group of lifetime musicians now mostly in their mid-30s, Granduciel says, it was nice to be able to go out on the road and have it be a little more comfortable than last time, and come home with some money.
But at the end of the tour, Granduciel who grew up Adam Granofsky in Dover, Mass., and got this nom de rock from an art teachers French translation of grand of sky no longer had a Philadelphia home to come home to.
While on the road, he had moved out of his house in South Kensington with mushrooms growing out of the kitchen wall and put his gear in storage in Cherry Hill. So when the tour was through, he moved in with his girlfriend, actress Krysten Ritter, who stars in the Netflix superhero dramaJessica Jones(as well as The Defenders), at her home in Los Angeles.
A Deeper Understanding is an album of self-discovery that begins its soul searching on the first track, with Granduciel admitting, I dont know anything.
The songwriter began working in a rented studio in L.A. almost immediately. Im always wanting a project, says Granduciel, a fidgety soul who first suggests hell be interviewed while milling around the rehearsal space, before reluctantly agreeing to sit.
Progress on music was steady for tracks that eventually coalesced into such gorgeous Deeper epics as Holding On. That songs moving video features actor Frankie Faison, who played Commissioner Burrell on HBOs The Wire, one of Granduciels two favorite TV shows. (The other is The Shield.)
Working on the album, Granduciel flew his bandmates out to play on Deeper cuts like Thinking of a Place, the expansive 11-minute song that the band returned with on a Record Store Day vinyl release this spring. Other Philadelphians, like the French American duo the Dove & the Wolf and drummer Patrick Berkery, appear on the album, as do the vocal duo Lucius, who recently toured with Roger Waters.The new album feels like Granduciels California album in that the songs open up wider vistas than ever before, ideal for contemplating the meaning of it all while barreling down the Pacific Coast Highway (or while stuck in traffic on the Schuylkill Expressway, as this listener was one recent afternoon).
But Granduciel felt there was something lacking.
My whole life, my whole professional musical life was based around Second and Girard and Girard and Palmer, he says. My whole life was in a six-block radius!
Granduciel studied art and photography at Dickinson College, and later moved to Philadelphia in 2003, where he collaborated with fellow stringy-haired rock-star guitarist Kurt Vile. In between, he briefly lived in Oakland, Calif., where, while under the influence of Beat poetry, he came up with the band name the War on Drugs, of which he has said, I always felt like it was the kind of name I could record all sorts of different music under without any predictability inherent in the name.
The Drugs built their identity as a Philadelphia band through releases like 2008s Wagonwheel Blues, 2011s Slave Ambient, and Lost in the Dream. I had done all this stuff, and been in a band, and then I kind of isolated myself, he says of working in L.A. Why, he found himself wondering. What happened?
Finding his way home, artistically and literally, became necessary for Granduciel. That search for self-definition and belonging is present in songs like Thinking of a Place. Granduciel, an obsessive tinkerer, talks about the recording process he dearly loves with phrases like, Im still searching for the magic.
Adam Granduciel in his South Philadelphia studio.
OnA Deeper Understanding, Granduciel asks: Am I living in the space between the beauty and the pain? which has literal meaning when you consider he had back surgery last winter.
So in the process of making it, did he achieve a deeper understanding?
When do you stop searching, and when does it get to the point where there are no outside forces preventing you from feeling satisfied? he says, answering with a question. You can keep moving, or keep changing or keep trying different combinations. But you really have to just be. Which is easier said than done.
He is by no means ditching L.A. or New York for that matter, where he went to do additional recording to get some East Coast mud, on the album, and where hes been living with Ritter in Brooklyn while she shoots her Marvel shows second season.
When back in Philly, his home is a hotel. A true drifter, he says. Hes psyched to play Barwins benefit,and he jokes that the NFL pro, who now plays for the Los Angeles Rams, is doing the opposite of me. He bought a house here, and I sold mine. Maybe we should get a time-share.
But seriously, the other important thing to me is I really wanted to keep the band in Philly, he says, noting the Drugs played their first show at Johnny Brendas in Fishtown in 2006.
This is where I had that spark and decided that I wanted to pursue music even when it meant not knowing anybody, and I felt compelled to start learning how to write songs. Philly was that place for me, he says.Its the root of who I am.
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Published: August 18, 2017 3:01 AM EDT | Updated: August 18, 2017 10:36 AM EDT
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Posted: at 6:44 pm
President Donald Trumps defense of white nationalist groups in the wake of Charlottesville is shocking, but not really surprising to anyone who has been following his Administration.
From appointing Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, to his war on immigrants, to his embrace ofrecently-oustedstrategist and ethno-nationalist ideologue, Steve Bannon,to his efforts to double-down on the failed war on drugs Trump,has consistently sought to increase the criminalization and incarceration of people of color. The history of U.S. criminal justice policy is the history of white supremacy; and Jeff Sessions is Trumps Bull Connor.
Dozens of civil rights groups opposed Trumps nomination of Jeff Sessions to be Attorney General. Sessions has a long record of hostility to justice and civil liberties. He was denied a federal judgeship in the 80s because the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee found that he had a record of racist statements and actions. A black colleague testified at the time that Sessions referred to him as boy. Sessions referred to the NAACP and other civil rights organizations as un-American groups that forced civil rights down the throats of people. He even reportedly said he thought theKKK was OK until he found out its members smoked pot.
This is the guy Trump chose to be the nations top law enforcement official. Already just six months into the job Sessions has rolled back decades of criminal justice reform. He has urged prosecutors to seek the highest punishment possible, even in nonviolent drug cases, rolled back efforts to prevent police brutality, increased the use of civil asset forfeiture (the process by which police can take peoples money and property and keep it for themselves without having to even convict anyone of a crime), and re-interpreted civil rights laws to be applied as narrowly and rarely as possible.
Sessions isnt a case of Trump having chosen the wrong person for the job. Whenever Trump talks about drugs, crime, and criminal justice, he paints a picture of black and brown communities as violent hell-holes that require more police and less protections for civil liberties. For a president who believes that police officers should racially profile suspects and rough them up and torture them, Sessions is the perfect Attorney General. His racist past is an asset, not a liability.
The war on drugs has a long history of being a cover for racial injustice. The first federal marijuana laws were passed to target Mexicans. Opium laws were passed to target Chinese immigrants. The campaign to ban cocaine painted images of black men using cocaine to woo white women and becoming impervious to bullets (theNew York Timesreferred to them as negro cocaine fiends). Lest you think this is ancient history, police and media still cite marijuana and others drugs as a reason they shoot unarmed suspects (see for instance,Trayvon Martin,Sandra Bland,Keith Lamont Scott,Terence Crutcher, andPhilando Castile.)
Its not a coincidence that President Richard Nixon declared an outright war on drugs in 1971, just as the civil rights was making major gains. In Nixons words (paraphrased by one of his staffers), the whole problem is really the blacks, the key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to.
It would be hard to design a system better at decimating communities of color. Once charged with a drug offense, people can be legally discriminated against in housing and employment and denied student loans and public assistance. If their drug law violation was a felony, they can even be denied the right to vote in some states for life.
There are many reasons to end the failed war on drugs it is a waste of money, prohibition doesnt work, law enforcement should be focused on serious crime, etc. But the role the drug war, and punitive criminal justice policies more generally, play in perpetuating white supremacy should be at the top of the list. At the very least, policymakers who ignore the issue should be seen as suspect. Racial justice requires massive criminal justice reform.
There are many steps Congress can take to undo and repair the damage done by decades of harsh drug laws. A good first start would be eliminating all the Jim Crow-style collateral sanctions. A drug conviction should not result in the denial of housing, employment, education, voting or other rights and obligations ultimately policymakers have to move beyond using law enforcement to address complicated social issues and treat drugs as health and regulatory issue.
Bill Piper is senior director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. Follow him on Twitter @billjpiper
This piece first appeared on the Drug Policy Alliance Blog.
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Posted: at 6:44 pm
Adam Granduciel is flying down the highway in a rented Jeep Cherokee, A/C blasting to mask the 95-degree heat of Philadelphia in mid-July. The radios on, too, tuned to a similarly feverish chatter of news about dirty tricks and high crimes, but Granduciel isnt paying attention. His band, the War on Drugs, is a month away from the release of its next album, and hes keenly aware of the stakes. I always feel like everything I do is my one shot, the 38-year-old songwriter says. If I have one song thats shitty, then people are going to give up on the band.
When Atlantic Records releases the War On Drugs A Deeper Understanding on August 25, it will cap one of the most remarkable transformations in recent music-biz memory. Five years ago, Granduciel was the gifted, shambolic leader of a mid-level indie band the kind of artist who could look forward to a respectable career playing clubs and holding down day jobs. The third album he made with the War on Drugs, 2014s Lost in the Dream, rewrote that future. Its songs were newly huge and heartfelt, full of frank confessions of existential angst and guitar solos that spiraled up to sweet psychedelic heaven. Lost in the Dream hit home with critics, who consistently cited it as one of that years best albums, and with Apple Music kingpin Jimmy Iovine, who pronounced the band fantastic and said that they should be gigantic. Tens of thousands of new fans agreed, flocking to see the War on Drugs in numbers that allowed the band to keep adding sold-out shows to a tour that ended up stretching on for nearly two years.
By early 2015, Granduciel was living in Williamsburg with his girlfriend, Jessica Jones star Krysten Ritter, having ditched the rundown North Philly house where hed resided for more than a decade. After spending his late 20s and early 30s on the margins of American popular music, twisting the idioms of classic rock into strange new shapes, he woke up at the center of it all, with a major-label deal and paparazzi on his trail. Its not hard to understand where hes coming from when he explains his make-or-break mentality. Its a push and pull with your own confidence, he says. It fuels me, a little bit. But it would be nice to sometimes just accept things.
Hes a candid, free-flowing talker, with wavy hair falling just past his shoulders and soulful eyes that make him look like Eddie Vedder as played by a young Elliott Gould. In this sense, among others, he fits the rock n roll messiah role thats been projected onto him by some fans quite well. Yet Granduciel has never been comfortable with this idea of himself. Theres a level of guitar-hero-ness that makes me bashful, he tells me. Its obviously great to be respected. But theres also an element of Im not that good.
Granduciel says he enjoys living in Brooklyn Whats not to like? but Philly, inevitably, feels more like home. Since finishing A Deeper Understanding this spring, hes made frequent trips back to see the three bandmates who are still here (the other two live in Ohio and California), and to set up a new rehearsal and storage space for the group. It looks like weve been there for 20 years, because theres so much fucking shit in there already, he says. Youll get a sense of my hoarding when you check it out.
First, though, he has to track down a missing shipment of custom pedal boards. So Granduciel steers the Jeep far past the city limits, following the GPS to a labyrinthine FedEx depot that he proceeds to poke around for what feels like a minor eternity. Were really getting into the bowels of FedEx here, he mutters.
He passes the time by counting backward through the history of the War on Drugs, before the fame, past their 2008 full-length debut and the early years putzing around Philly playing gigs, all the way back to the first informal demos. 15 years of this shit, he says after thinking for a moment. It should eventually be fun.
As we pull into the package-pickup lot, I ask Granduciel to finish the thought: Is the life hes chosen fun yet? Yeah, he says, and cracks a small grin. Its getting there.
The runaway success of Lost in the Dream surprised everyone, especially the visionary whod poured his entire soul into making the album. Granduciel vividly remembers his skepticism toward the early hints that his life was about to change. Shows started selling out, and I was like, Its a fluke, he says over lunch. I didnt have any frame of reference for anything. And then the next summer, were playing to 70,000 people in Belgium. He shakes his head. Its crazy.
Granduciel is sitting across from me at the Plenty Cafe, a little exposed-brick spot in South Philly where the specials include a weekly happy-hour deal on a cheese and charcuterie plate. The surrounding neighborhood appears stuck in the awkward adolescence of a slow-acting gentrification cycle: Across the street is an upscale wellness boutique, next to a bodega thats also a party supplies store. Down the block is a locked-room game called Escape the 1980s, which is an oddly apropos storefront to walk past on my way to talk with an artist whose music is often compared to bandana-era Bruce Springsteen and solo Don Henley.
One of the most impressive tricks Granduciel pulled off with Lost in the Dream and one that he appears likely to take even further with A Deeper Understanding is seizing those pass sounds and making them incontrovertibly, quantifiably cool again. Red Eyes, the yearning synth-and-guitar anthem that became Lost in the Dreams biggest single, has been streamed 47 million times on Spotify (or about 12 million more times than Bruces Hungry Heart); the first track released from the new album, the gorgeous, 11-minute ballad Thinking of a Place, has over 3 million.
In todays music industry, where rocks commercial future is increasingly unclear, numbers like those, and the tight connection to fans hearts they imply, make the War on Drugs a hot commodity working within a genre that is usually in short supply of hot commodities. Steve Ralbovsky, the veteran A&R macher who signed the band to Atlantic in the spring of2015, recalls being struck by how many young people he saw in the crowds on the Lost in the Dream tour. This was a band with a vintage musical vocabulary, appealing to kids who hadnt grown up with their own version of that, says Ralbovsky, who has played a key role in the rise of Next Big Rock Things from Talking Heads to the Strokes. For my colleagues at Atlantic, it was a pretty instant [decision]. It doesnt take sharp people to size it up. All youve gotta do is go to a show.
Guitarist Anthony LaMarca, who joined the War on Drugs as a full-time member in 2014 rounding out the lineup of Granduciel, bassist Dave Hartley, keyboardist Robbie Bennett, drummer Charlie Hall, and saxophonist Jon Natchez talks about the Lost in the Dream tour in similarly glowing terms. Its what everyone who plays in bands dreams of, LaMarca says. Even at the end, we were like, Maybe we should book some more shows. I dont want to go home. It was this perfect tour.
But nothing is ever quite that simple for Granduciel, who spent much of the promotional cycle for Lost in the Dream speaking honestly about the intense anxiety and depression he experienced during the making of that album. In his darkest hour, circa 2013, he was gripped by panic nearly every day. I was so paranoid to eat chicken for two or three years I thought I was going to eat one piece and die of salmonella, he tells me between bites of his Caprese sandwich. I couldnt continue living like that.
A months-long course of cognitive therapy helped rein in the worst of Granduciels anxiety before the release of Lost in the Dream, but the subsequent tour presented new threats to his peace of mind. High points like the pair of sold-out dates the band nailed at Londons 4,900-capacity Brixton Academy in February 2015 could also trigger spiraling terror. Playing in front of a lot of people, all of a sudden Id be like, What if, right now, I went insane? What if I started saying the worst possible things you could say, and then my career would be over? he says. The whole show, it would cycle through my head.
In the last weeks of 2015, as his bandmates went back to their lives, Granduciel took only a short break before heading to Los Angeles to work on the next War on Drugs album. It was a lonely period; he briefly tried seeing a new therapist, but stopped after what he describes as a shitty experience. In the end, he says, being thousands of miles from his bandmates was a good thing for the record: Feeling completely isolated and a little lost was a big source of inspiration.
In time, he invited the others out to L.A. for a series of week-long sessions. And last summer, the full band gathered for a month of focused recording with in-demand engineer Shawn Everett, who has helped shape high-profile releases by Weezer and Alabama Shakes. As they recorded, Granduciel continued working on his own, adding and subtracting and adjusting to match the music in his head. There are parts that I played on that Im astonished by, LaMarca says, just because of how many changes some of these songs went through.
The result is an album that sounds even bigger, and quite possibly better, than Lost in the Dream. The underlying structures are familiar, but the details on A Deeper Understanding the choruses, the solos, the watercolor synth washes build up and crash down with a confidence that feels new. The songs are sleek and polished when they need to be (Nothing to Find is so Born in the U.S.A., you expect Courteney Cox to come dancing out of your speakers), and intimate when thats the right move, like on Knocked Down, a weary lament that Granduciel, Hartley, and LaMarca recorded by themselves late one night. Theres nothing remotely half-assed about any of it. More than once after meeting Granduciel, I found myself humming a riff I was sure Id known for years, only to realize eventually that it came from A Deeper Understanding.
It sounds, in other words, like a major American rock band using a hefty recording budget to swing for the fences. But Granduciel remains wary of comparisons to earlier standard-bearers of this ilk, even when theyre meant as compliments. I love Bruce Springsteen, but I dont want to be any sort of 21st-century version of the E Street Band, he says. We arent at that stage of our chemistry yet.
Were in the Jeep now, winding through back streets in South Philly after picking up Granduciels pedal boards. Someone on the radio is reporting breathlessly on Senate Republicans efforts to deny health care to millions of Americans. The War on Drugs couldnt tune out the drumbeat of political news while they were making A Deeper Understanding throughout 2016, anymore than fans will be able to when they listen. There were times when I tried to connect the record to what was going on in America, Granduciel says. I thought, Maybe it feels like were losing a piece of ourselves.
Ultimately, though, hed rather not attach a thesis to the album, in part because he feels there are limits to what an act like the War on Drugs can contribute to todays debates. I dont think theres any need for my band to write a 2017 version of [The Lonesome Death of] Hattie Carroll, Granduciel says. Even on the biggest platforms, NBC News or CNN, who are they really convincing? Nobody. I guess the way to be active, from my point of view, is just to write about your own life.
Maybe thats a cop-out, and maybe he has a point: Promotional campaigns built around vague, well-intentioned political stances can end up misfiring. Either way, hes already itching to guide the War on Drugs back into weirder waters after A Deeper Understanding runs its course. For whatever reason, people have latched onto the band, and Im psyched about that, he says. But I always want to keep experimenting, and Im sure the departure is imminent. I like to think therell be some people who come along.
The second we step into the bands new space, Granduciel seems happier and more relaxed. Its a next-level music-geek clubhouse, with 1,800 square feet of floor covered by dozens of guitars, keyboards, drum kits, and amps; two full-size pinball machines; a large expressionist painting by his old friend Kurt Vile; and deluxe box-set editions of the first six Led Zeppelin albums, among many other examples of what happens when a moderate pack rat grows up to be a successful musician.
As he unpacks the banged-up metal cases containing the pedal boards, he tells me about his childhood. Born Adam Granofsky in a Boston suburb, he was raised by parents who put a premium on education. As a teen, he attended nearby Roxbury Latin, an elite all-boys school founded in the 1640s. (A French-language pun by a teacher there, translating Gran-of-sky as Gran-du-ciel, inspired the stage name hes used ever since.) But unlike his academically inclined siblings, he struggled to keep up with his classes, due to what he now suspects was undiagnosed dyslexia. I never understood why they sent me there, he says. I didnt have any interest in anything other than learning the Siamese Dream songbook.
A trip back to Massachusetts to see his family this summer got him thinking about the arc of his fathers journey. Mark Granofsky, 85, is a first-generation American striver, a child of Russian Jewish immigrants who worked his way into some of this countrys most privileged institutions doing a stint of his own at Roxbury Latin in the late 1940s, followed by two degrees from Harvard. Granduciel has come to see his fathers efforts to set him on a similar trajectory as an act of kindness. I think it was about passing something on, he says. It wasnt as domineering as Id thought my whole life. Its amazing how you go home for one quick chill sesh, and you think about your life in a completely different way after that.
Only in the last three years has Granduciel felt like his dad is starting to understand what he does. He went out and bought a bunch of records that people compare us to, he says. Hes like, Youre better than this Tom Petty guy!
Weve been hanging out for nearly four hours when Granduciel asks, unprompted, if Im married or have children. When I say yes, he peppers me with more questions about fatherhood: Is it stressful? Is it scary?
He and Ritter are in a good place, he says, but are not currently thinking about marriage. (Tough subject. Its not something Im thinking about. Shes not thinking about it either.) And when I ask if he wants kids down the line, he seems unsure how to answer. Im kind of a selfish guy when it comes to my time and space. And being prone to fear and anxiety, oh my god.
The pedals are arranged on the floor now. Granduciel kneels and busies himself with wires and knobs, looking like hes exactly where he wants to be.
So I dont know, he adds after a while. Its not in the near future. But in my heart, I do. He dusts off his black jeans as he stands up. Thats the next frontier as a songwriter, right? Living all levels of life.
His family confirmed the news.
As we all would.
When worlds collide.
Signal to Noise is a truly great episode.
Gregory leaves behind a legacy of groundbreaking comedy and political activism.
The Mooch has joined forces with a crisis-communications specialist.
It sounds extremely fascinating and extremely complicated.
And he aint never gonna be the same.
The One With the Casting Bombshell.
He allegedly assaulted her with a bat.
Pants and sisterhood for life.
Respect wood. Respect Larry.
Religious freedom and tolerance and understanding the truth and equal rights for every race, religion and creed are extremely important to me.
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Posted: at 6:44 pm
When rock and roll emerged from Mississippi or Georgia or Tennessee or Illinois sometime in the early nineteen-fifties, it was a lawless mishmash of musical institutions, some ancient, some new. Its unruly rootsthe incongruous coupling of the sacred and the profanecame to determine much of the genres mythos. By the sixties, its edicts, as set out by early practitioners like Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, and Little Richard, were decreed in full: rock and roll should be scrappy and instinctive, a wild and unstable expression that appears free of mediation or meddling, even (especially) when its not. Thus its most iconic poses: Pete Townshend clobbering the stage with an electric guitar, Jimi Hendrix humping his amplifiers, Janis Joplin, onstage at Woodstock, shaking from heroin and whiskey.
The War on Drugs, a Philadelphia-born outfit fronted by the thirty-eight-year-old guitarist and vocalist Adam Granduciel, does not subscribe to this ethos. Instead, it makes the old clichs seem tired. The bands songs are performed and recorded in such a way that its impossible not to be cognizant of their polishof labor invested. Though other contemporary bands have made ambitious and exacting music, few are quite so painstaking. Yet the War on Drugs is, to my ears, the best American rock band of this decade; it is certainly the one that makes the genre feel most alive.
The groups fourth album, A Deeper Understanding, which comes out on August 25th, is a big and purposeful record that shares some genetic material with late-career releases by Rod Stewart, Dire Straits, Tom Petty, and Don Henleythe songwriting lacks the wholeness and negligence of youth, but hasnt yet been softened by the capitulations of adulthood. Spiritually, Granduciel is still looking; nothing is secured or presumed.
Philadelphia in the mid-aughts was a very good place and time to be a guitar player. The War on Drugs began, in 2005, as a collaboration between Granduciel and Kurt Vile; later, as the leader of the Violators, Vile perfected a guitar style and tone that married the disaffection of Sonic Youth with the stoned, flickering warmth of the Grateful Dead. Another Philadelphia native (and former Violator), the guitarist Steve Gunn, relocated to Brooklyn and made several albums of warm but terrifically complex music. The War on Drugs made its dbut with Wagonwheel Blues, in 2008, and, following Viles departure and several more lineup changes, released its second record, Slave Ambient, in 2011. Both were favorably received, but it took Lost in the Dream, from 2014, to realistically suggest Granduciel as rocks next torchbearer. He even looked the part: long and wavy brown hair, Wayfarers, a seemingly infinite collection of vintage denim jackets.
Lost in the Dream was conceived mostly at Granduciels three-story row house in Philadelphias South Kensington neighborhood. He has since recounted the way panic attacks and bouts of listlessness led him to a near-obsessive immersion in his work. Compulsive tinkering in the studio has sunk lesser writers; too much fussing can make a record claustrophobic and overwrought. Somehow, for Granduciel, sealing himself inside allowed for an opening. Music became a viable proxy for actual livinga scout dispatched over the hillside, a manner of exploring the world without directly engaging it. Despite the intensity behind the albums production, there are plenty of joyful momentslike Red Eyes, a song so plainly exultant that, even after a hundred listens, its chorus still feels like cresting a mountain.
Granduciel relocated to Los Angeles after the release of Lost in the Dream (he is in a relationship with the actress Krysten Ritter, who stars in the Marvel television series Jessica Jones), and his new songs are indebted, in ways both subtle and overt, to his present landscape. Its hard to say precisely what would comprise a Los Angeles canonI imagine Warren Zevon, Randy Newman, Fleetwood Mac, Neil Youngs Tonights the Night, and Guns N Roses Appetite for Destruction, though others might choose N.W.A.s Straight Outta Compton, Joni Mitchells Blue, or Frank Oceans Channel Orange. It is even more difficult to specify how the city impresses itself on the records made there. I tend to think of L.A.s influence not so much as a relentless sunniness but as a wide-eyed searching of the horizon. Granduciel has always written dynamic, propulsive melodies that beg for long stretches of good road. But A Deeper Understanding has more scope than anything he has done before. When each constituent bit locks into place, the massive scale and deep texture of the work is thrilling. It contains all the expansiveness of the West, and some of its optimism, too.
Lyrically, A Deeper Understanding is a record about self-interrogation. Most of Granduciels earlier songs address a near-constant process of revision and reinvention. Here, though, Granduciel is more assured than ever. One of the new albums best tracks, Holding On, acts as a spiritual continuation of An Ocean Between the Waves, another cut from Lost in the Dream, and though the new song never quite resolves the older songs visceral fears (Can I be more than just a fool? Granduciel worried), it does render them smaller. Granduciel seems more cognizant of whats at stake (Once I was alive and I could feel, I was holding on to you, he sings), yet he approaches heartache with ambivalence, a cool acceptance of lifes unpredictable flow. I keep moving on the path, holding on to mine. He sounds nearly sereneor at least like someone who has recently seen an ocean.
Throughout A Deeper Understanding, Granduciels vocals are soft, steady, and almost without origin. Though he occasionally moves into a more discordant, nasally voiceborrowing, for a moment, the sourness of Bob Dylanits often hard to distinguish his singing from any number of gauzy, fading synthesizers. The War on Drugs remains chiefly a guitar bandthis is especially true when it performs livebut there are an awful lot of keyboards on the new record, including Wurlitzer, Mellotron, Hammond organ, and several vintage analog synthesizers (or reissues of vintage analog synthesizers), like the Arp Odyssey and the Oberheim Xpander. The synthesizers, especially, give A Deeper Understanding a dreamy, almost illusory quality.
That sensibility is augmented by the running length of most of the albums songssix or seven minutes (Thinking of a Place, which was released as a twelve-inch single for Record Store Day, clocks in at more than eleven minutes)and how they snake to curious places. Halfway through Up All Night, a song about managing the nocturnal willies, the melodya gentle electric-piano riff that recalls Bruce Hornsbyis displaced by Granduciels crackling guitar. The shift should be disorienting, but because of the songs dream logic it takes a moment to realize youve been jolted awake.
A Deeper Understanding is the bands first album for a major label; it left the Indiana-based indie Secretly Canadian and signed a two-record deal with Atlantic Records shortly after Lost in the Dream was released. They should be gigantic, Jimmy Iovine, a co-founder of Interscope Records who has produced albums by Bruce Springsteen, U2, and Meat Loaf, told Billboard in a 2015 interview. So far, however, the War on Drugs is not making any concessions to the mainstream market, where shorter, sparser songs now dominate.
Perhaps no concessions are necessary. The intricacy of Granduciels songwriting and productionthe way his urgent, interior searching yields strange tapestriesisnt immediate in the way, say, a punk-rock song can be. Rather than knock you over, it slowly fills a room, and lingers. Yet his work seems to communicate something vital about the internalization of modern life, the ways in which we now manage, negotiate, and curate expression before uploading it to one platform or another. That these machinations are laid plainthat this music does not aspire to spontaneitymakes it feel more true.
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Posted: at 6:44 pm
US-based Filipino artist Hadrian Mendoza. Angelo G. Garcia
A Drop of Red series. Angelo G. Garcia
Pushers is composed of 136 ceramic heads. Angelo G. Garcia
A closer look at Pushers. Angelo G. Garcia
Blood Moon series. Angelo G. Garcia
MANILA As of May this year, 3,407 Filipinos have been killed due to the governments anti-drug campaign, more popularly known as the war on drugs.
Spearheaded by none other than President Rodrigo Duterte, the campaign has raised concerns from different groups, private citizens, and even the international community.
When a campaign this big is receiving mixed reactions worldwide, it is bound to get scrutinized from different sectors of the community.
And the art world is one of them.
US-based Filipino artist Hadrian Mendoza recently visited Manila to open his A Drop of Red exhibit at Galleria Duemila in Pasay City.
The exhibit is a social commentary about the drug war that the country is presently facing.
The idea came from just hearing whats been happening here. Its more through the net, my cousins here telling me whats happening and I read things in the news. It kind of paints an image in my mind and I expressed it through ceramics, the 44-year-old artist said.
One of the pieces in the exhibit is the A Drop of Red series, featuring hand molded ceramic clouds and simple yarns. The white and red yarns hanging from the fragile clouds represent the blood spilled during the numerous killings in the country.
The Pushers, on the other hand, is a collection of 136 pieces of ceramic heads depicting those killed in police operations and summary executions.
Meanwhile, the Blood Moon series is composed of 28 beautiful square slabs of ceramics colored with red glaze, ash, and gold accents that signify the average 28-day rehabilitation for drug addicts.
Mendoza said he has been aiming to create artworks that are not just pleasing to the eye, but also make an impact on society.
I make pieces that send messages to groups of people. I think thats something that Ive been tapping recently not just shaping faces or making plates, but actually to make an impact and voice out an opinion. The meanings have become deeper, he said.
Mendoza stressed, however, that his objective is not to preach and push his opinions down everybodys throats. Rather, the artist wants to open peoples minds and stir their thoughts about certain realities.
The show is not really preaching what is right. I dont want to preach about how I feel this country should be run, but its more like pieces just to make you think, he ended.
Mendoza has an extensive career in ceramics, staging exhibits here and abroad. He started his craft in Virginia in the mid-90s then moved to the Philippines to become an instructor at his own pottery school in Makati.
He then ran the countrys premier secondary art school, Philippine High School for the Arts.
Last April, Mendoza was awarded the Alfred E. Steck Memorial Prize by George Washington University, where he is finishing is post-graduate studies and also works as a ceramic instructor.
A Drop of Red runs until August 31 at Galleria Duemila, 210 Loring St., Pasay City.
US Secretary of State offers Philippine President help with war on drugs, if he changes tactics – ABC News
Posted: August 10, 2017 at 6:40 am
During their meeting Monday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson offered President Rodrigo Duterte U.S. assistance in his controversial war on drugs — if he would change tactics.
According to senior aide R.C. Hammond, Tillerson made a general offer of help, not specific resources. The goal was to offer solutions to Duterte, not just criticism.
The two leaders met for more than an hour Monday at the presidential palace in Manila and covered a wide variety of topics, including recapping the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit, policing the South China Sea and threats from North Korea and its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Duterte came into power on a brash promise to violently crack down on drug use and, since then, he has been widely criticized by human rights groups for what they say have been thousands of extrajudicial killings. Tillerson has been criticized for a perceived lack of focus on Duterte’s human rights record in their meetings — a topic aides say was raised today.
“Mr. President, we are all aware of the American peoples criticism of you and your handling of drug cartels,” Tillerson told Duterte, in what critics described as a soft, indirect condemnation of the drug policy.
A majority of the time was spent talking about ISIS, according to Hammond. The Secretary gave an update on the coalition’s fight in Syria and Iraq and the fighters leaving and traveling to the Philippines. Duterte gave his assessment of how he thought his military is doing in the fight against ISIS, and together they reviewed the role the US is playing in the fight in the Philippines.
The Philippines has long battled Muslim separatist in its southern region, but most recently they’ve had to bear back a self-declared ISIS affiliate that seized the city Marawi.
The U.S. has provided two Cessna planes and a couple of drones to aid Filipino surveillance and reconnaissance against the terror group, along with some training and guidance for Filipino forces. Hammond deferred reporters’ questions about any changes in the American role to the Pentagon.
Hammond says the conversation then “naturally” turned to drugs and the drug war — although Duterte has blamed drugs for the presence of ISIS in his country, without any evidence.
The Secretary spoke about the U.S.-Mexican partnership on transnational crime, pointing out that 60 million people had drug addictions in the U.S. to show that he understood the problem the Philippines is facing. He described how then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly had set up a task force to help find a way to counter drug trafficking. It was then that he offered assistance to help obtain better tactics.
The response was cordial, but noncommittal, according to U.S. officials, who said it is now up to President Duterte to accept or decline.
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Photo by Philip Cosores
The War on Drugs are the latest act to partake in the Spotify Singles series. As with past contributions, the band recorded a live take of one of their own tracks as well as a cover song at Spotify Studios NYC.
For their own song, TWOD delivered Holding On, the lead single off their forthcomingA Deeper Understanding. The bands choice of cover was Warren Zevons ballad Accidentally Like a Martyr. While remaining largely faithful to the original, TWODs unmistakably psychedelic take on heartland sounds amplifies the guitar bends throughout. Take a listen:
(Read:Top 50 Albums of1987)
A Deeper Understanding is due out August 25th, and The War on Drugs will tour behind it throughout the fall. Their updated itinerary is ahead.
The War on Drugs 2017 Tour Dates:09/18 Portland, ME @ State Theatre 09/19 New York, NY @ Terminal 5 09/21 Philadelphia, PA @ Dell Music Center 09/22 New York, NY @ SummerStage in Central Park 09/23 Boston, MA @ Blue Hills Bank Pavilion 09/25 Charlotte, NC @ The Fillmore Charlotte 09/26 Atlanta, GA @ The Tabernacle 09/28 Dallas, TX @ The Bomb Factory 09/29 Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall (Outside Lawn) 09/30 Austin, TX @ Stubbs Waller Creek Amphitheater 10/05 Los Angeles, CA @ Greek Theatre 10/06 Berkeley, CA @ Greek Theatre 10/09 Seattle, WA @ Moore Theatre 10/10 Seattle, WA @ Moore Theatre 10/11 Portland, OR @ Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall 10/13 Salt Lake City, UT @ The Complex 10/14 Denver, CO @ Ogden Theatre 10/15 Denver, CO @ Ogden Theatre 10/18 St. Paul, MN @ Palace Theatre 10/19 Chicago, IL @ Riviera Theatre 10/20 Columbus, OH @ Express Live! 10/21 Toronto, ON @ Massey Hall 10/22 Toronto, ON @ Massey Hall 10/23 Washington, DC @ The Anthem 11/02 Amsterdam, NL @ AFAS Live 11/03 Cologne, DE @ E-Werk 11/04 Brussels, BE @ Forest National 11/06 Paris, FR @ Bataclan 11/07 Lille, FR @ lAronef 11/09 Glasgow, UK @ Barrowlands 11/10 Glasgow, UK @ Barrowlands 11/12 Manchester, UK @ O2 Apollo Manchester 11/13 Manchester, UK @ O2 Apollo Manchester 11/14 London, UK @ Alexandra Palace 11/15 Portsmouth, UK @ Portsmouth Guildhall 11/17 Zurich, CH @ X-tra 11/18 Milan, IT @ Fabrique 11/20 Mnchen, DE @ Muffathalle 11/21 Hamburg, DE @ Groe Freiheit 36 11/22 Berlin, DE @ Tempodrom 11/24 Oslo, NO @ Spektrum 11/25 Copenhagen, DK @ Tap 1 11/26 Copenhagen, DK @ Tap 1 11/27 Stockholm, SE @ Annexet 11/29 Antwerp, BE @ Lotto Arena
David Bowie defended Lou Reeds Metallica collaboration, Lulu, according to LCD Soundsystems JamesMurphy
Scientists have named a prehistoric crocodile after LemmyKilmister
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Posted: August 8, 2017 at 4:39 am
Its been three years since Philadelphia-based rock act the War on Drugs released their breakthrough album, Lost in the Dream, though singer, guitarist and songwriter Adam Granduciel has hardly been dormant in the ensuing period.
We finished touring on that record in October 2015, he says, and by December I was pretty much moved into my new studio in Los Angeles and starting to write heavily again. All in all it was about two-and-a-half years of writing and about a year-and-a-half of actively recording.
The result is the new A Deeper Understanding, the War on Drugs fourth full length and perhaps their most fully realized effort yet.
Over the course of their first three albums, Granduciel and the bandwhich consists of a somewhat loose configuration of musicians, and in its earliest days included fellow Philadelphian Kurt Vile in a co-writing and co-guitar positionstaked out a distinct corner of the modern music world with an approach that was definitively guitar-centric and classic-rock based but also bolstered by pulsating keyboards and synths, metronomic drums and impressionistic, plainspoken vocals, all of it blending into a swirling, atmospheric miasma of sound to produce a sort of ambient Americana.
On A Deeper Understanding, the songs are even more open and expansive (see the 11-minute centerpiece, Thinking of a Place), with Granduciel leaving plenty of space to unspool the type of sprawling, and sometimes squalling, exploratory guitar solos that have become his trademark.
As for where his guitar influences sit, Granduciel says, Its guys like Neil Young, Jeff Tweedy, and even someone like Sonny Sharrock, who had these really wild, dark tones. Players that are real free.
Despite the somewhat improvisatory nature of his playing, Granduciels songs usually dont stem from jams. Rather, he tends to compose on his own and bring in additional musicians later in the process. I kinda just write, and I use the instruments and the colors I like to use, whether its drum machines, guitars, whatever, he says. For certain material, the process of being alone, you end up with stuff youre not gonna get with six people in the room. So I just chip away at the songs.
That said, with A Deeper Understanding, he adds, I also wanted to make a record that feels like what it feels like to be in the room when were playing. I wanted something a little bit more powerful, sonically, than other records we had made. And I think we got there.
AXOLOGYGUITARS 1972 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe, Gretsch White Falcon, Fender Jazzmaster reissue, 1964 Fender Jaguar, 1966 Gibson SG Standard, 1980s Squier Stratocaster AMPS 1965 Fender Super Reverb, Gibson GA-8 Gibsonette, Gretsch, Fender Vibro Champ drip edge, Fender Princeton, Fender Bassman blackface, Hiwatt, Marshall Specialist EFFECTS Jesse Trbovich custom fuzz pedal, JHS Bun Runner, Electro-Harmonix Memory Man, Roland Chorus Echo, Strymon Flint tremolo and reverb, MXR Custom Audio Electronics Boost/Line Driver, JHS Colour Box, Moog Moogerfooger Cluster Flux, Electro-Harmonix Electric Mistress
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