“In Rolling Waves” Review

The Naked & Famous is one of my favorite bands…but I waited over a month until I finally decided to give “In Rolling Waves” a listen. “Passive Me, Aggressive You” was one of my favorite albums in the past few years. I could listen to it all the way through and absolutely loved every song. Maybe I wanted to hold on to it for as long as possible in fear that I was going to be let down by the new album. But I finally sucked it up and said “You guys, even if I don’t like your new direction and may come out of this disappointed, I’ll still always love you.” And TNAF, I’m sorry that I ever doubted you.

“In Rolling Waves” is every thing I could have hoped for. The sophomore release is definitely more polished than its predecessor but still has the edge that TNAF are known for. The album is catchy, fun, and will get you on your feet. You can tell that the band has matured and is experimenting with a more serious tone, in their sound and in their lyrics. Maybe even their choice of album artwork as well.

Some stand out tracks on the album include “The Mess”, with it’s fuzzy guitar and synths, “I Kill Giants”, with its abundance of emotion, and “A Stillness”, with it’s toe-tapping catchiness.

You can get the album now on iTunes…and I probably would if I were you.

Champagne, France: Day 2

i’ve come to realize that this week is going to be alot of i dont know what im saying, what im doing, or what im eating and i’m going to start off by saying that the french “kissing on the cheek hello thing” is really causing me unneeded stress. like what if i do it to a attractive guy my age? does he think im hitting on him? even worse, does grandma think im hitting on her? what about an 8 year old child? do they think im a pervert? do they do it every time they say hello and goodbye? am i overdoing it, am i rude if i don’t? am i supposed to initiate it? what if we both go the same way and i sneak in some on the lips action? see! and all this is going through my head, and then i just look extra awkward and uncomfortable and it is just no fun for anyone.

also today was my first day working in the vineyards harvesting grapes. i work with gypsies, and they have the same fashion sense i had when i was an angsty high schooler. they seem like nice people though.

i’ve also accidentally said that i like diet coke, beets, and pate. all of which i do not, and they keep popping up in family meals now.  i also think i’ve said i’m 20 and have like 30 siblings. (if you hadn’t guessed, i dont speak french. but im attempting to and just move my hands around alot.)

but they do have some traditions here that i may have to instill in my daily life. like during the harvest, they take a break at 9 am and then drink champagne. and then again at lunch…and then again at another break…and then again when they are finished working for the day. i’m not in college anymore (i dont want to talk about it) but this country is reinforcing that its okay to drink like i am well into adulthood.

Match-A-Thon Brings Pets and Owners Together.

At the ASPCA’s Match-A-Thon, many people are finding out that dogs really are man’s best friend.

The Rockingham County SPCA was awarded a grant from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which allowed them to put on this event. This year, the Rockingham County SPCA partnered up with Augusta Regional SPCA and Augusta Dog Adoption. The grant allowed them to have reduced adoption rates of $25.

Visitors were greeted by dogs like Tigger, a brindle/greyhound mix from Augusta Dog Adoption. There were about 20 to 30 dogs milling around and three small black and brown puppies snoozing in their crates.

At the event, 55 animals in total were adopted between the three groups.

Staff were particularly pleased when animals who had been at the shelter for a long time were adopted. One was a cat named Paw McGraw.

“He had been with us since October last year,” Anderson said. “He basically grew up here.”

The other one was a redtick coonhound/tree walker coonhound mix named Frank.

“He had been there the longest,” Watson said. “We were very happy he got a good home. We all just love him.”

According to Watson, Frank’s new owner said that he is doing great and describes him as a “gentle giant”. His new owner, who was a vendor at the Home and Garden Show, had lost his dog a few years ago and had been looking for a dog that he had a real connection with. The vendor saw Frank that Friday night at the event and just couldn’t stop thinking about him. The next morning, he was there at 10 a.m. to fill out the application to adopt Frank and got to take him home that Sunday.

Anderson agrees that it was good to see Frank finally get a home.

“He strutted his stuff and captured the heart of a vendor,” she said. “It’s neat when animals that have been overlooked get the attention they deserve.”

Anywhere someone looked, dogs of every color and size were making friends with visitors.

“In general it was fun seeing the animals interact with anyone there and with each other,” Vogel said. “But finally seeing them walk away with a new family to a loving home was really rewarding.”

The theme of the event was PetHarmony, similar to the website eHarmony. Prospective owners could fill out a form with questions based on their personalities and what they would like in the personality of their new pet.

The Match-A-Thon was held at the JMU Convocation Center on March 30, 31, and April 1. Adoptable dogs were located in the parking lot and the cars were inside the center.

Prospective owners have to do more than just fill out a survey.

“We put all the animals through an assessment and come up with a personality, such as life of the party or couch potato,” adoption facilitator of the Rockingham County SPCA Misty Watson said. ”Then if someone is more low-energy, we match them with the couch potato. It’s based on personality and lifestyle.”

Executive director Anne Anderson said that the survey is one component. They must talk to potential owners about their needs and wants and see if an animal meets their expectations and needs. The survey is a fun way to start that dialogue.

If an adopter was looking for a cat, some questions that were included said:

  1. “I would consider my household to be like:”.
  2. “I want my cat to interact with guests that come to my house.”
  3. “I want my cat to play with toys.”

But if an adopter was looking for a dog, some questions said:

  1. “When I’m at home, I want my dog to be by my side”
  2. “I want a guard dog.”
  3. “The last time I had a dog was:”

The adopter then could choose from the multiple-choice answers that best described what they wanted in an animal. The survey allowed the staff to see what animal would work best for the adopter.

A group of students from the class, Organization Communication, helped with the planning of the event. Communication studies professor, Janell Bauer, said the class focuses on a service-learning project and develops students into students who give back and enact the JMU ethic. A group of students put the SPCA as their first choice to work with for the semester-long project.

Students said that it was great getting to work with Watson and Anderson for this event and that they both were really committed to what they do.

“Just by listening to Misty and Anne talk about what they do you can tell how much they care about the animals and the goals of the SPCA,” Junior media arts & design and communication studies double major Hannah Vogel said. “They dedicate a lot of their time and put sincere, genuine effort into everything.”

The group created a special Facebook page, made posters, and passed out fliers on and off campus. They were also in charge of collecting donations from companies and individuals.

The three adoption group’s three white tents were situated in the middle of multiple vendors selling various home and garden accessories.

There were also children’s activities like face painting and coloring. There was also an educational booth, which showed basic responsible pet ownership education. And anyone who adopted a pet could enter a raffle to win free various dog and cat items.

Finding the best homes for the animals is the ultimate goal of the event.

“The good thing is that it reminds people we are here and have wonderful pets for adoption,” Anderson said. “So when they are ready they know where to come.”

JMU Goes International.

Alex Nørby, 21, was walking home with a bottle of wine when she was stopped by a policeman who asked to see her license and then wouldn’t let her leave.

The sophomore international affairs major, from Norrkoping, Sweden, was carrying her Swedish license, which the policeman believed was a fake. The situation was resolved, but now she must carry her international visa with her for extra proof.

Nørby is one of about 320 international students at James Madison University, and this was one of the culture clash moments they sometimes experience.

Certain things in U.S. culture can be very confusing.

“The whole idea of saying, ‘Hey, how are you?’ when you meet someone is foreign,” said Thomas Lavenir, assistant director of the Office of International Students and Scholar Services. “It’s not necessarily a question you need an answer for. Some people are caught by that.”

English does not seem to be the biggest worry for many of the international students. Sophomore psychology major Kathrine Storm is from Oslo, Norway. Storm started learning English in elementary school and said it did not get serious until eighth grade, when they actually had to start putting sentences together. But sometimes, back home, she finds other ways to perfect her English.

“In Norway, we hear a lot of English, because we get all the shows from [the States],” Storm said. “Like ‘Friends,’ ‘Two and a Half Men,’ ‘Grey’s [Anatomy],’ ‘Oprah,’ and ‘Ellen DeGeneres.’ But we don’t dub them, we just put subtitles on it.”

The countries most represented at JMU are China, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and India. Many of the students are business or computer science majors.

“JMU is a nice place to be an international student,” Storm said. “Tech or UVA didn’t even respond, and then the other school only sent me a link. Then JMU sent me so much information … and they replied immediately.”

Lavenir came to JMU in 2004. At that time, Lavenir said, there were only about 25 international students.

The ISSS reaches out to students while they are still in their home countries in order to provide advice on things such as what to pack and class registration. The students then come a week earlier than other students and the ISSS sets up bonding activities such as volleyball and barbecues to help the students relax and get adjusted.

Freshman business major Nikola Wessels is from Münster, in West Germany, near the Netherlands. Wessels said schools in Germany are different from schools in the States: The breaks are shorter, the amount of time in school is different, and the classes are much larger.

“We don’t have general education classes,” Wessels said. “You finish high school and go right into your major … My major would take three years for bachelor’s and then two for master’s.”

Many international students decide to come to JMU because of the highly ranked business school and the education they would receive in general.

“U.S. has the greatest education,” said freshman business major Lingling Xu from South China. “A lot of people choose Canada or Australia, but I think U.S. is the best choice.”

Some international students chose the school for sports as well. Wessels came to JMU after being recruited by the women’s golf coach, Paul Gooden. She was contacted by other schools, such as Arizona State University and Towson, but still chose JMU.

“The coach here, when I talked to him, I could tell he was really proud of the university and the golf team,” Wessels said. “I looked at the business school and it’s really, really good, so that influenced my decision as well. But it was mostly because of the golf team.”

Gooden has found no real barriers while working with international students and praises their work ethic.

“They’re really devoted and that’s part of their culture,” Gooden said. “Their parents and themselves […] put in the time and effort to achieve high goals.”

American football is foreign to most international students, and so are other aspects of our sports culture.

“I like the games a lot,” Storm said.  “It’s a very American thing, the whole spirit thing and dressing in the school colors. I work at a summer camp in England, and everyone thought it was so weird that I was ‘repping’ my own school and would wear JMU shirts. They don’t do that there. It’s mostly a tourist thing.”

For some, the most enticing aspect of studying in the States is the degree.

“If you apply yourself in college here, the possibilities are endless,” Nørby said. “It opens a lot of doors. When I go home to Sweden, I’ll have a degree from here and that’s priceless.”

Many do not plan on staying in the States after they graduate, but hope to use all that they have learned here to help them back home.

“I have never regretted my decision to come here,” Nørby said. “It’s good coming here, because you see the value of your own country.”

Sister, Sister: Folk Duo Comes to JMU.

When Rebecca Lovell was around 13, some friends of hers took her to an all day blue grass festival. Her views on music were changed from that day on.

“We took to it like fish to water. We loved it,” said Rebecca. “Just the idea of being able to improvise and write your own music was really appealing to us after having been in classical, where you read sheet music and you don’t write your own songs.”

Megan and Rebecca Lovell are collectively known now as Larkin Poe, which was the name of their great grandfather. The sisters started out playing classical violin and piano when they were around four or five years old, but quickly evolved and started writing their own music. Music has always been important in their lives.

“There is never an instance in life when music wouldn’t be appropriate,” Rebecca said. “Like a baby is born, there’s some song you could play that would be appropriate. Someone’s dying and you could play a mournful song. There’s never a time in which music is not the social conduit between every person in the world and every experience.”

They classify themselves as “folk-rock”, but they like to shake it up from time to time. Rebecca and Megan are influenced by every kind of music, including RnB, Blues, Jazz, and even some guilty pleasures like Katy Perry. Their different sound is what made them stand out for the University Program Board.

“Spotlight has gotten a reputation for mostly feature solo male artists,” UPB member, Sarah Pogue, said. “Larkin Poe stood out as a strong country candidate for us and we wanted to mix it up.”

Places, quotes, and different things that people say are some of the things that inspire Larkin Poe’s songs.

“I enjoy people watching for that reason, you learn a lot about human interaction,” Megan said. “That’s what I like to write.”

Rebecca agrees that human interaction is a big inspiration for what they write and play.

“There are always stories walking around,” Rebecca said. “Like when you don’t know someone, and you watch them for a while, you can build a background story for them.”

Larkin Poe has only been a band for about a year, but they have already released 4 EPs (Summer, Winter, Fall, and Spring) and are preparing to release their first full length album soon.

“It’s felt good to set goals and reach those goals,” Megan said. “But you have to keep moving forward or you’ll stay stagnant.”

Being in a touring band, constantly keeps the sisters on the road. Megan thinks the hardest part about being on the road is being in a different place every night and being away from the ones she loves. But Rebecca thinks they could be viewed as pros as well. They get to see different places, which is interesting and she believes “distance makes the heart grow fonder”.  They cherish the time they get to spend with the ones they love.

Rebecca thinks that the hardest part about being a musician is having a game plan for themselves and charting their own courses.

“For me, it’s not the travelling and everything that is hard. It’s just knowing what to do sometimes,” Rebecca said. “Like when you’re in school or following a more traditional career path, everything is laid out. Whereas in what we’re doing, we don’t have someone giving us tasks daily.”

Playing music has definitely opened up opportunities for the Lovell sisters that they wouldn’t normally experience.

One time while on tour, they flew into Norway to get to the Stuart Festival, which they were playing at. They took a World War II era sailing ship called the Christian Raddick. They got to be part of the crew for two days, sailing from Oslo to Stuart. Megan said they got to set sails and everything a normal crewmember would do, which was pretty exhilarating.

“Collaborating with Elvis Costello was pretty surreal too,” Rebecca said. “We got to work with him and we’re going on tour again with him this fall, which is really exciting.”

The Lovell sisters don’t have a set path for the future. They are simply enjoying traveling and playing the music they love.

“Just to be a sustainable touring act would be the pinnacle of my existence,” said Rebecca.