"Mr. McKeever, a lawyer and part-time youth minister at Seventh and James Baptist Churchin Waco, had prepared for worse when he committed to wearing the jumpsuit for Lent. After years of providing both spiritual and legal assistance to the poor and formerly incarcerated, it was time to do something more visible to call attention to the nation’s prison crisis, and to the obstacles inmates face on returning to society. But 40 days is a long time to dress like a convict, especially in Texas. “A couple different people said, ‘I hope you don’t get shot!’ ” …
Mr. McKeever, who grew up three hours west in Abilene, has worn prisoner’s clothes while delivering sermons, shopping for groceries, strolling the San Antonio River Walk and taking his daughter to the movies. He has kept a blog reflecting on his experiences (Day 6: “Stares, questioning glances, avoidance”) and on the politics of mass incarceration.
Engaging with those politics is the essence of his Christianity. “We follow a condemned criminal!” he said. “That’s very much at the heart of our faith. So I try to bring that in.” …
Among other efforts, he has pushed employers to stop asking about a job applicant’s criminal history — an effort known elsewhere as “Ban the Box.” But as a native Texan, he’s sensitive to tone. “I call it a fair-chance hiring policy,” he says. “It’d be hard even in a conservative place not to get behind something called a fair chance.”
For the past two years we’ve shared the awesome Easter Egg Trees created by German pensioner Volker Kraft and family in Saalfeld, Germany. In keeping with the tradition he started back in 1965, this year’s tree is the most splendid yet, featuring the family’s ever-growing collection of beautifully hand-painted blown eggs, which now numbers 10,000 . That many eggs means that, depending on the weather, the family begins hanging them up between late February and late March. The spectacular tree attracts thousands of visitors each year, some of whom bring their own hand-decorate eggs to donate to the collection. After Easter the eggs are carefully removed, before the leaves grow on the tree, and then stored in cartons for next year.
The opening track on Cloudland Canyon’s debut full-length is titled “Krautwerk”—a three-way reference to Kraftwerk, the song “Krautrock” that opens Faust IV, and the krautrock genre as a whole. And then there is the song itself, which actually sounds most like La Dusseldorf, Klaus Dinger’s post-Neu! outfit. Coming off Cloudland’s Silver Tongued Sisyphus EP (KRANK 111), which was shaded by hints of Popol Vuh, Tangerine Dream, and Harmonia, you start to get the idea.
Or do you? It’s true there’s something inextricably vintage about Cloudland Canyon’s sound, but the krautrock derivations dissipate fairly quickly—or, at least, they blend with other influences that dilute any one obvious reference point. The duo of Simon Wojan and Kip Ulhorn call two nations home—Wojan from Germany, Ulhorn from the U.S.—and it shows. Strains of American psychedelia (everything from 13th Floor Elevators to Flaming Lips) factor into their sound as well.
As Lie in Light gets going it manifests as a swirl of drone-rock. There’s a thickness to these songs, a palpable fog. “White Woman” and the title track are beatless squalls; album highlight “You & I” is built out of a dense, heaving groove. The album threads long instrumental passages with melodic vocals that somehow feel anthemic and dissolved at the same time. By the time the album ends the game of “spot the influences” has totally evaporated. Somehow Cloudland Canyon manage to throw it all into a stew that is, ultimately, fulfilling all on its own.