20 Watts

Editor’s Pick #303: Happy Birthday Pacman

PREVIEW: Watch The Go! Team’s video for “Junior Kickstart.”

Today, in 1980, the video game Pacman was released in the United States, and what a glorious day it was. So, what is everyone doing in celebration?

Google – famous for their celebratory “google doodles” – released the first ever interactive google doodle, which lets you play Pacman on the actual logo (and once you lose it takes you on a google search of Pacman’s anniversary).

Also, although “Junior Kickstart” was realeased in 2003, on The Go! Team‘s debut album- Thunder, Lightning, Strike – the video is nothing short of perfect for celebrating the glorious creation of the video game that not only became and icon of 1980s pop-culture, but also contributed for my irrational fear of colored ghost and my love of fruit.

So, happy birthday, Pacman. I hope it’s just as stressful for you as any other day in your maze.

— Isabel Alcantara, Photo Editor

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Movie Music: Catch and Release

The Catch and Release Soundtrack

After the popular phenomenon of the Garden State soundtrack, a whole series of movies with killer indie soundtracks began to pop up at the box office and Catch and Release is no different.

The film takes place in Boulder, Colorado, a haven for hippies and yuppies alike, in the shadow of the Rockies. A not-so-special story about soon-to-be newlywed, Gray (Jennifer Garner) who loses her fiancé in a not-quite-specific accident, Catch and Release explores the generic themes about dealing with loss and learning to move on.

Pick your head off of your desk and rub the sleep out of your eyes, because the soundtrack is entirely different  and  – I would say – the film’s sole redemption (aside from Kevin Smith, who is hilarious. All the time). Just like the city of Boulder, the collection of tracks is a combination of the older, more mature sounds of Paul Westerberg and Evan Dando, from the Lemonheads, and the newer sounds from the younger crowd like The Magic Numbers and Doves. Although Dave Grohl makes an appearance, it’s as the lead for the Foo Fighters and not the drummer of Nirvana. It’s like worlds colliding. Continue reading

Movie Music: Almost Famous

The Almost Famous Soundtrack

“This song explains why I have to leave home and become a stewardess,” is one of my favorite lines in all of Almost Famous. The quote referrs to Simon & Garfunkel’s “America,” and is spoken by Anita (Zooey Dechanel) who finds solace in music and teaches William (Patrick Fugit, and our protagonist) about the true essence of rock ‘n’ roll.

Cameron Crowe‘s semi-autobiographical story about William, a young reporter following Stillwater (the next hit band) on tour across America, is best served with a large stereo system hook-up. Since the film is about music it’s no surprise that the songs make up, at least, half of the movie’s appeal.

The compilation itself is a compendium of the classic rock staples, but it’s not – by any means – generic. Yes, the artists featured are The Who, Yes, Simon & Garfunkel, Rod Stewart and The Beach Boys (to name a few), but the songs are not the overplayed hits that plague the radio waves. Instead, each track sounds fresh and unexplored in an eclectic mix of 60s and 70s rock. Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” sounds personal and nostalgic when being sung by the all-star cast in the bus scene, Zeppelin fans will note that “That’s the Way” was the first Led Zeppelin song to be re-released on a soundtrack, and The Who’s “Sparks” (famously featured in Tommy) may actually be capable of showing you your future.

The mix has a cohesive mix of high energy tracks like “Sparks” and The Allman Brothers‘ “One Way Out,” with slow and soulful tracks like Cat Stevens‘ “The Wind” and Lynyrd Skynyrd‘s “Simple Man,” right along with the symphonic rock of Yes’ “I’ve Seen All Good People.” The one track of original score, “Lucky Trumble,” was composed by Nancy Wilson (of the band Heart and filmmaker, Crowe’s wife) and is a bright instrumental track that is featured discretely through the movie, and sounds comfortingly familiar even on the first listen.

The music is a crucial component this bizarre coming-of-age tale. Any classic rock fan can attest that few soundtracks actually manage to bring out the lesser known tracks of popular artists and make them work together in a woven tapestry of real rock and roll. The great mix of music, and the newfound nostalgia the movie embeds into the tracks are what make this classic rock soundtrack so appealing. Well that, and the drugs.

— Isabel Alcantara

Editor’s Pick #291: Uuuh, Lady Gaga? You’ve got cigarettes all over your sunglasses.

PREVIEW: Lady Gaga feat. Beyoncé in ‘Telephone’ – the newest installment in the Gaga-saga.

Telephone, the newest Lady Gaga video sensation featuring Beyoncé, has officially been banned from MTV (with claims of it being overly explicit) – with other networks soon to follow – but has received more than 14 million hits on YouTube since its release.

As Lady Gaga’s assault on the pop genre continues, more and more people seem surprised at the ridiculous outfits, the increasing explicit content of her videos and her general bat-shit-craziness. But seriously? What else could we expect from the Lady, who brought us the disturbing Bad Romance video and the spontaneous bleeding at the VMAs?

The video itself makes no sense (shocker). Alluding to Kill Bill with the infamous Pussy Wagon, and Thelma and Louise with the closing scene (not to mention the relentless Virgin Mobile product placement), this video is supposedly the sequel to the previously released Paparazzi video, but really it’s just a batch of crazy with a sprinkle of awesome.

Alright, a whole bucket of awesome.

— Isabel Alcantara, Photo Editor

Scene Around Town: The Ataris

The Ataris, The Weakness, Don't Panic, Stay Six and Road to Recovery played the Westcott last night!

PREVIEW: VISIT The AtarisRoad to RecoveryDon’t PanicStay Six and The Weakness on MySpace!

The crowd at The Westcott Theater Tuesday night was one that was constantly in flux. With The Ataris headlining and four bands preceding them, there was an ebb and flow to those in attendance; the constant being the two dozen or so fans who eagerly hugged the stage for the entire night, eagerly anticipating the headliners taking the stage. Opening act Road to Recovery performed the admirable feat of making the sparse crowd a little more lively, with their Taking Back Sunday-esque emo-punk sensibilities getting heads to nod and a promise of high fives to those who moved closer to the stage.

Stay Six, a four piece pop-punk band continued in a similar vein with each member, sans the drummer, rotating on vocals providing a brief but energetic set as the crowd began to fill out more. Continue reading

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Editor’s Pick #288: Road Trip? Anyone?
Get ready, get set, Sasquatch!

PREVIEW: VISIT Sasquatch’s Web site

I just realized that the thing I want most in the world (aside from a house with a pool filled with Jell-O [seriously]) is to go to SASQUATCH! (and no, I’m not just terribly excited, the name actually has an exclamation point).

Now, hold on, I know where this is going.

“No Isabel,” you’ll say, rolling your eyes. “Sasquatch is a terrifying forest-beast, not an event you attend.”

To which I say, you’re wrong. Sasquatch! is a music festival in Quincy, WA with tremendously impressive line-up for its three day run. A quick glance at the list of artists attending assured me that this is the festival to go to. To hell with tuition and fiscal responsibility. I want to go to the Memorial Weekend festival that’s hosting not only My Morning Jacket, Vampire Weekend, The National, Broken Social Scene, OK Go, and Minus the Bear, but also, WHY?, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Garfunkel and Oates, Massive Attack, Pavement, LCD Soundsystem, Tegan and Sara, Kid Cudi and Dirty Projectors.

[Pause to catch your breath and wipe the tears of joy from your face].

The xx, Girls, MGMT, She & Him, Passion Pit, The New Pornographers, Camera Obscura, The Temper Trap, Dr. Dog, and The Mountain Goats, among others.

Did I have to make that list so long and dramatic? Yes.

Are you packing the cooler and gassing up the car? You should be.

Check out the full list, to further your freak-out.

— Isabel Alcantara, Photo Editor

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The Silent League, The Growlers and Dr. Dog @ Westcott Theater (Photos, Review, Interview)

Justin Russo (foreground) and Shannon Fields of The Silent League supporting The Growlers and Dr. Dog. MORE photos below the cut!

PREVIEW: VISIT The Silent League, The Growlers and Dr. Dog on MySpace
EXCLUSIVE: READ an interview with The Silent League

A night of psychedelic indie rock drenched the Westcott last night with space-y chamber pop from The Silent League, floral blues-punk with a Southern drawl from The Growlers and straightforward, hook-heavy hard rock  from Dr. Dog. Idiosyncrasy and quirk came to mind throughout the show, whether the crowd was dancing to the groove-based rhythm from The Growlers, peering into the massive sunglasses of Dr. Dog’s guitarist or watching The Silent League members play multiple instruments at the same time.

Dr. Dog, the headlining act, played the simplest and tightest show, entertaining the crowd consistently and impressing the audience with nary a pause in between songs except to joke about their day off the next day. “What is there to do in this town? You guys got a zoo or something?” bassist Toby Leaman joked before commenting on  the weather. The band interspersed their set with newer songs — likely to appear on their upcoming album Shame, Shame (due out April 6, 2010) — and fan favorites. Continue reading