20 Watts

20 Watts Reviews Caribou’s Swim
April 20, 2010, 10:00 am
Filed under: Releases of the Week, Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

20 Watts Reviews Caribou's Swim

PREVIEW: VISIT Caribou’s MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 15/20 Watts

Daniel Victor Snaith’s ninth release as Caribou is an unpredictable synthesis of electronic and tribal sounds. Although Swim is a short album of just nine songs, the long tracks contain stories of Caribou’s struggle with divorce, old age and loneliness. While the lyrics are vague, they offer an in-depth look at Snaith’s creative process. The use of unexpected instruments complements the mix.

Swim shows that Snaith completely defies any musical self-restraint he may have had in the past. The album starts off with “Odessa,” a funky yet mystical calamity of soft lyrics that describe a strong, independent “alpha woman.” The track combines a jungle sound with an electronic breakdown, setting a precedent for the unusual style combinations that last for Swim’s entire duration. The album shows off more curious rhythmic tendencies on  “Bowls,” with a tune  reminiscent of African tribal music. Tibetan singing bowls and a prominent bass line fortify the track’s sound.

“Hannibal” is perhaps the strongest example of the metamorphosis Caribou has chosen to undergo on Swim. Where the track starts off with a sense of joy unbecoming to the titular serial killer, its ending bears a moodily sonic resemblance to the Peter and the Wolf recessional. “Hannibal” is an erratic battle between a cheery melody and an abrasive symphony that is Odyssean in its nature. The contrast suggests that Snaith may still be torn between his musical identities.

Swim ends with Caribou questioning his purpose on earth with “Jamelia,” a track that features Luke Lalonde of Born Ruffians. While the latter end of the Snaith’s latest album seems like musical chaos, Swim has a greater sense of coherence than Caribou’s last two albums—Andorra and Up in Flames. This album shows Snaith’s skill in transcending his formerly boisterous style, exploring moods and tones for other seasons besides Spring.

-Dana Rose Falcone

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January 29, 2010, 12:24 am
Filed under: Editor Picks | Tags: , , ,

PREVIEW: VISIT Sara Bareilles’ MySpace

Since the show premiered on MTV this past December, Jersey Shore has basically taken over the world. Everywhere you turn the show’s best one-liners are being quoted, parodies are being watched and fist-pumps are being thrown. The show is obviously hysterical, but when respected singers such as Sara Bareilles start writing songs about the the guido cast, you know that America has officially gone off the deep end. Check out her song dedicated to the cast above and show it to your friends–it’ll give you guys one more thing to laugh about before the Shore’s 15 minutes of fame are up.

–Dana Mikaelian,Communications Director



As we all know, music is probably the most awesome thing created…ever. And now-a-days, most singles have an awesome music video to go with them.  I’ve watched a lot of music videos in my day, but none of them have been as epic as Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros’ 12-part music-video series,  SALVO!

The L.A.-based band–lead by Alex Ebert, vocalist of power-pop group Ima Robot–has acquired quite an eccentric reputation since the release of their first full-length album, Up From Below, this summer. It’s no surprise that they’ve taken on such a wild project that hasn’t been seen since R. Kelly’s “Trapped in the Closet” series. But I assure you, Edward Sharpe’s videos are actually good–better yet, they’re pretty f-ing amazing.

The band, which has been described as alternative-experimental-psychedelic folk-indie-rock (phew), has released two out of the twelve music videos so far. Not only are the songs great, but the cinematography is absolutely beautiful. The imagery is so eerie and moving that it may as well be a mini film-series.

I could go on and on explaining how great I think these videos are, but it would be a lot easier to just let you watch them and see for yourself. So kick back and watch the first installment, “Desert Song,” above, and keep a look out for the rest of the series over the next few months!

Psst…want to see the second video now? Lucky for you, it’s right here: “Kisses Over Babylon.”

–Dana Mikaelian, Communications Director

20 Watts’ Best of 2009: #6 Passion Pit’s Manners
Passion Pit’s Manners is #6 on our Best of 2009 list

PREVIEW: LISTEN to Passion Pit on their MySpace
TOP TRACK: “Sleepyhead
Music-wise, 2009 could easily be deemed “the year of the synthesizer.” Countless artists have somehow incorporated the music machine into their tracks, from Lil Wayne and Kanye West — whose recent singles sound like T-pain’s spawn — to electro-pop bands like Phoenix, MGMT and, of course, Passion Pit.
Passion Pit’s highly anticipated debut album, Manners, was released in May 2009, a year after their EP Chunk of Change created a ton of buzz in the indie music scene. The album’s first single, “The Reeling,” peaked at number 29 on the Billboard charts in October. It’s easy to see why, since the song encompasses what Passion Pit is all about. The European-esque electronic background music has a hint of ‘80s pop mixed in, that when combined with lead singer Michael Angelakos’ falsetto and a chorus that won’t get out of your head, it’s hard for people to ignore the band.
The rest of Manners will not disappoint, since most of the tracks have the same fun, electro-pop sound as “The Reeling.” Tracks like “Make Light” and “Little Secrets” are dance favorites. The best thing about the album is that every track is fun and refreshing. It managed to escape the trend of many new artists who have one good song, and then fail to release anything like their debut single.
There are also a few more laid-back songs on the album, such as personal favorite, “Eyes As Candles.” If you’re one of those people who like ballads, “Moth’s Wings” and “Swimming in the Flood” could constitute for a slower vibe- although they definitely have a little more zing that the normal, self-pitying ballad.
It would’ve been smart for Passion Pit to put one of these songs last on their album, so listeners could catch their breath from how hyped this CD makes you. But I have a little inkling that most people don’t mind going a little crazy to some good music. If you’re one of those people who like to listen to new tunes to prepare for a night of mayhem, pop in Passion Pit’s Manners. I guarantee a good night will follow.
— Dana Mikaelian


"Da Da Da" is a song off Lil Wayne's album Rebirth

PREVIEW: DOWNLOAD “Da Da Da” by Lil Wayne

If you’re worried about not getting enough Weezy before he heads to prison, the Internet is leaking enough of his music to hold you over. Just over a month ago, Lil Wayne’s No Ceilings mixtape was released days before it was intended to, and now, exactly two weeks before his latest CD Rebirth’s December 21st release date, a track off the album entitled “Da Da Da” was leaked.

While I’d like to know whether Weezy’s music is really being leaked or if it’s a sneaky marketing ploy, what I’d like to know even more is what he was thinking when he recorded this track. For those of you who don’t know, Rebirth is filled with tracks that are overly synthesized with guitar riffs that pale in comparison to Jay-Z’s99 Problems.” I hate bashing on Lil Wayne, but when he raps about doing the “funky monkey,” I have to wonder if he was tripping on codeine when he wrote these lyrics.

However, around the two-minute mark Weezy raps a verse that could potentially save the song, and the rapper’s reputation. This thirty-second blurb features the clever similes and catchy beats Lil Wayne is best known for and will probably hook people enough to make the song another hit. It will be interesting to see how people react to the song overall, however. I have a feeling if this was a single released by a new artist people wouldn’t give it the time of day, but since it’s Lil Wayne, I wouldn’t be surprised if rap fans cut him a lot of slack. The only way to decide for yourself is to preview “Da Da Da” and figure out if you’ll be happy listening to this song- and the rest of Rebirth– on repeat for a year until Weezy is no longer a jail-bird.

–Dana Mikaelian, Communications Director


You haven't truly experienced a rock concert until you've crowd surfed

PREVIEW: VISIT Panic! At The Disco’s Myspace

During my adolescent years I–embarrassingly–was one of those girls who loved every band Pete Wentz signed to his emo-pop record label, Fueled By Ramen. My particular favorite was Panic! At the Disco– and I must admit, I still have a soft spot for the band. Anyway, when my best friends Nicole, Gen and I heard Panic! were coming to Tsongas Arena in Massachusetts, we had a mild heart attack. We were too young to drive, and they weren’t touring any closer to our hometown in Rhode Island, so we begged our parents to take us to the concert. After weeks of non-stop harassment, Nicole’s parents got one of their family friends to take us to the show. To say that we were excited was an understatement.

The day of the concert we left around 11 a.m. so we would get to the venue by 12:30. You see, the tickets were general admission, so we wanted to get there early and wait in line so we’d be assured awesome seats. Being the good students we were, we brought homework and sat outside for almost 5 hours before the doors open–that doesn’t count the half-hour it took to actually get inside. But the waiting paid off: we were about five people away from the barricade.

Before the concert started the audience was sitting on the ground, waiting patiently for the opening act Plain White T’s. Eventually the lights went off, signaling the beginning of the concert; it was pandemonium in the crowd. The second Plain White T’s stepped foot on the stage, everybody rushed towards the barricade. We were pushed so close together I felt like the crowd was one giant person. When the music started, people began jumping around like madmen, soon creating a full-fledged mosh pit (Yeah, I don’t think Plain White T’s is exactly a “moshing band” either). Continue reading


PREVIEW: LISTEN to Free People’s “Wintry Mix”

Well, we almost made it through an entire semester with no snow, but according to this week’s weather forecast, that dream will soon become a distant memory. I don’t know about you, but Syracuse’s constant gray skies and inches of snow blowing in my face sort of put a damper on my day. If you’re the same way, pop in your headphones and listen to Free People’s “Wintry Mix” playlist. The 15 winter-themed tracks will help you actually enjoy the mounds of snow, and make you feel as though you’re living in a winter wonderland– not a sub-zero ice box.

What’s best about the playlist is that it’s a truly eclectic mix of music. There’s classic rock, indie rock and even a bit of 90s and Bob Marley thrown in. And what’s even better than the array of artists? Free People made sure to put together songs that represented the winter season in general, as well as the holidays. So instead of going crazy listening to the same Christmas songs over and over again on the radio, listen to “Wintry Mix” on your way to class and enjoy the extreme weather that you’ll be experiencing until April.

–Dana Mikaelian, Communications Director