20 Watts

20 Watts Reviews Jimi Hendrix’s Valleys of Neptune

Jimi Hendrix's 11th posthumous release maintains his legendary status

PREVIEW: Jimi Hendrix’s Website
WE GIVE IT: 15/20 Watts

There is not much to say about Jimi Hendrix that has not already been stressed for decades. Best guitarist of all time? Possibly. Ground-breaking innovator in the rock genre? Absolutely. And in 2010, that legacy is far from forgotten with his eleventh posthumous release, Valleys of Neptune.

All of the songs on Valleys of Neptune were recorded at the tail end of the 1960’s (right before his death) and clearly illustrate the transition of rock ‘n’ roll from a more psychedelic sound to the harder, funkier one employed throughout the 1970s. The studio precision and sound quality are tremendous. This twelve-song release contains a collection of tracks that mostly qualify as funky. The southpaw’s guitar on an instrumental cover of Cream’s “Sunshine on Your Love” definitely does Eric Clapton justice, and the minute and a half intro on “Lover Man” is a bit astounding. “Lullaby for Summer” contains the usual excellent guitar work with truly lively drum rhythms. “Ships Passing Through the Night” is quintessentially Hendrix, as it is the style that most of his mainstream fans know and love. The album’s strongest track is “Valleys of Neptune,” with Hendrix’s emotional voice luring the listener into his introspective lyrics. Continue reading

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20 Watt’s Reviews DJ Khaled’s Victory


DJ Khaled's act is getting stale, and Victory doesn't help matters

PREVIEW: VISIT DJ Khaled’s MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 11/20 Watts

Who exactly is DJ Khaled? It’s a question that perceptive music fans have wrestled with since his mainstream debut back in 2006. Khaled is not a DJ in the traditional sense of the word, he is not a producer and he is definitely not a rapper. His role on his fourth effort, Victory, is essentially the same as it has been for his previous albums. He simply screams and shouts over the various tracks. For the casual listener not familiar with hip-hop, Victory will surely not rest nicely on the ears– with music made for car subwoofers, rather than cocktail parties.

Khaled sticks to the same formula he has since 2006, compiling a diverse group of rappers over a multitude of instrumentals. The Runners, who have been working with Khaled for quite some time, handle most of the tracks, including lead single “Fed Up.” Their production technique defines the sound of Victory with stuttering southern drums and sharp synthesizers. “Fed Up” features relatively weak verses from Young Jeezy and Rick Ross, and some lines from Drake that fail to really fit the style of the song. Usher’s street-preaching chorus is also a bit laughable considering the relative comfort level of his career. Continue reading

20 Watts Reviews Young Money’s Year 2K9

Young Money release an effective greatest hits album

PREVIEW: DOWNLOAD Drake’s “Ransom” (Feat. Lil Wayne) MP3
WE  GIVE IT: 15/20 Watts

2009 has surely been a definitive year for Young Money Entertainment. With collaborative single “Every Girl” and Drake’s “Best I Ever Had” charting at #10 and #2 respectively, and a slew of albums on the horizon, the label is enjoying the success of pop stardom. Led by Lil’ Wayne, Young Money is a crew consisting of rappers and singers signed to his imprint. Young Money Year 2k9 is a sort of like a greatest hits (a large portion of this album is available on previously released mixtapes), showcasing the successful mixtape songs, freestyles, and singles of 2009.

The main characters of the album are the label’s two megastars, Lil’ Wayne and Drake. They collaborate and completely rip apart “Ransom” with multisyllabic flows and crisp punch lines, while being a little more fun and laid back on “Man of the Year.” The original version of “Forever” is also featured, though it severely lacks a monster verse from Eminem, as seen on the version cut for More Than a Game. “Every Girl” shows up too, catchy as ever, even after months of radio rotation. Continue reading

20 Watts Reviews Lou Barlow’s Goodnight Unknown
Goodnight Unknown

Goodnight Unknown

PREVIEW: DOWNLOAD Lou Barlow’s “The Right” MP3
WE GIVE IT: 15/20 Watts

Lou Barlow‘s new album, Goodnight Unknown, serves as an alternative-folk fusion record with an intriguing and mellow sound. With a calming, yet captivating voice similar to that of Trent Reznor, Barlow lays the groundwork for a creative and varied album with a handful of different style tracks. His first album in four years, and second for Merge Records, it appears that he’s learned a bit in the time off between releases.

Sonically, this album varies greatly, and is very well produced and mixed. “Faith in Your Heartbeat” is a somber track that provides a steady guitar progression, accompanied by Barlow’s solemn vocals. Continue reading

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