20 Watts

20 Watts Reviews Minus the Bear’s OMNI
May 4, 2010, 10:17 am
Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: , , ,

Minus the Bear's OMNI is a successful electronic experiment

PREVIEW: VISIT Minus the Bear’s MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 16/20 Watts

Minus the Bear have always been associated with experimentation. The electronic trysts of their past records are some of the various aspects that allowed them to stand out in the oh-so-crowded indie rock scene of the past decade. But now, as they return with their first record since 2007, the landscape surrounding them has changed dramatically. No longer the novelty they appeared as in 2002, the band seems threatened with being relegated to a status of white noise. Good thing that they refuse to be labeled as such.

OMNI, the band’s fourth album, is as adventurous a front as the band has ever presented. Rather than produce electronic-laced indie rock, we see a much different turn– rock-laced electronic experimentation. The change is apparent from the first few bars of opener “My Time,” setting the tone for an album full of moody, synth-heavy bouts with emotion. Yes, guitars are present, especially for solo work on tracks like “Secret Country” and “Hold Me Down.” But for the most part, the sprawling chords splay themselves out behind dreamy keyboards and surprising uses of Auto-Tune (see “Summer Angel”). Continue reading

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Editor’s Pick #299: PS22 Sings Beach House
April 12, 2010, 3:08 pm
Filed under: Editor Picks | Tags: , , , , ,

PS22 is impressive in covering "Zebra"

PREVIEW: VISIT PS22 Chorus’s Blog

Maybe the internet has removed some of the novelty of amateur cover songs, but nonetheless, this one’s worth a glance. Staten Island’s PS22 Chorus recently posted their rendition of Beach House‘s “Zebra” (off of 2010’s Teen Dream), and the results are stunning as the fifth graders manage to nearly equal the haunting beauty of the original. For kids who wouldn’t listen to Beach House otherwise, it’s no small feat.

Of course, this also isn’t the first time the chorus has tried its hand at indie music. In the past, their harmonies have also been used on Passion Pit‘s Manners (see “The Reeling,” “Little Secrets” and “Let Your Love Grow Tall”). Couple that with the mainstream hype they’ve received from covering the likes of Beyonce, Lady GaGa and Alicia Keys (among others), and it’s easy to understand how they’ve amassed over 15 million online views over the past couple of years.

Check out the video below the cut and see for yourself. Continue reading

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20 Watts Reviews Meth, Ghost & Rae’s Wu-Massacre

For a modest "fan album," Wu-Massacre packs quite a punch

PREVIEW: VISIT Meth, Ghost & Rae’s MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 16/20 Watts

Back together for the first time since 2007’s 8 Diagrams, Wu-Tang Clan‘s Method Man, Ghostface Killah and Raekwon haven’t lost a beat. Recording their self-proclaimed “fan album,” Meth, Ghost & Rae end up turning back the clock to gangsta rap’s 1990s heyday, as they sling smooth, yet violent rhymes over fresh backing tracks. Needless to say, the results could surprise the current rap game.

In today’s hip-hop scene, gangsta rap has mostly disappeared. There have been fleeting moments when its return seemed possible– mostly releases from Wu-Tang members (mainly these three) and various mixtapes (see either of Freddie Gibbs‘s 2009 efforts). But for the most part, that segment of the genre has given way to the more radio-oriented Kanye Wests and Lil’ Waynes of the world. As you may have guessed, Wu-Massacre meets none of these popular conceptions. Continue reading

Syracuse in Running for Victoria’s Secret Concert Event
March 24, 2010, 3:33 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

Syracuse could have a free concert next fall

For those who may be dissatisfied with concert selections during your time at Syracuse, perhaps this is a way to actively change that feeling.

Victoria’s Secret PINK is running an online voting competition throughout 59 different college campuses in the U.S. The winner gets a free Back to School Bash put on by the company. The event would include a concert, free PINK merch, celebrities and Victoria’s Secret models (so not a bad deal). While the musical artist for the event– which would take place next fall– has not yet been chosen, past performers have included Girl Talk, Cobra Starship and Fergie.

If you’re interested, and want to vote to help impact who wins, check out the contest at the PINK Nation website. You can vote once per day, but the first round ends THIS FRIDAY. If SU gets past the first round, it’ll continue to compete against other schools in a bracket-style format. The winner will be announced April 20.

-John Cassillo, Reviews Editor

20 Watts Reviews Woodhands’ Remorsecapade
March 23, 2010, 12:26 am
Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: ,

Remorsecapade just doesn't live up to the lofty expectations set by its cover art

PREVIEW: VISIT Woodhands’ MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 12/20 Watts

If nothing else, Woodhands‘ third full-length Remorsecapade has the best album art of 2010. Strangely though, the image of laser-wielding robots chasing after majestic-looking horses seems to fit the effort. Brash, intricate and fun, it’s the perfect tone setter for the collection of electro-pop.

From track to track, Remorsecapade functions as a wild, nearly involuntary ride. Every song starts off as a trip into a world filled with strobe lights and synths, and only lets up for the few seconds you get between each song to catch your breath before the next one starts. “I Should Have Gone With My Friends” probably packs the most punch in this regard. The standout track doubles as a club banger that would surely grab radio play from a more notable artist. Yet here, it manages to function as the most outrageous example of the record’s capabilities. Continue reading

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20 Watts Reviews She & Him’s Volume Two
March 22, 2010, 11:58 pm
Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: , , , ,

She & Hims returns with an even catchier collection of classic tunes

PREVIEW: VISIT She & Him’s MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 15/20 Watts

She & Him will never break new ground. The M. Ward/Zooey Deschanel tag team will never experiment with any other sort of sound. Nor will they ever release a record unless they’ve got good material to work with. Unlike nearly every other artist of today, you know exactly what you’re getting from them each time out of the gate.

And yet, this seems to work perfectly. As long as Deschanel continues to provide her sultry, classic voice over the instrumental stylings of Ward, this cycle could continue going on forever. Or at least, until the end of their sophomore effort Volume Two. Continue reading

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20 Watts Reviews Gorillaz’s Plastic Beach

Gorillaz's Plastic Beach has some great singles, but lacks definition

PREVIEW: VISIT Gorillaz’s MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 14/20 Watts

The often enigmatic, highly successful Gorillaz have spent over a decade infiltrating the popular and more underground music landscapes. Singles like “Feel Good Inc.” and “Clint Eastwood” have allowed the animated project international exposure and millions of record sales. And in all that time, the band has somehow avoided a real, tangible musical identity, mostly to its benefit. However, on their latest release Plastic Beach, this fact becomes a bit too obvious at times.

Among its issues, Plastic Beach tries to once again redefine the hip-hop/alternative rock/electronic project, while also aging fictional characters. Essentially, the band Damon Albarn created is now entering a more experimental, White Album-type territory in their career. And while this concept can potentially be ridiculed, its intrepidness outweighs such criticism. Reflecting on their “career,” as it may be, 2D, Murdoc, Russel and Noodle attempt to come to grips with age while harnessing the awesome power of their shape-shifting sound. Continue reading

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