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ISSUE 22 | Reviews: The Radio Dept.’s Clinging to a Scheme by 20watts
May 30, 2010, 10:05 pm
Filed under: Issue 22, Issue 22 Reviews | Tags: , , ,

The Radio Dept.'s Clinging to a Scheme: ""

Part of our Issue 22 coverage!
WE GIVE IT: 12/20 Watts
PREVIEW: CLICK here to visit The Radio Dept.‘s Myspace

Since their inception in 1995, The Radio Dept. have been known for having a slow release schedule. Their 15-year-old discography consists of just three full-lengths. If nothing else, the Swedish shoegazers can be described as patient. And with their latest effort, Clinging to a Scheme, that may be precisely the problem.

Clinging to a Scheme is a pristine example of over-perfection. Largely an effort that feels overwrought and overambitious, it took the band four years to make. The record unfortunately suffers from an acute sense of Continue reading

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ISSUE 22 | Reviews: She & Him’s Volume Two by 20watts
May 30, 2010, 10:01 pm
Filed under: Issue 22, Issue 22 Reviews | Tags: , , ,

She & Him's Volume Two: ""

Part of our Issue 22 coverage!
WE GIVE IT: 13/20 Watts
PREVIEW: CLICK here to visit She & Him‘s website

She & Him are a static entity. You know exactly what you’re getting from the M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel tag team each time out the gate.
And yet, they’re still interesting. Their sultry-vocal-on-familiar-guitar cycle could conceivably go on forever – or at least until the end of their sophomore effort Volume Two.

Very little has changed between Continue reading

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ISSUE 22 | Reviews: MGMT’s Congratulations by 20watts

MGMT's Congratulations: ""

Part of our Issue 22 coverage!
WE GIVE IT: 12/20 Watts
PREVIEW: CLICK here for MGMT‘s website

MGMT have been pretty open about what their latest release aims to be: a retort against their success. By doing so, they take their place alongside practically all the bands in pop-music history, groups career-fated by the critical litmus test of What Comes after the Big Single(s). In their own particular situation, MGMT’s radical shift is somewhat reminiscent of Radiohead’s – not just in the sense of changing sounds drastically after the breakthrough album, but in the sense of changing at the start of a new decade.

The bands share the dilemma of having been popular halfway-through one era, only to find themselves precariously uncertain about how to kick off another. MGMT are certainly not timid when it comes to taking a drastic detour in sound, but their boldness does not automatically equal innovation – or even Continue reading

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ISSUE 22 | Reviews: Erykah Badu’s New Amerykah Part 2 (Return of the Ankh) by 20watts

Erykah Badu's New Amerykah Part 2: Return of the Ankh: ""

Part of our Issue 22 coverage!
WE GIVE IT: 15/20 Watts
PREVIEW: CLICK here to visit Erykah Badu‘s Myspace

No stranger to love, Erykah Badu releases the second part of her New Amerykah series. New Amerykah Part Two (Return of Ankh) is juxtaposed with 2008’s New Amerykah Part One (4th World War). Moving away from the predecessor’s digital production and political nuances, Part Two uses more samples and live instrumentation while focusing on the subject matter of love and relationships.

Badu assembles a decent album with a mix of both electric and traditionally soulful sounds surfaces. The topics of holding on, adultery and even romantic wariness in “Fall in Love (Your Funeral),” touch on the different sentiments that often accompany intimacy. Thematically though, the album begins to get Continue reading

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ISSUE 22 | Reviews: High Places’ High Places vs. Mankind by 20watts

High Places's High Places vs. Mankind: ""

Part of our Issue 22 coverage!
WE GIVE IT: 14/20 Watts
PREVIEW: CLICK here to visit High Places‘s Myspace

Rob Barber and Mary Pearson continue to show their love for layering with High Places Vs. Mankind. In this latest release, the duo use techno-pop music and soft, whimsical lyrics to deal with a wide spectrum of topics. Relationships, death, geography and addiction are all equal fodder for the lyrical content of High Places’ songs, with the album as a whole urging listeners to realize that things aren’t always what they seem.

Opening track “The Longest Shadows” sets the tone for the nine songs that follow. Continue reading

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ISSUE 22 | Reviews: Meth, Ghost & Rae’s Wu-Massacre by 20watts

Meth, Ghost and Rae's Wu-Massacre: ""

Part of our Issue 22 coverage!
WE GIVE IT: 14/20 Watts
PREVIEW: CLICK here to visit Meth, Ghost & Rae‘s Myspace

The Wu-Tang Clan are one of the most respected, critically acclaimed hip-hop groups of all time. Debuting in 1993 with the classic album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), the Clan has provided hip-hop purists with a gritty, boom-bap sound. Since then, the nine members of the Wu have dispersed throughout the entertainment industry, delivering a multitude of solo albums and coming back together for various collaborations and a handful of satisfactory albums.

Raekwon, Method Man and Ghostface have reunited in 2010 to create Wu-Massacre. With fabulous album artwork, Wu-Massacre is designed to bring fans back to the old school Wu sound, something that not seen on 2007’s 8 Diagrams. The album succeeds in its attempt to resurrect a sound that is now Continue reading

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ISSUE 22 | Reviews: Rufus Wainwright’s All Day’s Are Nights: Songs for Lulu by 20watts

Rufus Wainwright's All Days Are Nights: ""

Part of our Issue 22 coverage!
WE GIVE IT: 14/20 Watts
PREVIEW: CLICK here to visit Rufus Wainwright‘s Myspace

Rufus Wainwright has never been one to spare the listener the most troubling details of his family life. On All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu, the death of his mother, folk singer Kate McGarrigle, adds another dark emotional dimension to his saga of troubles.

The song “Martha” is a collection of answering machine messages to his sister, in which Wainwright expresses concern about his parents’ aging. In a world of personal lost, Wainwright’s piano remains his most consistent companion, following him through his emotional journeys until the final track. “Zebulon,” finds Wainwright wandering home from his mother’s Continue reading

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