20 Watts

20 Watts Reivews These New Puritans’ Hidden by 20watts
March 2, 2010, 10:38 am
Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: , , ,

These New Puritans' HIdden is impressive, but needs more continuity

PREVIEW: VISIT These New Puritans MySpace

WE GIVE IT: 13/20 Watts

These New Puritans’ second full-length, Hidden, delivers an impressively loaded soundscape of experimental art rock. The album itself functions as a piece of modernist art, and it sounds like the playlist for an art museum in SoHo or Greenwich Village. It’s a jumble of tribal drum beats, skillful synth work, a thirteen-piece brass and woodwind ensemble and many other instruments. Continue reading

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20 Watts Reviews We Are Wolves’ Invisible Violence by JohnCassillo

We Are Wolves' Invisible Violence fails to really resonate with listeners

PREVIEW: VISIT We Are Wolves’ MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 10/20 Watts

Quebec’s We Are Wolves brings their latest, Invisible Violence, to us with a sound vaguely similar to Maps & Atlases. However, although the album was flexible with many varied rhythms and beats, its core issue is that it lacks a real, discernable interest.

Opener “Paloma” provides a great introduction to the album, displaying the repetitive edge the band acquires. Yet with each song, the theme seems to be consistency. The idea of a dramatic change, or even a alternative verse is unfathomable. Continue reading

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20 Watts Reviews Eluveitie’s Everything Remains As It Never Was by Dan

20 Watts reviews Eluveitie's Everything Remains As It Never Was

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

The title of Eluveitie’s new album says it all: Everything Remains As It Never Was. The Swiss folk metal heroes keep up the basic foundation of their sound, but present it differently than on any of their previous albums. And while here, “differently” doesn’t always mean “better,” the album is still a rewarding listen and a refreshing departure from most contemporary metal sounds.

More so than the band’s previous albums, Everything Remains divides the folk and metal elements into their own groups of songs. Instead of a dozen brutal metal songs that happen to have bagpipes and flutes in the background, we get a few intense sections followed up with calmer, folk-oriented interludes. The result is an almost storytelling quality that recalls the group’s 2008 masterpiece, Slania. Continue reading

20 Watts Reviews Peter Gabriel’s Scratch My Back by crumblymuffin

Peter Gabriel's collection of covers is extremely disappointing

PREVIEW: VISIT Peter Gabriel’s MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 7/20 Watts

Ah, the covers album.  It seems like once some artists hit a certain age, they become incapable of writing any more tunes, and instead just dive into something resembling  The Great American Songbook a la Rod Stewart.  I’m not quite sure, however, whether they do it for their own artistic fulfillment or just to seem relevant in the increasingly schizophrenic music culture.  From the looks of Scratch My Back, Peter Gabriel‘s entry into the canon of career-turning/stomach-turning albums (your pick), he’s aiming heavily at the latter.

One has to wonder what he was thinking.  The tracks here span the last thirty years of music, touching on indie, as well as more mainstream hits from all over the map.  Gabriel actually had the stones to follow up a low-key rendition of Sarah McLachlan‘s “Mirrorball” with an equally low-key  “Flume,” by Bon Iver. He even goes so far as to finish the album with another slow, piano driven track — his version of Radiohead‘s “Street Spirit (Fade Out).” Continue reading

20 Watts Reviews Lightspeed Champion’s Life is Sweet! Nice to Meet You by JohnCassillo

Lightspeed Champion's latest effort shows tremendous musical growth

PREVIEW: VISIT Lightspeed Champion’s MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 16/20 Watts

Attempting to avoid as much hyperbole as possible, the amount of growth witnessed on Lightspeed Champion‘s Life is Sweet! Nice to Meet You is staggering. Just two years removed from debut full-length Falling Off the Lavender Bridge, Lightspeed Champion (aka Dev Hynes) comes to us born anew. Gone are the sloppy arrangements of strings and folk-guitar. Same for the constant peril Hynes always seemed to present himself in. For the first time in his career, Hynes has finally reached out and touched every bit of that untapped potential he’s kept in hiding so long. Continue reading

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20 Watts Reviews Dan Black’s Un by Marc Sollinger
February 16, 2010, 10:25 am
Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: , , , , , ,

Dan Black creates enjoyable, poppy fun on Un

PREVIEW: VISIT Dan Black’s MySpace
: 14/20

Dan Black makes pop music.  With that in mind, Un is an album of pure, sugary, exuberant, pop music.  Yet it is intelligent at the same time. Un is pop you don’t have to feel guilty listening to.  And it just so happens that it’s really, really good.  No, Un is not a perfect album. It’s not even a great album. But it is one of 2010’s most fun and enjoyable recordings thus far.

The music on Un is fairly simple.  Black re-imagines contemporary hip-hop and R&B, and gives them an epic, electronic sheen. In essence it sounds as if The Postal Service listened to a lot of Jay-Z, with a little bit of jj thrown in.  There’s also a funk/dance-floor influence, especially on songs like “Yours” and “Pump My Pumps”.  But although Black does wear his influences on his sleeve, Un’s sweeping electronic arrangements, and his wonderful, perfectly pitched voice make it a breath of fresh air. Continue reading

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20 Watts Reviews Local Natives’ Gorilla Manor by JohnCassillo
February 16, 2010, 10:25 am
Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: , , ,

Local Natives' Gorilla Manor is a strong debut for the young L.A. band

PREVIEW: VISIT Local Natives’ MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 15/20 Watts

Coming on strong and distinctive, Local Natives‘ debut album Gorilla Manor can (at first) appear to be the perfect storm. With a surprisingly strong percussion section, enthusiastic vocals and a penchant for pop hooks, the young band seemingly has stardom written all over them. However, there’s also one thing Local Natives fails to possess on Gorilla Manor— some restraint  — which ends up being somewhat of a detriment to an album that could have been great.

The album is virtually held up by driving drum parts, enthusiastic keyboards and the offsetting harmony of Taylor Rice and Kelsey Ayer. For the large majority of the album, there is hardly a flaw to be found, to be honest. Single “Camera Talk” Continue reading

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