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20 Watts Reviews Blockhead’s The Music Scene by jluposello

The Music Scene is Blockhead's fourth release via Ninja Tune.

PREVIEW: VISIT Blockhead’s MySpace

WE GIVE IT: 18/20 Watts

New York’s Tony Simon, aka Blockhead, has often been hailed as the East Coast’s DJ Shadow, an innovator whose work has set him apart from a sea of imitators in the genre. Aside from building his acclaimed discography, Simon has provided production for the Def Jux label’s wunderkind, Aesop Rock, turning out the backing tracks for some of Aesop’s most memorable tunes (see “Daylight”).

As Simon releases his fourth studio effort via the Ninja Tune label, it’s clear that his production style has undergone a revamping for the better. The Music Scene, as Simon describes, is based off of a much more story-oriented writing process than any of his previous work. “I made each song a little more of a musical journey than anything I have ever done before,” he says. And never with more sophistication has Simon produced a record.

Unlike past works, the tracks on The Music Scene resist Simon’s tendency to exploit a comfortable pocket in one musical idea and remain there for the entirety of the song. Each track on the album evolves and grows with a compositional complexity previously unheard in Simon’s work.

Simon shines brightest on the record’s most intriguing track, “The Daily Routine,” which traces a much darker, paranoia-filled trip than the other tracks. Ornamented with clips of two junkies arguing, the track is perhaps the most emotionally engaging on the album. Throughout the record, though, Simon captivates listeners with a newly mastered talent for utilizing loops of live vocals, instrumentation, and beats.

The Music Scene certainly stands as the paramount in Simon’s career thus far, and hopefully foreshadows a new maturity in his forthcoming albums. Simply put, The Music Scene will most likely be hailed for quite some time as Simon’s Endtroducing. Time can only tell though, and surely will for this trip-hop defining milestone.

– John Luposello

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The 20.8: Your Essential Guide to Trip-Hop by 20watts


The Bristol sound, also known as trip-hop, was born from the British hip-hop and house scenes of the mid-1990s. Artists like Massive Attack, DJ Shadow and Portishead took the hybrid genre and turned it into a hip-hop-influenced electronica that harnessed a fanbase that reached between the Atlantic. The listening experience, likened to a “musical trip,” is one intensely focused on the abstract, atmospheric qualities of the genre. It has grown over the years to encompass turntablism, acid jazz, electro and dance into a hybrid genre that continues to expand into the contemporary hip-hop scene.

So what’s the very best of trip-hop? 20 Watts’ JOHN LUPOSELLO has the answer in our eighth 20 installment. Watch for new 20s each Thursday, only on 20 Watts, and check out our previous 20s below!


News of Note: Michael Buble’s Crazy Love Beats New Moon, Grizzly Bear and Beach House Play Together in L.A., Epitaph Will Re-Release Most of The Blood Brothers Catalogue, and MORE! by jluposello
Michael Buble's record sales skyrocketed past New Moon's this week after an appearance on Oprah

Michael Buble's Crazy Love's record sales skyrocketed past New Moon's this week after an appearance on Oprah

Not even the New Moon crew could use their vampire powers to outdo Michael Buble’s release of Crazy Love, reports Rolling Stone. The crooner appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, causing album sales to skyrocket to over 55% more than during the record’s first week on shelves, outdoing the new Twilight soundtrack by a score of 203,000 to 115,000, respectively, according to the Nielsen SounScan. Oh, the power of Oprah.

Stereogum gives us a look at last night’s Grizzly Bear gig at the Hollywood Palladium in L.A. with some pretty sweet pictures courtesy of Andrew Youssef. Beach House, the opening act, played a few tracks that will appear on their new release, Teen Dream, due out from Sub Pop Records on January 26th.

Seattle’s post-hardcore pioneers The Blood Brothers practiced one of the 2000s’ most unique forms of punk, and after their breakup in 2007, fans were left with little to cling to other than their old Blood Brother’s records. Until now, that is. Epitaph Records is planning to re-release the entire The Blood Brothers‘ catalogue, minus their 2000 debut, This Adultery Is Ripe, reports Pitchfork. Look for it to the reissues, which will come stocked by B-sides, videos and live performance videos, when they drop on November 17.

Canada’s Kid Koala, Dynomite D and Wolfmother’s ex-rhythm section Chris Ross and Myles Heskett make up the psych group Slew. Their debut release, 100%, is set to be reissued by Ninja Tune, the label responsible for the likes of Amon Tobin, Blockhead, Bonobo and The Bug, just to name a few, reports Pitchfork. Look for the turntable-heavy sounds of Slew when the record drops on November 24th.

— John Luposello

Comments Off on News of Note: Michael Buble’s Crazy Love Beats New Moon, Grizzly Bear and Beach House Play Together in L.A., Epitaph Will Re-Release Most of The Blood Brothers Catalogue, and MORE!