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ISSUE 22 | Reviews: Roky Erickson’s True Love Cast Out All Evil by 20watts

Roky Erickson's True Love Cast Out All Evil: ""

Part of our Issue 22 coverage!
WE GIVE IT: 16/20 Watts
PREVIEW: CLICK here to visit Roky Erickson‘s website

Fighting off a career of tragedy and setbacks, Roky Erickson’s legacy is often forgotten amidst the chaos of his life from 1966 to now. He would be revered as a pioneer of garage and psychedelic rock, if it wasn’t for his stays in prison and mental institutions, leading to countless years of inactivity. But now, with the help of fellow Austin musicians Okkervil River, Erickson’s pain—after decades of silence finally sees the light of day.

The sentiment behind True Love Cast Out All Evil is indeed Continue reading

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ISSUE 21 | Reviews: Usher’s Raymond v. Raymond by 20watts

20 Watts reviews Usher's Raymond v. Raymond and gives it a 13/20 watts.

Part of Issue 21 coverage!

PREVIEW: VISIT Usher’s MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 13/20 Watts

Like Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks, Tom Petty’s Echo and Bruce Spring­steen’s Tunnel of Love, Usher’s Raymond v. Raymond is an album inspired by divorce. And just like those albums, Raymond v. Raymond does not offer one cohesive perspective on the complex situ­ation.  Instead, as the album title implies, Raymond v. Raymond presents two differ­ent sides of the R&B artist – the heartbro­ken-yet-resigned ex-husband, “ready to sign them papers” and the sweet-talking flirt, mackin‘ it on the rebound.

Jay-Z recently made a far-reaching prediction that Usher could be the next Michael Jackson.  Except Jackson would never have sung the words, “When you step up in my Porsche Carrera, better not touch anything.”  Yes, for three minutes and twenty seconds, Usher unfortunately sings about how “amazing,” “courageous,” “fantastic” and “awesome” (in that order) he is in the song “Radar.” Here, we are bombarded with the second Raymond – the cheesy creeper in the club, spinning one-liners out of his leather pants pocket. There’s no evidence of Jackson-esque pop music revolutionism to speak of on Ray­mond v. Raymond. Continue reading

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20 Watts Reviews Andrew W.K.’s Close Calls With Brick Walls by crumblymuffin

Andrew W.K.'s latest brings the standard amount of destruction for fans

PREVIEW: VISIT Andrew W.K.’s MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 13/20 Watts

Oh, jeez. Where to start with Andrew W.K.? Part of me knows his music is overwrought, cheesy and often totally awful, but all of the other parts don’t really care. He’s an absolute maniac live, and has no problem writing songs with titles like “Party Til You Puke” and “I Want Your Face,” the latter of which is about wanting to steal someone’s face because they look like him. Awesome. I was lucky enough to catch a lecture by him at NYU last fall, and regardless of what people think of him, the guy has some very interesting wiring upstairs, which apparently lends itself to creating twisted power metal.

Andrew W.K. doesn’t seem to care about what people think of his music either. After releasing an album of instrumental piano improvisations last fall (he’s classically trained), he’s finally releasing his long-awaited third album, Close Calls With Brick Walls to a U.S. audience this year. Suffice to say, it’s a total trip: Meatloaf-esque piano bangers and heavy thrashing abound, alongside some really intriguing studio work. Continue reading

20 Watts Reviews Title Tracks’ It Was Easy by JohnCassillo

Title Tracks provide an interesting, engaging debut effort

PREVIEW: VISIT Title Tracks’ MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 14/20 Watts

John Davis seems to have finally gotten it right. After spending seven years drumming for Q and Not U, Davis co-founded Georgie James, which fizzled out in 2008 due tension with bandmate Laura Burhenn. Title Tracks’ debut album It Was Easy channels the musical frustration Davis felt following the failed Georgie James endeavor. The nine original songs and two cover tracks have a classical pop structure and give off an upbeat façade. Meanwhile, the lyrics express serious emotional distress.

“Black Bubblegum” is a perfect example of this seemingly two-faced album. The track is among the most pop-sounding on the album (no pun intended), yet the lyrical content issues a stern insult on Davis’ behalf. Reminiscent of a mellower Relient K, the first track “Every Little Bit Hurts” and the title track, follow suit. Title Tracks pepper the fade-out of “Every Little Bit Hurts” with a light chuckle, proving that they are not too clean-cut and do not take themselves too seriously. Continue reading

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ISSUE 19 | The Lo Life: Low fidelity music is sweeping the campus — and the nation by 20watts

Devon Stewart rocks the Shaefer studios while working on his self-titled solo project

Lil Wayne. Kanye West. Maroon 5. Rascal Flatts. Music purists loathe them for at least one reason — Auto-Tune, a downloadable audio processor that corrects vocal and instrumental blunders in order to attain perfect pitch. By using this program, a producer can fill in a recorded performance’s holes, smooth its edges and polish its smudges.  Everyone must use this to attain musical nirvana, right? Negatory. In fact, musicians that admire large holes, adore peculiar edges, and worship pesky smudges are alive, well and plentiful. They are lo-fi artists.

Lo-fi is a shortened form of “low-fidelity,” fidelity meaning the extent to which an electronic device such as a radio or television can accurately reproduce a sound or an image. Taken literally, lo-fi can be defined as low-quality sound. Continue reading

News of Note: Lil Wayne’s No Ceilings leaks before Halloween release, Midlake spills on third studio album The Courage of Others, Billy Corgan rants about swine flu, Bonnaroo to put out a live DVD by jluposello

Lil Wayne's No Ceilings mixtape leaked today

Lil’ Wayne’s No Ceilings has leaked four days prior to its scheduled debut of Halloween, reports RS. The mixtape is the most recent release after Weezy pleaded guilty to weapons charges, and includes hints at his pending incarceration like, “T.I., hold your head.” Carter rhymes over tracks like  The-Dream’s “Fancy” and the Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling”. Check out the leak courtesy of our friends over at Nah Right.

Midlake has finally released the details regarding their third release, which is apparently set to be titled The Courage of Others, reports Stereogum. The record, which will come to us via Bella Union Records, will feature a sound more reminiscent of, “British folk scene of late 60’s stuff,” says the group. With three years having passed since their last release, we’re expecting quite the album. Stereogum has a look at the track list and a few of the first dates of their 2010 US tour.

Billy Corgan hasn’t released anything worth its salt from the past couple of years, but apparently he’s feeling confident enough to take on the Swine Flu in his blog. In an 800-word rant against the disease and the “propaganda machine” behind it, Corgan explains why he won’t be taking the vaccine, reports Pitchfork. Corgan claims that the disease is man-made, according to “people” whom he has spoken to “as doctors”. He further goes on to boldly proclaim that, “I am willing to question anything: the existence of God, the existence of me or you or Robert Zimmerman.” That’s right, folks, even Bob Dylan.

For those of you who couldn’t make it to this year’s Bonaroo, fear not. On December 15th, the powers behind one of the indie communities most massive festivals will be releasing a DVD of this past year’s show, the aptly named Live From Bonaroo 2009, reports Pitchfork. The DVD will include performances from The Beastie Boys, Bruce Springsteen, Santigold, Passion Pit, and the Decemberists, to name a few.

— John Luposello

20 Watts Reviews The Swell Season’s Strict Joy by Eric Vilas-Boas
The Swell Season - Strict Joy

The Swell Season give us a more-than-worthy third album

PREVIEW: DOWNLOAD The Swell Season’s “Fantasy Man” MP3
WE GIVE IT: 16/20 Watts

Steven Spielberg said of the film Once that it “gave [him] enough inspiration to last the rest of the year.” Undoubtedly, the 2007 indie singer/songwriter scene belonged to Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová. The Academy fell in love with them, they later guest-starred on The Simpsons, and hipsters the world over fawned over the pair’s creative instrumentation and lilting duets.

So how do you follow up an internationally acclaimed soundtrack and reignite two years of dwindling fame? Fortunately for fans everywhere, The Swell Season are continuing to do exactly what they’ve always done: make beautiful music. They need nothing else. Continue reading