20 Watts

ISSUE 21 | Reviews: Rogue Wave’s Permalight by 20watts
April 1, 2010, 1:51 am
Filed under: Issue 21, Issue 21 Reviews | Tags: , , , ,

20 Watts' gives Rouge Wave's Permalight 10/20 Watts

Part of our ISSUE 21 coverage!

PREVIEW VISIT Rouge Wave’s MySpace
WE GIVE IT 10/20 Watts

With Permalight, Rogue Wave don’t offer many good reasons to listen to their new album twice. Not because the album is terrible, but because Permalight is, for lack of a better word, boring. Its sun-drenched, synthesizer-driven indie rock is cut from the same mold as what you hear in a thousand Toyota commercials. Rogue Wave used to be an interesting part of the musical landscape – essentially a poppier, twee-less Elephant 6 band. But now they’ve remade themselves into Death Cab for Cutie’s less talented cousin.

Songs like “Per Anger” and “We Will Make a Song Destroy,” with their jangly guitars and sing-along Continue reading

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Editor’s Pick #292: Death Cab for Cutie’s Cover of The Smiths’ “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” by elizabethvogt
March 17, 2010, 1:08 pm
Filed under: Editor Picks | Tags: , , ,

Death Cab For Cutie

PREVIEW: STREAM Death Cab for Cutie’s Cover of The Smiths’ “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out”

Two Words: HOLY MOLY. Death Cab, you done good this time. Even though my discovery of this song is embarrassingly late, it is still without doubt one of the best covers I’ve heard in awhile. Ben Gibbard flawlessly recreates Morrissey‘s classic voice while giving it his own soft, melodic touch against the acoustic strummings. Honestly, you just have to listen, words won’t do justice. Thank you, Death Cab, thank you.

— Elizabeth Vogt, Assistant Front of Book Editor

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20 Watts Reviews Rogue Wave’s Permalight by Marc Sollinger

Rogue Wave's Permalight does nothing to differentiate itself

PREVIEW: VISIT Rogue Wave’s MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 9/20

There is hardly a reason to give Rogue Wave’s new album Permalight more than a single listen. Not because the album is terrible, but rather because Permalight comes off as boring.  Mind-numbingly, ear-dullingly boring. It’s sun-drenched, synthesizer-driven indie rock, just you’ll find in a thousand car commercials.  Rogue Wave used to be an interesting part of the musical landscape; essentially a Elephant 6 band with the twee removed and a poppier sound.  Rogue Wave were never great, but they were likable enough.  But now, either in a misguided attempt to sell out (one that obviously isn’t working) or an even more misguided attempt to follow their muse, they’ve remade themselves into Death Cab For Cutie’s less talented cousin. Continue reading

Editor’s Pick #275: Mayer Hawthorne’s A Strange Arrangement by timmyhan

Listen to Mayer Hawthorne's debut album A Strange Arrangement

PREVIEW: VISIT Mayer Hawthorne’s MySpace

If you already listen to Mayer Hawthorne, you obviously live a slightly better life, but if not, you owe it to yourself and your anger management coach to dip your big toe in the glorious pool that is…Mayer Hawthorne.

When i first heard Mayer Hawthorne’s single, Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out, I pictured this John Legend-esque suave mother trucker in a fly suit, but to my surprise, he resembled a younger & slimmer version of Death Cab for Cutie’s frontman, Benjamin Gibbard, in a fly suit. However, Mayer Hawthorne is nothing like Gibbard musically. Mayer Hawthorne sounds like Pharrell and The Funk Brothers got together for a more than glorious & harmonious union.

His debut album hit the streets September 8, 2009, and has already received much street cred, more notably from the “pimp of music” himself, Snoop Dogg. When Rolling Stone interviewed Snoop Dogg, they asked who he was listening to these days, and his response was Mayer Hawthorne! You can never go wrong with a recommendation from Snoop. So check out Mayer Hawthorne’s debut album, A Strange Arrangement, before he gets so cool that it becomes uncool to have him in your ipod.

— Timmy Han, Art Director

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20 Watts’ Best of 2009: #13 St. Vincent’s Actor by JohnCassillo

St. Vincent's Actor is number 13 on our Best of 2009 list

PREVIEW: VISIT St. Vincent’s MySpace
TOP TRACK: “The Strangers”

Annie Clark, the adorable, skinny, curly-haired musician behind St. Vincent has been connected with some of the biggest names in indie music. Clark dropped out of Berklee College of Music to join The Polyphonic Spree, and sang with Sufjan Stevens on his 2006 tour. She’s opened for huge acts such as Arcade Fire and Death Cab for Cutie. Plus, she’s currently touring with Grizzly Bear.

Her latest effort, Actor, is an audible treat. The Brooklyn-based Clark has put together the ideal internal soundtrack for the best day ever, with the album. St. Vincent released Actor in May and its beauty stunned listeners. The first track, “The Strangers” opens with a hauntingly moving choral and woodwind arrangement, introducing us to a world far, far away of St. Vincent’s playful melodies and clever lyrics. “The Strangers” is a dynamic song that presents a musical journey more complex than that of many entire albums. A steady bass drum keeps the song connected throughout. Clark’s voice is relatively staid and mellow. Haunting instrumental breaks provide a heavy contrast to her singing.

“Actor out of Work” was the single release from Actor–you may have heard it on the Urban Outfitters’ playlist (don’t be ashamed, we know you’re downloading it). The song demonstrates St. Vincent’s songwriting talent. From a bit of an electronic feel to the guitar line to an operatic chorus, the song combines seemingly disparate sounds into pure cohesion. With a quick escalation into the chorus, Clark creates the perfect pop song condensed into 2:15.

With Actor, St. Vincent proved her ability to surprise with music that is perfectly pop despite an odd mix of mysterious melodies, choral backgrounds and a dash of straight-up adorability. However, it serves her well, with the contrast directly contributing to the effort’s overall success.

–Mary Cappabianca

Editor’s Pick #224: Weaver at the Loom by elizabethvogt


Weaver at the Loom

PREVIEW: STREAM Weaver at the Loom’s I Was Searching and Then I Found on their Myspace


Everyone loves Explosions in the Sky. As one of the most innovative bands in the current music scene, Explosions has inspired multiple artists to delve into the world of musical epics. One brainchild of the band is Weaver at the Loom.

Like Explosions, Weaver is comprised of four members who each contribute their musical talents. The difference between the two bands: Weaver features vocals in every song. As was described on their Myspace, Weaver masterfully combines “atmospheric elements of groups like Explosions in the Sky and The Album Leaf with the songwriting grace of compositional masters Death Cab for Cutie and Coldplay.” To add to this wonder, the lyrics of every song on the band’s only album, I Was Searching and Then I Found, flow together to make a story that could be comparable to Eliot’s The Waste Land. Much like Explosions, the album is meant to be listened to from start to finish.

With some of the most beautiful vocals I’ve ever heard and simple yet emotional instrumentation to compliment, I Was Searching and Then I Found could easily be classified into the coveted “album that I could never get tired of listening to” category. If you are listening to the album for the first time, here is what I recommend: play the album all the way through while reading the lyrics. It is honestly a spiritual experience.

–Elizabeth Vogt, Assistant Front-of-Book Editor

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Hearing Damage on a New Moon by cweeks88

Picnik collageThom Yorke and pale teenage heartthrobs… Like peas in a pod

PREVIEW: STREAM Thom Yorke’s “Hearing Damage”

The corporate entertainment method of using depressing and ghoulish themes and imagery to swindle the money out of disaffected preteens and their parents strikes again with the upcoming release of the Twilight sequel “New Moon.” The “New Moon” soundtrack reflects this money grubbing model by having an all-star listing of gloomy Indie bands contributing a song each. Nevertheless, in this showing of instant classic Indie groups — ranging from Death Cab for Cutie to Bon Iver and Grizzly Bear — who first made their mark earlier this decade, their contributions are easily trumped by the godfather of the beautiful doom-and-gloom style of alternative rock: Thom Yorke. Continue reading