20 Watts

ISSUE 22 | Home Recordings: Professional Victims by 20watts

Syracuse's Professional Victims play their own unique blend of 21st-century punk

Part of our Issue 22 coverage!
PREVIEW: Click to access music by and learn more about Syracuse’s Professional Victims!

Syracuse’s very own Professional Victims have all the makings of a bona fide late-20th century punk rock band—in the 21st century. Bandmates Shawn Sullivan, Ashley Cox Sullivan and Corey Koniz have the basics down: anti-establishment attitudes; punchy, guitar-driven songs under three minutes; and the hope of raising their own army of like-minded rebels.

Like the independent spirit of punk music itself Continue reading


20 Watts’ Best of 2009 by 20watts

20 Watts brings you the Best Albums of 2009!

So, the champagne’s out, the fireworks have stopped, the ball has dropped. The year 2009 may be long gone … But the music is still here — vibrant and waitng for masses who have yet to consume it! Naturally we want to help y’all out. Here’s 20 Watts’ list of the 20 best albums of 2009, from us to you! Enjoy!

Love and stereo,

20 Watts

20 Watts Best of 2009 #9: Dinosaur Jr.’s Farm by Isabel Alcantara
December 21, 2009, 1:46 pm
Filed under: Best of 2009 Albums | Tags: , , ,

Dinosaur Jr.'s Farm is #9 on our Best of 2009 list.

PREVIEW: VISIT Dinosaur Jr.´s Website
TOP TRACK: “Pieces” 

In defiance of popular trends, Dinosaur Jr. released Beyond in 2007, the first record with the original trio since 1988, to boisterous praise and enormous success. While many were skeptical of the band’s reuniting release (because who isn’t skeptical about revivals?), the results were a nostalgic ride through a distant past of pioneering alternative rock, narrated by the melodic drawl of lead singer J Mascis

Two years later, they returned with Farm, another album that rivals the surprise of Beyond. Farm kicks off with the animated track “Pieces,” and maintains a steady pattern of sprawling solos and heavy, loaded riffs – the easily identifiable sound that built the band in the first place. The record is filled with captivating melodies and catchy hooks in songs like “See You” and “Friends,” giving it an overall pop-y quality, which is not necessarily new, but certainly littleexplored territory for the band. 

Don’t let the pop-like undertone fool you though. The tracks are hearty and energetic, but – in true Dinosaur Jr. fashion – they seem to lack overly polished sounds and instead provide a fuzzy yet bright combination of melody and unapologetic solos. The album contains a solid number of anthemic songs (“Over It” and “I Want You to Know”) while “See You” and “Said the People” slow the pace near the middle. 

They said it couldn’t be done two back-to-back albums that contain enough musical heft to make this 80’s college-rock-alternative band remerge with an air of rejuvenation. And yet, here is Farm, with Mascis unchanged vocals and a brand new album, jam-packed with potential. 

— Isabel Alcantara

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

Editor’s Pick #192: Our Band Could Be Your Life by 20watts
The Replacements

Bands like The Replacements (above), Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr. and The Minutemen are featured in Our Band Could Be Your Life

Will there ever be another era in independent music like the ’80s and early ’90s? I think not, and Michael Azerrad‘s Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991 hopes to explain why. This book, published a decade later in 2001, attempts to explain and elaborate on the underground indie music scenes that defined the bands that today enjoy mainstream popularity.

Our Band Could Be Your Life focuses on thirteen disproportionately influential bands. None of them enjoyed any sort of mainstream success, but through constant touring, prolific recording, fanzine exposure and other methods of getting noticed, they all sired the bands that we today consider music gods (indie or mainstream).

Without Hüsker Dü, there could be no Pixies. Without Big Black, industrial rock wouldn’t be around. Without Black Flag, Green Day would probably have been a Cheap Trick cover band. Without The Replacements, The Decemberists literally wouldn’t exist. Without Sonic Youth and every other band mentioned in the book, Nirvana wouldn’t have changed the way we listen to music.

In The Replacements’ Let It Be‘s 33 1/3, Colin Meloy mentions listening to Let It Be incessantly to get over the self-consciousness over his extended sternum. Books like this one and the 33 1/3 series are both interesting and informative. Speaking from experience, having a working knowledge of a musical genre’s history adds a lot to any critique. We salute you, Mike Azerrad.

— Eric Vilas-Boas, Managing Editor

Comments Off on Editor’s Pick #192: Our Band Could Be Your Life

20 Watts Reviews Lou Barlow’s Goodnight Unknown by gjfitton
Goodnight Unknown

Goodnight Unknown

PREVIEW: DOWNLOAD Lou Barlow’s “The Right” MP3
WE GIVE IT: 15/20 Watts

Lou Barlow‘s new album, Goodnight Unknown, serves as an alternative-folk fusion record with an intriguing and mellow sound. With a calming, yet captivating voice similar to that of Trent Reznor, Barlow lays the groundwork for a creative and varied album with a handful of different style tracks. His first album in four years, and second for Merge Records, it appears that he’s learned a bit in the time off between releases.

Sonically, this album varies greatly, and is very well produced and mixed. “Faith in Your Heartbeat” is a somber track that provides a steady guitar progression, accompanied by Barlow’s solemn vocals. Continue reading

Comments Off on 20 Watts Reviews Lou Barlow’s Goodnight Unknown

The 20.4: Your Essential Guide to Noise Pop by 20watts

noisepop final

PREVIEW: Download 20 Watts’ NOISE POP MIX on Mediafire

The “noise pop” label was essentially created by music journalists who couldn’t describe what The Jesus and Mary Chain were getting at in the 1980s.  With their pristine pop song structures and messy punk rock aesthetic, the Scottish four-piece took rock in a direction it hadn’t gone before.  And as the current popularity of noisy, feedback-heavy bands like No Age, Japandroids and Vivian Girls suggests, neither fans nor musicians have looked back since.

So what’s the very best in noise pop? 20 Watts’ ERIC VILAS-BOAS has the answer in our fourth 20 installment. Watch for new 20s each Thursday, only on 20 Watts, and check out our previous 20s below!