20 Watts

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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20 Watts Radio: Saturday Nov. 14 by 20watts
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20 Watts played Asobi Seksu, DJ Shadow and more on WERW

Eric, Chris and Caitlin are in the studio this evening spinning an hour of new music, an hour of trip-hop and an hour of local songs! Tune in by opening iTunes and selecting radio > college radio > WERW or by clicking this link. We’ll be in the studio until 1 a.m.!

Want to talk to us or request a song? IM werw1570, tweet @20_watts or call (315) 443-1278. The third caller gets Chris Parker’s voice on their voicemail… it doesn’t get much better than that.

New tracks are in bold, local artists are italicized.

And don’t forget to tune in to 20 Watts’ Audiocandy+ shows on Wednesday and Thursday from 9-11 p.m.!

artist: Asobi Seksu [read our review of Transparence]
title: New Year
album: Rewolf

artist: Echo and the Bunnymen [13/20 watts — read the review]
title: Life of a Thousand Crimes
album: The Fountain

artist: Omar Rodriguez Lopez
title: Azoemia
album: Xenophanes

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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!


“Yo bro, spin me a track” by shabutie31
March 27, 2009, 5:00 pm
Filed under: Industry News | Tags: , , , , , ,

While scouring the Internet for this weeks most pressing music industry issues, I found myself swimming in a sea of upcoming rhythm based music video games set to launch within the next year. Poised to ride the coat tails of already successful music video games such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band, faux DJ games “DJ Hero” [Activision] and “Scratch” [Genius Products and Seven Studios] are two turn-table based games about to break onto the scene.

I never really got the hype with all these fake music playing games. Why people love spending hours learning and perfecting how to tap colored buttons instead of learning to play the real instrument is beyond me. Putting that aside, it looks like “DJ Hero” is more about reaching the core-DJ fans by harnessing well known DJ’s to help brand the game such as DJ Shadow and Z-Trip. Although “Scratch” does the same thing, using Mixmaster Mike of Beastie Boy’s fame, the tracks linked to the game seem much more mainstream then those of DJ Hero, such as Flashing Lights by Kanye West and Let’s Get It Started by The Black Eyed Peas.

Get ready everyone its time to start spinnin’ hot tracks on fake turntables!

– Michael George, Industry News

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