Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: ...but you've always been the caretaker, album reviews, David Bowie, deserter's songs, Embryonic, Justin russo, Mercury Rev, Pink Floyd, Releases of the Week, The Dark Side of the Moon, The Flaming Lips, the silent league, ziggy stardust
PREVIEW: VISIT The Silent League’s Website
WE GIVE IT: 17/20 Watts
With Deserter’s Songs, Mercury Rev almost unwittingly mastered the art behind chamber-grounded art rock over a decade ago. While The Silent League‘s third full-length isn’t quite as precious and not as eclectic as that seminal ’90s classic, as of January, 2010, it’s the closest analogue we have to it. Some of this has to do with the fact that Justin Russo and his brother Jason left Mercury Rev in 2001 to focus their attention on other projects (like The Silent League). More of it is the fact that …But You’ve Always Been the Caretaker might already be one of the year’s best albums.
The range of influences to be heard on this unassumingly pleasant little album stretch from space to the intimate corners of the bedroom. Between the album’s instrumental bookends “Egg Shaped” and “How and Why Our Dads Lost the War,” we hear varying degrees of synths and other assorted electronica, Justin Russo’s vocal croons and sterling instrumentation. Continue reading
Filed under: Best of 2009 Albums | Tags: Actor, Album, Animal Collective, Atlas Sound, best of 2009, Bitte Orca, Cymbals Eat Guitars, Dinosaur Jr., Dirty Projectors, Embryonic, Farm, Girls, Grizzly Bear, hometowns, it's blitz!, Jay-Z, Kid Cudi, Lady GaGa, Logos, Manners, merriweather post pavilion, muse, Passion Pit, Phoenix, Port O'Brien, self-titled, St. Vincent, The Blueprint 3, The Decemberists, The Fame Monster, The Flaming Lips, the hazards of love, the man on the moon: the end of day, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, The Resistance, The Rural Alberta Advantage, threadbare, veckatimest, Why There Are Mountains, Wolfgang Amandeus Phoenix, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
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!
- 20:: The Flaming Lips — Embryonic
- 19:: Atlas Sound — Logos
- 18:: Port O’Brien — Threadbare
- 17:: Girls — Album
- 16:: Muse — The Resistance
- 15:: The Decemberists — The Hazards of Love
- 14:: Cymbals Eat Guitars — Why There Are Mountains
- 13:: St. Vincent — Actor
- 12:: Lady Gaga — The Fame Monster
- 11:: The Rural Alberta Advantage — Hometowns
- 10:: Yeah Yeah Yeahs — It’s Blitz!
- 09:: Dinosaur Jr. — Farm
- 08:: Kid Cudi — The Man on the Moon: The End of Day
- 07:: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart — Self-Titled
- 06:: Passion Pit — Manners
- 05:: Dirty Projectors — Bitte Orca
- 04:: Phoenix — Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
- 03:: Jay-Z — The Blueprint 3
- 02:: Grizzly Bear — Veckatimest
- 01:: Animal Collective — Merriweather Post Pavilion
Love and stereo,
Filed under: Best of 2009 Albums | Tags: At War with the Mystics, Christmas in Mars, Embryonic, Releases of the Week, The Flaming Lips, The Soft Bulletin, Wayne Coyne, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
Acid-drenched rockers The Flaming Lips hit a high note in 2009 with their twelfth release, Embryonic. Unlike previous releases Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots and At War with the Mystics, Embryonic seeks out a new sound for the band through innovative song structures and brilliant instrumentation. Skirting on the brink of “concept album” with their two previous releases, The Flaming Lips were caught in a sonic rut by the middle half of the decade. Though beautiful, ambient and textured, Yoshimi and Mystics were almost carbon copies of each other in terms of creativity, while The Flaming Lips sound was quickly turning into a caricature of itself.
After a quick break to release Christmas in Mars, Wayne Coyne and company returned to the studio, rejuvenated and ready to rock. The end result is the most detached, dark, and stunningly epic Lips album yet. “Gemini Syringes” spirals and cascades with electronic modulation as radio transmissions echo in the distance. The listener can easily fall into confused bliss as the tracks blend together and evolve into frantic, yet controlled, masterpieces. “The Ego’s Last Stand” grows like a nightmare as Coyne eerily croons in psychedelic prose, “there’s no way out.”
Setting a course for the center of the sun, The Flaming Lips put forth their most beautiful album since The Soft Bulletin. After a few plays, Embryonic begins to sink in as one of the quintessential psychedelic anthem of the decade.
— Chris Parker
Filed under: Issue 19, Issue 19 Reviews | Tags: Do You Realize??, Embryonic, Kid A, Radiohead, The Flaming Lips, Wayne Coyne
WE GIVE IT: 15/20 Watts
MEDIA: Check out our Flaming Lips PODCAST
Throughout their long, illustrious career, The Flaming Lips have turned in effort after effort that, if not for a lack of U.S. commercial appeal, could have paved their way as standard-bearers in alternative rock. From the 1999 watershed album The Soft Bulletin to 2002’s fan-favorite, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, the band has done one thing phenomenally well over the years: Keep the critics happy.
Enter 2009’s Embryonic, the album that could, depending on whom you ask, keep that streak of magazine success alive. After three years of hard work, Wayne Coyne and company unleash a flurry of sound and experimentation on Embryonic, the likes of which have never been witnessed from them — or any band this side of Radiohead, for that matter. Embryonic is a character apart in The Flaming Lips’ discography, and that simple fact will cause critics to either praise it immediately or decry it across the board. Continue reading
Filed under: Issue 19, Issue 19 Reviews | Tags: Embryonic, The Flaming Lips
WE GIVE IT: 15/20 Watts
REVIEW: Read our full review HERE
The Flaming Lips Embryonic abandons the band’s usual sense of melody and composition, instead creating a sound completely contingent on loud, discordant walls of noise. In this podcast, 20 Watts’ John Cassillo discusses the album and how it’s revolutionized the Flaming Lips’ discography. Read John’s full review here.
— John Cassillo and Irina Dvalidze
Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: album reviews, Embryonic, Releases of the Week, The Flaming Lips, Wayne Coyne
PREVIEW: DOWNLOAD The Flaming Lips’ “Convinced of the Hex” MP3
WE GIVE IT: 15/20 Watts
The Flaming Lips‘ Embryonic is perhaps the band’s most experimental work to-date. Abandoning their usual sense of melody and composition, they’ve completely retooled, instead creating a sound completely contingent on loud, discordant walls of noise. The album creeps in the darkness, billowing in the shadows until it explodes at various points through its 18 tracks. Even the effort’s more accessible offerings are nowhere near as friendly as past singles. Standouts like “Convinced of the Hex,” “See the Leaves” and “Silver Trembling Hands” are the rule, rather than the exception, amidst a lengthy set or spacey, distant tracks.
Check our full review in the latest issue of 20 Watts!
— John Cassillo
Filed under: News of Note | Tags: Broadcast, Chris Taylor, Editors, Embryonic, Grizzly Bear, Karen O, Lily Allen, Lykke Li, muse, music video, new moon, News of Note, OK GO, Pitchfork, Radiohead, Rihanna, Stereogum, The Flaming Lips, The Killers, Thom Yorke, twilight, Warp Records, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Thom Yorke, The Killers, Grizzly Bear, and Muse have all signed on to contribute to New Moon‘s soundtrack. Other artists that will be on the Twilight sequel’s soundtrack include Lykke Li, OK Go and Editors. The full track listing can be viewed at NME.COM. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: Thom York and Bon Iver Soundtrack New Moon]
Stereogum reported today that The Flaming Lips released a new video for the song “I Can Be a Frog,” from their new album Embryonic (to be released 10/13). The short song might not seem to make a great video on first listen, but Coyne’s animalistic lyricism makes for a lot of quirky pencil drawings in this unconventional music video. The bikini-clad actress mouthing Karen O‘s “noises” surprisingly adds to the video, but who doesn’t want to see the real thing? Maybe next time. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: The Flaming Lips at ATP, 20 Watts Reviews The Flaming Lips’ “Silver Trembling Hands” (from Embryonic)]
Birmingham-based electro-pop group Broadcast have announced their second release with Warp Records. Their full-length debut was punctuated by the extensive use of loops and lead singer Trish Keegan’s 1960s psychedelic rock vocals. Filter reports that the EP, entitled Broadcast & Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age, is available for download from iTunes immediately, but won’t be hitting the shelves until October 27th. The EP can be previewed for free, though, at your next psycho dance party with the help of their trusty Myspace.
Rolling Stone reports that Rihanna’s next LP promises to bring its audience “Big beats and big bass.” She’s recruited producers Justin Timberlake and Chase & Status to help her bring them. This album is sure to take attention away from Rihanna’s past year of drama. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: 20 Watts Reviews Jay-Z’s “Run This Town” (Feat. Rihanna)]
Pitchfork reports that Grizzly Bear‘s bassist and producer, Chris Taylor has started a record label called Terrible Records. Through his new label, Taylor will be releasing his solo work on October 13. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: Editor’s Pick #172: Grizzly Bear’s “While You Wait For the Others” (Feat. Michael McDonald)]
It seems as though Lily Allen and Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien are close to duking it out, Pitchfork reports. Radiohead belong to the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC), a British musician’s advocacy group. Apparently Lily Allen disagrees with O’Brien’s stance on file-sharing. After the guitarist released a statement endorsing the practice, the infuriated singer posted her opinion on her MySpace blog. She believes file-sharing hinders the growth of up-and-coming artists. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: Editor’s Pick #93: Lily Allen Is Alright with Me]
Psychedelic folk legends Neutral Milk Hotel have announced plans to re-release their discography through Merge Records, as reported by Filter. The reissues of On Avery Island (1996) and the critically celebrated In the Aeroplane over the Sea (1998) will be released on vinyl along with a digital download code, so that listeners can enjoy the reissues without a turntable. Considering In the Aeroplane over the Sea was the best-selling vinyl album of 2008, there’s definitely a market for it though. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: 20 Watts Reviews Circulatory System (Elephant 6)]
— 20 Watts Staff