20 Watts

20 Watts Reviews Holly Miranda’s The Magician’s Private Library by JohnCassillo

Holly Miranda's solo debut creates a scenic and majestic world for listeners

PREVIEW: DOWNLOAD Holly Miranda’s “Forest Green Oh Forest Green” MP3
WE GIVE IT: 16/20 Watts

Walking us through the potential perils we can encounter while we dream, Holly Miranda‘s The Magician’s Private Library enchants amidst her stoic resolve. In spite of the singer’s noteworthy vocal appearances on Grey’s Anatomy while fronting The Jealous Girlfriends, it is the instrumentals that keep this album moving. The serene and moody world created by producer Dave Sitek of TV on the Radio is appropriately strong–never stealing the limelight from Miranda, but pushing her along just the same.

Emotionally, Miranda toys with popular appeal without getting too attached to her subject matter. Drifting through sleep, she describes her wants, needs and desires, before they find their final resting place on closer “Sleep On Fire.” But prior to this fitting finale, there’s a lot more to hear on The Magician’s Private Library. Continue reading

Comments Off on 20 Watts Reviews Holly Miranda’s The Magician’s Private Library

Editor’s Pick #258: Urban Outfitters Catalog Videos by Irina Dvalidze

Preview: Urban Outfitters YouTube Page

We all know Urban Outfitters is right up there with the Salvation Army when it comes to Hipster Fashion Havens, except for the fact that  they provide items that are actually new and not worn out by someone’s grandmother. The store has also gained a well-deserved notoriety when it comes to finding some of the most impressive talents in contemporary art, music and photography to say the least. So, naturally, we wouldn’t expect them to settle for even a catalog that would be anything short of spectacular.

For every fashion season, along with the print catalog, Urban Outfitters also produces a video version of the catalog set to some of the best indie music acts one can find. Featuring everyone from Feist to The Pains of Being Pure at Heart and even She&Him (before the She&Him bonanza swept the nation that is), the videos combine catalog photo shoot footage with print graphics to create pinnacles of multimedia creativity. Make sure to check out  more videos over at the Urban Outfitters YouTube page.

–Irina Dvalidze, Multimedia Editor

Comments Off on Editor’s Pick #258: Urban Outfitters Catalog Videos

20 Watts Reviews The Kings of Convenience’s Conditions by Jeanette Wall
The Kings of Convenience release a new album, five years after their previous record.

The Kings of Convenience release a new album, five years after their previous record.

PREVIEW: DOWNLOAD The Kings of Convenience’s “Mrs. Cold” MP3
WE GIVE IT: 15/20 Watts

After five years of traveling and working on side projects, the present day Simon & Garfunkel have released their third album. Kings of Convenience’s Declaration of Dependence is filled with acoustic melodies that are characteristically easy and quiet, largely what one would expect from the Norwegian musical group.

Finger-picking and soft violin accompaniments are staples of the album. Supplying the whole of the beat on Declaration, the band proclaims it to be the “most rhythmical pop record ever that features no percussion or drums.” Perhaps this is true. Regardless, the sound of the album as a whole is pleasant, if nothing else. Continue reading

Comments Off on 20 Watts Reviews The Kings of Convenience’s Conditions

20 Watts Reviews (500) Days of Summer OST by 20watts
Soundtrack made in Indie Heaven

Soundtrack made in Indie Heaven

Once a year, the Sundance Film Festival graces the public with some indie masterpieces that just happen to be set to the perfect mixture of vintage pop classics and up-and-coming underground acts. This year is no different. Following in the footsteps of Garden State, Juno and Little Miss Sunshine, (500) Days of Summer indulges every need of indie music lovers everywhere.

Listening to this album is like reading a well-written story about love, rather than a love story, as the opening track informs listeners.  “You should know up front, this is not a love story,” declares a deep voice right before transitioning into the bubbly “Us” by Regina Spektor.

The (500) Days of Summer soundtrack is a perfect balance between the nearly suicide-inducing sounds of The Smiths and the light, summer-loving tunes of Doves, The Temper Trap and Black Lips.

This is definitely an interesting collection worth having as part of your iTunes. It has range and a wide appeal, as confirmed by the special appearance French First Lady Carla Bruni makes in track 9. Her internationally beloved “Quequ’un M’a Dit,” a song about — well, what else but love and heartbreak? — serves as a perfect transition in the overall tone of the album. This track helps smoothly shift into the more melancholy melodies by Feist and Simon & Garfunkel, giving the album all the necessary points for the story-telling structure it so successfully builds.

But what really makes this album is the final track by She & Him, a cover of The Smiths’ “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want.” Zooey Deschanel once again reminds us that we not only love her for her doe-eyed expressions, her adorable fashion sense and her 1950s haircut, but for her gorgeous singing voice (along with the melodic accompaniment of M. Ward). The melody is nothing short of classic and it is definitely an appropriate conclusion to the album.

(500) Days of Summer soundtrack is pretty much everything you would expect it to be — it’s simple, classic and memorable. If the soundtrack is any indication of how good the film is, then the director Marc Webb can be sure that his work will not go unnoticed.

— Irina  Dvalidze

20 Watts Reviews Wilco (with Yo La Tengo) at Keyspan Park in Brooklyn, 7/13/09 by JohnCassillo
July 16, 2009, 2:46 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,
Wilco confirmed their reputation as America's best live band in Brooklyn

Wilco confirmed their reputation as America's best live band

At what was probably one of the best shows I’ve ever been to, Wilco and Yo La Tengo both tore up Brooklyn’s Keyspan Park throughout a fun and lengthy set that went from 7 p.m to almost 11 p.m. Wilco played 18 songs (19 if you count the crowd’s rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”), then played another eight combined in the first and second encore, for a grand total of 27.

Among the encore guests were Feist, Grizzly Bear‘s Ed Droste and Yo La Tengo in its entirety. As ridiculous as it may seem, I was actually holding out for a Wilco rendition of “Two Weeks” for a couple minutes, but it never came to be. Continue reading

Sarah Aument’s Debut EP Out Free on O, Morning Records by 20watts
SU sophomore Sarah Aument

SU sophomore Sarah Aument's debut EP is free on O Morning's Twitter


Things are looking up for Syracuse University musician and former 20 Watts cover girl Sarah Aument: with the free release of her first EP and an upcoming Northeast tour with two other local bands, Aument has been hard at work making the rest of us look like slackers in comparison.

Aument, who has amassed a small following by playing coffeehouses, house parties, and the always accommodating Funk N’Waffles, is releasing her first album for free via her label O, Morning Records. It’s a local effort all around: Aument enlisted the help of the help of the record label’s founders, SU sophomores Dan Creahan and Sam Mason, recording the album on laptops in dorm rooms and friends’ apartments.

It wasn’t a high-tech or particularly demanding process, but it “turned out really well,” said Creahan, who is in the Bandier program. He decided to rerelease the EP on Twitter to expand Aument’s ever-growing fanbase.

“Right now we’re trying to… network as much as possible with bands and people from the area,” said Creahan. “So when we want to make an announcement we can easily contact as many people as possible, and right now Twitter can offer that ability.”

Their gambit has been paying off. The record label’s Twitter has been picked up and retweeted by people as far as Florida, and buzz around the EP is growing as people are responding with overwhelmingly positive feedback. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s completely free, a labor of love from Aument and O, Morning.

That love is audible in the album itself. Aument writes her songs with an understanding of heartfelt emotions: loss and heartbreak, apathy and consolation all filter though her wavering, Feist-like vocals. With its intimate acoustics and soft, driving rhythms, Wake Up Singing is just as beautiful as it is bittersweet.

“She’s a great songwriter, she’s a great lyricist, and I hope that it’s just the beginning,” said Creahan. “I hope we can leverage this into more success for her because she definitely deserves it.”

This summer she’ll be hitting the road with SU bands Mouth’s Cradle and Bears in America for a weeklong tour across New York, Pennsylvania before heading back to Syracuse. For the Westchester, PA native, it will be the perfect chance to hone her musical talents outside the brightly-colored walls of Funk N’ Waffles.

As of now, no official dates or venues have been announced for the tour. But keep an eye on 20 Watts as we announce further details in the coming weeks.

— Blake Rong

20 Watts Reviews Wilco (The Album) by 20watts
Wilco (The Album) is good, but more of the same

Wilco (The Album) is good, but more of the same

Preview: Wilco and Feist, “You and I” MP3
Previous Wilco coverage:
Wilco Streamed

For a band that’s been around for fifteen years, you have to wonder why Wilco hadn’t yet released a self-titled album. The Beatles did it after just six years, it was Iron Maiden’s first choice, Weezer repeated it three times over. Ideally, a self-titled album explains the overall sound of a band (the reason the White Album is thirty tracks long, and Weezer is color-coded). To that effect, Wilco (The Album)’s eleven tracks succeed admirably.

The overall feel of Wilco on first listen is nothing terribly groundbreaking. It’s what we’ve come to expect: guitar noodling, Jeff Tweedy’s calm, relaxed voice, some slight country influences, and catchy songwriting. Wilco might have cut their most accessible, comprehensive record to date.

Wilco offers a nice selection of tracks that both fit the band’s image and explore its influences. Tracks like “Wilco (The Song),” “I’ll Fight,” and “You and I” hearken back to their alternative country roots. “Deeper Down,” “Bull Black Nova,” and “Country Disappeared” showcase their later experimental work.

Continue reading

Comments Off on 20 Watts Reviews Wilco (The Album)