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R&B Weekly: Maxwell by beccaaydelotte

There’s something about a slow, sensual R&B song that takes us back to that particular moment we heard it. Maybe it’s the smooth melody, or the rich vocals, or even the image of the artist singing it. We don’t always know what it is, but there’s something about them. Those slow jams. They sink into your skin and melt your heart. You may even close your eyes to listen to them. You’re transported somewhere else.  To that moment.

For some of us that moment is sitting on a porch, sipping wine by candlelight and hearing the incredible voice of Maxwell for the first time. His voice carries out over the late summer’s night air, and wraps around you. You remember every word, every sound and every breath. You feel something.

If you don’t know Maxwell you’re missing out. Quite possibly the king of current R&B, Maxwell recently released his newest album BLACK summer’s night after a 6 year hiatus, and it’s everything we love about him, but newer and maybe even better. His hit single “Pretty Wings” is not only tearing up the Billboard charts, but tearing up our hearts as well. Every ounce of soul he brought to his album Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite is back and more soulful than ever.

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Scene Around Town: Ghostface Killah with Skyzoo at the Westcott by crumblymuffin
Ghostface5Ghostface Killah’s openers were more impressive than Ghostface at Westcott Theater last night

Exclusive photos and coverage below the cut!

Hip-hop shows always seem to be hit or miss.  Either the performer’s on point and the crowd’s loving it, or it’s a gaudy free-for-all onstage and the music just doesn’t live up to how it sounds on record.  Last night’s Ghostface Killah show at The Westcott was a little bit of both, with late appearances, brutal performances and a considerable amount of trash-talk.  But what would you expect from a Wu-Tang member anyway?

The show started with a string of local openers, beginning with Myles P, whose jagged flow and attempts at 808s and Heartbreak R&B vocals made me walk out on his set, regardless of his mystifyingly dedicated fanbase, who rocked with him for the whole show. A strangely captivating but ultimately questionable local group followed, whose name I couldn’t catch and who didn’t appear on any showbills.  They made a lot of noise about local hip-hop, but it was hard to buy. Continue reading



The winning grin and other tales from the O, Morning Records Showcase @ Funk N Waffles 11/6/09 by Eric Vilas-Boas
Sarah Aument Pic for REVIEW2

Sarah Aument and the rest of O, Morning Records rocked Funk 'n Waffles on Friday, 11/6

You never know what to expect while stumbling down the stairs of Syracuse’s Funk ‘n Waffles on the night of a show. Acts can alternate between amateurs and professionals, hip-hop and folk-rock. Lucky for the college crowd that O, Morning Records was on the job last night, serving an aesthetically and musically eclectic platter of shoegazing, dancing and hand-clapping.

Sarah Aument, O, Morning’s very first signee, headlined the show with her new band. Before her came stellar performances from Bears in AmericaMouth’s Cradle and The Northbound Traveling Minstrel Jug Band. Not many student acts in the Syracuse area can realistically follow The NTMJB, the liveliest of the night and probably the biggest crowd-pleaser. Continue reading



20 Watts Reviews Young Money’s Year 2K9 by gjfitton
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Young Money release an effective greatest hits album

PREVIEW: DOWNLOAD Drake’s “Ransom” (Feat. Lil Wayne) MP3
WE  GIVE IT: 15/20 Watts

2009 has surely been a definitive year for Young Money Entertainment. With collaborative single “Every Girl” and Drake’s “Best I Ever Had” charting at #10 and #2 respectively, and a slew of albums on the horizon, the label is enjoying the success of pop stardom. Led by Lil’ Wayne, Young Money is a crew consisting of rappers and singers signed to his imprint. Young Money Year 2k9 is a sort of like a greatest hits (a large portion of this album is available on previously released mixtapes), showcasing the successful mixtape songs, freestyles, and singles of 2009.

The main characters of the album are the label’s two megastars, Lil’ Wayne and Drake. They collaborate and completely rip apart “Ransom” with multisyllabic flows and crisp punch lines, while being a little more fun and laid back on “Man of the Year.” The original version of “Forever” is also featured, though it severely lacks a monster verse from Eminem, as seen on the version cut for More Than a Game. “Every Girl” shows up too, catchy as ever, even after months of radio rotation. Continue reading



20 Watts Reviews Why?’s Eskimo Snow by Eric Vilas-Boas
Why?'s Eskimo Snow works incredibly well

Why?'s Eskimo Snow shuns the hip-hop but still works incredibly well

PREVIEW: DOWNLOAD Why?’s “This Blackest Purse” MP3
WE GIVE IT: 14/20 Watts

While Eskimo Snow isn’t quite the jaunt through alternative hip-hop that its predecessor Alopecia was, the always-inventive Why? strive to keep things interesting and mostly succeed. In a weird indie rock parallel to Lil’ Wayne’s insistence on releasing a rock album this year, Why? have put together both a well-informed rock record and a worthy follow-up to their past work.

You might miss their hip-hop sound, but the quintessential Why? elements are present on Eskimo Snow. Classily-orchestrated instrumentation like the keyboard intro to “January Twenty Something” and the lush swell of sound before the chorus of “Against Me” captivates the listener before Jonathan ‘Yoni’ Wolf gets to his lyrics. Continue reading

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Juice Jam 2009, featuring Girl Talk, Jack’s Mannequin and the Cool Kids, Only on 20 Watts by 20watts

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Juice Jam 2009: ‘Cuse Psychs Up and Gets Down to Girl Talk, Jack’s Mannequin and the Cool Kids by 20watts
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Not even the rain could stop the insanity on South Campus

Not even the threat of impending rain could keep Syracuse University music-lovers away from South Campus on Sunday.  Muggy, overcast and miserable as it was, several thousand students converged on Skytop for Juice Jam 2009, and no amount of drizzle or line-up cynicism could stop them from psyching up and getting down.

Although the show got off to an admittedly slow start — a problem that has plagued the annual concert in the past — Juice Jam succeeded on the strength of its headliner, Girl Talk, who stirred up over an hour of neon, confetti-filled mayhem on Sunday afternoon.

Chicago based hip-hop group The Cool Kids were the first to take the stage, though a great number of concert attendees seemed not to have noticed.  The crowd gathered in front of the stage was a relatively small group of loyal fans, which unfortunately can’t even be attributed to their early set time, as the line for a lame airbrushed hat was still a mile long.

Mikey Rocks and Chuck Inglish were still the ultimate flirts, emphasizing the number of pretty girls in the audience more than once before transitioning into “Bassment Party,” instructing, “if you ugly keep your hands by your side.”  This attitude stayed true after the performance, when Mikey and Chuck embraced adoring female fans.

Cool as they might have been, however, the hip-hop duo failed to attract the enthusiasm that greeted piano pop mainstay Jack’s Mannequin.  Seeing Jack’s perform was like a trip down memory lane — and judging by the crowd that gravitated towards the stage, others felt that way, too. Friends likely reminisced about high school as they danced in groups to Andrew McMahon’s piano melodies during “Holiday from Real.” The band played much of Everything in Transit, including  “The Mixed Tape,” “Dark Blue” and “La La Lie.”  Bassist Jonathan Sullivan helped to keep the high school theme alive with his arm warmers and emo-licious haircut.

After closing with Tom Petty’s “American Girl,” Andrew McMahon climbed atop his piano and stomped on the keys.  Although this move was relatively badass at the time, in comparison to the imminent mayhem, McMahon’s momentary awesomeness was as P.G. as it gets.

The transformation to said mayhem started gradually enough. Sorority girls clad in neon, eager to be Gregg Gillis’ one true love/grinding partner, searched for a way to get on stage. The masses followed suit.  Hints of marijuana filled the air. Antsy people anticipating the ultimate dance party muttered their frustration as Oasis’ “Don’t Look Back in Anger” blasting through the speakers to pass the time.

But the sunshine finally started to peek through the hazy sky and our host, Gregg “I’m Not a DJ” Gillis, stormed the stage to start the party.  Cue toilet paper.  Balloons.  Balls.  Confetti.  Gillis plays pop music for people with short attention spans and long memories: in his sets, pop music from the last 30 years resurfaces as a hook, a line or a beat, mixed into something entirely new.

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