20 Watts

20 Watts Reviews Shearwater’s The Golden Archipelago by Marc Sollinger

Shearwater creates breathtaking music on The Golden Archipelago

PREVIEW: VISIT Shearwater’s MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 14/20 Watts

Shearwater’s sixth album, The Golden Archipelago, takes time to fully appreciate. On first listen, the album seems merely pleasant with its dense, delicate melodies washing over the listener. It’s enjoyable, but not breathtaking.  However, upon repeated listens, the album opens up. It becomes otherworldly, or perhaps more appropriately–worldly. Although not all of its lyrics are directly related to the environment, The Golden Archipelago is deeply connected to nature in a way no other album has been since Neko Case’s The Middle Cyclone. Continue reading

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20 Watts Reviews Title Tracks’ It Was Easy by JohnCassillo

Title Tracks provide an interesting, engaging debut effort

PREVIEW: VISIT Title Tracks’ MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 14/20 Watts

John Davis seems to have finally gotten it right. After spending seven years drumming for Q and Not U, Davis co-founded Georgie James, which fizzled out in 2008 due tension with bandmate Laura Burhenn. Title Tracks’ debut album It Was Easy channels the musical frustration Davis felt following the failed Georgie James endeavor. The nine original songs and two cover tracks have a classical pop structure and give off an upbeat façade. Meanwhile, the lyrics express serious emotional distress.

“Black Bubblegum” is a perfect example of this seemingly two-faced album. The track is among the most pop-sounding on the album (no pun intended), yet the lyrical content issues a stern insult on Davis’ behalf. Reminiscent of a mellower Relient K, the first track “Every Little Bit Hurts” and the title track, follow suit. Title Tracks pepper the fade-out of “Every Little Bit Hurts” with a light chuckle, proving that they are not too clean-cut and do not take themselves too seriously. Continue reading

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City Sounds 2/22: Vancouver by krkuchta

Listen to WERW's sounds of the Vancouver Winter Olympics


City Sounds is hitting all the marks this month. First it was Paris, The City of Love before Valentine’s Day.  Then we went to New Orleans for a Mardi Gras with some Superbowl celebration on the side.  And now we’re going to Vancouver for some Olympics and great music!

The Winter Olympics have put Vancouver in the headlines for the last week or so, but that’s not all the world is watching there. Vancouver has had a thriving indie rock scene since the early 2000s with bands like The New Pornographers and DestroyerLadyhawk and Black Mountain/Pink Mountaintops have kept the scene going, while creating a diverse style all their own.

That isn’t all Vancouver has, of course.  A large number of singer/songwriters have come from the area. From the poppy Michael Buble to the folky Veda Hille to members of the New Pornographers who have gone on solo, like Neko Case. And let’s not forget industrial wizards Skinny Puppy or pop-punk greats Hot Hot Heat from Victoria (which close enough for now).

City Sounds will be the soundtrack to the Winter Olympics this Monday night from 11pm-1am. Listen in on WERW.

-Kyle Kuchta

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Editor’s Pick #272: Skybox’s “In a Dream” by tjwell01

Skybox's bubblegum electro flavor tastes just right

PREVIEW: Skybox’s MySpace

LISTEN: “In a Dream” by Skybox

It kind of scares me that electro-pop is transitioning to more girl-y bands like Owl City, and Skybox’s “In a Dream” isn’t exactly beer can-crunching kind of music, but it feels good just listening to it while working on school work. Skybox could be one of those bands you like at first, listen to three times on your iPod and then completely bemoan the following week. Regardless though, Skybox is best at being fluid and light-hearted. It only takes one episode of Gossip Girl or one Twilight movie to make this song a global teen girl sensation (God, spare us all). If the music sings to you (to all of you Upstate New York lcoals), go and check them out in Ithaca, NY on March 5 at The Haunt.

–Jett Wells

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Q&A: 20 Watts Interviews Sleigh Bells by tjwell01

Derek Miller (left) from red-hot new band Sleigh Bells checks in with 20 Watts to talk about producing the debut LP and how the odd couple made the perfect match.

PREVIEW: Sleigh Bells’ MySpace and live performance on Pitchfork TV

Major breakout electronic/heavy-metal/hip-hop duo, Sleigh Bells, a.k.a. Alexis Krauss and Derek Miller, lit up over night after they performed at this year’s CMJ Festival in New York City. Krauss loves pop and Miller loves heavy rock, but somehow and someway, Sleigh Bells became one of this year’s hottest bands and made our “The Five.” While the band is on hiatus recording their LP and tucking away from the shows, Miller spared some time to chat it up with 20 Watts about the new album and adjusting to the suddenly high expectations.

20W: I hear you produced the EP. Do you plan on producing the LP by yourself?

DM: I plan on doing about 90 percent of it on my own, but will likely bring in a co-producer here and there to help me when necessary. Shane Stoneback will be engineering, and the bulk of the record will be made at his studio, Treefort.

20W: How do you go about fusing your metal influences with Alexis’ pop taste?

DM: Well we are both huge pop music fans, whatever that means these days. Alexis is really into soul. early rhythm and blues, while I tend to go for slicker, punchier records from the last two or three decades. The heaviness is something that is less in my ears and more in my blood.

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Editor’s Pick #206: The Soft Pack by dana20watts
The Soft Pack: Another soundtrack-worthy band from CaliforniaListen to The Soft Pack

PREVIEW: LISTEN The Soft Pack’s “Answer to Yourself,” on their Myspace.

In my search for some new music — my favorite method of procrastination — I came across a list of cover songs, one being a version of Phoenix’s “Fences” by The Soft Pack. I figured it was worth a listen since, you know, Phoenix is awesome and all.

The song instantly made me imagine walking around Urban Outfitters while it blasted so loudly my eardrums burst. But unlike most of the stuff they play, I didn’t mind it. That in itself persuaded me to listen to some of the band’s original tracks, such as “Parasites” and their new single, “Answer to Yourself.” I quickly felt like I stepped out of Urban Outfitters and into an episode of “The O.C.”

The San Diego-based band, formally known as The Muslims, fuse the conventional, laid-back California indie rock with a more high-energy, danceable sound. I’d say they’re a mix between The Strokes and Interpol — a match made in hipster heaven.

The Soft Pack’s funky sound is already gaining popularity in the indie rock world. Their recently self-released, untitled debut EP sold so many records it’s currently being re-pressed- with brand new tracks, I might add. They were even one of the most popular acts at this year’s CMJ festival, with shows that the New York Press called “no bullshit.”

If these credentials don’t convince you, take my word for it: The Soft Pack is definitely worth adding to your iTunes.

— Dana Mikaelian, Communications Director

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Editor’s Pick #168: Jay-Z Endorses Indie Rock by Eric Vilas-Boas
Jay-Z is apparently a huge fan

Jay-Z is apparently a huge fan of Grizzly Bear

PREVIEW: Download Jay-Z’s “Run This Town” (Ft. Rihanna and Kanye West) MP3
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: 20 Watts Reviews Jay-Z’s “Run This Town”

With Jay-Z prepping the release of his ridiculously hyped new album, The Blueprint 3, it’s surprising that he would have time to go to any concerts — much less Grizzly Bear’s free appearance on the Williamsburg Waterfront (previously graced by Girl Talk and Dirty Projectors this summer) this past Sunday, Aug. 30. However, the rapper did the 12,000 hipsters at the waterfront one better, by giving the indie rock scene one of the most notable stamps of approval it’s ever received:

“The thing I want to say to everyone — I hope this happens because it will push rap, it will push hip-hop to go even further — what the indie rock movement is doing right now is very inspiring. It felt like us in the beginning. These concerts, they’re not on the radio, no one hears about them, and there’s 12,000 people in attendance. And the music that they’re making and the connection they’re making to people is really inspiring. So, I hope that they have a run where they push hip-hop back a little bit, so it will force hip-hop to fight to make better music, because it can happen, because that’s what rap did to rock.” (MTV) Continue reading