20 Watts

20 Watts’ Review Roundup, Week of September 21st by JohnCassillo
Why? attempts indie rock in earnest their latest release

Why? attempts indie rock in earnest on their latest release

PREVIEW: DOWNLOAD Why?’s “Against Me” MP3

Every week, 20 Watts rounds up the new releases on our radar; click the link for our full review.

Have suggestions? Leave a comment or e-mail them to 20wattsblog@gmail.com.

Why?Eskimo Snow [14/20 Watts]

The genre-jumping alternative artists try their hand at indie rock on their latest release, Eskimo Snow. Fluctuating between rambling, pop bravado and  somber, desperate rock ballads, the album hits a great balance in moods that only elevates its status. It’s a welcoming effort for fans both new and old.

IslandsVapours [15/20 Watts]

Picking up the pieces from 2008’s Arm’s Way, Islands has regrouped for their third effort, and the results are much more favorable. Abandoning complicated melodies for a back-to-basics approach, the band returns to their usual, goofy pop sensibilities, this time set to a combination of indie rock and ’80s new wave. Predictably, the results are, at the least, interesting, if not a great return to form.

Monsters of FolkMonsters of Folk [16/20 Watts]

The folk super group of Jim James, Conor Oberst, Mike Mogis and M. Ward comes to fruition with an effort worthy of their collective skills. Easily managing each member’s respective talents, the effort achieves a surprising balance in contribution, giving fans of each member a few feature tunes, along with enough secondary contributions to keep them listening throughout.

The Twilight SadForget the Night Ahead [15/20 Watts]

The Twilight Sad’s second studio album, Forget the Night Ahead, shows a band infinitely more mature, both musically and psychologically, than they were just two years ago. Now distortion-heavy and moody, the band has darkened their demeanor, and committed itself to an emphasis of the music behind the lyrics. The results are as positive as you’d expect, as the band avoids a sophomore slump in a big way.

Volcano ChoirUnmap [15/20 Watts]

Another collaboration of artists, Volcano Choir is a joint effort between Bon Iver‘s Justin Vernon and Collections of Colonies of Bees. The result is a minimalist manifesto, one which constructs a meaningful, albeit chaotic-at-times offering of tracks sure to please fans of both artists respectively.

GirlsAlbum [13/20 Watts]

Girls turn in some snappy, shameless pop on their debut effort, Album, which easily succeeds as the most annoying record name of the year. From allusions to Love, Cheap Trick, Buddy Holly and more, to their inherent sense of humor, Girls complete a fair showing on their first trip out of the gate, hopefully with more ambitious releases to come.

Brand NewDaisy [12/20 Watts]

Gone is the band of pop hits such as “Sic Transit Gloria… Glory Fades.” In its place is a dark, dingy guitar band, squealing and screeching their way through downtrodden, yet explosive tracks on Daisy. The new noise aspects are sometimes too daring for their own good, but when completed successfully, it’s worth the listen.

MikaThe Boy Who Knew Too Much [16/20 Watts]

Loud, exuberant and brimming with an energy most artists would seemingly kill for, Mika returns for another fun, falsetto-filled effort. It truly is radio pop at its finest, as Mika and his background chorus soar to stunning heights, and even throw in some slower, more intimate moments too. For pop enthusiasts, this is a must.

Sean KingstonTomorrow [12/20 Watts]

Kingston turns in another reggae/hip-hop collection laced with radio hits and enough listenability for just about any iPod. Most of the tracks play like a single, which can either be to its benefit, or demise, depending on your point of view. Still, even in its mixtape-type format, those who have previously counted themselves fans will find what they’re looking for.

— John Cassillo, Reviews Editor

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20 Watts Reviews Monsters of Folk’s Self-Titled by Irina Dvalidze
Conor Oberst, Jim James, M. Ward and Mike Mogis Release their first album as Monsters of Folk

Conor Oberst, Jim James, M. Ward and Mike Mogis Release their first album as Monsters of Folk

PREVIEW: DOWNLOAD Monsters of Folk’s “Magic Marker”
WE GIVE IT: 16/20 Watts

In an environment where album release dates are constantly postponed, music is fluffed up with unnecessary clutter and money-making schemes clog releases, it is novel to see noted musicians getting together to not only produce a worthwhile album, but one that exceeds expectations.  Yet, that is precisely what Monsters of Folk, a.k.a. Jim James (Yim Yames) of My Morning Jacket, Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis of Bright Eyes and M. Ward have done with their debut under the moniker.

Monsters of Folk’s self-titled release drops September 22, 2009. While the album was initially slated for release in 2010, this hardworking foursome cranked it out before 2009 ended. Continue reading

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20 Watts Reviews Yim Yames’ Tribute To EP (Remembering George Harrison) by Irina Dvalidze
Yim Yames New Album: Tribute To

Yim Yames' new EP Tribute To

PREVIEW: Download Yim Yames’ “My Sweet Lord”MP3
WE GIVE IT: 15/20 Watts

It has been eight years since the passing of the most underappreciated, yet arguably the most talented of The Beatles, George Harrison. Fortunately this week the public will be graced with an appropriate tribute to an artist who managed to transcend every socially controversial gap imaginable with his music.

Prepare to discard the nightmares of your drunken uncles singing karaoke renditions of “Yellow Submarine” during the family reunions and praise the music gods for sending you Yim Yames (a.k.a. Jim James of My Morning Jacket).

Yames will finally be releasing the long-awaited EP Tribute To, a set of six Harrison covers, on August 4. The tracks were recorded immediately following Harrison’s passing, yet were kept below the public’s radar until now. A simple tribute from an adoring fan, the collection is quite touching, and shows clear devotion to Harrison’s work. Continue reading