20 Watts

20 Watts Reviews Crookers’s Tons of Friends by jluposello

Crookers's Tons of Friends.

PREVIEW: VISIT Crookers’s MySpace

WE GIVE IT: 12/20 Watts

If nothing else, the latest release from Italy’s fastest growing electro-duo Crookers win this year’s award for the most appropriately titled album. Their most recent effort, Tons of Friends, features a staggering 20-track lineup of collaborations with the likes of will.I.am, Spank Rock, Miike Snow, Kelis, Pitbull and Crookers’s old friend, Kid Cudi, among others. While the features list that comes along with the eclectic (that’s an understatement) sound on the record is enough to make listeners drool all over their iPods, the sound presents a mostly unfocused sound punctuated by just a few gems.

Crookers have never been shy about their aversion to becoming tied to one specific genre. Sure, they’ve gained most of their popularity via their recent domination of the Italian club scene, but beneath layers of house beats and broad synth textures lay an unmistakable hip-hop influence. The duo’s remix of Cudi’s “Day ‘N’ Nite” is arguably what gained the duo their notoriety, and they pay homage to their hip-hop roots in several of the collaborations on the record. Continue reading

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Editor’s Pick #288: Road Trip? Anyone? by Isabel Alcantara
Get ready, get set, Sasquatch!

PREVIEW: VISIT Sasquatch’s Web site

I just realized that the thing I want most in the world (aside from a house with a pool filled with Jell-O [seriously]) is to go to SASQUATCH! (and no, I’m not just terribly excited, the name actually has an exclamation point).

Now, hold on, I know where this is going.

“No Isabel,” you’ll say, rolling your eyes. “Sasquatch is a terrifying forest-beast, not an event you attend.”

To which I say, you’re wrong. Sasquatch! is a music festival in Quincy, WA with tremendously impressive line-up for its three day run. A quick glance at the list of artists attending assured me that this is the festival to go to. To hell with tuition and fiscal responsibility. I want to go to the Memorial Weekend festival that’s hosting not only My Morning Jacket, Vampire Weekend, The National, Broken Social Scene, OK Go, and Minus the Bear, but also, WHY?, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Garfunkel and Oates, Massive Attack, Pavement, LCD Soundsystem, Tegan and Sara, Kid Cudi and Dirty Projectors.

[Pause to catch your breath and wipe the tears of joy from your face].

The xx, Girls, MGMT, She & Him, Passion Pit, The New Pornographers, Camera Obscura, The Temper Trap, Dr. Dog, and The Mountain Goats, among others.

Did I have to make that list so long and dramatic? Yes.

Are you packing the cooler and gassing up the car? You should be.

Check out the full list, to further your freak-out.

— Isabel Alcantara, Photo Editor

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Editor’s Pick#286: Breaking down Block Party’s “Surprise Act” by tjwell01

No, Passion Pit is not going to be the big "surprise" act for Block Party this year.

The Drake announcement for Block Party was expected, but what wasn’t expected was the hush-hush mystery of a “surprise middle act.” The act will be named later, but there’s enough information available to break down the mystery. The Newshouse’s Otto-Tune blogger, Nathan Mattise, does a solid job of analyzing the possible candidates that might be the surprise act. It’s more than speculation, because Mattise refers to the student survey posted online, highlighting UU’s thought process to fill out the lineup.

Drake was on the list for UU’s headlining act, along with Common, Kid Cudi, Ludacris, MGMT, Modest Mouse, Mos Def, Phoenix, Vampire Weekend and Weezer. We know how this played out.

However, the list for the possible supporting acts goes as follows: 3OH!3, Cobra Starship, Passion Pit, Keri Hilson, LMFAO, Lykke Li, Miike Snow, Pitbull and The-Dream. Now, it’s easy to eliminate candidates by process of elimination based on their tours already scheduled, and who is available for April 30th. It also makes sense for the band to be near by Syracuse, NY at a nearby date.

Let’s break it down:

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20 Watts Reviews Dan Black’s Un by Marc Sollinger
February 16, 2010, 10:25 am
Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: , , , , , ,

Dan Black creates enjoyable, poppy fun on Un

PREVIEW: VISIT Dan Black’s MySpace
: 14/20

Dan Black makes pop music.  With that in mind, Un is an album of pure, sugary, exuberant, pop music.  Yet it is intelligent at the same time. Un is pop you don’t have to feel guilty listening to.  And it just so happens that it’s really, really good.  No, Un is not a perfect album. It’s not even a great album. But it is one of 2010’s most fun and enjoyable recordings thus far.

The music on Un is fairly simple.  Black re-imagines contemporary hip-hop and R&B, and gives them an epic, electronic sheen. In essence it sounds as if The Postal Service listened to a lot of Jay-Z, with a little bit of jj thrown in.  There’s also a funk/dance-floor influence, especially on songs like “Yours” and “Pump My Pumps”.  But although Black does wear his influences on his sleeve, Un’s sweeping electronic arrangements, and his wonderful, perfectly pitched voice make it a breath of fresh air. Continue reading

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Editor’s Pick #282: How To Make It In America Mixtape by carlywolkoff

Mixtape for HBO's upcoming show, "How To Make It In America"

PREVIEW: LISTEN to Dan Black ft. Kid Cudi  “Symphonies”

Publicity can be so effing sneaky sometimes.  I thought I was downloading the mixtape for HBO’s latest bro comedy “How To Make It In America” premiering this Sunday.  I don’t think my logic was flawed, either — show starring Kid Cudi? Accompanying mixtape? Sounded legit.

But don’t be fooled, this mixtape is mostly a compilation of indie remixes like Florence & The Machine’s spin on The xx’s “You’ve Got The Love” with Cudi and other cast members promoting the show in the background.  Save yourself the disk space and don’t download the entire mixtape, unless, of course, you’d like to hear sound bytes from the show awkwardly mixed with your favorite songs.

But while you’re waiting for a real soundtrack to leak, do check out Kid Cudi’s remix of “Symphonies” by British electronica artist, Dan Black.  It often sounds as if Rihanna’s “Umbrella” and The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony” were blended together, but it’s enjoyable nonetheless.  The vibe coincides with the “two guys trying to make it in the concrete jungle” theme of the show.

— Carly Wolkoff, Front of Book Editor

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20 Watts’ Best of 2009 by 20watts

20 Watts brings you the Best Albums of 2009!

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!

Love and stereo,

20 Watts

20 Watts’ Best of 2009: #3 Jay-Z’s The Blueprint 3 by 20watts
December 30, 2009, 10:08 am
Filed under: Best of 2009 Albums | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Jay-Z’s The Blueprint 3 is number 3 on our Best of 2009 list

TOP TRACK: “Empire State of Mind”

In 2009, Jay-Z proved once again why he’s still one of the hottest rappers in the game today. With a string of three hit singles already, including arguably the fall’s biggest song, “Empire State of Mind,” Jay proved that he still has what it takes to be one of the strongest forces in music.

The buzz around The Blueprint 3 started in June with the release of “D.O.A. (Death Of Auto-Tune).” Built largely on a slick guitar riff and Jay’s singing of Steam‘s “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye,” the return-to-form track was just the tip of the iceberg.

Alicia Keys’ stunning vocals on “Empire State of Mind” provide a perfect backdrop for Jay’s love letter to the city that raised him. Other shining moments of the album include the attention-grabbing beat that lays the foundation for “On to the Next One.” Along with “Off That,” which features Drake, either song could easily be considered the album’s most party-centric. Another highlight could be the laid back “Already Home,” which features Kid Cudi, and perhaps helped set the stage for Cudi’s own release later in September.

Eight years after releasing The Blueprint, Jay-Z hasn’t faded a bit, as exemplified by this, his latest in a string of successes.  As one of the most accomplished artists of the decade, we wouldn’t expect anything less from him– the man who helped open the doors to hip-hop’s strongest decade yet.

— Eric Hoffman