20 Watts

Words of the Week: An interview with Aaron LaCrate by tjwell01

Aaron LaCrate, a big-time DJ/hip-hop mogul, is an SU Alum.

Each Monday, 20 Watts is poised to feature a new exclusive artist interview! Here we present our WORDS OF THE WEEK!

PREVIEW: Aaron LaCrate’s MySpace and his website.


From the age of 10, Aaron LaCrate has been a prolific music talent from the streets of Baltimore and went onto launching his record label and clothing line, while also collaborating with Jay-Z, Lily Allen, The Cool Kids, Gorillaz and Mark Ronson–oh, and I did mention he went to Syracuse University? He’s been a secret famous alum until now, and the stories of his DJ days at SU are eerily familiar and fascinating. After rising to the top of the underground DJ/hip-hop scene, the fellow orange wanted to reach out to share his story.

20 Watts: Talk a little bit about being a young DJ in Baltimore when you were a kid…

Aaron LaCrate: It was great. It was nothing like it is now. There were no DJs back then, there were these electronic stores that sold records, stereo equipment and car stereos, so for me I had to assemble a mobile sound system. I had to go to the Goodwills and the flea markets, whichever way, I had the two different turn tables. It was really exciting back then because it was uncharted territory. There was no way to learn how to mix, no way to learn how to do anything, but to go on your own journey and find people that would like you enough to share that information with you. It was almost a very subculture thing. It was a testament to your personality and your character to how far you would get, in a lot of ways.

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20 Watts Reviews Florence + The Machine’s Lungs by Irina Dvalidze
Florence + The Machine release debut album Lungs

Florence + The Machine release debut album Lungs

PREVIEW: DOWNLOAD Florence + The Machine ‘s “Kiss with a Fist” MP3
WE GIVE IT: 16/20 Watts

One would think that “angry girl” music would have died with the ’90s, but music fans everywhere can hardly be that lucky. As long as there are screwed up relationships and overly emotional “artistes” we can look forward to raging outpours clogging up our iTunes.  While Florence + The Machine fit that profile, unlike most love-hating, morbid musical arrangements, their debut release Lungs is a vicious composition, as angry as it is intellectual and nonchalant.

Florence + the Machine is focused around Florence Welch, with an always-transforming supporting cast. While they are just emerging on this side of the pond, the band has been tearing through the British music scene since early July, gaining quite a lot of notoriety in a miniscule time span.  Among the early accolades, the band won both the Brits Critics’ Choice section and Studio8’s Female Voice of July 2009, and were nominated for BBC Sound of 2009 and the Mercury Prize. Need we say more?

Melodious harp shimmers, cacophonous drum-sets and on-the-spot piano keys, phenomenal on their own, are a mere palette for Welch’s intense vocals that can only be described as a love child of PJ Harvey and Lily Allen.  Welch finds an unattainable balance between sweet, downright adorable melodies and deranged, borderline daunting lyrics with each track.

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News of Note: New Moon’s OST Features Thom Yorke, Muse, Grizzly Bear, Lykke Li, Bon Iver and More; Flaming Lips Release Embryonic Video; Broadcast Announce an EP; Rihanna Will Bring Big Beats; And Much More! by 20watts
For better or worse, New Moon's soundtrack will feature some of our favorite indie artists

For better or worse, New Moon's soundtrack will feature some of our favorite indie artists

Thom Yorke, The Killers, Grizzly Bear, and Muse have all signed on to contribute to New Moon‘s soundtrack. Other artists that will be on the Twilight sequel’s soundtrack include Lykke Li, OK Go and Editors. The full track listing can be viewed at NME.COM. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: Thom York and Bon Iver Soundtrack New Moon]

Stereogum reported today that The Flaming Lips released a new video for the song “I Can Be a Frog,” from their new album Embryonic (to be released 10/13). The short song might not seem to make a great video on first listen, but Coyne’s animalistic lyricism makes for a lot of quirky pencil drawings in this unconventional music video. The bikini-clad actress mouthing Karen O‘s “noises” surprisingly adds to the video, but who doesn’t want to see the real thing? Maybe next time. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: The Flaming Lips at ATP20 Watts Reviews The Flaming Lips’ “Silver Trembling Hands” (from Embryonic)]

Birmingham-based electro-pop group Broadcast have announced their second release with Warp Records. Their full-length debut was punctuated by the extensive use of loops and lead singer Trish Keegan’s 1960s psychedelic rock vocals. Filter reports that the EP, entitled Broadcast & Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age, is available for download from iTunes immediately, but won’t be hitting the shelves until October 27th.  The EP can be previewed for free, though, at your next psycho dance party with the help of their trusty Myspace.

Rolling Stone reports that Rihanna’s next LP promises to bring its audience “Big beats and big bass.” She’s recruited producers Justin Timberlake and Chase & Status to help her bring them. This album is sure to take attention away from Rihanna’s past year of drama. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: 20 Watts Reviews Jay-Z’s “Run This Town” (Feat. Rihanna)]

Pitchfork reports that Grizzly Bear‘s bassist and producer, Chris Taylor has started a record label called Terrible Records.  Through his new label, Taylor will be releasing his solo work on October 13. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: Editor’s Pick #172: Grizzly Bear’s “While You Wait For the Others” (Feat. Michael McDonald)]

It seems as though Lily Allen and Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien are close to duking it out, Pitchfork reports. Radiohead belong to the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC), a British musician’s advocacy group. Apparently Lily Allen disagrees with O’Brien’s stance on file-sharing. After the guitarist released a statement endorsing the practice, the infuriated singer posted her opinion on her MySpace blog.  She believes file-sharing hinders the growth of up-and-coming artists. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: Editor’s Pick #93: Lily Allen Is Alright with Me]

Psychedelic folk legends Neutral Milk Hotel have announced plans to re-release their discography through Merge Records, as reported by Filter. The reissues of On Avery Island (1996) and the critically celebrated In the Aeroplane over the Sea (1998) will be released on vinyl along with a digital download code, so that listeners can enjoy the reissues without a turntable. Considering In the Aeroplane over the Sea was the best-selling vinyl album of 2008, there’s definitely a market for it though. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: 20 Watts Reviews Circulatory System (Elephant 6)]

— 20 Watts Staff

Ridiculous UU Survey by tjwell01
Could M.I.A. perform at SU next year?

Could M.I.A. perform at SU next year?

My buddy Nathan Mattise forwarded me this survey, formed by University Union, that might decide next year’s music headliners at SU. The list of possible headliners is ridiculous–it can’t be real.

As for possible headlining acts, it asks you to grade the following: MGMT, M.I.A., Kings of Leon, Vampire Weekend and others. It would be utterly amazing to land MGMT or M.I.A. for next year’s Juice Jam, but how could this be true? University Union has less money than ever and still falls short on SU concerts every year, despite getting Bloc Party and Ra Ra Riot for last year’s Juice Jam (which I missed because I was in London! God!).

It gets even more ridiculous when it asks us to grade the possible supporting acts. Hold your breath, because these are headlining-quality acts: Lily Allen, Handsome Furs, Girl Talk, Katy Perry,  and others. Girl Talk, a supporting act???!! Are these guys nuts?! This alone slashes the credibility of the survey.

It’d be a miracle to land any of these names for next year, but don’t give your hopes up.

Just to be annoying, I added a request for Phantogram next year. Hey, you never know!!!

–Jett Wells, Reviews Editor

Editor’s Pick #93: Lily Allen is alright with me by Alison Baitz
March 26, 2009, 6:01 pm
Filed under: Editor Picks | Tags: ,


I was pretty indifferent to Lily Allen until this video came on VH1 late at night. It’s catchy [esp. the chorus] and the pastel/candy-colored video doesn’t hurt the cause.

-Alison Baitz, Editor-in-Chief

EDITOR’S PICK #59: LILY LOVE by alpolste
February 17, 2009, 2:52 am
Filed under: Editor Picks | Tags: , ,

Lily Allen

With the exception of Taylor Swift, my long-standing obsession (how can you NOT obsess?), I’ve never gotten into many female artists. So when a friend burnt me Lily Allen’s new album, It’s Not Me, It’s You, I gave it a go without expecting much. I put it on as background music while I did my homework, but pretty soon I had to put my reading down because I was grooving! I wasn’t just sitting at my desk, bobbing my head, I was seriously jamming; it was the first time I was listening to the CD but I was already trying (only sometimes successfully) to sing along. Lily’s blunt lyrics are just flat out charming. Check out the ironically lighthearted sound of “F**K You.”

-Allison Polster, Copy Editor

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Leak of the Week 8: Cat Power – Dark End of the Street EP by Tuan Le
December 5, 2008, 8:12 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

522964094_ba9ca21cfaThe only leak that I caught this week was Cat Power’s Dark End of the Street EP of unreleased covers and rare songs.  It’s only six tracks long, but it’s fairly decent.  I highly recommend Cat Power’s The Greatest which I’ve been rocking with Dark End of the Street.  The highlight tracks off the EP are the title track and “It Ain’t Fair,” a cover of Aretha Franklin.

In other news, Lily Allen released a track off of her upcoming album, It’s Not Me, It’s You entitled “The Fear” and it’s pretty great.  The album is due out February 10, 2009, which means it’ll be leaking in about a month!  You can see music video for “The Fear” here.

Here’s hoping for something nice next week.

– Tuan Le