20 Watts

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: #14 Cymbals Eat Guitars’ Why There Are Mountains by 20watts

Cymbals Eat Guitars' Why There Are Mountains is #14 on our Best of 2009 List

PREVIEW: VISIT Cymbals Eat Guitars’ MySpace
TOP TRACK: “And the Hazy Sea”

From the triumphant screaming that kicks off “And the Hazy Sea” to the subtle acoustic guitar line that closes “Like Blood Does,” Cymbals Eat Guitars channeled the best of ‘90s indie rock and infused it with a 21st century spin on their March 2009 full-length debut Why There Are Mountains.

Few straightforward ‘90s-influenced indie rockers today have the stamina to last more than a few songs without sounding like derivative pastiches of Modest Mouse, Built to Spill or Pavement. Cymbals Eat Guitars proved they could do more with songs like “Indiana,” which opens saturated with guitar reverb and transitions (in a way somewhat reminiscent of Merriweather Post Pavilion‘s song divisions) effortlessly into “cleaner” guitar sounds, synthesized electronic manipulation, and even a few fleeting horn segments.

Innovation in instrumentation isn’t the only thing they’ve got going for them though. Cymbals Eat Guitars have a knack for crafting both strident, solo-heavy marathons like “Wind Phoenix (Proper Name)” and “Cold Spring” as well as shorter, more accessible songs like “Indiana” or “Some Trees.”

Musically Why There Are Mountains covers all of the bases a great debut should cover, and then some, and thematically, it works in much the same way. The penetrating lyricism of “And the Hazy Sea” make it one of the most interpretably dense lead tracks since Modest Mouse’s “3rd Planet.” Ambiguous references to the George Washington Bridge and the year 1999 steep the song and the band in a mystery which only makes them even more appealing.

Cymbals Eat Guitars did good this year, so let’s hope they continue to do so.

— Eric Vilas-Boas

20 Watts Reviews Animal Collective’s Fall Be Kind EP by JohnCassillo

Animal Collective deliver once again with their latest EP Fall Be Kind

PREVIEW: VISIT Animal Collective’s MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 17/20 Watts

Met with the difficult task of following up one of the year’s best albums, Merriweather Post Pavillion, Animal Collective‘s Fall Be Kind was dared to deliver a product most acts would cower from.  Lucky for us, the band that continues to rise to, and set the bar for the challenges of today’s music scene, was up for the assignment.

Fall Be Kind is everything Merriweather Post Pavillion is not. It’s raw, unstructured and loose. The tamed, harnessed pop conventions are gone, and in their place dance wild and schizophrenic sonic experiments in the mold of the band’s earlier material. Instead of aiming to recreate the sound of January’s hit album, Animal Collective remade their old sound in their new, more electronically-altered image. Continue reading

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Concert Stories: Jason Mraz by kabenn03

A little rain wasn't going to ruin our parade

PREVIEW: VISIT Jason Mraz’s MySpace

When I heard Jason Mraz was perfoming in Maryland, the same state I happened to be in, I knew I had to go. Being a poor college student and all, my friends and I opted for lawn seats. Best and worst decision of our lives.

So, on July 25, 2009, we ventured to Colombia, Md.’s Merriweather Post Pavilion to see our man. Eric Hutchinson opened the show with his happy, sunny music that mirrored the sky above. But as the stage crew switched over the set for G. Love & Special Sauce, the clouds rolled in, and it started to pour. Within minutes, we looked like the drowned rats that can be seen above (I’m on the left). As everyone huddled under their blankets, jackets and whatever else they could find, we shivered under our soaked towels and chattered our teeth along to G. Love, wishing we had better prepared ourselves for the monsoon, or splurged for pavilion seats. Continue reading

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Things That Are Awesome #1: Musical Pairings by crumblymuffin
Food and music: a match made in blog Heaven

Food and music: a match made in blog heaven

RELATED: Swedish Meatballs #2: Kleerup

There’s always a ton of album reviews and live coverage on this site, but we rarely ever talk about anything outside these realms on 20 Watts. After all, music is becoming ever more invasive in our lives, so why shouldn’t we take a look at some things that take our enjoyment of music to new places?

Here’s a creative site that takes two lovely things, music and food, and mixes them together. Eating/sf originally started out as a food blog from a couple (Matt and Kasey) in San Francisco, but as luck would have it, it’s evolved to include music recommendations that would coincide with each recipe on the page.

My personal favorite is the banana bread/Matt and Kim post, but the pairing of pasta with wild mushroom, bacon and peas alongside the album Thickfreakness by The Black Keys is pretty enticing. Merriweather Post Pavilion by Animal Collective with salmon and pesto (“If you aren’t going to challenge your sense of taste with something experimental and new — why not challenge your ears?”) doesn’t sound bad, either. Apart from originality, Matt’s a phenomenal music listener/fan/critic. He knows how to turn a phrase, so go check it out, then get to the kitchen.

Stop by their site, or you can follow Matt’s Twitter to get links to the page: www.twitter.com/matthewhickey

— Dan Creahan

Virgin Mobile FreeFest 2009 by carlywolkoff
The Virgin FreeFest brings bands like --- to Baltimore -- for free!

FreeFest brings bands like St. Vincent and Girl Talk to Baltimore -- for free!

PREVIOUS FREE MUSIC COVERAGE: Free NYC shows this weekend, Free Dirty Projectors show July 19th

This year’s Virgin Mobile Festival— the yearly festival that brings acts like Bob Dylan, Kanye West, Chuck Berry, and Lil’ Wayne to the same venue– will be free of charge!  Well, free, except for the recommended $5 donation towards youth homelessness, but I would say that’s a relatively fair trade-off (it’s actually a steal).

The concert will be on Sunday, August 30, 2009 at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland.  I guess people acted fast because free tickets, as well as optional packages WERE available on Ticketmaster.com, but they’re now sold out.  However, according to the website, if you sign up to volunteer with homeless youth agencies, you’ll be eligible to win tickets.

Though many of us will already be back at ‘Cuse, if you live somewhat close to the area, you should definitely consider going back a day late because like years past, this year’s lineup (below the jump) is awesome:

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