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Editor’s Pick #254: Cool Shirts and Clear Consciences by Isabel Alcantara

The Yellow Bird Project

Was your New Year’s resolution to be more involved in charities and community service? Yeah, mine wasn’t either. But, on a quest to find new and awesome tees to wear for this new decade, I came across The Yellow Bird Project. The YBP is a non-profit operating from Montreal, with a three-fold mission: 1) to raise money for various charities through the sales of their totally kick-ass t-shirts, 2) to raise the public’s awareness of certain charities through the endorsement of indie rock artists, and 3) to raise the profile of artists they like. Now, before you yawn so wide that you pass out, keep in mind that these t-shirts (which you can buy to support whichever charity the tee happens to represent) are designed by the indie artists which they endorse. Cool, right?

The YBP was started in 2006 and its first contributing artists was the one and only Devendra Banhart. Now, four years later, the organization has grown and has the support of artists like, Metric, Grizzly Bear, Bloc Party, Ra Ra Riot, Of Montreal and Rilo Kiley, among others. Plus, if you (like me) are awaiting the arrival of your t-shirt designed by The National, which also happens to support Safe Space, you can play the local YBP game: Color Me Indie, for a chance to win an Indie Rock Coloring Book. What’s cooler than that? My new t-shirt. That’s what.

— Isabel Alcantara, Photo Editor

News of Note: Bumbershoot Festival, DD/MM/YYYY, The Beatles, and Much More by 20watts
The Yeah Yeahs were rained on at Bumbershoot this past weekend

Yeah Yeah Yeahs were rained on at Bumbershoot this past weekend

PREVIEW: DOWNLOAD Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Hysteric” MP3

Rolling Stone was in attendance as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs gave a spirited performance on Sunday at Seattle’s Bumbershoot Festival. In spite of rainy weather, the band played a diverse set that included songs from all three of their studio albums. The festival continued today with performances from, among others, Franz FerdinandMetric and Modest Mouse. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: Editor’s Pick #168: Jay-Z Endorses Indie RockWhere The Wild Things Are: Karen O Movie Music Madness]

If hyperactive math-punk is your thing — and really, how could it not be? — then Toronto’s DD/MM/YYYY have awesome news for you.  These heavy-hitting Canadians just signed to Brooklyn’s Impose Records, with plans to rerelease their third LP, Black Square, on cassette and digitally September 15.  Even better, they’re expanding their U.S. tour to celebrate, and will play Rochester’s Bug Jar on September 24.  Tickets are $10 for ages 18-20 and $8 if you’re over 21; These Arms Are Snakes headline. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: Real Estate Play with DD/MM/YYYY]

Stereogum reports that Entertainment Weekly, in its Sept. 11 issue, ranks both the fifty best and five worst songs recorded by The Beatles. On 09/09/09, in honor John Lennon’s favorite number, remasters of the entire song catalogue — as well as The Beatles: Rock Band — drop. EW’s commemorative ranking lists “All You Need Is Love” as both the worst Beatles song ever made and the fiftieth best. This is puzzling, considering the band recorded a lot more than fifty songs in their prolific career. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: Editor’s Pick: Beatles Rooftop Performance20 Watts Reviews Yim Yames’Tribute To (Remembering George Harrison)]

SPIN reports that Soulsavers opened up their U.S. tour in Portland, Oregon last night, in support of their new album, BrokenSoulsavers, fronted by The Screaming Trees and Gutter Twins lead singer Mark Lanegan, will be playing 15 shows through the month of September. Unfortunately for us, the closest they’ll be coming to Syracuse is NYC’s Bowery Ballroom on the 22nd, and Toronto’s Mod Club on the 25th. Maybe it’s worth the trip though, for you diehards out there. If you were in Seattle, you might have caught them at Bumbershoot, too (see above). [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: Daniel Johnston to Play at Mod Club and Elsewhere]

The Fray struggled to garner interest and audiences at the State Fair this weekend. Competing against the likes of mainstream acts like Kid Rock, Big & Rich, Shinedown, and the legendary Mötley Crüe, they failed to play off their momentary “Grey’s Anatomy” fame. But the big break came for Syracuse-based band Soul Risin’, who was asked to replace openers Our Lady Peace at the 11th hour when a family emergency grounded the Toronto band.

— 20 Watts Staff

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Happy Canada Day! by tjwell01

You wouldn’t know it, but it’s Canada’s birthday! Not that I’m Canadian or particularly like Canadians, but I just thought why not mention some awesome Canadian bands just in tribute? While we’re at it, I’ll countdown some of the worst Canadian musicians.

The Awesome:

Tokyo Police Club (who are currently recording a new album)

Metric (fresh off their more-than-solid album, Fantasies)

Handsome Furs (who’ll also be recording again this Fall)

The Not-So-Awesome below the break…

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Best Albums of the Year…So Far by tjwell01

yyyWe’re almost at the half-year point, and so much good music has already exploded onto the scene. It seems only necessary to pay respects to the artists and the quality work they’ve exposed to the world so far. I’m not talking about albums with a couple of great songs, this list is about ensembles/full albums that work from head to toe.

(Not necessarily ranked in order)

It’s Blitz! by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs
This could be arguably the most complete album with so many quality songs. It’s not just that the album has great songs–this was a transition album for the YYYS to synth-pop, and they pulled it off magnificently.

Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix by Phoenix
This was my first time exposed to Phoenix, and I was romanced from the start. Phoenix’s new album is a hit-maker, and could called a success just because of its two big hits, “1901” and “Litzomania.”

Fantasies by Metric
A very well-rounded album with quality girl-pop songs. “Help I’m Alive” is an instant pop classic, and really brings the whole album together. Plus, I really respect the fact Metric streamed their whole album before releasing it officially.

Living Thing by Peter Bjorn and John
PBJ pushed themselves to evolve their sound with new sounds and methods, and pulled it off pretty well with this album. This album has one awesome song with a handful of good songs. The Swedish trio are great at what they do–making weird pop songs.

My Maudlin Career by Camera Obscura
I think these guys are adorable, and I love the hit track “French Navy.” This album isn’t as complete as the rest, but still gets my respect because I think their sound is so retro and unique.

Notables: Merriweather Post Pavilion by Animal Collective, Veckatimest by Grizzly Bear, and Actor by St. Vincent

Projected Hits:
Manners by Passion Pit
the eventual Ted Leo album
the eventual Strokes album

–Jett Wells, Reviews Editor

Review: Metric’s “Fantasies” by tjwell01
April 11, 2009, 3:17 pm
Filed under: Editor Picks | Tags: , , ,


Metric’s Fantasies (April 14th) is a complete and clean album full of new-wave pop hits that grip you till the end.

Few albums match Fantasies’ collective whole as each song evokes fresh electro-pop sounds and memorable beats. Metric’s veteran strength shows up in each song’s captivating beats and crashing hooks. Fantasies’ sound reflects today’s electro titans, without losing its 1990s charm.

Each song in the album is either good or awesome, nothing less. Tracks that stand out, like “Help I’m Alive” and “Gimme Sympathy,” erupt with catchy lyrics and good fast-paced synthesizer beats. Each song rocks hard with different styles and just the right mix of indie-rock and Top 40 pop music.

Fantasies meshes well with electro-pop groups like Santigold and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but has 1990s song structure. When I hear Emily Haines (singer) hold notes, I hear traces of No Doubt and Garbage at times. Fantasies proves Metric’s vision transcends time.

Don’t bother hitting “skip” while listening to Metric’s Fantasies. It’s a flawless ensemble of fresh sound with retro flavor.

—Jett Wells, Co-Reviews Editor

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Editor’s Pick #92: Blooper Metric Video by tjwell01
March 25, 2009, 1:27 pm
Filed under: Editor Picks | Tags: ,

I’m only posting this to pick on Metric. I love the new album Fantasies, which is being streamed on the Internet and is releasing soon, but I can’t help but notice the bad acting by Emily Haines (singer) in this video.

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