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ISSUE 22 | PLAYLIST by 20watts

Part of our Issue 22 coverage!


ISSUE 22 | Reviews: MGMT’s Congratulations by 20watts

MGMT's Congratulations: ""

Part of our Issue 22 coverage!
WE GIVE IT: 12/20 Watts
PREVIEW: CLICK here for MGMT‘s website

MGMT have been pretty open about what their latest release aims to be: a retort against their success. By doing so, they take their place alongside practically all the bands in pop-music history, groups career-fated by the critical litmus test of What Comes after the Big Single(s). In their own particular situation, MGMT’s radical shift is somewhat reminiscent of Radiohead’s – not just in the sense of changing sounds drastically after the breakthrough album, but in the sense of changing at the start of a new decade.

The bands share the dilemma of having been popular halfway-through one era, only to find themselves precariously uncertain about how to kick off another. MGMT are certainly not timid when it comes to taking a drastic detour in sound, but their boldness does not automatically equal innovation – or even Continue reading

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20 Watts Reviews MGMT’s Congratulations by crumblymuffin

20 Watts Reviews MGMT's Congratulations

PREVIEW: Visit MGMT’s MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 13/20

It was a tense buildup.  There were the negative reports on new songs live, the pretentious trash-talk, the name itself, and then of course the leak.  Today, the long-anticipated, and much-debated, follow-up from MGMT finally sees a release.  So what happened?  They didn’t take the easy route  continuing their resume of unbalanced albums of psychic freakouts and potential chart-toppers, for starters.  Instead, what has emerged is an uncompromising album of pop references and a determination to keep the music firmly rooted in the “left-field” territory.

You get the feeling that they’re not going back to “Kids” when they lead the album off with a guitar riff worthy of Paul Westerberg.  The album continues down that path, making nods to Television and the rest of the New York art-punk scene, as well as Brian Eno (also the name of one of the album’s highlights, a zany romp of harpsichord, organ and guitar) and company.  Tracks like “Flash Delirium” channel the disparity, building unbalanced segments into a captivating, but often perplexing whole.  The fascination for me lies, however, in the band’s newfound minimalism.  Oracular Spectacular tried to cram as many polyrhythms, noises and effects into each song.  Now, it’s almost as if they’ve shelved their penchant for texture in favor of an expedition into variants on song-craft.  No idea lasts for too long, and often bridges into what occasionally is a dead end.  However, when it works, it really works, especially on the captivating “I Found A Whistle,” which shimmers in a way that recalls the track “Kids” shining off the floor of a linoleum hallway from a distance.

It’s a gamble making an album this obtuse in the face of commercial demands.  There are thousands out there who just wanted 10 more tracks of “Time to Pretend” and an excuse to wear facepaint and feathers at a rock show.  Now, those kids have to come to terms with the fact they’re dealing with a pair of artists who wear their influences on their sleeves, and aren’t going to stay within one box for long.  For that, I guess I’ll have to say kudos , and give MGMT dues on a title they might have half-knowingly deserved all-along.  There’s a lot of beauty and a lot of exploration going on here, as well as a fair share of mistakes, but there’s also enough to keep you listening, and more than enough to beat the sophomore slump.  Now it’s just a matter of channeling that energy into a concise focus, and MGMT might emerge the pop starlets they’ve already insisted on making themselves.

-Dan Creahan

20 Watts Reviews Groove Armada’s Black Light by JohnCassillo

Groove Armada's sixth album is a positive adjustment for the band

PREVIEW: VISIT Groove Armada’s MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 16/20 Watts

It took over two and a half years, but Groove Armada’s Andy Cato and Tom Findlay have finally revealed their new sound with Black Light. The group’s sixth studio album features heavy 80s dance beats mixed with low-key lyrics. In comparison to previous albums, Black Light contains a new songwriting style while also maintaining the flair that fans have come to expect.

The British musicians didn’t do it alone, though—all of the 11 original songs on Black Light boast an impressive list of guest artists. GA works with SaintSaviour and Nick Littlemore four times over the course of the upbeat, tell-all album.  Roxy Music frontman Bryan Ferry collaborates with the musical pair on “Shameless.” The track combines French-speaking seduction with a more lax sound and less vocals than other songs on Black Light. Coincidentally, Ferry’s Roxy Music was named as one of their inspirations for the release, among other artists like Friendly Fires, Klaxons, Ladyhawke, LCD Soundsystem and MGMT. 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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