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News of Note: Ellen Degeneres is Fourth American Idol Judge, Minus the Bear Play the Westcott, Ghostface Killah Track List and More by 20watts
Ellen Degeneres just might entice us to watch American Idol

Ellen Degeneres just might entice us to watch American Idol

Whoa — I might ACTUALLY have to watch American Idol now.  Ellen Degeneres, the oh-so-lovable, dance-crazy comic, was named the show’s fourth permanent judge just an hour ago, according to MTV.  Degeneres has no legitimate music credentials that we can name, but hey, neither did Paula Adbul!  And Degeneres is at least pretty funny. Katy Perry, Joe Jonas, Avril Lavigne, Mary J. Blige and Shania Twain will also serve as guest judges. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: The Bird and the Bee Play Ellen Degeneres]

Minus the Bear’s fall tour is old hat around here — the Westcott Theater has, after all, been shouting their November 17th date from the mountaintops — but the acclaimed prog-rockers officially announced the four-week tour late this afternoon.  According to a press release, they’re touring in support of an upcoming fourth album, produced by Joe Chiccarelli (of White Stripes/My Morning Jacket fame), to be released in early 2010.  Tickets will go on sale this Saturday, though no price is currently listen on the Westcott Theater’s site. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: Jack White, Chill Out!, 20 Watts Reviews Yim Yames’ Tribute To EP]

Ghostface Killah announced the track list for his September 29 album Ghostdini: The Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City.  “Baby,” the first single, is an auto-tuned love ballad that was recently released via Myspace.  The album, which is primarily R&B, will have guest appearances by Estelle, Kanye West, John Legend, Lloyd and Fabolous.  Ghostface will be performing at The Westcott on November 12 at 8 p.m.  [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: Music Video Spotlight: Raekwon’s “The New Wu“]

Pitchfork posted a three-minute clip from Sufjan Stevens‘ “The BQE” multimedia set, to be released October 20.  “The BQE” features a bizarre combination of footage of NY’s notoriously congested Brooklyn- Queens Expressway, with Sufjan’s music playing in the background.  Click here to watch the clip.  Sufjan will be performing at Castaways in Ithaca on September 23. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: Editor’s Pick #156: Sufjan Stevens Announces an Intimate Fall Tour]

SPIN reports that the new Micachu & the Shapes video for “Turn Me Well” premiered today, courtesy of the band’s surprisingly big fan, Bjork. The track, which juxtaposes a mechanical pop sound with more natural, organic visual layouts, is their second single off of Jewellery, which came out in March. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: Editor’s Pick #79: Weird New Band … Micachu and The Shapes, Memories and Photos from Siren 2009 (Micachu and The Shapes Live)]

Daytrotter has some fabulous new sessions up this week, including a sleazy synth dance party from electro-pop all-stars Junior Boys and a gloriously rustic folk affair from the Duke and the King.  Here at 20 Watts, however, we’re most excited for the upcoming Deer Tick session, which Daytrotter announced it will tape this week.  We all fell in love with the chain-smoking, raspy-voiced John McCauley at last Sunday’s Positive Jam festival — and by we, I mean all the girls on staff.  His Daytrotter session will surely show why.  In other news, Deer Tick also announced today that they’re extending their fall tour, which includes dates with Jonny Corndawg, Cotton Jones, Holy Sons and Dolorean.  [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: Deer Tick Plays Ithaca, 20 Watts Reviews Deer Tick’s Born on Flag Day]

Why is it that you never hear cool pop songs from Denmark?  Or Finland?  Norway, even?  Anyway, Fredrik — yet another sick electro act from Sweden, that mecca of Scandinavian pop — released a preview from their second album Trilogi on Stereogum today.  All layered synth films and moody introspection, “Locked in the Basement” takes some surprising Baroque pop and electro-glitch turns.  We can only hope that Trilogi does the same when it drops November 17 on The Kora Records.  [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: Swedish Meatballs 1: Familijen, Swedish Meatballs 2: Kleerup]

The atmospheric electro jams of Quebec’s Michael Silver, alias CFCF, will soon have an album to call home.  Silver announced today that his debut full-length, Continent, will drop October 27 on Paper Bag Records, preceeded by an October 6 EP, The Explorers, with Swedish synth-pop darling Sally Shapiro.  You may recognize CFCF from his official remixes of dance greats like Crystal Castles, HEALTH and Hearts Revolution; the plaid-shirted party god will also be playing an October 1 show in Toronto, and DJing several sets at the CMJ Marathon in New York. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: Crystal Castles Start Drama, HEALTH Play Myrtle Avenue]

Jack White and the Raconteurs have been nominated for a Country Music Award, according to Rolling Stone. The group was nominated for Best Musical Event after teaming up with country artists Ricky Skaggs and Ashley Monroe on “Old Enough,” off the group’s second album, Consolers of the Lonely. White is currently gearing up for a tour with his other side project, The Dead Weather. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: 20 Watts Interviews Tiny Masters of Today, Editor’s Pick #134: Jack White, Chill Out!]

RS also reports that Sonic Youth has had to postpone its performance at the Austin City Limits festival after an injury to guitarist Lee Ranaldo. The alt-rock legends had to move several dates back to January 2010 after Ranaldo fractured his wrist while playing tennis. The band released its 16th studio album, The Eternal, in June. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: 20 Watts Review’s YACHT’s See Mystery Lights]

— 20 Watts Staff



Memories and Photos from Siren 2009 by Eric Vilas-Boas
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Frightened Rabbit rabble-rouses at Saturday's Siren Festival

READ: 20 Watts’ exclusive interview with Siren opener Tiny Masters of Today
VIEW: 20 Watts’ festival photo gallery, under the jump

Life doesn’t get much better than listening to free live music on a blazing hot summer’s day while chowing down on some cheap, sub-par hot dogs. To all those who don’t reside in the New York area or just couldn’t make it out to Coney Island on Saturday, let’s just say we’re very sorry you missed out.

Luckily for you, however, we’ve compiled a list of the best bands that graced the stages by the boardwalk this weekend. And when they play in your area, you better not miss them. Highlights of the day ran the gamut from fifteen-year-olds to the veteran ’90s indie-rockers that make up Built to Spill. Two types of shows permeated Siren this year: those driven by gimmicks and those driven by musicianship. The best acts melded the two strains together and struck a balance.

Tiny Masters of Today, made up of fifteen-year-old Ivan and his thirteen-year-old sister Ada (with an unnamed drummer), opened up the day for the audience at Siren.

There wasn’t much of a crowd yet when they started, but considering these kids are much younger than most readers of this blog and played at the same stage and on the same day as Built to Spill and Japandroids, they held their own remarkably well. Ada even went so far as to amicably explain that the “President” referenced in one of their songs was George W. Bush, not Barack Obama. With short song lengths and smatterings of political lyrics, it’s ironic that they played some of the purest punk rock of the day despite being born twenty years after the genre first surfaced.

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Despite the heat, Japandroids rocked out like a coked-up White Stripes

Speaking of Japandroids, if there were any band at Siren with too much pent-up energy, it would be this duo. Playing garage rock like a coked-up, bastardized version of the White Stripes, Japandroids murdered their set, pulled it from the grave, and kicked it in the face like so many of the beach balls floating around the stage and crowd. Japandroids offered a warning before starting, with guitarist Brian King commenting on how much room he had to move around on the stage and how he felt like “the f**kin’ Stones” as a result.

Japandroids played one of the most dynamic, talented sets at Siren, and indeed, seemed to love doing it. When drummer David Prowse wiped his forehead with a towel after 20 minutes of nearly nonstop frenetic drumming, King chastised him for his weakness: “The f**kin’ towel? Really?”

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Editors Pick #140: Best Sets at Siren by caitlindewey
20 Watts picks our favorite sets at Siren

20 Watts picks/predicts the best sets at Coney Island's Siren Festival

As phenomenal as it is to see a bunch of awesome bands together, music festivals do have their drawbacks.  There are crowds, for starters — huge, unpredictable, often inebriated masses, which will crowd you out from the front of the stage, crowd surf at totally inappropriate times, and elbow you in the face when you’re trying to take a photograph (…not that I speak from experience, or anything).  There’s the food, which is always overpriced and almost always inedible, depending on how much you’ve had to drink.  Then there’s the sweltering heat, the sunburn, the tall dude who had to stand RIGHT in front of you, the gaggle of 16-year-olds giggling at the rear.

But the biggest problem of all, by far, is choosing which bands to see when several sets occur at the same, or almost the same, times.

Coney Island’s Siren Festival is kind enough to stagger their sets.  But in case you don’t want to sprint from stage to stage, or (God forbid) take a breather between the hours of 1:00 and 8:00, these are my personal Siren picks.

1:00 — Tiny Masters of Today [Main Stage]

Adolescent duo with serious industry cred splat out bratty punk anthems.  Are they awesome because they’re barely in high school, or because the chorus on “K.I.D.S.” is so fun to jam out to?  I’m not entirely sure, but David Bowie’s called their work “genius.”

2:00 — Micachu & The Shapes [Main Stage]

Unconventional and often inaccessible “pop,” played on customized or homemade instruments.  One part garage, one part glitch, and several parts awesome.

3:00 — Japandroids [Main Stage]

Simple, straightforward, no frills garage rock that could have come straight from the 1990s.  Something that sounds this fun on an album must be really incredible live.

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20 Watts Picks the Best New York City Concerts for July 13 by tjwell01
The Siren Music Festival

The Village Voice's Siren Festival is this Saturday at Coney Island

Every Monday, we’re going to keep you guys updated with 20 Watts’ weekly concert picks in New York this summer and Syracuse during the school year. There are always awesome shows in the city, and most of this week’s are the best kind — the free ones.

1) Dirty Projectors, Williamsburg Waterfront at 2 p.m. on July 19th [FREE!]

The Dirty Projectors are one of the hottest indie rock bands this summer and this concert is especially interesting, considering it’s one of their first since suffering a car crash in Michigan last months. The opening acts will be Magnolia Electric Co. and White Denim.

2) M83‘s Anthony Gonzalez, World Financial Center Winter Garden at 9 p.m. on July 14th [FREE!]

No it’s not the whole band, but one member of M83 is better than none. Anthony Gonzalez will accompany a production by video artist Janet Biggs — the shoegazing at this concert should be well worth the trip downtown.

3) Village Voice’s Siren Music Festival, Coney Island from 12 to 9 p.m. on July 18th [FREE!]

We’re most excited for Japandroids, Micachu and the Shapes, The Raveonettes and the Tiny Masters of Today. There also a bunch of other under-the-radar groups if you check out the websitel.

4) Wavves and Real Estate, Bowery Ballroom at 7 p.m. on July 15th [$13 in advance and $15 at the door]

This is the riskiest show of them all. Wavves is coming off a meltdown in Barcelona, Spain — so the show could suck, or you could witness Wavves’ reawakening. Real Estate, however, is worth checking out.

****UPDATE: According to Brooklyn Vegan, Wavves frontman Nathan Williams broke his wrist skateboarding recently but is still scheduled to play the Bowery Ballroom show. That’s bad ass.****

— Jett Wells, Editor-in-Chief



Editor’s Pick #79: Weird New Band… by tjwell01
March 3, 2009, 7:43 pm
Filed under: Editor Picks | Tags: ,

I just received a random album from Matador Records, called “Jewellry” by Micachu and The Shapes, which is set to release on April 7th. Calling this band weird just doesn’t cut it. As an album, these guys are trying wayyyyy too hard to be innovative and fresh. It’s experimental-overdrive….so the album pretty much sucks.

The song “Lips,” however, is pretty damn catchy. I was scratching my head at first, but twelve listens later, I actually jig to this song. Maybe it’s the singer’s awful Jew-fro mohawk, maybe it’s because Micachu rhymes with Picachu, or maybe it’s because this band actually has something. I don’t know, but I could be right.

“Lips” would be even better if it wasn’t so god-damn short. These guys need more discipline and need to work on the songs that sound “okay” and make them better.

I don’t like one-hit wonder bands, but something tells me if these guys they keep their songs simple enough like “Lips,” they could become something.

—-Jett Wells, Co-Reviews Editor