20 Watts


Memories and Photos from Siren 2010 by 20watts

Kamara Thomas of Earl Greyhound

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: 20 Watts at SIREN 2009

To Coney Island’s ever-looming gentrification and eventual decline in cool, the Village Voice’s yearly Siren Fest is a welcome spit to the eye, and 2010 was no different. Upon arriving to the festivities a bit late and taking a gander at the stacked lineup, we decided to hit Continue reading

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ISSUE 21 | Home Recordings: Invisible Mustache by 20watts

Syracuse natives Invisible Mustache

Part of Issue 21 coverage!

Jumbo shrimp, academic fraternity, midnight sun, boneless ribs — the definitive list of silly wordplay is always changing on us. And Syracuse-based band Invisible Mustache have contributed another.

But the contradictions don’t stop at their name: Invisible Mustache, a self-described “home studio band,” don’t make a habit of performing live, and their artistically simple songs are riddled with complicated layers. Notably, none of the four members actually Continue reading



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:

Continue reading



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



ISSUE 19 | Discography: Modest Mouse by kjfahey
mouse2

Modest Mouse is a featured artist in our latest issue

Known for their loaded lyrics and lengthy album titles, Modest Mouse have been at the forefront of the indie-rock movement since their 1996 debut, This Is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About. Since then, the band has gradually progressed from tastefully engineered lo-fi to a more expensive, involved sound without losing their uniquely chaotic vocals, symphonic instrumentation and violently beautiful stage presence. Following the August 4 release of their latest EP, No One’s First and You’re Next, 20 Watts decided to take a look back at Modest Mouse’s impressive discography. Continue reading



ISSUE 19 | The Lo Life: Low fidelity music is sweeping the campus — and the nation by 20watts
devonstewart

Devon Stewart rocks the Shaefer studios while working on his self-titled solo project

Lil Wayne. Kanye West. Maroon 5. Rascal Flatts. Music purists loathe them for at least one reason — Auto-Tune, a downloadable audio processor that corrects vocal and instrumental blunders in order to attain perfect pitch. By using this program, a producer can fill in a recorded performance’s holes, smooth its edges and polish its smudges.  Everyone must use this to attain musical nirvana, right? Negatory. In fact, musicians that admire large holes, adore peculiar edges, and worship pesky smudges are alive, well and plentiful. They are lo-fi artists.

Lo-fi is a shortened form of “low-fidelity,” fidelity meaning the extent to which an electronic device such as a radio or television can accurately reproduce a sound or an image. Taken literally, lo-fi can be defined as low-quality sound. Continue reading



20 Watts Issue 19 | November 2009 by 20watts

Q&A

Artists in the Issue

Lo-Fi

Pop Art

The Ithaca Sound

Reviews

Playlist copy