20 Watts

20 Watts Reviews Mouth’s Cradle’s The Next Big Thing by tjwell01

20 Watts Reviews Mouth's Cradle's The Next Big Thing and gives it 17 out of 20 Watts

PREVIEW: Mouth’s Cradle’s MySpace

WE GIVE IT: 17/20 Watts

DOWNLOAD: The Next Big Thing on iTunes

LISTEN: “Show Me Off” by Mouth’s Cradle

These days, greatness seems to come in pairs. Enter Mouth’s Cradle and the final product they’ve been sweating over for months, The Next Big Thing.

The album starts off with a song with a great story, “Ghosts.” Brandon Linn, Mouth’s Cradle’s DJ half, says he thought of the song the exact day before Michael Jackson died when he dreamed he saw a ghost in his room. You can’t make this stuff up. “Ghosts,” secretly Linn’s and Kevin Hegedus’ favorite track on the album, sets the tone with hard thumps and catchy ring tones. Linn’s a master of stringing odd noises and flipping them into head-banging beats, and “Ghosts” floats and rips catchy beats alongside Hegedus’s trademark high-pitch rhymes.

Very smoothly, Mouth’s Cradle takes it down a few notches with their famous “Princess of the Beatz,” which loops several vocal tracks all from Hegedus and a strumming acoustic guitar. The iconic sounds in this album don’t stop there though, as the single “Honey from a Stone” picks it up with fast-paced drum and piano keys.

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20 Watts Reviews Eluveitie’s Everything Remains As It Never Was by Dan

20 Watts reviews Eluveitie's Everything Remains As It Never Was

PREVIEW: VISIT Eluveitie’s MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 14/20 Watts

The title of Eluveitie’s new album says it all: Everything Remains As It Never Was. The Swiss folk metal heroes keep up the basic foundation of their sound, but present it differently than on any of their previous albums. And while here, “differently” doesn’t always mean “better,” the album is still a rewarding listen and a refreshing departure from most contemporary metal sounds.

More so than the band’s previous albums, Everything Remains divides the folk and metal elements into their own groups of songs. Instead of a dozen brutal metal songs that happen to have bagpipes and flutes in the background, we get a few intense sections followed up with calmer, folk-oriented interludes. The result is an almost storytelling quality that recalls the group’s 2008 masterpiece, Slania. Continue reading

20 Watts Reviews Peter Gabriel’s Scratch My Back by crumblymuffin

Peter Gabriel's collection of covers is extremely disappointing

PREVIEW: VISIT Peter Gabriel’s MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 7/20 Watts

Ah, the covers album.  It seems like once some artists hit a certain age, they become incapable of writing any more tunes, and instead just dive into something resembling  The Great American Songbook a la Rod Stewart.  I’m not quite sure, however, whether they do it for their own artistic fulfillment or just to seem relevant in the increasingly schizophrenic music culture.  From the looks of Scratch My Back, Peter Gabriel‘s entry into the canon of career-turning/stomach-turning albums (your pick), he’s aiming heavily at the latter.

One has to wonder what he was thinking.  The tracks here span the last thirty years of music, touching on indie, as well as more mainstream hits from all over the map.  Gabriel actually had the stones to follow up a low-key rendition of Sarah McLachlan‘s “Mirrorball” with an equally low-key  “Flume,” by Bon Iver. He even goes so far as to finish the album with another slow, piano driven track — his version of Radiohead‘s “Street Spirit (Fade Out).” Continue reading

20 Watts Reviews Lightspeed Champion’s Life is Sweet! Nice to Meet You by JohnCassillo

Lightspeed Champion's latest effort shows tremendous musical growth

PREVIEW: VISIT Lightspeed Champion’s MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 16/20 Watts

Attempting to avoid as much hyperbole as possible, the amount of growth witnessed on Lightspeed Champion‘s Life is Sweet! Nice to Meet You is staggering. Just two years removed from debut full-length Falling Off the Lavender Bridge, Lightspeed Champion (aka Dev Hynes) comes to us born anew. Gone are the sloppy arrangements of strings and folk-guitar. Same for the constant peril Hynes always seemed to present himself in. For the first time in his career, Hynes has finally reached out and touched every bit of that untapped potential he’s kept in hiding so long. Continue reading

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20 Watts Reviews Local Natives’ Gorilla Manor by JohnCassillo
February 16, 2010, 10:25 am
Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: , , ,

Local Natives' Gorilla Manor is a strong debut for the young L.A. band

PREVIEW: VISIT Local Natives’ MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 15/20 Watts

Coming on strong and distinctive, Local Natives‘ debut album Gorilla Manor can (at first) appear to be the perfect storm. With a surprisingly strong percussion section, enthusiastic vocals and a penchant for pop hooks, the young band seemingly has stardom written all over them. However, there’s also one thing Local Natives fails to possess on Gorilla Manor— some restraint  — which ends up being somewhat of a detriment to an album that could have been great.

The album is virtually held up by driving drum parts, enthusiastic keyboards and the offsetting harmony of Taylor Rice and Kelsey Ayer. For the large majority of the album, there is hardly a flaw to be found, to be honest. Single “Camera Talk” Continue reading

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20 Watts Reviews Yeasayer’s Odd Blood by JohnCassillo

Yeasayer's Odd Blood succeeds amidst a bevy of experimentation

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

Honest and eccentric, Yeasayer‘s sophomore effort, Odd Blood, dips and dives through a bevy of emotions throughout its 10 tracks. It’s an imposing blend of experimental pop and psychedelic rock, unrelenting as its large collection of sounds caterwaul every which way. However, the album still maintains a loose organization– never dropping its direction or focus as it explores love’s post-mortem with strikingly upbeat results.

The crux of this positive outlook on an otherwise negative situation lies first in the singles, “Ambling Alp” and “O.N.E.” Drawing comparisons to the likes of TV on the Radio, the former bounces along crazed keyboards, lead singer Chris Keating’s occasional falsetto and interspersed horns. It’s a wild, stark bonanza, spinning within the loose confines of the track’s experimental nature. The ladder, on the other hand, while maintaining the same carefree vibe, employs a much more wacky approach. As Keating laments falling out of love, one cannot help but become enamored by the colorful and active background that functions very much as the lyrics’ antithesis. Continue reading

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20 Watts Reviews Hot Chip’s One Life Stand by crumblymuffin

Hot Chip's One Life Stand is a pleasant surprise for listeners

PREVIEW: VISIT Hot Chip’s MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 15/20 Watts

Hot Chip doesn’t seem to have much of a problem putting themselves out there.  Their first few albums, squiggly homages to dance, soul and synth-pop fell in quite nicely with the mid-decade boom of equally squiggly dance records out at the time, but as history beats on, they’ve been more and more at risk of becoming nothing more than a retread, a burst of nostalgia for a dead genre few are willing to touch. It comes as equal parts surprise and necessity then, that the band would release an album as incredibly diverse as One Life Stand at the dawn of the new decade.

Instead of letting their method fall by the wayside though, it seems that Hot Chip have instead focused their vision, refracting their synth-dance backgrounds into a broader spectrum of songcraft.  While tracks like opener “Thieves in the Night” and “One Life Stand” show a lot of the old tricks and trademarks of the band (maybe add in a few more mind-bending synthesizer sounds), other tracks stretch the band’s skills into new realms.  “Hand Me Down Your Love” calls to mind a mix of Spoon and classic 50’s soul, and “Alley Cats” unfolds into a captivating minimalism that begs for replay after replay. Continue reading

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