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City Sounds 3/29: New York No Wave by krkuchta

Listen to WERW's New York No Wave Monday night from 11pm-1am


New York City is one of the most influential cities in the world. Pick something culturally common; whether it be food, architecture, art, etc., and New York is famous for something in those respective categories. Music is no different. In fact, New York is known for MANY types of music. But one of the most unique genres that was born in NYC is No Wave. It’s about time for a City Sounds History Lesson.

First came New York punk. Artists like Patti Smith, Ramones and Television all had their own styles. Punk was defined by diversity and distorting the view of what music was. Blondie and Talking Heads came in to the picture, and by 1980, punk became a household name.

A rebellion against a rebellion arose in the form of No Wave. Punk really only took common musical rhythms and sped them up while singing about rebelling against the status quo. But if they take something as culturally significant as music and don’t rebel, are you really “punk?” No Wave went out to change this idea. Almost every No Wave artist went out to break every rule they could. Teenage Jesus and the Jerks with their frantic, out-of-tune guitar strums; The Contortions with their schizo-jazz; DNA with something indescribable.

This movement only lasted about 3 to 4 years, but still inspires generations later. New York natives from Sonic Youth all the way to Yeah Yeah Yeahs drew from No Wave. So we should go on and celebrate this incredible time in musical history, just for the hell of it. Listen to City Sounds Monday night from 11pm-1am on WERW. It’s about to get noisy.

–Kyle Kuchta

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THE 20.7: Post-Punk by 20watts

The 20- Joy Division_01

In the late-’70s and early-’80s, following hot on the trails of punk rock, a new musical movement developed on both coasts of the Atlantic. The artists and bands associated with it shunned punk’s noise for a more layered, introverted songwriting and instrumentality. The movement brought with it synthesizers, Krautrock influences, as well as a more complex and experimental approach to music-making. In doing so, they set the wheels in motion for the eventual surge in ’80s and ’90s alternative rock. History has labeled this movement post-punk.

So what’s the very best of post-punk? 20 Watts’ CHRIS PARKER has the answer in our seventh 20 installment. Watch for new 20s each Thursday, only on 20 Watts, and check out our previous 20s below!


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Editor’s Pick #192: Our Band Could Be Your Life by 20watts
The Replacements

Bands like The Replacements (above), Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr. and The Minutemen are featured in Our Band Could Be Your Life

Will there ever be another era in independent music like the ’80s and early ’90s? I think not, and Michael Azerrad‘s Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991 hopes to explain why. This book, published a decade later in 2001, attempts to explain and elaborate on the underground indie music scenes that defined the bands that today enjoy mainstream popularity.

Our Band Could Be Your Life focuses on thirteen disproportionately influential bands. None of them enjoyed any sort of mainstream success, but through constant touring, prolific recording, fanzine exposure and other methods of getting noticed, they all sired the bands that we today consider music gods (indie or mainstream).

Without Hüsker Dü, there could be no Pixies. Without Big Black, industrial rock wouldn’t be around. Without Black Flag, Green Day would probably have been a Cheap Trick cover band. Without The Replacements, The Decemberists literally wouldn’t exist. Without Sonic Youth and every other band mentioned in the book, Nirvana wouldn’t have changed the way we listen to music.

In The Replacements’ Let It Be‘s 33 1/3, Colin Meloy mentions listening to Let It Be incessantly to get over the self-consciousness over his extended sternum. Books like this one and the 33 1/3 series are both interesting and informative. Speaking from experience, having a working knowledge of a musical genre’s history adds a lot to any critique. We salute you, Mike Azerrad.

— Eric Vilas-Boas, Managing Editor

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20 Watts Reviews No Age’s Losing Feeling by Marc Sollinger

No Age craft one of the best EPs of the year.

No Age craft one of the best EPs of the year.

PREVIEW: DOWNLOAD No Age’s “You’re a Target” MP3
WE GIVE IT: 18/20 Watts

From Sonic Youth, to My Bloody Valentine, to Fugazi, great noise rock bands delve into the curious relationship between tumult and transcendence.  What many bands forget is that, unless you can coax the sublime out of the hazy and the dissonant, you’re putting screwdrivers in your guitars for nothing.  Few bands today understand this better than No Age, the critically beloved two-piece from Los Angeles.

On their latest EP, Losing Feeling, No Age are at their most accessible.  Calling to mind later Sonic Youth, No Age craft four sweeping, fuzzed-out songs that each feel epic and grand, despite the fact that not one plays over four minutes.  The EP starts out with the melodic title track, a chugging, swirling, summer song that seems more appropriate for a barbecue than the impending winter.   This segues into “Genie,” a gently spinning track, with a bit of bite to it. Continue reading

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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

20 Watts Reviews YACHT’s See Mystery Lights by JohnCassillo
July 27, 2009, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Free 4 All, Releases of the Week | Tags: , , , ,
YACHT's See Mystery Lights starts well enough, then falls short.

YACHT's See Mystery Lights starts well enough, then falls short.

PREVIEW: Download YACHT’s “Psychic City (VooDoo City)” MP3

Bands sometimes need to take a stab at different genres in order to succeed from a fan base standpoint. In YACHT‘s case, it seems overwhelmingly obvious that the influence there is Sonic Youth‘s noise/art punk. Relying heavily on as good an imitation of SY’s Kim Gordon as you can get, YACHT finds its niche amongst the art rock fans of the world, presenting grunge-infused pop that if I didn’t know any better, I’d say was Disc 2 of the Daydream Nation deluxe edition.

As an overall effort, See Mystery Lights has a lot of great points. Many electronic records gain popularity on one hit song and nine misses. Luckily for YACHT, that’s not the case here. Not only are most of the tracks highly listenable, but they are memorable as well. Many have pointed straight to the album’s initial release, “Psychic City (VooDoo City)” as the standout, yet I wouldn’t even put the catchy track in my top three. It’s a positive statement on the part of the record, to say the least. If you’re really looking for the best this effort has to offer, might I recommend the funky, noisy “Summer Song,” or the T-Pain-inspired “I’m in Love with a Ripper”. Continue reading