20 Watts


Summer 2010 Coverage: Siren Festival announces its hourly lineup by 20watts

Matt and Kim

90-degree beach weather, Nathan’s hot dogs and free music all factor into a day that I’ve looked forward to for years. It’s not the 4th of July. This day comes two weeks later. The stage that’s previously hosted indie rock legends like Broken Social Scene in 2008 and Built to Spill in 2009 will be sporting sunny indie-poppers Matt and Kim and neo-punks Ted Leo and the Pharmacists.

As always, the Siren lineup is neatly stacked — this year featuring a nice mix of up-and-coming blog-buzzers like Screaming Females and Wye Oak alongside last-summer favorites like Matt & Kim and the Pains of Being Pure at Heart. In an inspired bit of scheduling, the Pains, lo-fi surf-rockers Surfer Blood and Matt & Kim will play before both the aforementioned acts on the same main stage. All of their music and live shows are energetic and fun, which bodes well for a day in the Coney Island sun.

Meanwhile the Stillwell Stage will be hosting bands arguably just as cool. Holy Fuck, Cymbals Eat Guitars, Harlem, Ponytail and Apache Beat are set to rock Stillwell, making the ever-present choice of what stage to hit when that much more difficult. The full hourly breakdown was released yesterday in anticipation of the show this Saturday, July 17. 20 Watts will be on-scene for the day and will be covering the day’s shenanigans when we aren’t taking part in them ourselves. Check out some previous free concert coverage this summer and the last time we covered Siren!

Siren '10 Schedule

— Eric Vilas-Boas

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ISSUE 21 | Discography: Ted Leo and the Pharmicists by 20watts

20 Watts Ranks Ted Leo and the Pharmacists' Discography

Part of Issue 20 coverage!

Throughout his decade of music-making, it’s obvious that Ted Leo puts one ideal above all others when creating music: standing behind what he believes in. Think of Ted Leo as a very hardheaded doctor and his band, the Pharmacists as, well, pharmacists. Masters of their craft, their politically charged music is the cure they deliver for the world in peril.

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists’ lyrical poetry is so focused that there is typically little need for definite choruses or consistent use of a tuner. The band’s albums are centered around a unique take on song form. Overall, they lack a unified sound, but as artists they aren’t afraid to Continue reading

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Best Albums of the Year…So Far by tjwell01

yyyWe’re almost at the half-year point, and so much good music has already exploded onto the scene. It seems only necessary to pay respects to the artists and the quality work they’ve exposed to the world so far. I’m not talking about albums with a couple of great songs, this list is about ensembles/full albums that work from head to toe.

(Not necessarily ranked in order)

It’s Blitz! by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs
This could be arguably the most complete album with so many quality songs. It’s not just that the album has great songs–this was a transition album for the YYYS to synth-pop, and they pulled it off magnificently.

Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix by Phoenix
This was my first time exposed to Phoenix, and I was romanced from the start. Phoenix’s new album is a hit-maker, and could called a success just because of its two big hits, “1901” and “Litzomania.”

Fantasies by Metric
A very well-rounded album with quality girl-pop songs. “Help I’m Alive” is an instant pop classic, and really brings the whole album together. Plus, I really respect the fact Metric streamed their whole album before releasing it officially.

Living Thing by Peter Bjorn and John
PBJ pushed themselves to evolve their sound with new sounds and methods, and pulled it off pretty well with this album. This album has one awesome song with a handful of good songs. The Swedish trio are great at what they do–making weird pop songs.

My Maudlin Career by Camera Obscura
I think these guys are adorable, and I love the hit track “French Navy.” This album isn’t as complete as the rest, but still gets my respect because I think their sound is so retro and unique.

Notables: Merriweather Post Pavilion by Animal Collective, Veckatimest by Grizzly Bear, and Actor by St. Vincent

Projected Hits:
Manners by Passion Pit
the eventual Ted Leo album
the eventual Strokes album

–Jett Wells, Reviews Editor



Review: Art Brut’s “Art Brut vs. Satan” by tjwell01
April 14, 2009, 2:36 pm
Filed under: Editor Picks, Features | Tags: , , , ,

art_brut-vs-satan-album-artNew-wave/pop-punk Art Brut turns it up a notch by coming at you harder and hipper with “Art Brut vs. Satan.” The new Art Brut album, due out on April 20th, has a little more “bang” than “pop” this time.

Art Brut’s third album “Art Brut vs. Satan” rocks fast-paced classic punk with indie-conversational lyrics. I hear so many great bands in Art Brut’s sound, like The Clash, Ted Leo, and The Hold Steady. In fact, that’s half the fun of this listening to this album.

Even though Art Brut’s instrumental style is old school (heavy distortion and a fast drum kick), Art Brut beautifully balances this out with Eddie Argos’ prose-like lyrics. He sounds like he’s chatting with the listener instead of singing to them, kind of like The Hold Steady and Ted Leo. If Argos just screamed and sang like Johnny Ramone, this band would not work. By talking more in Art Brut’s music, Argos’ heavy English accent comes out–adding to the band’s international image.

Even though “Alcoholics Unanimous” is the hit single (see below), my favorite song is “What a Rush” because of the stellar lyrics. At the bridge, right before the chorus, Argos sings: “You like the Beatles, and I like the Stones, but those are just records…” It’s hard to make out the in-between lyrics, but you get the picture. Another fun part about Argos’ lyrics is that he doesn’t hold back on the English cliches, like singing about the Beatles and drinking tea.

Ever since their debut in 2005 with “Bang Bang Rock & Roll,” their buzz has been getting bigger and bigger, which is funny because they don’t fall into electro-pop groups exploding today. Art Brut doesn’t need synth-beats or drum-machines, or even auto-tune vocals. Their soul is young with fire and attitude, and they keep it hard and fast like old-school punk/English pop groups.

Bang. Bang. Pow. Pow. Please sir, may I have some more?

–Jett Wells, Co-Reviews Editor

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Editor’s Pick #121: Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah by tjwell01

clap-your-hands-say-yeahEvery once in a while it’s fun to reflect on special albums that stick with you forever. Mine is the Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah LP.

My freshman RA at SkyHall One introduced me to a lot of great bands and is responsible for my indie taste like: Cold War Kids, Ted Leo, Bloc Party, Ra Ra Riot, but CYHASY stuck out. This is mostly because I thought they were terrible and that the singer was painfully out of tune (which he is), so I quickly chucked the record under my bed.

Then one night while riding a Fung Wah bus from New York City to Boston, I found the record on my iPod from months ago, and decided to give it another chance since the bus was stuck in traffic and I had nothing else better to do. I listened to it again. Again. Again, and then something clicked. Alec Ounsworth’s voice suddenly started to sound like something musical. It still cracked, it still missed every note, but I was beginning to understand the genius of his voice.

From that point everything fell into place. I was in love. The tight bass lines gripped me by the shoulders, the crashing hooks shook me, and the weirdly enchanting choruses swayed me. Every track from soft-toned “Over and Over Again” to the rocking fast-paced “Heavy Metal” gave me goose-bumps. The first song that convinced me was “The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth.” Listen to the opening synthesizer riff, and let it consume you.

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