20 Watts


20 Watts’ Best of 2009 by 20watts

20 Watts brings you the Best Albums of 2009!

So, the champagne’s out, the fireworks have stopped, the ball has dropped. The year 2009 may be long gone … But the music is still here — vibrant and waitng for masses who have yet to consume it! Naturally we want to help y’all out. Here’s 20 Watts’ list of the 20 best albums of 2009, from us to you! Enjoy!

Love and stereo,

20 Watts

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20 Watts’ Best of 2009: #15 The Decemberists’ Hazards of Love by jmlittman

The Decemberists' The Hazards of Love is #15 on our Best of 2009 List

PREVIEW: VISIT The Decemberists’ Myspace
TOP TRACK: The Wanting Comes In Waves/Repaid

Words may not be able to give the lyrical genius of The Decemberists’ Hazards of Love justice.

The album began as an attempt by Colin Meloy to write a song called “The Hazards of Love,” a title inspired by Anne Brigg’s 1964 EP of the same name. Meloy was instead immersed in a fanciful concept, and the instrumentals, as well as the lyrics, read like a play. The gentle folk-inspired guitar lines play behind the voices of two lovers, while a harsh, screeching guitar plays over the villains.

The lyrics, even in old English, are entirely cohesive and each track sheds more light onto the stories vivid characters. Hazards of Love deserves to be listened to in the same way that Romeo and Juliet is meant to be read or watched. It’s worth every second you’ll spend googling the obscure old English lyrics and tracing the voices back to their respective characters. It’s even worth the eerie moment when you’ve strung together all the events, so you’ve actually realized how creepy and off-putting this storyline can potentially be.

The album imagines a dark Shakespearean reality where ominous villains threaten a bizarre romance between a young maiden and a shape-shifting creature. Though the musical journey ends in tragedy, the listener’s time has been well spent in this fabricated universe.

— Jen Littman



News of Note: Lil Wayne’s No Ceilings leaks before Halloween release, Midlake spills on third studio album The Courage of Others, Billy Corgan rants about swine flu, Bonnaroo to put out a live DVD by jluposello
Lil_Wayne_shot_gun_photos

Lil Wayne's No Ceilings mixtape leaked today

Lil’ Wayne’s No Ceilings has leaked four days prior to its scheduled debut of Halloween, reports RS. The mixtape is the most recent release after Weezy pleaded guilty to weapons charges, and includes hints at his pending incarceration like, “T.I., hold your head.” Carter rhymes over tracks like  The-Dream’s “Fancy” and the Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling”. Check out the leak courtesy of our friends over at Nah Right.

Midlake has finally released the details regarding their third release, which is apparently set to be titled The Courage of Others, reports Stereogum. The record, which will come to us via Bella Union Records, will feature a sound more reminiscent of, “British folk scene of late 60’s stuff,” says the group. With three years having passed since their last release, we’re expecting quite the album. Stereogum has a look at the track list and a few of the first dates of their 2010 US tour.

Billy Corgan hasn’t released anything worth its salt from the past couple of years, but apparently he’s feeling confident enough to take on the Swine Flu in his blog. In an 800-word rant against the disease and the “propaganda machine” behind it, Corgan explains why he won’t be taking the vaccine, reports Pitchfork. Corgan claims that the disease is man-made, according to “people” whom he has spoken to “as doctors”. He further goes on to boldly proclaim that, “I am willing to question anything: the existence of God, the existence of me or you or Robert Zimmerman.” That’s right, folks, even Bob Dylan.

For those of you who couldn’t make it to this year’s Bonaroo, fear not. On December 15th, the powers behind one of the indie communities most massive festivals will be releasing a DVD of this past year’s show, the aptly named Live From Bonaroo 2009, reports Pitchfork. The DVD will include performances from The Beastie Boys, Bruce Springsteen, Santigold, Passion Pit, and the Decemberists, to name a few.

— John Luposello



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 The Rural Alberta Advantage’s Hometowns by JohnCassillo

The Rural Alberta Advantage will be at Positive Jam September 5th

As far as debuts go, this could well be the standard-bearer for 2009.

PREVIEW: Download The Rural Alberta Advantage’s “Luciana” MP3
WE GIVE IT: 18/20 Watts

This review is part of 20 Watts’ exclusive Positive Jam coverage.  Check out the rest here!

When I sat down to listen to The Rural Alberta Advantage for the first time, I had no idea what to expect. I’d read the hype and seen the countless comparisons to Neutral Milk Hotel, but as someone who is skeptical of lofty expectations, I had to investigate for myself. Ten seconds into the band’s full-length debut, Hometowns, I was convinced it was all true.  For a band that’s only existed for about four years, and has lived in virtual obscurity for three and a half, it’s quite a feat.

A myriad of things struck me about Hometowns, even on the first listen. Lead singer Nils Edenloff’s voice sounds incredibly like that of Jeff Mangum, of NMH fame. This was to be expected as I’d read similar comments in a review or two beforehand. However, what the commentary I’d read beforehand failed to address was the diversity of sounds on this record, including boatloads of energy reminiscent of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and crushing blows that can evoke Colin Meloy of The Decemberists. For a band I’d never heard before, it all seemed so strangely, and pleasantly, familiar.

What’s most intriguing, if not baffling, to me is how they’re able to fit it all in. The descriptions above are simply of one song! The list could continue to include elements from bands such as Arcade Fire, The Shins, The Get Up Kids and even Brand New. It’s jarring to see this many sounds in one place, though not for an instant do you feel unsettled by its presentation. On this album, rarely does a track’s end even remotely resemble its beginning, making shifts like indie pop to post-punk, and noise to ambient electronic, in a matter of seconds.

Continue reading

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20 Watts Reviews Nightmare of You’s Infomaniac by JohnCassillo

Nightmare of You's sophomore release is greatly disappointing

Nightmare of You's sophomore release is greatly disappointing

PREVIEW: Download Nightmare of You’s “Please Don’t Answer Me” MP3
WE GIVE IT: 10/20 Watts

There were always a few revered acts in the Long Island scene in high school. One of these bands, The Movielife, helped shape trends and decide who was the next big thing. After their breakup, its members joined or started other groups, one of which was Nightmare of You. After their self-titled debut in 2005, they were the new “it” band, with accolades from Yahoo! Music and mtvU. A lot can change in four years.

From the onset, it’s obvious that Nightmare of You decided to embrace a bigger, more radio play-friendly sound on their sophomore effort, Infomaniac. Bright pop sounds evocative of The Strokes, and bouncy piano parts are just a few of the changes as the band 180s their demeanor altogether. Maybe it’s just a product of the band getting older, but the edge seen prominently just a few years back is a distant memory, and not necessarily for the better. The trade-off is memorable hooks for the band’s past identity. Continue reading



20 Watts Reviews The Rural Alberta Advantage’s Hometowns by JohnCassillo

The Rural Alberta Advantage impress with their debut album

PREVIEW: Download The Rural Alberta Advantage’s “Luciana” MP3

When I sat down to listen to The Rural Alberta Advantage for the first time, I had no idea what to expect. I’d read the hype and seen the countless comparisons to Neutral Milk Hotel, but as someone who is skeptical of lofty expectations, I had to investigate for myself. Ten seconds into the band’s full-length debut, Hometowns, I was convinced it was all true.  For a band that’s only existed for about four years, and has lived in virtual obscurity for three and a half, it’s quite a feat.

A myriad of things struck me about Hometowns, even on the first listen. Lead singer Nils Edenloff’s voice sounds incredibly like that of Jeff Mangum, the former NMH frontman. This was to be expected as I’d read similar comments in a review or two beforehand. However, what the commentary I’d read beforehand failed to address was the diversity of sounds on this record, including boatloads of energy reminiscent of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and crushing blows that can evoke Colin Meloy of The Decemberists. For a band I’d never heard before, it all seemed so strangely, and pleasantly, familiar. Continue reading

Comments Off on 20 Watts Reviews The Rural Alberta Advantage’s Hometowns