20 Watts

20 Watts Reviews The Radio Dept.’s Clinging To A Scheme by jluposello
April 20, 2010, 10:00 am
Filed under: Releases of the Week, Uncategorized | Tags: ,

20 Watts Reviews The Radio Dept.'s Clinging To A Scheme

PREVIEW: VISIT The Radio Dept.’s MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 13/20 Watts

Since their beginnings in 1995, The Radio Dept. have been known for being slow to produce new albums. With their fifteen-year-old discography consisting of a mere three full length releases, the Swedish shoegazers could be described as patient, if nothing else

Clinging to a Scheme is a model example of over-perfection and its consequences. The album exists largely as an effort both over-thought and over-ambitious. This impacts the record negatively, giving it a sound that is neither inventive nor genre-challenging.

That’s not to say all listeners will be alienated by the album’s aspect. The tracks on aren’t necessarily bad, but there aren’t any truly outstanding moments on the record that come to mind when thinking of the work as a collective whole. Tracks such as the opener, “Domestic Scene”, come and go quietly, following a dynamic-shy formula that seems to be all too tried-and-tested in today’s indie scene.

Shorter efforts such as “Four Months in the Shade”  are passable as musical interludes, but The Radio Dept. comes up noticeably short even in that sense. Its lack of consistency and musical maturation causes it to feel more like a half-hearted pit-stop than a thoughtfully-placed interlude.

Tracks like “David” allude to a faint possibility of original sonic direction. The issue is that The Radio Dept. approaches these detours through the unexpected only to shy away on them, preferring the main road of conventionality –  densely textured but blandly orchestrated in form.

As the album draws to a close on “You Stopped Making Sense”, the record feels to have gone almost nowhere in its 35-minute duration. While the album may be enough for glazy-eyed, shoegazing audiences, it’s hardly enough to satiate the appetite of  even a casually demanding listener – especially one conscious of the extensive wait it took to produce the album. Sadly, “Clinging to a Scheme,” fulfills its title in the most disappointingly literal way possible, fixated on the same sonic tropes without considering that some newer scheme might be better worth clinging to.

-John Luposello

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20 Watts Reviews Throw Me the Statue’s Creaturesque by JohnCassillo
Throw Me the Statue's Creaturesque delivers some great guitar-pop

Throw Me the Statue's Creaturesque delivers some great guitar-pop

PREVIEW: Download Throw Me the Statue’s “Waving at the Shore” MP3
WE GIVE IT: 16/20 Watts

With a name like Creaturesque, you’d assume Throw Me the Statue‘s second full-length album is either an exercise in noise pop, or a playful description of relaxed indie. In this case, the album goes with the latter. Building on a productive debut from two years back, the group, led by Scott Reitherman, displays a refined knowledge of where they stand. They are keenly aware of what they’re capable of, never looking to push past these limitations, which would sully the listening experience. Creaturesque is an indie pop record comfortable in its own skin.

Throughout, the album is easy to listen to. It’s a relaxing form of pop, utilizing diverse instrumentation to create jovial songs. This is obviously the mission from the first notes of lead track “Waving at the Shore,” which incorporates a fair share of brass, keyboard and falsetto to mold a great first look at what the album has in store. The first few tracks feel conservatively adventurous, and maybe listening, you do too. Continue reading

20 Watts Reviews Reading Rainbow’s “The Sun Is Out” by JohnCassillo
July 16, 2009, 2:26 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,
Reading Rainbow

Reading Rainbow's first single is an awesome, lo-fi stupor of a song

PREVIEW: Download Reading Rainbow’s “The Sun Is Out” MP3

Once you’re done with the obligatory, and necessary, chuckle that accompanies seeing the words Reading Rainbow as a band name, you get to hear what ends up being a pretty good band.  The unsigned Philadelphia duo specialize in noisy, dreamy pop that sounds like a trippier Radio Dept. Lo-fi has become the word of the day of late, yet Reading Rainbow pulls off a brand of it that works– creating a hypnotic, ambient stupor of a song that should grab them some label attention in a hurry. Continue reading

Editor Picks 39: 80’s Goth Pt. 4 by Alison Baitz
October 27, 2008, 4:53 am
Filed under: Editor Picks | Tags: , , ,

What a dark yet informative month it’s been. I’m a little bit sad that October only contains four Sundays, but I’ll try my best to make this post count. Last week we explored the humble beginnings of Nick Cave. This week, let’s check out another great band: The Jesus & Mary Chain.

You’ve probably heard this song, “Just Like Honey.” It’s off of their amazing album Psychocandy. The entire thing is thirtysomething minutes of pure listening joy- fuzzy and perfectly dark. Though this popular track is pretty slow, don’t be fooled- there are several songs off the album that are going to make you want to move.

Continue reading

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