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ISSUE 21 | Reviews: Rogue Wave’s Permalight by 20watts
April 1, 2010, 1:51 am
Filed under: Issue 21, Issue 21 Reviews | Tags: , , , ,

20 Watts' gives Rouge Wave's Permalight 10/20 Watts

Part of our ISSUE 21 coverage!

PREVIEW VISIT Rouge Wave’s MySpace
WE GIVE IT 10/20 Watts

With Permalight, Rogue Wave don’t offer many good reasons to listen to their new album twice. Not because the album is terrible, but because Permalight is, for lack of a better word, boring. Its sun-drenched, synthesizer-driven indie rock is cut from the same mold as what you hear in a thousand Toyota commercials. Rogue Wave used to be an interesting part of the musical landscape – essentially a poppier, twee-less Elephant 6 band. But now they’ve remade themselves into Death Cab for Cutie’s less talented cousin.

Songs like “Per Anger” and “We Will Make a Song Destroy,” with their jangly guitars and sing-along Continue reading

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ISSUE 21 | Reviews: Broken Bells’ Broken Bells by 20watts

20 Watts gives Broken Bells' self-titled a 15/20 watts.

Part of Issue 21 Coverage!

PREVIEW: VISIT Broken Bells’ MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 15/20 Watts

It’s hard to call Broken Bells just another “supergroup,” because the sound of their debut album is so authentic, soulful and melodically experimental. Broken Bells is made up of The Shins’ James Mercer and Gnarls Barkley’s Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton, but they’re not a match made in heaven – they just sound great together.

Even though the album drops on March 9, the group teased the world with its groovy, smooth opening track, “The High Road” on Dec. 29. The cleanly coordinated lead single may flow with the innocence of a post-Beatles Paul McCartney song, but its electronic whirs and blips resound with the sultry edge of Danger Mouse’s Gnarls Barkley influences. Continue reading

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20 Watts Reviews Rogue Wave’s Permalight by Marc Sollinger

Rogue Wave's Permalight does nothing to differentiate itself

PREVIEW: VISIT Rogue Wave’s MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 9/20

There is hardly a reason to give Rogue Wave’s new album Permalight more than a single listen. Not because the album is terrible, but rather because Permalight comes off as boring.  Mind-numbingly, ear-dullingly boring. It’s sun-drenched, synthesizer-driven indie rock, just you’ll find in a thousand car commercials.  Rogue Wave used to be an interesting part of the musical landscape; essentially a Elephant 6 band with the twee removed and a poppier sound.  Rogue Wave were never great, but they were likable enough.  But now, either in a misguided attempt to sell out (one that obviously isn’t working) or an even more misguided attempt to follow their muse, they’ve remade themselves into Death Cab For Cutie’s less talented cousin. Continue reading



20 Watts Reviews Surfer Blood’s Astro Coast by JohnCassillo

Surfer Blood's debut is a surprisingly sharp and diverse endeavor

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

It ends up that all-world Gators quarterback Tim Tebow may not be the most interesting thing to come out of the University of Florida in 2010. Surfer Blood, who also perfected their own craft at U of F, have one of the early, most anticipated debuts of the year. Their initial effort, Astro Coast, is ambitious, catchy and youthful– not necessarily atypical of a band out of college, but nonetheless, there’s something still inherently different about Surfer Blood.

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Editor’s Pick #255: Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse Present: Dark Night of the Soul by elizabethvogt

Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse Present: Dark Night of the Soul

PREVIEW: STREAM Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse Present: Dark Night of the Soul

While suffering the last leg of a severe bout of depression in 2005, Mark Linkous–a.k.a. Sparklehorse–finally found solace in Danger Mouse‘s The Grey Album. Soon after, the two met and Danger Mouse contributed a few tracks to Sparklehorse‘s 2006 release Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain. As was expected, rumors of a collaboration between the two artists began to circulate.

The result? Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse Present: Dark Night of the Soul, a hauntingly beautiful collaboration album released in May of 2009 featuring indie rock legends such as The Flaming Lips, James Mercer of The Shins and Julian Casablancas. Continue reading

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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.

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20 Watts’ Review Roundup, Week of August 3rd by JohnCassillo

Throw Me the Statue's sophomore release drops this week

Throw Me the Statue's sophomore release drops this week

PREVIEW: Download Throw Me the Statue’s “Cannibal Rays” MP3

Every week, 20 Watts rounds up the new releases on our radar; click the link for our full review.

Have suggestions? Leave a comment or e-mail them to 20wattsblog@gmail.com.

Throw Me the StatueCreaturesque [16/20 Watts]

Following up on 2007’s Moonbeams, Throw Me the Statue delivers the logical progression with Creaturesque. Littered with youthful charm and a broad ambition, the band manages to expand their sound into a more comfortable vehicle than before. It’s varied and bright, adding to the large collection of thematically positive music to come out already this year. Still, it seems to stand out with its large collection of influences appealing to a diverse group of fans.

Modest MouseNo One’s First and You’re Next [15/20 Watts]

Giving fans a look into their best non-album material of the past five or so years, No One’s First and You’re Next is just what Modest Mouse fans need to whet their appetites until the next full length. The eight-song collection shows some great continuity for tracks devised so separately, and overall, ends up being a real treat for Modest Mouse faithfuls. As a word of caution, there will be a few unexpected, but enjoyable, moments sprinkled in as well.

Fruit Bats The Ruminant Band [15/20 Watts]

With their fourth proper release, Fruit Bats set out to further distinguish themselves with their own brand of folk rock. For the most part, mission accomplished on The Ruminant Band. Steady and energetic, the album provides a great summer aesthetic, and also distances the band from other similar acts. For anyone who’s spent any extended time with lead singer Eric Johnson and the gang, you’re almost sure to approve as they manage to progress entirely separate of The Shins.

Yim YamesTribute To [15/20 Watts]

Eight years after George Harrison passed away, Yim Yames’ (My Morning Jacket‘s Jim James) heartfelt cover collection finally comes out of the dark. On Tribute To, Yames looks to give a special thank you to Harrison for meaning what he did to him, as well as close the book on his own personal grieving process. As skeptical as one may be of tribute albums, especially those involving any portion of The Beatles‘ library, this one delivers surprisingly well, giving unique re-workings of the songs Harrison’s fans love so much.

Nightmare of You Infomaniac [10/20 Watts]

After all of the accolades involved with being 2006’s “next big thing,” everything was going great for Long Island’s Nightmare of You. Then they took a few years to release the follow-up. The result is a much-changed sound, sampling the pop rock stylings of The Strokes, while abandoning some of the edge that made their first release so popular. If you’re just starting with them, perhaps head for 2005’s self-titled debut before continuing.

— John Cassillo, Reviews Editor

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