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ISSUE 22 | Reviews: MGMT’s Congratulations by 20watts

MGMT's Congratulations: ""

Part of our Issue 22 coverage!
WE GIVE IT: 12/20 Watts
PREVIEW: CLICK here for MGMT‘s website

MGMT have been pretty open about what their latest release aims to be: a retort against their success. By doing so, they take their place alongside practically all the bands in pop-music history, groups career-fated by the critical litmus test of What Comes after the Big Single(s). In their own particular situation, MGMT’s radical shift is somewhat reminiscent of Radiohead’s – not just in the sense of changing sounds drastically after the breakthrough album, but in the sense of changing at the start of a new decade.

The bands share the dilemma of having been popular halfway-through one era, only to find themselves precariously uncertain about how to kick off another. MGMT are certainly not timid when it comes to taking a drastic detour in sound, but their boldness does not automatically equal innovation – or even Continue reading

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ISSUE 22 | Reviews: Flying Lotus’s Cosmogramma by 20watts

Flying Lotus's Cosmogramma: ""

Part of our Issue 22 coverage!
WE GIVE IT: 13/20 Watts
PREVIEW: CLICK here to visit Flying Lotus‘s Myspace

Experimental electro-producer and musician Steve Ellison, aka Flying Lotus, has made quite a name for himself as an innovator of a genre often left untouched by modern electronic artists. With two stellar releases prior to his most recent effort, Ellison has laid the foundation for yet another groundbreaking release, and with Cosmogramma delivers an extremely rewarding product.

Featuring appearances from Thom YorkeLaura Darlington and Continue reading

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20 Watts Reviews Flying Lotus’s Cosmogramma by jluposello

20 Watts Reviews Flying Lotus's Cosmogramma

PREVIEW: VISIT Flying Lotus’s MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 16/20 Watts

Experimental electro-producer and musician Steve Ellison, aka Flying Lotus, has made quite a name for himself as an innovator of a genre often left untouched by modern electronic artists. With two stellar releases prior to this most recent effort, Ellison has lain the foundation for yet another groundbreaking release. This manifests in the form of the highly rewarding Cosmogramma.

Featuring guest appearances from the likes of Thom Yorke and Erykah Badu, Ellison’s star-studded record is overwhelming in a delightfully peculiar way. In the brief yet wildly dense tracks, Ellison warps sound waves into forms that will intrigue and please any fan of his own inimitable brand of electronica.

On Yorke’s track, “…And the World Laughs With You”, listeners encounter a coarsely distorted synth line accented by a swirling, industrial-sounding beat, an abrasive yet effective motif that is consistent throughout the record. Yorke’s distinctive vocals enhance the track’s emotional signature.. The way that the track manages to chart such a varying course of emotions and dynamic ranges parallels the album perfectly, giving first-time listeners a good idea of what FlyLo is all about.

On tracks such as “Do the Astral Plane”, FlyLo steers away from his penchant for the uber-distorted and instead creates something unexpected yet fittingly subtle that demonstrates his versatility as an artist. Its arrangements are bound to tickle the fancy of any Toro Y Moi fans, myself included.

An unfortunate side of FlyLo’s style is that it thrives on brevity. Most of the tracks run their course in well under 2 minutes. This may prove unappealing to fans who are keen on duration. Demanding listeners may misinterpret it as a lack of maturity in the tracks,  potentially painting the cuts as simple pieces of studio experimentation.

FlyLo brings an impressively mature sound to the table and continues to break ground in the genre of today’s electronica with Cosmogramma. The album’s potential to overwhelm in terms of both aesthetics and guest appearances make it a notable release, albeit a brief one.

-John Luposello

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Hearing Damage on a New Moon by cweeks88

Picnik collageThom Yorke and pale teenage heartthrobs… Like peas in a pod

PREVIEW: STREAM Thom Yorke’s “Hearing Damage”

The corporate entertainment method of using depressing and ghoulish themes and imagery to swindle the money out of disaffected preteens and their parents strikes again with the upcoming release of the Twilight sequel “New Moon.” The “New Moon” soundtrack reflects this money grubbing model by having an all-star listing of gloomy Indie bands contributing a song each. Nevertheless, in this showing of instant classic Indie groups — ranging from Death Cab for Cutie to Bon Iver and Grizzly Bear — who first made their mark earlier this decade, their contributions are easily trumped by the godfather of the beautiful doom-and-gloom style of alternative rock: Thom Yorke. Continue reading

News of Note: New Moon’s OST Features Thom Yorke, Muse, Grizzly Bear, Lykke Li, Bon Iver and More; Flaming Lips Release Embryonic Video; Broadcast Announce an EP; Rihanna Will Bring Big Beats; And Much More! by 20watts
For better or worse, New Moon's soundtrack will feature some of our favorite indie artists

For better or worse, New Moon's soundtrack will feature some of our favorite indie artists

Thom Yorke, The Killers, Grizzly Bear, and Muse have all signed on to contribute to New Moon‘s soundtrack. Other artists that will be on the Twilight sequel’s soundtrack include Lykke Li, OK Go and Editors. The full track listing can be viewed at NME.COM. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: Thom York and Bon Iver Soundtrack New Moon]

Stereogum reported today that The Flaming Lips released a new video for the song “I Can Be a Frog,” from their new album Embryonic (to be released 10/13). The short song might not seem to make a great video on first listen, but Coyne’s animalistic lyricism makes for a lot of quirky pencil drawings in this unconventional music video. The bikini-clad actress mouthing Karen O‘s “noises” surprisingly adds to the video, but who doesn’t want to see the real thing? Maybe next time. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: The Flaming Lips at ATP20 Watts Reviews The Flaming Lips’ “Silver Trembling Hands” (from Embryonic)]

Birmingham-based electro-pop group Broadcast have announced their second release with Warp Records. Their full-length debut was punctuated by the extensive use of loops and lead singer Trish Keegan’s 1960s psychedelic rock vocals. Filter reports that the EP, entitled Broadcast & Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age, is available for download from iTunes immediately, but won’t be hitting the shelves until October 27th.  The EP can be previewed for free, though, at your next psycho dance party with the help of their trusty Myspace.

Rolling Stone reports that Rihanna’s next LP promises to bring its audience “Big beats and big bass.” She’s recruited producers Justin Timberlake and Chase & Status to help her bring them. This album is sure to take attention away from Rihanna’s past year of drama. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: 20 Watts Reviews Jay-Z’s “Run This Town” (Feat. Rihanna)]

Pitchfork reports that Grizzly Bear‘s bassist and producer, Chris Taylor has started a record label called Terrible Records.  Through his new label, Taylor will be releasing his solo work on October 13. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: Editor’s Pick #172: Grizzly Bear’s “While You Wait For the Others” (Feat. Michael McDonald)]

It seems as though Lily Allen and Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien are close to duking it out, Pitchfork reports. Radiohead belong to the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC), a British musician’s advocacy group. Apparently Lily Allen disagrees with O’Brien’s stance on file-sharing. After the guitarist released a statement endorsing the practice, the infuriated singer posted her opinion on her MySpace blog.  She believes file-sharing hinders the growth of up-and-coming artists. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: Editor’s Pick #93: Lily Allen Is Alright with Me]

Psychedelic folk legends Neutral Milk Hotel have announced plans to re-release their discography through Merge Records, as reported by Filter. The reissues of On Avery Island (1996) and the critically celebrated In the Aeroplane over the Sea (1998) will be released on vinyl along with a digital download code, so that listeners can enjoy the reissues without a turntable. Considering In the Aeroplane over the Sea was the best-selling vinyl album of 2008, there’s definitely a market for it though. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: 20 Watts Reviews Circulatory System (Elephant 6)]

— 20 Watts Staff

News Of Note: Kanye Apologizes and Announces A New Tour With Lady Gaga, The New Vampire Weekend LP Is Shaping Up, and what’s new with Radiohead by 20watts
Kanye talks to Jay Leno the day after the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards

Kanye talks to Jay Leno the day after the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards

PREVIEW: Watch Kanye’s interview with Jay Leno and Jay-Z, Rihanna, and Kanye’s performance of “Run This Town.”

After the Kanye West publicity stunt/VMA debacle Sunday night, the rapper sat down with Jay Leno on Monday and publicly apologized, Pitchfork reports. After giving a heartfelt apology, and shedding some tears when Leno asked West what his late mother would have thought of his disrespectful act, he performed “Run This Town” with Jay-Z and Rihanna. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage:20 Watts Reviews Jay-Z’s “Run This Town”]

In other Kanye news, SPIN.COM reported that he and Lady Gaga would join forces and hit the road together this winter. The entire tour will comprise of 34 stops and it starts November 11 in Pheonix, AZ and will end on January 24 in Dallas, TX. The nearest Syracuse date is Buffalo, NY on December 20. If you saw Gaga’s VMA performance you know that this will literally be the craziest winter tour. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: Lady Gaga’s New Music Video/Short Film]

According to Pitchfork, Vampire Weekend has announced  details regarding their second full-length album.  The album entitled Contra, will be released January 12, 2010 and the tracklist is currently available on the band’s website. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: 20 Watts Reviews Discovery’s The LP]

NME.COM reports that Radiohead drummer Phil Selway will release a solo album. Selway will sing on the album and be joined by Wilco members Glenn Kotche and Pat Sanzone, solo-artist Lisa Germano and bass player Sebastian Steinberg.  The albums release date is unknown at this point.

NME.COM also reports that Radiohead’s frontman, Thom Yorke, is set to perform “The Reckoner” after a showing of the new climate change film “The Age of Stupid.” The performance will occur via satellite transmission from a mysterious undisclosed location. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: Radiohead Leak Track? “These Are My Twisted Words”, Radiohead Wrote A Song That Would Suit A Funeral? No Way!!]

– 20 Watts Staff

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News of Note: Kid Cudi with MGMT and Ratatat, Jay-Z, Nine Inch Nails, and The Beatles by 20watts
Kid Cudi just released new track "Pursuit of Happiness" featuring MGMT and Ratatat

Kid Cudi releases new track "Pursuit of Happiness" featuring MGMT and Ratatat

PREVIEW: DOWNLOAD Kid Cudi’s “Pursuit of Happiness” MP3

Pitchfork posts new Kid Cudi song “Pursuit of Happiness” featuring indie gods MGMT and Ratatat.  The single will be the third off his upcoming album Man on the Moon: The End of Day, to be released September 15, 2009.  The single alludes to his search for weed (Cudi’s drug of choice) as the pursuit of happiness — a theme highlighted nicely by MGMT and Ratatat’s synthpop beat.  Catch a live performance of “Pursuit of Happiness on tonight’s “The Late Night Show With David Letterman.”  [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: Editor’s Pick #71: Cudi Gets Psychedelic]

Rolling Stone reported the change of release dates for Jay-Z’s new album The Blueprint 3 from its planned Friday drop date to today, a more conventional Tuesday release. While the move means the album no longer drops on the eighth anniversary of the first Blueprint, it should assure Jay the top spot on Billboard’s albums chart. The album is his first release since 2007’s American Gangster. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: 20 Watts Reviews Jay-Z’s Blueprint 3, Editor’s Pick #168: Jay-Z Endorses Indie Rock]

RS also reported that Nine Inch Nails has changed the date of its final show to September 10. The band was due to end its performing career on Sunday, September 6, at Los Angeles’ Echoplex, but after frontman Trent Reznor‘s short illness, the final concert will now be Thursday at L.A.’s Wiltern. Over the last few weeks, the band has also performed shows in New York and Chicago on its “Wave Goodbye” tour. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: Editor’s Pick #147: Alice in Chains’ “A Looking in View”, Trent Reznor Announces Final Nine Inch Nails Tour Dates]

Paul McCartney told NME.com that he would like The Beatles’ catalogue available for download. According to McCartney, record label EMI is to blame for the band’s inaccessibility on the Internet. “We were having problems with iTunes — well not iTunes, EMI was the problem — with downloading which we’d like to do because that’s how a lot of people get their music,” McCartney said. The Beatles: Rock Band drops tomorrow, so this problem will be partially solved for players who can download songs from the Rock Band website. Rock Band developers Harmonix have plans to offer more Beatles albums and tracks for download in the future. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: McCartney and MGMTBeatles and iTunes Fail to Reach Agreement]

In other Beatles news, web radio heavyweight AccuRadio announced today that it will begin broadcasting a series of Beatles-themed channels tomorrow to celebrate the release of the Beatles’ remastered collection.  The channels will include “Beatles Plus” — more or less all Beatles’, all the time — as well as the obviously named “Just Covers” and the intriguing “Beatles and Friends,” which claims to contexualize the remastered catalog with other bands and songs from the time.  AccuRadio’s apparently endless roster of free niche radio stations also includes such appetizing options as “Sea and Sand,” “Canadian Pop” and “Hiptronica” — whatever that means, we’re into it.  [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: Beatles Rooftop PerformanceBeatles Rock Band Trailer]

Neon Indian, whose debut LP drops October 13, has announced the dates for his upcoming world tour.  Unfortunately, he will not be stopping in Syracuse, but you can catch him in NYC at the Music Hall of Williamsburgon October 24. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: 20 Watts Interviews Neon Indian]

Kurt Vile, after losing his job as a forklift operator, didn’t have much recourse but to pursue music full-time. Former lead guitarist of The War on Drugs, Vile released the albums Constant Hitmaker and God Is Saying This to You in 2008 and 2009 respectively. Now he’s hard at work on his Matador Records debut and has just released the album’s lead track “Hunchback.” Supposedly more of a rocker than the rest of the album, “Hunchback” follows a Youngian thread. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: Yo La Tengo’s Popular Songs (Matador Records)]

British trip-hoppers, Massive Attack sat down with the magazine for a little Q&A about their career, the upcoming Splitting the Atom EP and their next full-length effort, set for February. Also included with the interview was the scenic, Thom Yorke-esque number “Bullet Proof Love,” which will be featured on Splitting the Atom, out next month. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: Radiohead’s “These Are My Twisted Words”]

No AgeConverge and Torche tore up Saturday’s FYF Fest in Los Angeles. Mixing genres from metal to hardcore to punk, the festival, formerly known as Fuck Yeah Fest, aims to raise awareness for the California state parks system. SPIN has pictures of the mayhem as it unfolded this weekend. [Previous 20 Watts Coverage: Free NYC Dirty Projectors Show on July 19th]

— 20 Watts Staff