The 39th Pazz And Jop Poll Features Quite A Few Surprises

And by surprises, I mean that I didn't like most of the albums in the top ten. Usually I fall lock-step in with the crowd, but this year not so much, with my love for arena-rock and Americana dominating my list. Pazz And Jop is the Village Voice's annual critics' poll, with critics from music journalists inside and outside the VVM family entering their ballots for the best albums and singles of the year.

Leading the albums balloting this year was tUnE-yArDs' w h o k i l l disc, and the single of the year went to Adele's "Rolling In The Deep". Elsewhere in the top ten, Jay-Z and Kanye West, Destroyer, and Drake beating out Bon Iver by one slot.

Women figured into the ballots this in a big way, with Adele, PJ Harvey, Wild Flag, and tUnE-yArDs dominating both top tens.

More »

The 25 Best Rap Albums from Houston's Glorious 2011

Counting down the 25 best local rap albums of ANY year is less than easy. Counting them down for this year, the most energetic, frenzied year for Houston rap since 2005, it is more than impossible. Rather: WAS more than impossible.

After countless at-length conversations with those that know better, a complicated mathematics-based computer program that nearly buckled NASA and the death of an IHOP waitress, it is done.

For this, there are no rules. There are no pre-qualifiers. There are categories. This isn't the These Are The Best Mixtapes list or the These Are The Best LPs list or the These Are The Best EPs list. Fuck that. Competition is one of the cornerstones of rap. Every piece of (rap) music that came out in Houston this year was eligible for inclusion here.

These are it.

This is them.

These are The 25 Best Rap Albums From Houston's Glorious 2011. It gets no better.

More »

He's Alive! Top 9 Musician Death Hoaxes of 2011

Gotta hand it to Jon Bon Jovi, the guy has a sense of humor.
It seems like 2011 was the year of the celebrity death hoax which involved many musicians. We use that term loosely for the sake of this blog.

Death is never a joking matter but you can't help but chuckle at the thousands of folk who got punked over fake death reports. Let's run through the most memorable.

More »

In Memoriam: Musicians And Industry Giants We Lost In 2011

Clarence Clemons of the E Street Band passed on in 2011.
For Rocks Off, one of the creepiest parts of our job is to report on deaths in the industry. Now matter how old or young the musician or mogul is, it's hard to try to quantify a person's life over the course of a few hundred words. How can you? Professional obit writers must be touched by the hand of God to be able to do this numerous times daily.

2011 was a rough year for Houston, losing blues legend Earl Gilliam, Clip D, and Kathy Johnston of the Mydolls. Huey P. Meaux, the onetime studio and record-label owner and chart-topping producer who helped define the Gulf Coast sound through hits by the Sir Douglas Quintet, Freddy Fender and Barbara Lynn, died in April at the age of 82. He's going to be remembered not only for his hit-making heyday, but also his more tawdry dealings too.

More »

Chafing 101: Rocks Off's 2011 Music Festival Odyssey

Foos (4)-thumb-560x424.jpg
Photos By Craig Hlavaty
Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters at The Hangout Festival in May
Music festivals are now a part of our lives, just like deadlines, angry commenters, lack of sleep, and eye fatigue. And eating at our desk. That sucks. But at least we have food and a desk, right?

Rocks Off ventured all over the state -- OK, really mostly Austin -- to cover festivals for the blog. Hell, I even went to Gulf Shores, Alabama to see the Foo Fighters and Paul Simon, and masked it by taking pictures of southern girls in bikinis so it wasn't really a vacation per se. Um, it was research. For BestFest. Yeah.

More »

Bummer, Dude: The 10 Big Musical Disappointments of 2011

Photo by Marc Brubaker
This guy's crazy rant at Fun Fun Fun Fest made the list.
All things considered, 2011 was a pretty bitchin' year for popular music. It wasn't all high-fives and Grammies for our musical heroes, however. More than few steaming flops, blown gigs and sour notes made the year's highs seem all that much sweeter. Because our readers' memories are easily dulled by the happy-hour swill that keeps us all going, Rocks Off has assembled some of 2011's biggest musical disappointments for one final walk of shame. Let's cluck our tongues in disapproval at this stuff one last time before we forget about it forever, shall we?

More »

Lady Love: My Top 5 Girl Crushes of 2011

These ladies aren't just easy on the eyes -- they're easy on the ears, too. They may not have much in common with each other, but what they do have in common is beauty, brains, talent and a new record in 2011. This year was a big one for women in rock and each one of these dames, at some point over the past 12 months, has made me curse my desk job, wishing just a little bit that I made a living rocking people's asses. They made me dance in my adjustable swivel chair, long for porcelain skin, a Swedish accent and messy tresses down to my waist. These are my top five girl crushes of 2011.

More »

The 10 Best Songs of 2011 You Didn't Hear

Hipster Kitty is a Music Snob.jpg
I have absolutely no clue what is going on out there. I know that Beyoncé had that song with the counting, Adele had a song that was maybe about doing ecstasy in a pool, and some guy with a beard got nominated for a Best New Artist Grammy even though For Emma, Forever Ago came out literally forever ago. Ignorance of popular music is par for the course when you suffer from a chronic case of musica snobbis obscurum. The only relief is uttering the phrase "oh, you've probably never heard of them" to the pedestrian aesthetes you call friends while exposing them to these underrated and underexposed gems from 2011.

More »

The 10 Most Popular Rocks Off Posts of 2011

Photo by Marc Brubaker
Ke$ha, Slutwave queen.
Each December we take a moment to reflect back on the writing of the year, looking at those posts that seem to most fervently stir the hearts and imaginations of our readers. This year, you guys were really, really into films, soundtracks and music documentaries. There were also a couple of stories that appealed to the hipster in all of us. And now, we present, the most popular Rocks Off posts of 2011 (so far).

10. Slutwave: Pop Phenomenon Or Feminist Scourge? -- We were fervently proud to take an introspective stab at the new, curiously named micro-genre that 2010 bestowed upon us: Slutwave.

More »

Rocks Off Lists Our Favorite Downloads of 2011

It's getting to be that time of year, when the temperature drops and the lists start rolling in. Read any blog, magazine or newspaper and you're bound to run across at least a handfull of year-end lists, particularly when it comes to music. We all like to talk about the stuff we like. It's just what we do and Rocks Off is not very different.

This year, we added a slightly different twist to our list gathering efforts. We asked our writers to tell us what their favorite records were -- national and local combined as we'll have a local rundown next week -- but the stipulation was they had to be downloads and they had to be purchased. Not only are we geek friendly, we're pirate free! Oh, and the music didn't have to come from this year. If someone downloaded a great record from 10 years ago for the first time this year, so be it.

Our writers didn't disappoint running down a list filled with diversity. We're certain you had a lot of different choices as well. Leave them in the comments.

More »