Snoop Lion and Five More Weird Religious Conversions That Need to Happen

Categories: All In

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Photo by Marco Torres
Snoop Whatever at FPSF 2012
A funny thing happened to our old buddy Snoop Dogg last year: he got religion. And not just any old religion, either. In a move that we probably should have seen coming, the Doggfather formally embraced the Rastafari movement, a Jamaican spiritual ideology with fewer than a million adherents worldwide by most estimates.

Perhaps understandably, this conversion was taken by many to be yet another sign of Snoop's devotion to ganja rather than God. While Rastas' sacramental cannabis usage is pretty widely known (and celebrated) at this point, most of the movement's spiritual pillars are more poorly understood by your average gangsta rap aficionado. Rastafari began popping up in the 1930s during the reign of Ethiopia's Emperor Haile Selassie I, whom the faithful revere as an incarnation of God.

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Rocks Off's 10(ish) Favorite Local Albums of 2012

Continuing with our year-end panorama, Rocks Off asked our contributors a simple question with a not-so-simple answer: What was your favorite local album of 2012?

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ALEXA CRENSHAW: Whatever I say here, I'm going to want to take back shortly because there's so much good stuff out there, y'all. Although they haven't released an album this year, I ran across one of Listenlisten's tracks which lead me to stream their [2010] dog LP a bit. listenlisten's folk is simple, yet scenic. [If a 2010 record became someone's favorite in 2012, we're not going to quibble -- ed.]


Craig Hlavaty's 10 Best Houston Albums of 2012

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Rocks Off Gives Thanks For Health, Houston, Better Sound and... Raffi?

Categories: All In

Allowing ourselves to become dangerously sentimental, Rocks Off polled our regular contributors to ask them the one music-related thing they're thankful for this year. We'll stop before we cue up Dido.

Chris Gray: Besides being grateful to be here at all -- in a way that, an all-too-short time ago, I was most certainly not -- I am thankful to be working with all the people from whom you are about to hear. Of course it's not all sunshine and roses (how could it be?), but I am proud of all their work on this blog, and proud to have them here. I find that their enthusiasm for music, especially the local scene, has a way of renewing my own just when it's starting to flag.

A close second is that local scene I just mentioned, which may never, ever get the kind of credit it deserves -- which I also find to be its most endearing attribute. May it ever be underestimated, and may those who do always be pleasantly surprised when they do found out how much it has to offer. A distant third is my iPhone, because this year I finally discovered (to my bank account's peril) exactly how easy and fun it is to download music from iTunes. This is, I shit you not, how I became a proud Little Big Town fan.

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2 Years After Ownership Change, Fitz Is Thriving

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Murder by Death downstairs at Fitz in July
Has it really been two years already since Jagi Katial and Omar Afra became the new owner-operators of Fitzgerald's? Apparently so, because the Free Press Summer Fest partners celebrated their second anniversary at the rickety old live music club on White Oak a couple weeks back with a weekend's worth of bands, headlined by the Walkmen. Time flies, as they say.

When the pair bought the club from longtime owner Sara Fitzgerald, who opened the place back in 1977, local music fans were pleased to see the place remain open, but a little unsure what would become of a historic venue where a lot of happy memories have been made.

Two years later, it's pretty safe to say that the takeover has been a resounding success. That's why we toasted Fitzgerald's as the city's Best Live Music Venue in this year's Best of Houston issue.

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Braving the Boos: Bob Dylan and 10 More Artists Unafraid to Piss Off Their Fans

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"Soon as I pay the electric bill, this thing's going in the dumpster."
Forty-seven years ago this week (wow!), a '60s folk icon by the name of Bob Dylan made his third and final appearance at the Newport Folk Festival in Newport, R.I. It was a highly anticipated set -- Dylan was the de facto leader of the American folk-music revival at the time, and his folkie flock expected an acoustic sermon befitting the occasion. That wasn't quite what they got.

Dylan had explored electrified rock sounds on his 1965 album, Bringing It All Back Home. On a whim, perhaps, he decided to perform with a rock band.

Now, Dylan must have known this would be a provocative move; to many folkies of the day, rock and roll was drugged-out teen pap. Folk music was the sound of the revolution. When Dylan's band plugged in, a lot of people booed and kept booing. For folk obsessives, taking up the mantle of rock felt like betrayal.

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Top 10 Weirdest Kiss Memorabilia Items Up For Sale

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Photo by Groovehouse
In rock n roll and pop music, merchandising has always been a somewhat lucrative ordeal. This especially rings true whenever an artist becomes extremely popular. It is a great marketing ploy, whether for teens, diehards, collectors or regular fans.

Let's face it, when it comes to music merchandising, Kiss has thrived very well in that area, especially with their king and legendary front man Gene Simmons. The band has a bonanza of memorabilia with their logo that includes pretty much everything made under the sun, from the normal band memorabilia of T-shirts, jewelry and hats all the way down to the unusual and downright strange: Condoms, caskets, house d├ęcor and urns. Kiss has also made still other cool merchandise such as the comic books, dolls and action figures, a pinball machine, trading cards and plenty more.

If you wanted, you could probably deck out your entire house in KISS memorabilia. I dare you.

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New Featherface LP Conjures Some Actual Magic

Categories: All In

Featherface on Facebook
It's been more than two years since Houston's Featherface has released a new record, though that doesn't mean that they were short on actively contributing to the local scene.

Since the release of their last EP, It Comes Electric, they've performed many shows and have been steadily growing in popularity. Before performing at Free Press Summer Fest, their new record Actual Magic will be released tonight at Fitzgerald's, where they will be providing access to a free digital download of their new album.

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Unscripted: Top 10 Actor/Musician Collaborations

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Johnny Depp and Marilyn Manson have been hanging out a lot lately. The actor joined the antichrist onstage a couple of weeks ago at the Revolver Golden Gods Awards show in L.A., and played guitar on "Sweet Dreams" and "Beautiful People."

Depp also collaborated with Manson on a cover of Carly Simon's "You're So Vain" that'll be included on the shock-rocker's new album, Born Villain. He even seems to have borrowed a few style cues from Marilyn in putting together his Native Amerigoth Tonto costume for the upcoming Lone Ranger film.

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Kevin Barnes Gets Personal -- We Think -- On Of Montreal's New Stalks

Categories: All In, Pop Life

Photo by Patrick Heagney
Left-right: Nicolas Dobbratz, Davey Pierce, Dottie Alexander, Kevin Barnes, Bryan Poole, Kaoru Ishibashi, Clayton Rychlik
Of Montreal hasn't gone a year without releasing some kind of new, evolved material since their debut album Cherry Peel in 1997. Lead singer Kevin Barnes repeatedly claims the group's new album, Paralytic Stalks to be his most personal.

Barnes has written and produced most of Of Montreal's tracks since the start of the band, so when he claims that his album is going to be personal, it's going to be really personal.

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Springsteen Stumbles On Pedestrian New Album Wrecking Ball

Bruce rocking the DeNiro face hard in this promo shot.
Today sees the release of Bruce Springsteen's newest album, the compact and confounding Wrecking Ball, his first since 2009's Working On a Dream. Recorded and inspired partly by the recent Occupy protests, with most songs coming before the movement was even a physical thing, in any other year it could be a readymade hit.

Is Wrecking Ball a grand treatise on the Great Recession and the fabric and resolve of America in 2012? No, for everyone who just now tuned in, this is all just standard Springsteen operating procedure. I keep reading in other reviews about some sort of fire and grit that these other listeners keep hearing through the album's 11 tracks, but I hear that maybe once or twice.

He's definitely been soaking in the vibes from bands like the Arcade Fire, Gaslight Anthem, Against Me! and the like, who have taken his template into the 21st century, injecting a youthful bite to this album.

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