Psychedelic Furs & the Lemonheads at House of Blues, 11/2/2014

Photos by Jason Wolter
Psychedelic Furs, the Lemonheads, Night Drive
House of Blues
November 2nd, 2014

Each month, countless bands tour the United States on the nostalgia ticket. What these shows generally present is a fond recollection of a time when both the band and the audience were fresher and tighter; the concert experience triggering a collective "Remember when?" for all involved. The nostalgia is often the best part of these shows, as the bands generally don't sound nearly as together as they did in the past.

Refreshingly, and somewhat surprisingly, Sunday night's Psychedelic Furs show was not this type of concert whatsoever. Despite striking an obvious reminiscent chord with its audience, the band's sound and performance were very much in the present.

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Say Anything & the So So Glos at Warehouse Live, 6/15/14

Photos by Violeta Alvarez
The So So Glos
Say Anything, You Blew It!, the So So Glos, The Front Bottoms
Warehouse Live
June 15, 2014

Sunday night my DeLorean took me straight back to 2006, and drove 88 miles per hour to Warehouse Live's four-band showcase starring Say Anything. Despite never having been a particularly rabid fan of the headliners, I'd listened to a good handful of their songs: they were always associated with bands I loved back when the Warped Tour was still the biggest highlight of the summer. Even so, nothing they did ever particularly grabbed me with the exception of 2012's "Burn a Miracle."

Sunday night's show was an experience that didn't necessarily change my feelings toward Say Anything, but at least I know why: I have no particular connection with this band because they never "got" to me in the way that others of the time did. Post pop-punk emo is successful when it taps into its audience's own thoughts and emotions (read: it's called emo for a reason). If a listener connects with the lyrics, it becomes a personal experience; if not, it all pretty much sounds exactly the same.

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Failure's Unlikely Reunion: "It's Like a Whole New Audience"

Photo by Priscilla Chavez
Ken Andrews, right, with Failure
For 17 years, the story of Failure was thought to be written; finished. The L.A. alternative-rock band produced three albums' worth of carefully layered, atmospheric heaviness that was an uncomfortable fit for the grunge-dominated early '90s. After scoring a minor alt-rock hit with "Stuck On You" and joining the final Lollapalooza tour in 1997, the group disbanded under a black cloud of interpersonal conflict, drug abuse and label indifference -- not exactly an uncommon tale in '90s rock.

Unlike so many of their alternative peers who dabbled in heroin, however, nobody in Failure died...and neither did their music. Whether the group was simply ahead of its time or required the help of new digital distribution tools to be heard, Failure's acclaim continued to grow after the band's dissolution, with many new fans (and critics) coming to revere its final album, Fantastic Planet, as one of the decade's best.

Now all cleaned (and grown) up, Failure has reassembled to write a new and unexpected chapter in their story, with all of the potential for excitement and disappointment that such a return must entail. Before the band takes the stage at House of Blues tonight, Rocks Off spoke with older, wiser bandleader Ken Andrews about how and why Failure now finds itself with another stab at success.

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Strap in for the Cowpunk Ballad of T. Tex Edwards

The Nervebreakers in the year they tried to hijack the radio, T. Tex Edwards in foreground
The gig is flying a bit under the radar, but Saturday the Big Top hosts T. Tex Edwards, one of the legends of early Texas punk. Known as one of the earliest cowpunks, Edwards was butchering George Jones songs when Jason and the Scorchers were still sloppin' hogs in Iowa.

He has always specialized in goofball eccentricity and exhibited a big jones for country murder ballads done in a spirit of deranged delight. As a teenager, Edwards was the vocalist for the now legendary Nervebreakers, a post-garage Dallas ensemble that feared no band. Although they never hit the big time nationally, Nervebreakers are probably best known for backing Roky Erickson at Dallas' Palladium in 1979, a performance eventually released as Erickson's Dallas Live album in 1992.

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The Everlasting Joys of "Let's Work Together"

Lonesome Onry and Mean was pondering the greater meaning of all things with the aid of a cold bottle of Thought Elixir when Dwight Yoakam's version of the old Wilbert Harrison R&B smash "Let's Work Together" came up in the iPod mix. Harrison's original has been part of our DJ sets since Day One, but hearing Yoakam's twang version reminded us of Bryan Ferry's glam hit with his cover of the tune which was tearing up Europe just as we arrived there in 1976.

Thought Elixir being what it is, down the YouTube rabbit hole we plunged in search of our past. While Ry Cooder and Buckwheat Zydeco, Bob Dylan, Kentucky Headhunters and others have covered the tune, these are our favorites beginning with Harrison's 1970 masterpiece.

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Yes, Indeed! Fest vs. Vanilla Ice at Halftime: Everybody Wins

Photos by Nicholas Zalud
The Yes, Indeed! festival: Just standin' on the street, playing guitar...
It should go without saying: there are music events, and then there are events which may be enhanced by the added element of music.

This weekend in Houston, a pair of offerings illustrated this point quite vividly. Saturday's Yes, Indeed! festival in the Warehouse District was the former -- a music event, and a damn fine one too. The Houston Texans' halftime performance by Vanilla Ice (ne Robert Van Winkle) was the latter. Also -- don't laugh now -- not too shabby.

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Eminem's New Track Goes "Old School," We Give You The Best Old School Jams To Celebrate


The real Slim Shady is finally standing up, it seems.

So Eminem, who's pretty fuckin' rad all around, just announced that he was dropping his new album, The Marshall Mathers LP 2, and followed that up with, well, dropping a new single, "Berzerk." So yay!

"Berzerk," for its part, is this kind of crazy, messy, and surprisingly unoffensive song. It's lacking Em's normal "fuck you" vibe, but don't let that fool you. He's progressed, it seems, and he's doing so by taking it really old school in his vibe. It's still an "I don't give a shit" kind of song, but not in the lyrical sense. He's taking chances, sampling artists, and it's really, well, cool to see how his music has evolved.

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Bloodhound Gang vs. Russia: No Contest, Comrade Putin

Bloodhound Gang
It's not quite the Cold War, but the current relationship between the U.S. and Russia is especially frosty these days.

From Syria to Snowden, we can't seem to see eye to eye across the globe, or even the Bering Strait, as Vladimir Putin's return to the presidency seems like regression to authoritarian rule. No one is threatening to bury anyone, but a lot of Russian vodka is being boycotted on our shores.

Now comes word that Russian leaders have imposed a lifetime ban on the Bloodhound Gang.

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Tell You What I Want: A Spice Girls Reunion

Photo by Constance7/Flickr Creative Commons
I admit I am a frequent visitor to and fan of

Yes, I'm a nearly 50-year-old man, but so what? I grew up in a time when Gloria Steinem was out there burning bras. My mama brought home the bacon and fried it up in a pan. I admired TV's fictional feminists like Maude, Florida Evans and Ann Romano.

I love women and things women are interested in. But the more I visit this femme-centric Web site, the more apparent it becomes it's hard out here for a woman in 2013.

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Fall Out Boy at Bayou Music Center, 6/7/2013

Photos by Stephanie Truex/
Since Fall Out Boy did not approve photos from Friday, please enjoy these stills from the band's new video, "The Phoenix."
Fall Out Boy, American Fangs
Bayou Music Center
June 7, 2013

I was telling someone on Friday, "I get to go to Fall Out Boy tonight!" Her reaction? "Ha! Is it 2004?"

I couldn't blame her for the response. Fall Out Boy's name prompts memories of bad piercings, worse haircuts and overly dramatic kids, aka the Era of Emo. Fall Out Boy was one of the most popular bands of the era, and for good reason. Their songs were super catchy and their lyrics were undeniably relatable, whether you were an emo kid or not.

It may not be 2004, but Fall Out Boy still makes super-catchy rock songs with great lyrics. Friday night at Bayou Music Center, they played the hell out of them.

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