Why the New Wu-Tang Clan Album Should Not Happen

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Photo by Katya Horner
Wu-Tang Clan at House of Blues in 2012
As of late, Wu-Tang Clan leader RZA has been acting with a single-minded purpose: making a new Wu-Tang album happen, against all odds. He's already titled it A Better Tomorrow and dropped a couple of singles to promote the album; even as projected release dates have come and gone, he's admitted that he's struggled to get the other eight members in a room together.

Nominally, this would be get me excited. Even though Wu-Tang's last few collaborative efforts have been mixed affairs, the individual members involved have been firing on all cylinders for several years now. However, there are some really good reasons this album should not happen at all.


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Amazon's Funniest One-Star Classic Album Reviews

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Photo by Nathan Rupert via Flickr
As a music writer, it can be beneficial to seek out other music reviews to see what people are thinking, aficionados and trolls alike. Let's look at Amazon, a popular site where I admit I've spent a bit of money and time. You can find anything here, down to your most basic grocery-shopping needs.

As with all other comment sections, really, Amazon's consumer reviews can be deafening. These critics have opinions that they absolutely have to defend, or else they just want attention. Others just get really excited sharing their naysaying opinions, and sites like Amazon provide a wide audience. Today we thought we'd help widen some of these reviewers' audiences (hopefully alongside our own) with a top-notch, annotated selection of Amazon's one-star album reviewers.


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The Pixies Should Just Retire Already

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Photo by Groovehouse
The Pixies in 2010, the way everyone remembers them
Tomorrow night, Houston will witness the return of legendary indie-rockers the Pixies. It's their first show in town since 2010, and obviously a lot has changed about them since then. If you'll recall, the last time was at Verizon Wireless Theater, playing all of second album Doolittle in lieu of any new material, since at the time they didn't have any.

Well, Verizon Wireless Theater is now Bayou Music Center, and the Pixies are playing in the rechristened venue with brand-new songs and a brand-new bassist in the form of Paz Lenchantin, who you may remember from Billy Corgan's Zwan and A Perfect Circle.

Not everyone is excited, though, including me, and I'll tell you why. It's time for the Pixies to retire.


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Do Musicians Have Any Business Starring in Ads?

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Bob Dylan shoots pool for Chrysler -- does that make him a sellout?
It's a real testament to our consumerist culture that one of the biggest events of the year for many people is seeing a series of high-budget adverts in the midst of a sports game. A significant amount of people tune in to the Super Bowl every year not because they care about football or even the halftime show, but to see the clever ways businesses came up with to sell something to them.

That in itself is about the least counterculture, anti-establishment thing in the world, so it's no surprise that people are upset that a counterculture, anti-establishment icon like Bob Dylan starred in this year's Chrysler commercial. It's not the first time controversy like this has erupted either. Remember when John Lydon started shilling Country Life butter? So much for punk, right?

But let's take a serious look at this for a moment. This isn't about Bob Dylan, this is a larger issue. Is it really so wrong for musicians, regardless of their reputation, to appear in ads? Is it so wrong for them to use their image to sell us products?


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Should Bands Play What We Want to Hear?

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The guilty party in question.
This question comes up time and time again in discussions about live concerts, and it seems like it's going to come up again now. Recently post-hardcore/indie-rock band Brand New played some shows on the East and West coasts performing their full-length records in their entirety. It was a bold move by a band with a deeply loyal fan base.

Well, that loyal fan base seemed to be stretched to their breaking point by a performance of Brand New's most recent record, 2009's Daisy. Daisy met with a mixed reception because Brand New had changed up their sound once again, and the fans at those shows made it very clear they wanted to hear songs from Brand New's other records instead.

Some fans were so outraged by their brethren that they started a Tumblr dedicated to heckling the hecklers. Personally, I have to ask the question again: Should bands play what we want to hear?


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Why Greatest-Hits Albums Matter, and 10 Greatest-Hits Haikus

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Photo by Creative Commons Wikipedia
Damn it!! They are always sold out of Hall and Oates!!
A solid album, to me, is what I have dubbed a "Front-to-Back." I have two definitions for Front-to-Backs: 1) albums that are structured to listen to as an entire piece of artwork (like Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall, or Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea); and 2) albums that are full of amazing work, allowing you to not have to, or want to, skip songs (some that come to mind are Weezer's "Blue Album" and Pinkerton and the Stones' Let it Bleed).

Under those definitions, I do not believe that many bands make solid albums anymore. However, of those that do, even these albums are often not heard beyond their most popular tracks.

Right now, the vast majority of music that reaches the general public in full-length format is structured around two or three (or worse, just one) songs that are manufactured to be radio singles. When these singles are extracted, what remains is often forgettable filler and garbage.


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Axl And Slash, Still Causing Trouble

Rocks Off is following our sister Houston Press blogs into the choppy waters of "Comment of the Day," choosing a comment or a handful of comments from the previous day we find especially enlightening, infuriating or just plain hilarious. We're glad our readers have opinions, whatever they are, about what we write, and encourage them to keep 'em coming.

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Sorry, folks, Rocks Off has not heard anything further about a possible burying of the hatchet and subsequent whipping out of the axe between the screeching Guns N' Roses crab-walker and his top-hatted former guitarist.

But even the mere hint of an onstage Axl/Slash reunion is enough to get the comments pouring in, comments like these from our post about musicians who might - emphasis on might - make their way to town in 2011.


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Captain Beefheart, Houston Misses You

"An electric guitar attracts Beelzebub..."

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Today's comment of the day comes to us from Friday afternoon's announcement that artist and avant-garde rocker Captain Beefheart, aka Don Van Vliet, had passed away in Southern California at age 69.

radiocitizen:

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Rocks Off isn't surprised the news of Beefheart's death provoked such a visceral and widespread (more than 500 Facebook shares so far) reaction in Houston, where the line between performance art, rock and roll and the blues is thinner than most. Our own Lonesome Onry and Mean was at Beefheart's 1971 show with Ry Cooder and Houston's Bruiser Barton & the Dry Heaves ("The worst band in Texas," according to Rolling Stone), which happened at West U hippie joint Of Our Own on the Trout Mask Replica Tour. Here's what he wrote back in August.

By the way, don't be scared of our new Diskus comment system. Rocks Off hasn't had much opportunity to mess around with it yet, but it works just fine. More Beefheart after the jump.


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Beethoven Rocks Harder Than Ever

Rocks Off is following our sister Houston Press blogs into the choppy waters of "Comment of the Day," choosing a comment or a handful of comments from the previous day we find especially enlightening, infuriating or just plain hilarious. We're glad our readers have opinions, whatever they are, about what we write, and encourage them to keep 'em coming.

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Rocks Off is really starting to like this Comment of the Day thing, especially when it gives us an excuse to play one of our favorite pieces of music of all time for you. Jef With One F rolled over Beethoven for the maestro's 240th birthday, and drew some very complimentary comments.

brinnlitz says:

The Ninth is my favorite work of art/music, ever. It's the European Union's anthem ... which speaks for how universal it is.



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iLL LiaD Blows Up... Way Up

Rocks Off is following our sister Houston Press blogs into the choppy waters of "Comment of the Day," choosing a comment or a handful of comments from the previous day we find especially enlightening, infuriating or just plain hilarious. We're glad our readers have opinions, whatever they are, about what we write, and encourage them to keep 'em coming.

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There's really only one choice for Comment of the Day this morning. Wednesday about noon, Shea Serrano's interview with Houston underground rapper iLL Liad had about four comments.

Roughly six hours later, 31 comments. Those of us who saw iLL's bravura "Fuck the Meridian!" performance opening for Wu-Tang Sunday knew he was a star. Looks like it took the rest of you about 48 hours to catch up.

Houston being Houston, naturally, there were a few haters sprinkled among all the compliments. A sampling:


Jozef says:

Homeboy Ill Liad, Rusty James, and John Black bringing that real hip hop back to Houston. And they say the South killed hip hop smfh.

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