Four Controversial Songs by Current Houston Acts

Photo by Vox Efx/Flickr Commons
Controversy abounds, as it always has. But we're reminded more frequently than ever just how confusing our modern-day existence is, what with these phones-turned-newspapers and social-media feeds and such.

In Denmark, Santa Claus is apparently a heinous slave owner who dictates his nefarious Christmas plans to someone called Black Pete. Fat Albert may or may not be a rapist. Some publishing company believed yet another photo of Kim Kardashian's bare ass -- a thing that had already been seen more than Punxsutawney Phil over a century of Februaries -- could "break the Internet." We can land an unmanned probe on a comet hurtling through space at 84,000 miles per hour, but we still don't know why dropped toast always falls buttered side down.

Musicians have always been there to address many of these issues. It's a tradition that dates back at least as far as "Ring Around the Rosie" and its social commentary on the Great Plague. In more recent times, it's been carried on by songs like "Strange Fruit" and "Masters of War," and "Fuck Tha Police." Houston of course enjoys its fair share of artists with the nerve to take on the day's provocative issues, such as the ones responsible for these four recent songs.

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Slipknot Is Back...But Who's Buying?

Photo by Victor Pena
Slipknot stopped by the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion during Rockstar Energy Drink's 2012 Mayhem Fest.
Last month Slipknot rose from the ashes, releasing their first new record since 2008 and their first since losing drummer Joey Jordison and bassist Paul Gray. .5: The Gray Chapter is currently being praised as a return to form for the band, going back to the roots of their more successful sound on the album Iowa back in 2001.

This renaissance for the band is surprising, to say the least. For their fans, it's welcome and overdue. For the rest of us, it's just raising all kinds of questions. You see, full disclosure: I always hated Slipknot, growing up in the era where they were at their peak. But could that change? Could all these years have melted my icy heart?

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Meet Three Bands Who Love Playing Houston

Photo courtesy of Marla Strange
Marla Strange
Houston's music scene is arguably experiencing one of its most sumptuous moments ever. Local acts showing great promise are as voluminous and interesting as our town's food trucks and, similarly, have whet Houstonians' growing appetites for live music. We're out there sampling more morsels of good stuff than a famished shopper at Central Market.

That thrilling hunger isn't just good for local musicians. It's attractive to out-of-towners, too. An informed music community makes Houston a destination for bands out there grinding it out to make a name for themselves. But don't take our word for it: this trio of acts who frequently visit the city will tell you why you rock, Houston music fans.

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Six Great Covers of TV Theme Songs

"Weird Al" Yankovic put his own twist on covering TV show theme songs at this year's Emmy Awards.
Television's influence on our musical vocabulary is vast. These days, singing shows are determining new pop stars. A great TV theme can become iconic -- Sanford and Son, Friends, The Sopranos -- and shows like The Simpsons, Family Guy and Scrubs have become legendary for their in-show musical performances.

Of course, famous bands are paying attention to that too; they get those songs stuck in their head just like we do. Few have a big enough sense of humor to cover a silly TV-show theme, but when they do, it's always something special. Here are a few favorites.

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Relax, It's Okay to Like Weezer Again

Categories: Dig This, Hipsters

Photo by Emily Shur
"Take me back," singer Rivers Cuomo intones in the chorus of Weezer's latest hit single, "Back to the Shack." It's a familiar sentiment from him, going all the way back to the early portion of his career when he sang "I've got to get back" in Pinkerton classic "The Good Life."

Is "Back to the Shack" the return to form he's pining for in its own self-referential lyrics? Not quite. It's maybe the worst out of the recently released singles from their new record, Everything Will Be Alright in the End (in stores today), yet it does a pretty damn good job of sounding like the old Weezer, something the band has consistently failed at for the last decade.

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Milk Is Better Than Drank, Thanks to Beaumont's Purple

Photos courtesy of Purple
I saw Purple perform live recently and was blown away by their relentless energy and bombastic garage rock. So I was pretty happy to find their video for "Leche Loco," which is so new I was only the fourth or fifth person to "like" it on YouTube.

I had a watch party of three later that evening with my son and a friend, Justin Paxton, from the band Two Buck Drunks. We tried to pinpoint some Purple influences, and heard some Blood Brothers, CKY, bygone locals the JonBenet, and most definitely Kathleen Hanna when the drummer sang. Her name, coincidentally, is Hanna. Hanna Brewer.

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If Bands Sponsored NFL Teams: The NFC

Categories: Dig This

Photo by Marc Brubaker
Is Snoop finally the man to bring the Rams back to L.A.?
Recently we wrote about the ramifications of KISS and Vince Neil buying their own Arena Football League teams and what it would be like if NFL teams were also themed around bands and musicians. We started by running down the AFC, including our hometown Houston Texans.

This time we're going to examine the NFC and see what teams fit with what bands in that conference.

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football, NFC, NFL

If Bands Sponsored NFL Teams: The AFC

Categories: Dig This

Recently Vince Neil got approval to start his own Arena Football League franchise in Las Vegas. No word yet on the branding, but we here at Rocks Off are obviously hoping that, like the L.A. KISS, it will be themed around Neil's band Motley Crue.

For those not in the know, the L.A. KISS is KISS' own AFL team, and themed around the band's massive brand. I personally love this idea, and it got me thinking: what if the NFL was equally devoted to music, with bands buying the teams and shaping their images? And if this happened, what would those teams look like?

We decided to reinvent all 32 teams in the league based around their existing personas, and the bands that would (obviously) best fit them. Since Houston's own Texans are a member of the AFC, we'll start off with that conference, then move on to the NFC later.

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Five Contemporary Acts the Houston Symphony Should Take On

Categories: Dig This

The Houston Symphony performing Handel's Messiah in 2011.
This Saturday at Jones Hall, the Houston Symphony will take on the music of Led Zeppelin, as arranged by conductor Brent Havens. It's sure to be an awesome show, and I personally think it's sort of a brilliant idea. Hard rock and metal have always had elements that gel well with classical and symphonic music.

Deep Purple and Metallica both did it to great effect. But while the orchestra's Zeppelin tribute will surely be fantastic to hear, I can't help but think that this idea could apply equally well to some contemporary acts. Why should classic rock get all the symphonic treatments? Here are five current acts I think would be perfect for the gig.

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Slim Thug REALLY Wants the Rockets to Sign Carmelo Anthony

Categories: Dig This

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Oh, what a funny business the NBA is. And nothing is funnier than the league's free-agency season, when Monopoly money is tossed at players who either a) deserve it; b) probably have photos of your GM doing unimaginable things; or c) happen to have the names Jeremy and Lin.

You see, free agency is where the real NBA season lies. It's how Houston came to determine that Slim Thug is our greatest weapon in luring NBA free agents. You thought Dwight Howard came thanks to Chandler Parsons? Nonsense. Slim gets LOYALTY tattooed on his chest as preparation for these things.

This year's prized recruit is Carmelo Anthony, unless you're of the thought that LeBron James may really leave Miami. Why would the Rockets want him? Because he scores 28 a game, shoots nearly 40 percent from three-point land and is a scoring nightmare. It's like James Harden but, you know, taller and fonder of headbands.

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