The New Marilyn Manson Is Shockingly Good

Categories: Dig This

The cover of Marilyn Manson's ninth studio album, The Pale Emperor.
This week Marilyn Manson will release his ninth studio album, The Pale Emperor. For those of us who grew up in the shock rocker's heyday, it's sort of insane that he has made it this far. Though his relevance and "shock value" is no longer intact, that he has fans at all is kind of surprising.

Nevertheless, he's survived this long and is still making music, long after most of us have written him off. That's why the fact that The Pale Emperor is so great is perhaps the most shocking trick Manson has pulled off yet.

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The 10 Most Overlooked Albums of 2014

Photo by Jack Gorman
Down, seen here at Warehouse Live earlier this month, came back strong on the second half of their Down IV EP series.
Every year we all rush to start making our end-of-the-year bests lists, and inevitably, we miss a few. Usually the comments section will let us know how bad we fucked up by not including such and such record, usually one we didn't like to begin with, often by some forgotten '80s band nobody except the author cares about, but every now and then some legitimately great records will fall by the wayside.

Since most of us have turned in our year-end lists by now, it's time we turn our attention to those albums that nobody talked a lot about but that deserve every bit of the recognition all those Top 10 picks got. Here are the best, most overlooked releases of 2014 for your listening pleasure.

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DāM-FunK Aims to Change the World With the Funk

Categories: Dig This

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Photo by Jasmine Lee Richardson/Courtesy of MFAH
DāM-FunK made a funktified appearance at the Museum of Fine Arts earlier this year.
DāM-FunK has been at the head of the modern funk movement for the last five years, a place he earned one music-festival stop at a time. And while he's secure in his role as funk's ambassador, he's still just a bit bothered that the public's funk knowledge is just a little lacking.

For instance, a tweet that came across his eyes earlier this month. In praising D'Angelo's Black Messiah, a music producer with Jimmy Fallon's The Tonight Show said that the foundations of modern funk are D'Angelo, Questlove of the Roots, and prolific bass player Pino Palladino.

Nothing against those guys, but what bothers DāM-FunK (pronounced like damn funk or dame funk, whichever you prefer) is that neo-soul musicians -- no matter how funky in their own right -- get pushed into a genre that's uniquely different. Still, that's okay. Because Los Angeles' Damon Riddick has built a solid career on the funk, and just wants you to know its real history.

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Too Tough to Die: The Freakouts Forge Ahead

Photo by Barry Dolton/Courtesy of The Freakouts
L-R: Ash Kay and Porter Smith
Even in the music industry's bold new world, where major labels mean less and less to success, the odds for widespread renown remain against bands. They grow longer with changes that alter the face or sound of the act.

Losing half the group, for instance, might be a difficult challenge to overcome. Unless you're Ash Kay, lead singer, co-founder and resident badass of Houston glam-punks, The Freakouts.

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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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