Requiem for the iPod

Categories: All In, Digitalia

Yes, they're still around -- what an iPod looks like today.
The year was 2002, and I was in the back of my mom's Chevy high-top. She was driving my brother to Sam's Club to pick up his new blue iPod 1st Generation. For months, I watched him listen to Papa Roach and moody pop-rock queen Avril Lavigne as he sat in his bedroom lifting his 8-pound dumbbells -- that is, until I got my own iPod a couple years later. Gwen Stefani, Outkast, Hoobastank, it was all on that little thing. And quite frankly, it was all I would ever need. IVAN GUZMAN

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Totally True Tales of Classic-Rock Debauchery!

Photos courtesy of Beau Phillips
Red Rocker Sammy Hagar (with wild blonde hair) and radio man Beau Phillips (with dark, super-'80s mustache) hanging out.
Come with me now, rock music fan, to visit a bygone time of yore.

Imagine a time when radio station program directors could actually program their radio stations. When artists both on the rise and hugely successful playing in town might drop by the station, hang with the DJs, and play some softball. And when interviews could last days over various illicit substances rather than as a series of phone calls in 15-minute increments with a publicist listening in to interject if the conversation got too "controversial."

This golden time of rock radio lasted roughly from the late '70s to the early '90s, and Beau Phillips lived it firsthand. As a DJ and director at Seattle's KISW radio and, later, VP of Marketing for VH-1, Phillips had plenty of opportunity to study the species rockstarus maximus up close and personal.

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The 10 Biggest Country Stars Who Live in Texas

Photo courtesy of EB Media
By Chris Gray and Matthew Keever

Thus far mainstream success has eluded Sunny Sweeney, but not for lack of either talent or trying. According to her Facebook page, Sweeney (a former standup comic) has now played the Grand Ole Opry 41 times but continues to reside in Austin, where she did an acoustic set at Waterloo Records last month to celebrate the release of her third LP, Provoked. Both Country Weekly and NPR have come calling since then, so Sweeney -- also a 2013 nominee for the CMA's New Female Vocalist -- can't possibly stay under the radar much longer.

Facebook fans: 106K

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The 10 Best Concerts in Houston This Weekend: A Fistful of Soul, Untapped, Numbers' 36th, etc.

Photo by Brittany Burke
Deep Cuts
Fitzgerald's, September 19

Deep Cuts have gone from first band of the night to last band on the bill in an impressive amount of time; less than two years by our watch. Honed by many, many shows in between (including a FPSF 2013 spot), Chase Harris and Zach Alderman's indie-pop partnership has finally yielded something ready to pass along in digital and physical form, the Love Grows EP.

Setting out to capture their Gulf Coast surroundings in five songs, Deep Cuts conjure surf and sand, their beloved Tex-Mex cuisine, and a sinister undertow in the sun-kissed guitar tones of Love Grows' five songs. Mission accomplished; put this in your "Causeway" playlist. With Young Girls, Limb, The Caldwell, Mikey & the Drags and Lisa's Sons (emcees). CHRIS GRAY

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Coheed and Cambria at House of Blues, 9/17/2014

Photos by Jack Gorman
Coheed and Cambria, Thank You Scientist
House of Blues
September 17, 2014

Concerts are rarely a communal experience, even though they should be.

The reality is that we all get our tickets for different reasons; someone's favorite band may just be "those guys who have that one song" to someone else. Some people really love the new album and some people really miss the band they used to be. Some people go to the show because they would hate to miss it and others because they'd hate to not be seen at it.

Different people, different agendas, all sharing the same space. And this lack of community is often what makes shows a bummer. It's what leads to rampant talking until the band plays "the song" or people shouting out random bullshit to get themselves over.

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The Rocks Off 200: We Were Wolves, Howlers at the Moon Tower

Welcome to The Rocks Off 200, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too. See previous entries in the Rocks Off 100 at this link.

Photo by Mark C. Austin
Who? This here digital chat with We Were Wolves marks the end of an era. It's No. 200 in the Rocks Off 200. (Collect 'em all.) We wanted to close out with a bang, or a roar, or a howl, so we asked a band that could oblige us on all three counts. The Wolves make music that is sweaty, greasy, grooving, in-your-face and really fuckin' loud.

Most recently, WWW (dot awesome) were one of the standouts of last weekend's Yes, Indeed festival; after their late-night set at the Continental, it's a wonder the club didn't have to order all-new glassware. We remember catching them early on upstairs at the old Mink, so long ago they might still have lived in Beaumont. Rest assured, they're still up to their wicked ways on Wolf House, the second full-length LP they released last December.

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Sampling Joe Sample: 1977

Photo by Marco Torres
Joe Sample (left) and his TSU students, 2013
By 1977, the individual members of the Crusaders were so successful that the pressure to record two albums a year no longer applied. There was no new Crusaders album in 1977, but that doesn't mean the members weren't working, and working hard.

Trombonist Wayne Henderson was trying his hand at producing records, Stix Hooper could play anytime anywhere he wanted to, and Wilton Felder's career was in overdrive as he stepped up his session work with the bass guitar and his saxophone.

Meanwhile, Joe Sample kept on keeping on, working some very high-profile sessions in Los Angeles. While 1977 was not a banner year like 1975 and '76, he would end the year with one of the most significant sessions of his career, playing on Steely Dan's Aja.

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Rob Gullatte's "Seen It All" Passes the Sniff Test

The fun thing about having a rap column is that you get to sift through plenty to understand even more. Some projects, such as the fruitful, fire-charged ones by Neko and Stephen Jackson this week, are preludes to something bigger (Neko as an EP, Jackson as an album-before-the-album a la Lil Keke). And some singles bring up new artists and new discoveries even when you're bored with the product or tired of inventing new ways to determine if something is hard, forceful or even passes the sniff test.

There are a few shows coming up, namely the RUN HOU event put on by T.H.E.M. at Fitzgerald's this weekend (tix here) that should have your attention. Hell, there's a show damn near every week that should have your full attention. Then again, myself and the rest of the world are promptly waiting on new music from Roosh Williams, DeLorean and a host of others. That would put a nice little bow on Houston rap in 2014, the year that everybody realized they're in this together whether they like one another or not.

Or you could be like Rob Gullatte and just rap for the utter hell of it. To the songs of the week!

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I Live Well But I'm Not Happy. Help!

Welcome to Ask Willie D, Rocks Off's advice column where the Geto Boys MC answers reader questions about matters, in his own words, "funny, serious or unpredictable." Something on your mind? Ask Willie D!

Photo by Mario Jaramillo

Dear Willie D:

I'm a computer analyst who makes over $80,000 a year. I like my job, but that's all it is; a job. I live in a nice house, and drive a nice car. I have a wife and 4-year-old daughter who I absolutely adore, but I'm not happy. I try to be happy and sometimes it works, but not for long. I may be happy for a day or two tops, and then I'm sad again. I don't know if I'm depressed or what.

I should be happy. After all, I have all of the things that society says should be a reflection of happiness. You're a successful man. Have you ever felt unhappy for long stretches of time? If so what did you do to cope?

Unhappy Feelings:

It depends on what your definition of long stretches of time is. The longest stretch of unhappiness for me was when my mother died. I was depressed for months. However, typically a long stretch of unhappiness for me is five minutes. That's because rather than internalizing setbacks, disappointments, and conflict, I compartmentalize them so that I can focus effectively on business and personal relationships.

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Before They Were Stars, They Were...Awful

Let's talk about genre-jumpers, shall we? A number of successful artists have made the leap from one genre to another at some point in their careers. but it doesn't always pay off.

Take Darius Rucker, for example. The onetime Hootie and the Blowfish front man made the right choice by taking a leap of faith into country music, which pushed his previously stalled career into musical overdrive. Others didn't quite as well, like Snoop Dogg's attempted transition into the rasta version of himself, Snoop Lion. Fans just weren't ready to let go of "Lodi Dodi," even if it meant some sweet Rastafari influences.

However, the musicians below were smart enough to jump genres before breaking into the big leagues. Punk rockers morphed into hip-hop callers, and headbangers musicians into ballad crooners. These folks earned their big names by changing their tunes -- literally. And no, Katy Perry is not on this list, because it's about musicians.

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