Noose Left Outside Houston Singer's Home

Photos courtesy of Erica Nichole
Artists are used to criticism, but nothing could have prepared Houston pop-jazz artist Erica Nichole for waking up to find a noose had been hung out side her home at South Rice and Chimney Rock over the weekend.

"I noticed it after I came home from my gig Friday night," says Nichole via email. "Basically, it wasn't there after my friend and I came into my apartment, and then an hour or so later, it was there. I have NO idea who would/could have done this. I have lived here 13 years, and NEVER had an incident like it."

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The Six Least Fruitful Collaborations Ever

Maybe the worst collaboration of all time.
Collaborations are often a dream come true for music fans. Who among us hasn't fantasized about our favorite musicians getting together for a jam session? When it happens though, the results may vary. One pairing you might think unlikely might do great things, where another one you always thought would work might end up being a dud.

Let's focus on the latter, shall we? Much is made of successful collaborations, but the ones that fail go overlooked more often than not. They fall into obscurity, becoming the subject of music trivia. Since we're all about music trivia at Rocks Off, here's some of those failed collaborations for you to pull out the next time you're playing a round of musical Jeopardy.

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Six Bands You Didn't Know Were Still Around

Photo by Marc Brubaker
Five Finger Death Punch... still around.
Tuesday on Rocks Off, we discussed some bands who broke up with barely anyone taking notice, probably because most of those bands sucked anyway. But friends, the suck never stops. It will not end and it will not quit. It is all-pervasive, and it lives on in the spirit of every shitty band who is still performing without you even noticing they're still around.

These are those bands: the worst of the worst scene bands and one-hit-wonders who managed to scrape a career out of jumping on trends and are still going against all odds. These ones didn't break up without you noticing, they just kept plugging away without you noticing, and progressively ruining the world with their awful sounds.

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Six Bands That Broke Up Without Anyone Noticing

Usually when a band breaks up, there's a lot of furor about it, and a lot of mourning, even if the band hadn't done much of anything for a while. At least that's what happens with bands who have dedicated fanbases.

It's a little bit different when it's a band that was a fad to begin with and just quietly dissipates, or a band that just faded into complete obscurity to the point that no one knew or cared that they broke up. So as a notice to all of you who may have failed to hear about these, here's some bands who broke up with no fanfare.

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Dear Arcade Fire: No More Covers On This Tour, Please

Photo by Marc Brubaker
Arcade Fire's Win Butler at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, May 2011
Folks, I have made it no secret over the years that I am no fan of what Arcade Fire does. The Woodlands expats make lightweight pretentious rock for hipsters and bored suburban kids. That's fine, because it's a market that apparently Jason Mraz wasn't quite cornering well enough.

But now they have crossed the line with me. On their latest tour, which pulls into the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion on April 9, they've taken to covering classic songs and the results have been pretty much as expected for a band of this, ahem, caliber. So here and now, I would like to respectfully request that Arcade Fire please, please, please stop covering songs I love.

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Five Great Singers in Bad Bands

Photo by Violeta Alvarez
Hayley Williams of Paramore
A couple of months back, we discussed how so many great bands have ended up with some pretty bad singers in them, usually because they couldn't find a decent lead singer around when they started or they started off playing a wildly different style and eventually took a detour that forced their front person to start crooning.

This time we'd like to take a look at the flipside: bands that are pretty awful but somehow managed to land an awesome singer up front. It's a little bit tougher, because bad singers are often the reason a band sucks, but we've come up with some truly terrible bands whose singers would be so much better fronting just about anyone else.

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The Bizarre, Awful World of Dubstep Metal

I See Stars. Note the guy on the far left who isn't even doing anything.
Recently I was having a conversation with a friend of mine, the guitarist for local metal band Rebuild, and he was complaining about the wave of dubstep that has infiltrated metal. As a genre, metal has historically always adapted to include whatever modern mainstream trends were going on at the time, and metalheads have never, ever been happy with it.

It was only a matter of time before dubstep worked its way into metal and frankly the results have been less than satisfactory. Because I'm a total masochist, I decided I would delve into this burgeoning crossover genre to find the worst of the worst and present them to you today. This is how not to do a dubstep/metal crossover. Take notes, metal bands.

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The Pixies Should Just Retire Already

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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The 10 Best Songs for Jilted Lovers

Skley via Flickr
Let's be honest here: Valentine's Day is the most annoying, garbage holiday ever invented. It's such cloying BS, a day where corporations literally victimize the entire population of U.S. single people into feeling bad for being single, and scare the hell out of those who are in relationships lest they feel like they "haven't done enough" for the big day.

It's a fucking fiasco, and doesn't celebrate love in any form. It celebrates candy, flowers and the color red. If you hate all that as much as I do, these are ten songs you'll probably enjoy because they're full of the vitriol and venom that this holiday instills in us all, whether we want to admit it or not.

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Six Beloved Bands That Are Shameless Knockoffs

Photo by Faith Silva
Brian Aubert of Silversun Pickups
Originality is scary sometimes,especially in entertainment. After all, it can be really off-putting to see something you don't understand, even if it is new and innovative. We like comfort-food entertainment. Hence Hollywood's obsession with sequels and remakes and all those band reunions we complain about but secretly adore.

But sometimes bands can really verge over into the territory of being just too damn familiar. I'm not knocking inspiration. Even homages, while eye-roll-inducing, are fine. But when a band's whole sound is defined by the sound of its predecessor, you're dealing with a knockoff, no matter how much you might love it.

It's becoming more and more prevalent these days, too. Let's take a look at five pretty popular bands who are just copying their forefathers, and one old one that's still inspiring copies of copies after several decades.

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