Fanzines – a roundup of recent releases
Degenerate/Etrenegade Mag #15
Degenerate has gone through a rethink brand-wise and is now officially a mag according to it’s creator Sam Lefebvre, so perhaps this means I’m doing it a disservice covering it here under the heading fanzines? However, apart from the new mag status this issue still feels and looks like Degenerate; a mix of reviews and interviews, a lovely layout including some colour and pages stapled in here and there all bring texture and make it look like a work of art. Of course the writing is still top class; part stream of consciousness, part critical essay, dreamlike yet coherent and focused, giving you an insight into the emotional impact of the music which is something that’s often missing from critical writing. This issue features an excellent interview with Pig DNA too.
A Short Fanzine About Rocking #38 (final print issue)
What a shame, this always enthusiastic print fanzine has come to an end, now to be online only it seems. This issue contains the usual ASFAR columns, interviews and reviews and is surprisingly missing any gushy end of the road pieces – Nick’s editorial piece is to the point and doesn’t get sentimental. Coverage ranges from metal to punk and emo and it’s a collaborative affair – a number of writers and photographers contribute with a healthy focus on the UK scene.
Nick promises to continue the fanzine via Tumblr, but as yet no new content has been posted – lets hope its not the end.
Punk In My Soup – #1
This pocket-sized fanzine is reviews only which suits me just fine as the reviews section is always where I head first when reading a mag. As the title suggests the focus is punk, quite a few of the releases I’ve seen reviewed elsewhere but the style here is what keeps you reading; chatty but descriptive and with some solid observations. Points are well made and there is an obvious feeling of enthusiasm that shines through. The layout is pretty basic, blue print on yellow paper but be warned, the ink unfortunately rubs off all over your hands. An enjoyable read which will hopefully lead to more issues.
It’s June already and I don’t seem to have had a great deal to write about so far but May and June have seen a bumper crop of zines come my way and a few great new records, not least the fantastic new Svin EP which I reviewed for Roomthirteen here and subsequently bought on vinyl from the band, hence the pic below.
Svin are a Danish post-rock avant-garde four piece, the standard guitar and drum set up is bolstered with the addition of some brilliant saxophone and clarinet and makes for a really rich and intense sound. You can listen on their Bandcamp and make sure you also check out their 2011 album Heimat.
In zines I’ve really enjoyed reading the new issue of Fluke (#11) and am now sorry I’ve never managed to pick it up before, essentially the zine is interviews only but they’re super interesting, more insightful and detailed than in most zines I’ve read thus far. I particularly enjoyed the interviews with Barker Gee and Ed Crawford and the piece on Hobo art is fascinating. The layout is just the way I like it, type and cut and paste with some handwritten elements – an obvious labour of love. I recommend picking this up or any back issues you can get hold of; try the Facebook for info on new issues or wowcool.com for back issues especially although if you’re shipping outside the US the postage can be a touch expensive on that one!
Degenerate issue 12 came out recently too, it’s a slim issue but A4 sized and each page is packed with words and pictures. As always, this issue is impeccably put together and looks great ( a mix of type, cut and paste). An interesting article on SF and interview with Scraper led me to listen to the band here and the zine does include a red flexi disc with two tracks from the band on (Third Wheel and Your Friends Are Hippies). Also inside is an interview with Rank/Xerox, an article on post-punk and record reviews. Find Degenerate on Facebook and more of Sam’s writing at his blog. Recommended.
Brit zine A Short Fanzine About Rocking is now in its Spring 2013 issue (or issue 35 if you’re being picky) and has quite a broad range of bands covered – everything from Deftones to Creative Adult so they’re not too worried about keeping it underground, actually that fact can be quite refreshing and also means that the zines runs at a massive 82 pages. I sometimes think with this zine that they’d be better off making it more frequent and skinnier as many of the live reviews included are 6 or 7 months old, likewise the albums. I will admit I tend to skim the reviews by the more mainstream bands as I’ve already read a ton of reviews elsewhere, although you may argue with zines it doesn’t matter so much as they tend to be the kind of thing you pick up at a show 6 months after they come out so it may just be me being picky. The front section is packed with interviews, not all are hugely interesting (the usual how did you come up with the band name/ how did you form questions) but because there is so much content there are a few really decent ones, definitely still worth picking up.
My MRR sub just ran out and I’m contemplating whether or not to pick up another one, it has been interesting reading about the more obscure end of the spectrum and the record and zine reviews have helped me discover some great records and zines since reading. I’ve also become fond of the Al Quint and Degenerate Ephemera columns. One to mull over.
Degenerate #11 arrived this week in the post – It’s the kind of zine that makes you want to go out and make your own zine, unfortunately you know it would never be this good. Aesthetically Mr. Lefebvre nails it again with a beautiful cut and paste look and striking cover layout which is oh so inviting – this issue even has a flexi disc of Musk – I haven’t seen one of those for years. I’m sure I mentioned this with the last issue but I’ll say it again, it’s not all style over content, the writing is really solid with a mix of academic musing about punk/post-punk and band interviews (with some interesting questions posed). I’ve said ‘academic’ but that doesn’t mean the style is dry, quite the opposite – it actually brings to mind a kind of modernist stream of consciousness at times in that you really get a feel for the writer’s thought processes and the emotional impact the music has on him.
I love to read this kind of writing, it’s the kind of thing you rarely, if ever, find in mainstream music press and is why I turned to zines in the first place – a bit of passion and intensity without all the corporate bullshit and the need to sell anything – honestly, after 6 or 7 years of music writing myself I am still striving unsuccessfully to reach this plateau. Anyway, you get the point, it’s inspiring stuff and I urge you to get hold of a copy of this zine.