Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Fanzine reviews

Kind of a clearing house for zines of note that have come and gone in the last few months:

DIRTY ALLEYS DIRTY MINDS #1: I’m not going to lie to you; I am jealous to death of how much a growing number of younger people these days have the right idea. The other day I pulled out the second issue of my first zine, and threw it to my bummed-out friend and said “Here, have a laugh on me, circa 1997”. Even at the time, I didn’t think the writing was particularly honest, but I was trying to emulate the faux-positive support the scene type of zine that was prevalent in that era. So, here I am looking at DADM #1, done by eighteen year old Brendon, roughly the same age and distance into the suburban wilderness as I was when I did Healthy Body Sick Mind zine. This is where the similarities to my story end, and the kicking myself begins. Of the current punk zine revival in this country spearheaded by Distort and Dumb Hardcore, and various lesser ones riding their coat-tails, DADM is definitely the most successfully derivative of the former. That’s fine though, because Brendon has honed his writing skills to be able to piss in the same playground as Distort, and covers roughly similar, but not always as obvious terrain. For example, a great interview with the much overlooked Under Pressure and a feature on the Flesheaters. The more obvious interviews are an entertainingly frustrating one with Lean Steve Homostupids / 9 Shocks Terror, and a solid one with the Painkiller Records-affiliated dude from Mentally Challenged, replete with his Boston Top 5 list. Painkiller is a puzzling record label, and this interview continues to leave the motivations of the people behind the label shrouded in mystery, at least to my mind, anyway. However, more puzzling is the inclusion of the Boston Top 5. While not the usual X-Claim! Records fare, you’ve really got to wonder if the world really needs more ink spilled about the most second most over-exposed music scene in the world after NYHC. The other thing I couldn’t get behind is the reprinting of Richard Meltzer’s rock journo thing on promo records, and the odd occasion Brendon’s writing delves into such territory. I probably find this most unappealing because in the folly of my younger years, I used to try to go out to “rock n roll” shows, and that in itself cured me completely of ever championing this city’s so called “rich history of rock n’ roll”. One noteworthy exception would be the Hymies, who were as much Black Flag as they were the Ramones. Anyway, I feel that by even mentioning Brendon and his zine, I am doing a great disservice by exposing an actual outsider to people who like to pretend to be outsiders. But brother, us city folk need you, but you don’t need us, so keep up the writing about your father’s leather-bound medicine ball stomach, your wacky neighbours and all your favourite noise. Better yet, hook up with the Radiation Nation kids on the Sunshine Coast, do some amazing bands and zines, and bury slightly older folks like myself that used to mistakenly think that outsider music needs to serve some sort of social function.

DEHUMANISED #1: So, the cult of everyone’s favourite twelve year old man Wes Insurgent grows slowly but surely with this short but not even embarrassing first issue. I dug pretty deep through this for timely material I can punish him about in a few years time when he is a burned out former child star like the rest of us, but came up empty handed. The bitter yet unspoken war of attrition that Cade from Dumb Hardcore and I are fighting over the soul of this young lad is still raging it seems. It’s hard to say who has the advantage, as rub-off letters do appear in the layout, but there is also a Government Warning interview. Said interview is actually pretty entertaining with the discussion of the 2007 version of an MRR letters page feud between GW and xBrainiax (a band whose very name is deeply upsetting). Kenny from GW responds with a classic quote, “They are crybabies, and I’m punk”, whereas I’m inclined to think that everyone involved is a crybaby. Christ, are hardcore kids really this bored? The same goes for the whole Warkrime thing that doesn’t seem to have anaesthetized everybody yet for some reason. Here’s how it plays out: Set out to annoy, succeed, be happy. If someone writes a letter to MRR about how much you annoyed them, frame it and put it on your wall. To be honest though, I think I’d still rather hang out with GW than XBrainiaX. There’s a Cut Sick interview, where the band discusses the big issue of sharing the name with the zine. I for one can’t believe that two separate groups of people independently decided it would be a good idea to name ANYTHING Cut Sick. A few other bits and bobs round out a completely reasonable first issue of cut n paste youthfulness.

KILL OR MAIM #1: This collection of one-page Australian zines, put together by Dan of Distort and Beau of Not Guilty, has been heralded on as the second coming, but I reckon I’m going to file it under “could’ve been great”. First up, from Tamworth, Cows And Beer, which is by no means exciting, but has some pretty cool descriptive lines here and there. Admo does however make a bold attempt to fuck with the unfuckwithable: a dissection of the Dead Kennedys’ best ‘non-political’ songs. The whole band stands alone in my opinion, and cannot be viewed in a song-by-song way. The only thing about them that warrants discussion is how you can at once have the world’s worst voice and most horrible guitar tone, yet still achieve not only brilliance, but also timelessness. Thrillhouse makes no bones about being for the kids by the kids, which is cool I guess, so I won’t stick the boot into them about talking up the Adolescents blue album, which gets by solely on the two new wave songs and is otherwise average in every way. They do pick up the dropped ball by interviewing Let’s Grow from Serbia though. Yes, dickheads, for the sheer fact they are from Serbia. Feminista seems to have copped a lot of flak on the previously mentioned message board for some reason, but I can’t really see why. Yes, it’s a wholly unfascinating “why I’m still around” type thing, but I don’t really see how that’s any more vapid than Dumb Hardcore reprinting a DYS interview on the next page. Fortunately for the rest of DHC, Cade seems to be pretty spot on in his typical the-delete-key-doesn’t-exist style. What Gives, Beau’s contribution to this comp, eulogizes Cade’s old band Benchpress in a way that gets on my tits a bit, so here’s what really happened. I agree that they didn’t capture their live show on recording, which went from being a bit of a joke to being a total powerhouse. The “violent punks from the beach” thing was and is definitely played up a bit too much. And it’s not as if being called “Hollywood faggots” is any more upsetting than the shit I used to cop at work every day anyway. Good band, but maybe too self-aware. Another thing that gets on my tits, not only in What Gives, but a few others out there done by kids who didn’t live through the low point of Australian hardcore after the first Belladonna, is the misconception that there are actually PC people that still care about or participate in this scene. If you didn’t have to bear the brunt of that awkward time where everyone pissed in each other’s playgrounds, I don’t understand what you’re reacting against. If you’re going to get all stuffy about people calling you a ‘dude’, maybe you need to man the fuck up. That aside, Beau’s writing has improved tenfold, and I look forward to the first issue of his new full-size zine Not Guilty. Distort closes the issue with perhaps not the most inspired but hardly out of character musings on the Meat Puppets, Fang and Peter Laughner. Like I said, good prototype with a lot of potential, but hopefully the next one knocks me right off my righteous high Shetland pony.

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