BOOK REVIEWS

Always Been There: Rosanne Cash, The List, and the Spirit of Southern Music
By Michael Streissguth – Da Capo Press

Comfortably Numb: The Inside Story of Pink Floyd
By Mark Blake – Da Capo Press

Dream a Little Dream of Me: The Life of Cass Elliot
By Eddi Fiegel – Chicago Review Press

Henry Darger
Edited with an Introduction by Klaus Biesenbach – Prestel Publishing

I Love You Is Back
By Derrick C. Brown – Write Bloody Publishing

The Official Heavy Metal Book Of Lists
By Eric Danville – Backbeat

The Star Machine
By Jeanine Basinger – Knopf


ZINE REVIEWS

CAUSTIC TRUTHS #77/78 - $3, 32/48 pages, standard size, www.caustictruths.com
From Issue 77 to Issue 78 of Caustic Truths they jumped from newsprint to glossy, but other than that there is little change. A rather standard punk zine, it is full of short reviews and short features. A quick read maybe, but really no different than the regional punk zines you can pick up in any record store in your area. (PO Box 92548, 152 Carlton Street, Toronto, ONT M5A 2K0)

COUNTER THEORY #4 - $1, 64 pages, half size, xerox, www.emote.org/countertheory
With this issue Counter Theory has been reduced to a half-page format, but the content is exactly the same as previous issues. Focusing mainly on what people call "emo" these days, the issue features Milemarker, Engine Down, Le Shok, The Haggard, Geoff Farina, Law of Inertia, and OHEV Records. Also included are columns, fiction, photography, and music, zine, book, and video reviews. It's basically your standard 'zine fare, albeit a little more professional than most fanzines in this printing format. To top of the issue, there is a CD sampler with songs from Eiffel, Kind of Like Spitting, Small Brown Bike, Planes Mistaken for Stars, The Rocking Horse Winner, and quite a few unknowns. It would be nice to see Counter Theory come out less sporadically (there was a one year gap between this issue and the last one), as there is definitely a hint of ability to progress into something bigger. (8608 NW 59 Court, Tamarac, FL 33321)

HITCH #25/27 - $4, 68/64 pages, standard size, offset, www.hitchmagazine.com
Hitch's tag line is "the journal of pop culture obscurity", and that seems fairly accurate. Yes, I find it a little odd that every issue seems to have babes in bikinis taken out of films on the cover. But other than that, Hitch isn't too redundant. Issue 25 has a guide to Napster alternatives and interviews with director Andy Sidaris and WWF superstar (and Playboy model) Rena Mero. Issue 27 has an article on good foreign films and an interview with Johnny Brennan of the Jerky Boys. Each issues also has a ton of oddball articles, comics, and music, film, and print reviews. Don't ask me about what happened to Issue 26, I'm sure they sent it to me. And come to think of it, I think Issue 28 is out now too. They're a regular mass-production factory of the weird over there in Oklahoma. (PO Box 23621, Oklahoma City, OK 73123)

LEFT OF THE DIAL #1 - $3.95, 84 pages, standard size, offset
This is the first issue of Left Of The Dial and already they're at the point it takes most fanzines to progress to over a few years. In particular, the design and printing have skipped the trial and error and settled into a nice, professional mold. The design is clean and simple, something that Skyscraper has tried to emphasize its entire existence. In the introduction, editor David Ensminger says that LOTD is for people who "remember the original joy of music" and "who are under the spell of books". To put it simply, LOTD is for people who love music and love to read… people who combine those two aspects and expect an intelligent music fanzine that breathes new insight into music and musicians. This entire issue is almost cover-to-cover interviews/feature, minus a few pieces, and contains practically no ads. Included are Ian Mackaye, Jello Biafra, Spoon, Delta 72, Wayne Kramer, and numerous others. There may never be music reviews in LOTD, most likely because they're viewed as the "industry mouthpieces" that plague other fanzines, but when you have smart questions for great musicians who needs "mothball critics". (1438 W. Alabama #4, Houston, TX 77006)

MUDDLE #18 - $3, 140 pages, standard size, newsprint, www.muddle.com
Not much has changed with Muddle over the last few years, but at least they're back to a more frequent publishing schedule now. Each issue is always packed with a ton of music reviews and humorous articles, plus plenty of band interviews. Issue 18 offers up conversation with Q And Not U, Rival Schools, John Vanderslice, Mates of State, Built to Spill, The (International) Noise Conspiracy, and a ton of others. Yes, you tend to see a lot of the bands interviewed in Muddle plastered all over a ton of other fanzines, but at least their taste in music is fairly consistent and the bands deserve the attention. One of the most unique pieces in this issue is the "Record Label Roundtable Discussion", featuring answers from a dozen record labels on various topics. It's fairly long and very interesting, although having answered these questions myself (for Satellite Transmissions) I'm a little curious to know how they decided what answers to print because only a few answers were used from each label. It would've been impossible to print the answer to every question from each label, but still it is intriguing to know what each label said but didn't make it into print. (PO Box 189, Northport, NY 11768)

SKYWAY #10 - $2, 60 pages, standard size, newsprint, www.skywayzine.com
Issue 10 marks the fifth anniversary issue of Skyway, bringing attention to the fact that it still deserves to be around but also that it doesn't come out nearly as frequent as some might hope. There are other fanzines that cover the indie pop genre, but most don't seem to have as dedicated an interest in the music as Skyway. Aside from the countless record reviews, features this time around include Clem Snide, The Starlight Mints, The Rock*A*Teens, Karate, Mojave 3, and several others. Maybe my memory is slipping, but this seems to be the best designed issue of Skyway to date. The editor (Doug Wallen) explains in his introduction that he has been reluctant to let computer design replace cut'n'paste layouts, but really "computer design" isn't necessary to make a fanzine look good, as this issue proves with simple, organized layouts that make it easy on the eyes to read. Doug also mentions in his introduction that he hopes to have a career in entertainment journalism, and I hope he succeeds because he really has shown a love for music in the pages of Skyway. (PO Box 794, Westchester, PA 19381)

SLAVE #5 - 90 pages, standard size, offset, www.slavemagazine.com
The foundation of Slave is definitely a punk-hardcore fanzine, but it does a great job of incorporating culture and other art forms. A similar zine to reference would be Hodgepodge. This issue has features on Avail, Jets to Brazil, Sean McDaniels (artist) and Muhammad Ali. Articles, a short story, photo essay, and reviews (music, literature) are also included. Slave has a nice, clean layout, great images, and some interesting, in-depth writing to make it a well-rounded zine. (PO Box 10093, Greensboro, NC 27404)

SLUG & LETTUCE #67/68 - free, 20 pages, tabloid size, newsprint
Each issue of Slug & Lettuce is a pretty safe bet for the editor's thoughts, columns on politics and the environment, and true DIY music and media. If you take part in (or just keep up to date on) the DIY punk and activism scene this fanzine is probably already a regular read for you. There are always a ton of music and zine reviews, and Issue 68 has a local punk guide to the Bay Area. Issue 67 is the 15-year anniversary issue, showing that this zine has been around the block a few times and hoping it will continue to serve the community it loves. It also has a guide to Boston, a regular feature they will hopefully continue as it represents the local scenes much better than magazines like CMJ that print similar reports. (PO Box 26632, Richmond, VA 23261)

WONKA VISION #14/15 - $2, 80 pages, standard size, newsprint, www.wonkavisiononline.com
Wonka Vision is a fairly standard music fanzine, covering the general DIY genres of punk, hardcore, and indie rock. It doesn't have a very individualistic focus in that the bands/labels covered are pretty heavily publicized elsewhere, yet Wonka Vision does a pretty good job of staying on top of new music and what is popular at the moment. It would be nice to see some more diverse coverage in the form of more sub genres, but as-is it's a safe bet for some quick reading. Issue 14 features Bright Eyes, AFI, Pedro The Lion, and Denver area bands. Issue 15 features Propagandhi, Gameface, Wesley Willis, and Sean Na Na. (670 Inca Street, Suite B-1, Denver, CO 80204)

 

 


©2004 Skyscraper Magazine.
All material is the property of Skyscraper Magazine and may not be reprinted, copied, or redistributed without the expressed written consent of the editors.
Site by: Joshua R. Jones