Monday, 7 April 2008

April 2008

Zines.
Morgenmuffel #16.
I'm not one for lists of favourites but this is probably the zine I buy most often, and like best. As with previous issues it features great cartoons of the adventures of its creator Isy; a mix of travel tales, activism and catering. Lately I've been (very slowly) teaching myself to draw. The drawings in Morgenmuffel always make me seethe with envy. There's a bit in this issue about some bloke shitting himself. I'd like to see more of that sort of stuff - otherwise I can't fault this zine. You can read back issues and order copies here.

Drink the Sunshine # 4.
I've never been a total convert to perzines. A lot give the impression that if you took the author down the pub the evening'd soon degenerate into a staring competition. But judging by his zine, Tom would be quite good company. This issue is a journal of the water crisis in Gloucestershire, where he lives. It stays true to the diary form with a mix of the thoughtful and the everyday. I enjoy all the little details, like his observations on the random element in BBC News 24 subtitles. His writing style's quite clean and precise, which is good to see in a perzine, but it's still got the conversational, familiar feel of a pub anecdote. It's also really amusing - snarky but good-natured. Tom may not be Anne Frank, but he's definitely funnier. You can keep up with his zine output here.

Music.
Downloads, MP3s and streamed audio.

This month's two picks are by Squidcat. This isn't the sort of music I listen to as a matter of course, being a kind of woozy, understated, slightly psychedelic bedroom pop, but it's really infectious. Beatniks in Love has brilliantly literate, sardonic lyrics. Just when you think the verse is about to outstay its welcome, a great uplifting, grin-inducing chorus comes in. This Isn't Arizona shows again Squidcat's capacity for sounding like their song's are about to go wrong, then redeeming themselves. There's a weezy melodica part that ought to be annoying but isn't, and a vocal refrain that'll burrow into your brain forever. This is definitely the catchiest song about cacti that I've heard this year. This band have got a definite knack for the unobvious, musically and lyrically.
CDs.
Royal Jelly e.p. by Chinwag. There isn't a duff tune on this ep, but it's a challenge to review it as it's so hard to describe without making some unhelpfully vague comparisons. The two man line-up of drums and baritone guitar play 4 completely instrumental (bar some yelping) songs that are angular, hypnotic and complex. They're skronky but not wilfully atonal or obscure. The stop-start rhythms are tricky, but they still had me dancing round the kitchen. So, those unhelpfully vague comparisons in full. Chinwag are jazzy, but I like them even though I'd rather be shot out of a cannon than listen to jazz. They've also got a bit of a math-rock, post-hardcore feel and remind me a bit of the mighty Joeyfat. High praise indeed.
Art.
I really like the sketches on Karen Sandstrom's Pen In Hand art blog. They're realistic but with a bit of a cartoony feel about them, I reckon. My recent favourite is the view from the window of the Algonquin hotel.

Film.

Watching films online doesn't really compare to watching at the cinema or on DVD but it's a good way of checking out low-budget shorts. The Meatrix animation films showing the facts behind meat production are really entertaining, but still manage to get a tough message across. Not for the faint-hearted.

Podcasts.

In My Room. People go on about how there's too much music in the world and that you need some sort of filter to find the good stuff. I'm not convinced; I happen to like the random element that, for example, the Internet brings to discovering new music. But if I wanted a filter Mike Edwards' In My Room podcast would be ideal; he's got taste that I trust. He's yet to play a record that I thought totally stunk. He's roughly my age and clearly grew up on the same range of punk and postpunk music that I did. Unlike me he's apparently maintained an informed interest in music throughout the intervening years, but I never feel he's beating me over the head with his encyclopedic knowledge. Really, what's not to like? Except maybe the bit where he always says, 'I'm Mike Edwards, and you are in my room,' in this slightly sleazy voice that always makes me think, 'Yes, I know, and I want you to let me out, right now!'

Websites and blogs.
Illustration Friday. This is a great site which offers weekly inspiration to anybody who enjoys drawing. Lots of good art to look at.