Wednesday, 16 July 2008

July 2008

Zines.
Drink the Sunshine #9/ You Can’t Say No to Hope # 11 split zine.
This is an excellent match for a split zine, combining two titles that don’t fit the more obvious zine conventions.
Drink the Sunshine. Not many zines are consistently laugh-out-loud funny. First in a field of few is Drink the Sunshine. Fans will find the usual trademark elements. They aren’t so much regular features as recurring quirks. There are the usual eavesdroppings overheard in pubs, the distinctive drawings, moments of shame in supermarkets, and an off-kilter fixation on the local and domestic. An obsession with the small and ordinary and an enjoyment of mild embarrassment recollected in tranquillity doesn’t sound like anything to write home about, but this is so entertaining it made me miss my stop on the bus.
You Can’t Say No to Hope. The latest from the man described elsewhere as the punk rock Bill Oddie ™ includes an impassioned rant about recent BNP election gains, as well as the usual nature related content. It’s good when a zine surprises you into taking an interest in something you wouldn’t ordinarily bother with. I grew up in the West Country and took against all things rural, but I still enjoyed the environmental slant here. There’s a piece on identifying oak trees and a how-to guide to making a bird box. Both are illustrated with some ace drawings and are a pleasure to read, particularly as they’re written in Jon’s elegant handwriting. You can get a copy from Marching Stars distro or direct from Jon or Tom.

Music.
Downloads, MP3s.
Ovenmitt Johnson. Hot Guitar. Crazee! I first heard Ovenmitt's music on the Bovine Music Show podcast and fell in love with it. Backing singers coo, Hammond organ noodles, Ovenmitt growls and then the guitars go BERSERK! It's hard to put this into a pigeonhole but if you think Captain Beefheart meets the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, you'll be in the right ballpark.
Ryonkt. My Room. This comes courtesy of the generous people at Dog Eared Records. I don't normally bother with ambient stuff. I even struggle with trip-hop. Ordinarily, if I want to chill out I'll have a nap. But this is lovely. A simple mournful guitar motif repeats, each time with something added; ambient sounds, harmonics, a couple of notes of piano. I could happily put it on repeat and listen to it all day.

Art.
Steve Larder. I'd seen Steve Larder's artwork in countless UK zines, but this is a chance to see load of his pictures in one place. Steve's got a really distinctive style; I've never seen anybody else draw like him. He uses lovely thick black lines and although (I think) everything's in perspective there's a bit of a wonky look to things, like you're trying on the glasses of a mate with slightly odd eyesight. Thinking back, that style took me a bit of time to get used to, like finding a writer like James Kelman with a really distinctive voice, but before you know it it seems the most natural thing in the world. What you get here that you don't get in the zines is Steve's neat use of colour. I'm not sure if it's felt tip or water colour but it works brilliantly and is really vivid because he only colours one or two elements in each picture. There's loads to look at here. Make a pot of tea and set aside an hour or so.
Podcasts.
No Pigeonholes. Hosted by veteran stalwart of the home-recording underground Don Campau, this is a thoroughly odd excursion into the world of home-made music. There's a pleasingly random feel to the content, ranging from trad rock cheese to the weirder shores of glitchy experimentalism and imrov. Don's been doing the show in one form or another for years but there's an endearing lack of slickness to the way he presents which always reminds me of the old John Peel tee shirt which read right place, right time, wrong speed.
Websites and blogs.
Lucid Frenzy Gavin Burrows' free-ranging cultural review is impeccably written, deeply thoughtful and strangely addictive. It covers TV, art, film, music and more besides. It's clear the content is totally dictated by Gavin's interests. This means you never get the sense you get with a lot of mainstream cultural criticism that some cynical hack has been sent to cover something they can barely be bothered to bluff about. It also gives the blog a nice local feel. Burrows is clearly a bloke of definite opinions, but he's always able to back up his views with strong argument. Check it out, but bring your brain.