Tuesday, 2 September 2008

September 2008

Zines. You Can’t Say No to Hope # 10/ Shadowplay #25 split zine. A quickish read but a quality one.
You Can’t Say No to Hope. A varied read from Jon. There’s an interview with the other Nuneaton zinester, Jo from Spiderplant zine, which manages to have the warmth of a chat between mates without being too insidery. Also featured are a beautifully illustrated article which told me everything I’ll ever need to know about stoats, and some invaluable advice on dressing like an arse. I’d have to admit to a slight disappointment because I misread the contents list and thought it promised a piece on stoats dressing up. Maybe in a future issue...
Shadowplay. This issue manages to cover a fairly broad spread of culture in a small space; including TV and film. There’s a thoughtful and unexpected (by me) piece on Billie Holiday and, more generally on the role of vulnerability in the appeal of certain singers. Another standout is a deceptively simple piece of fiction that’s just the right length to work as a satisfying and believable character sketch. The highlight for me is a thought-provoking piece on a trip to Auschwitz which is all the stronger for not shying away from Alex’s ambivalent feelings about the possible voyeurism of visiting such a memorial. Available from Marching Stars distro or direct from Jon.
Music. Downloads, MP3s. The Minor Thirds. Houston. Folk rock is a term that tends to make my heart sink, but the Minor Thirds pretty much redeem it for me. This track powers along with terrific bounce but without even a hint of tweeness. There's something slightly Stipey in the vocal phrasing. This is what REM would be like if they were really good. I love the down-to earth clarity in both the vocals and the lyrics; there's no fancy-pants poeticism, just a concern with the crucial stuff of everyday life. The Minor Thirds have got lo-fi production down to a fine art, partly because they understand the importance of the element of surprise. Watch out for the parping horns and the folk/Oi! crossover backing vocals near the end - they're a joy.
The Minor Thirds. The Athletes of God. Again you get the terrific attention to telling prosaic detail in the lyrics. This is easily the best song I've ever heard that mentions sandwiches. On a first listen the backing music seems slight, like a very low-rent ELO heard from a distance, but the cumulative effect of the kitchen utensil percussion, the glitchy drum machine and the barely-there keyboards is magical. There's more to this than meets the ear. The whole amounts to so much more than the sum of its apparently simple parts. Like a good sandwich. Hmm.
Art. Alltaglich. The sketches on this site were produced when the artist decided to try to produce a sketch a day, every day. There's some beautiful stuff here. What I like is that the objects selected for representation aren't the predictable things you often see in, say, your typical still life. I especially loved the warm brown and the clear detail on this ball of twine. One of my favourite pieces is this cassette tape. The more obsolete a piece of technology becomes the more emotion attaches to it, I reckon.
Podcasts. Garage Punk Podcast. I can't get enough of this stuff. One podcast feed supplies a host of shows put together by a horde of bonafide lovers of garage punk. There's some variety in the music played, with, for instance Grretchen of Hanging on For Mercy favouring the more blue-eyed soul end of things, but generally you know what you're going to get. What comes over most of all is the sheer enthusiasm of the presenters. All of them have got their quirks, but personal favourites are the guy on Get Drunk and Play Records who does exactly that, and Lord Muck, the presenter of Nasty Grind, whose show ident always makes him sound like Frank Butcher making a dirty phone call. Ace!
Websites and blogs. Prole Info. I don't know much about anarchism and anarcho-syndicalism but I'm becoming more curious about it, in an ambivalent sort of way. For anybody like me searching for more info, it's a challenge to find a good place to start. There's a huge range of articles and comic strips on this site exploring different aspects of working class life under capitalism from an anarcho perspective. Some are better than others but you won't want for choice. The layout of the site isn't that obvious. Click on the link 'online texts' at bottom right for the bulk of the reading matter.