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Razorcake #56 from 2010, featuring Thee Undertakers, Billy Bragg, Dude Jams

Razorcake 56

Click this link for why Cheap Girlsaren’t listed in the title.

Webcomic Wednesdays #239 “Kurthulhu” Part 8, by Jeff Kahn and Morgan Hale

Read more to see full sizes of each page and find links to Parts 1-7.

Stolen Lyric, The: DVD

What obligation does a reviewer have to be nice? Straight up, this is one of the most grueling media experiences I’ve ever sat through. It’s the movie length equivalent of somebody flipping through the radio and making little flip book drawings illustrating the plot of the lyrics.

Okay, I’m not explaining the premise well. This is an animated film, a jukebox musical of a sort. The dialogue is entirely made of clips from songs, with the lyrics laid out in subtitles so the audience can follow along at home. It tells the story of a band, The Merry, and their singer Rob, and before you know it you’re watching a retelling of the Robin Hood legend as a rock opera about corporate suits and creative disputes.

Here’s the thing though: this whole thing is awful. The animation is limited, but really what’s more of a problem is the generic and amateurish character designs. The songs switch back and forth pretty immediately. Questions asked by the chorus of one song are answered by verses from another. Sometimes a song you actually like is played and you kind of wish the movie would just play that song for a bit so you can forget you’re watching a bad movie.

What this seems like to me is that somebody made an off-handed joke and then went way too far with it. An hour and forty-nine minutes of this presentation is a brutal chore. Dialogue goes back and forth, seemingly endlessly. Conversations that would last seconds in other films take minutes here. Some of it is bloated dialogue, but sometimes it’s a sound clip being longer than it really deserves to be. It’s not that I think it could be better, but that this whole idea seems like a misguided venture from the start. Also, every character is white. Why? –Bryan Static (chasepetergarrettson.com)

Fear of a Nørb Planet: The Complete Maximum Rocknroll Columns 1994-1998 By Rev. Nørb, 288 pgs.

I subscribed to Maximum Rocknroll in December. Before that, my tenure as a reader of the venerated mag coincided roughly with Nørb’s term as columnist—I started reading faithfully around 1993 and dropped out in 1998 or 1999—when I became smitten with Louisville post-rock and Ebullition emo. It’s wild to read these columns again after more than twenty years. I have memories specific to loads of them: the exact chair in the Elvis Room where I sat after buying the new issue, diving directly into Nørb’s column to see what ridiculous tangent would be the through line around which he’d base that month’s particular rantings (still a habit with this mag—sorry, Dale).

The contentious stuff first: Part of Nørb’s thing has always been pushing boundaries. Anyone familiar with his deeply parenthetical style already knows this. In the height of the mid-‘90s furor regarding Tim Yohannon’s strict guidelines on what was/wasn’t punk (and the subsequent aftershocks, which yielded the formation of Punk Planet, HeartattaCk and Hit List zines to cover music falling outside of Tim’s umbrella), Nørb was the hyper-caffeinated burr under the punk establishment saddle, throwing around references that are by no stretch of the imagination politically correct. Prior to this tome’s arrival, I wondered how Nørb would deal with these topics. Go figure—he apologizes in the intro, saying he took things too far. Rather than expurgating his un-P.C. passages, he leaves them in here for better or worse.

With that said, “LOL” is so overused it doesn’t mean anything any more. But as I reread these columns, I found myself laughing out loud. A lot. So much so, in fact, that beginning on page fourteen, I made a mark above each column that had me genuinely laughing (no chuckles, no snorts—this is the laugh tally, you understand). Between pages fourteen and 288, I laughed out loud thirty-nine times. Thirty-nine times! (Page 250 got me three times and page thirty twice, for the record.) I can’t remember a record or comedy special that’s made me laugh as much. I mention this to emphasize the fact that the good Reverend doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. Dude’s a comedian, mining the dissonance between the freedom and rules of the punk scene for all their absurdity.

Nørb’s previous book The Annotated Boris alleges to be a book of gags about Boris the Sprinkler’s lyrics, but is actually one of the funniest and saddest books about being in a band I’ve ever read. Similarly, Fear of a Nørb Planet alleges to be a collection of columns, but is in fact a time capsule to heady scene years (I’d forgotten all about Nick Fitt and his MRR column). It’s one of the greatest comedy works of our time—and everyone knows the best comedy is based in the humdrum, the mundane. Nørb spins the everyday into gold. A triumph. –Michael T. Fournier ($14.98 to Bulge, bulge.biz)

Fetch: How a Bad Dog Brought Me Home By Nicole J. Georges, 314 pgs.

To be honest, I’ve never had a dog. People are often shocked when I say that, as if dog ownership is a universal experience. Now, I’ve had several cats. (This is when dog owners typically roll their eyes.) But I can still relate to Nicole J. Georges’ hair-pulling experiences with Beija, a troubled shar-pei/corgi mix she rescued when she was sixteen years old. She struggles to integrate the fearful dog into her life while she grapples with the trials and tribulations of growing up. Although Georges’ illustrations are effervescent and her words are scalpel sharp, the narrative feels overly familiar.

Many comics readers grumble about the glut of superhero stories published every year; however, the same can now be said about graphic memoirs. On my shelf, I spot Art Spiegelman, Alison Bechdel, Marzena Sowa, Adrian Tomine, David B., Marjane Satrapi, and Yoshihiro Tatsumi, to name a few. This isn’t to devalue the work or the experiences of these talented writers and artists, but to acknowledge why Fetch did not resonate with me. I’m honestly burned out on the banal nature of the genre and the tropes of human-animal relationship stories: person attempts to change animal; animal changes person instead.

Ultimately, with Georges’ Fetch, the narrative moves at a sluggish pace, for she quickly sidesteps more gripping topics (her relationship with her parents, for example), and instead focuses on the minutiae (and clichés) of dog ownership. Fetch, however, does offer a gateway for readers unfamiliar with the medium: the dog lover looking for a new read, the parent who naively believes comics are all spandex and uppercuts, the jaded punk searching for fair representation. In that sense, Fetch serves to bridge the divide between mainstream literature and comics. But for those of us who frequently traverse said bridge, Georges’ graphic memoir is uninspired. –Sean Arenas (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Henry & Glenn Adult Activity & Coloring Book By Tom Neely & Others, 112 pgs.

Here we have the newest continuation of the ongoing Henry and Glenn saga, which speculates on a universe where Henry Rollins and Glenn Danzig are mature enough in their masculinity to realize their feelings for one another and enter a homosexual relationship. The joke has been taken to some extremes before, and now you can take it home as a series of oversized, uncolored gag panels that you can color in yourself. The art is split between the original author and guest artists providing a page or three. I guess I’m not surprised that a joke like Henry & Glenn has sustained. If you were a fan of the joke the first time, the gags in this book are pretty good, but nothing you haven’t seen already. It’s more Henry & Glenn, you know? I can’t imagine anyone would be convinced on the “franchise” if this was their first purchase, though. –Bryan Static (Microcosm, 2752 N Williams Ave, Portland, OR 97227, microcosmpublishing.com)

Live at The Safari Club: A History of harDCore Punk in the Nation’s Capital 1988-1998 By Shawna Kenney and Rich Dolinger, 123 pgs.

The past few years there have been more than a fair share of books about the music scene in Washington D.C. Live at The Safari Club is a bit different, though. This coffee table- style book covers the scene at The Safari Club in the late 1980s through the ’‘90s. The authors, Shawna Kenney and Rich Dolinger, were part of the scene, with Kenney being a primary booker at the venue when she was only eighteen.

The book follows an oral history outline, with individuals sharing their experiences. Some of the names were familiar to me: Alec MacKaye (Ignition, Faith), Tim Owen (Jade Tree Records), Sean Brown (Swiz, Dag Nasty), and Mike McTernan (of Damnation AD, who for some reason friended me on Facebook even though I don’t know him, who was also in Damnation AD). Others were local scenesters or members of more obscure bands whose names never appeared on my radar, even though I was in the hardcore scene during part of this time (albeit in Indiana). Individuals give accounts of the history of The Safari Club, how shows started there, violence, epic performances, conflicts with the owner, and the venue’s eventual closure.

In addition to the oral history, there are numerous, great, black- and- white photos of the bands that played there: Krakdown, Token Entry, Ignition, and many more. The photos are truly the highlight of the book, as they’re given a large spread and capture the action and power of these shows.

There are problematic areas with Live at The Safari Club, however. The hardcore scene was, in the late ’‘80s and early ’90s, a predominantly white, male environment (even more than it is today). In almost all the pictures, I was shocked to see virtually no women and only a handful of people of color. I understand that the club and scene was what it was. Still, it would’ve been nice to hear about race or gender issues in the scene. How was it to be a woman at a venue that specialized in macho, aggressive music? Additionally, there were blacks and Asians in photos but very little talk about race. What were their experiences like?

Another concern is that while the title of the book states it covers the years 1988-1998, there is very little mentioned about the club after the early ’‘90s. This was especially disappointing, as I got into hardcore about ’’95 and would’ve loved to hear about the bands from that time.

While this is a very well-packaged book with cool photos, it fails to fully capture the history of The Safari Club, a venue that, while very interesting, is just like a lot of others that once existed. Many of us had them in our cities, but I wanted to know what made this one special. The lack of depth keeps Live at The Safari Club from living up to its full potential. –Kurt Morris (Rare Bird Books, 453 South Spring Str., Ste. 302, LA, CA 90013)

The Sarah Book By Scott McClanahan, 233 pgs.

The Sarah Book is a horror novel for people who are more scared of marriage than zombies. Scott McClanahan loses his wife to a divorce that was her idea, then stares into the abyss and writes about it at length. Wait, no. It’s a novel, narrated by a guy named Scott McClanahan. I know this because at one point the narrator has a conversation with a slowly dying dog. There’s also a wedding gift holy Bible being set aflame on a whim and a fair amount of feces, plus suicides both imagined and botched.

If you’ve heard the band Reigning Sound, you know that they’re not doing anything radically innovative. Yet, from five instrumental tracks from five bands, a fan would know which track was Reigning Sound’s. McClanahan’s prose is like that.

To choose a paragraph at semi-random: I told her that I loved going inside after midnight and watching all of the people of the world shop. They were the people who the rest of the world didn’t want and they were the ones that didn’t belong anymore. They were the people with amputated arms and they were the people in wheelchairs and they were the people with face tattoos and scars. I was a scar too. I was a giant human scar. And then I felt serious and I said, “Walmart is more than a store. Walmart is a state of mind.”

As the composer of this novel, McClanahan fucks up only once (never mind how, you may not notice it), and I’ve never been so grateful to be pulled out of a story: Oh, right, he’s not The Seer, he’s just a schmuck with an Underwood.

The Sarah Book is an abyss book, but McClanahan isn’t nihilistic. He spent many hours staring into this abyss so we only have to spend a few hours. Our old hope is burnt off like sugar cane and new hope is (if all goes well) harvested. –Jim Woster (Tyrant Books, nytyrant.com)

BIG TAKEOVER, THE #80, $5.99, 8 ½” x 11”, glossy, 144 pgs.

I have always had a soft spot for The Big Takeover. Named after an excellent Bad Brains song, it has been around for well over thirty years. In the 1990s, when I was a teen, I would go to Barnes & Noble or Borders (RIP) and read Maximum Rock’n’Roll, AP, and The Big Takeover, amongst others. Away from a metropolis, it was the only place I could read these publications and find out about new music. This issue includes interviews with Chrissie Hynde, Tommy Stinson, Tobin Sprout, Grandaddy, as well as a ton of reviews. I appreciated Jack Rabid’s editorial about America’s political situation and the abomination that is Donald Trump. The Chrissie Hynde interview by Rabid was especially enjoyable, as he had an actual conversation with her that covered some good ground of the singer who has put out music for decades. Otherwise, I can’t say this issue rocked my world, but it was a good trip down memory lane. –Kurt Morris (The Big Takeover, 1713 8th Ave., Suite 3-2, Box 2, Brooklyn, NY 11215)

CELEBRATED SUMMER #1, $5, 5 ½” x 8 ½”, color, copied, 41 pgs.

This is a really cool way to celebrate a milestone. Celebrated Summer Records in Baltimore is ten years old, so Tony decided to make a zine to tell the story of the shop. Along with the story with its often intense ups and downs, the zine is chock full of photos of the store, its beginnings, where it’s at now, bands playing there, staff and friends, and the many shirt, poster, and button designs over the years. It has a beautiful layout and features cover art from Razorcake’s own Liz Prince. Reading this made me want to go to Baltimore and hang out at the shop! –Ty Stranglehold (Celebrated Summer, 3116 Falls Rd., Baltimore, MD 21211)