Zine Reviews

Brave Punk World: The International Rock Underground from Alerta Roja to Z-Off By James Greene, Jr., 426 pgs.

There is no way to write a book like this and not bite off more than one can chew. Author James Greene, Jr. admirably handles the challenge though. Brave Punk World is essentially a survey of punk and punk-adjacent music from around the parts of the world that aren’t the United States and the U.K. The book zips through thirty-eight countries in about 360 pages, so this succeeds as a primer rather than a comprehensive encyclopedia of all of the world’s punk. Think of it as George Hurchalla’s Going Underground but covering several million more square miles of scenes.

The general pattern emerges of identifying and focusing on a handful of bands from the genesis of each country’s punk scene and unspooling out a bit from there, generally staying within the 1970s and 1980s. As Greene explains in his intro, the arrival of the Sex Pistols and Never Mind the Bollocks proves to be a remarkably dependable metric for honing in on many countries’ punk ground zero. Bands like the Clash, the Stooges, and especially the Ramones also figure heavily in finding and inspiring international audiences. Sometimes the way culture mixes across borders leads to some interesting examples of lighting the punk spark. Raswann Zaza from more recent Syrian punk band M For Mazhott admitted he first came across punk in his country from the American Pie soundtrack. The book’s author also observes that Director Walter Hill’s 1979 movie The Warriors seemed to be as nearly as big an influence on Mexican punks as the music making its way into the country.

Not all countries’ punk histories are created equal. An overview of Sweden, Australia, or Canada’s late ‘70s and early ‘80s bands could easily take up a whole volume or two by themselves. The Philippines punk scene has a remarkably rich punk history to dig into due the albums and compilations put together and left behind by homegrown DIY label Twisted Red Cross. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the chapter on Nepal revolves almost entirely around Sareena Rai and her bands Rai Ko Ris and Tank Girl. Zambia has a fascinating chapter on the homegrown phenomenon of Zamrock. Zamrock actually predates punk rock, and is more like the Zambian analogue of Brazil’s Tropicalia, in which garage and psychedelic rock are fused to more traditional local music. (One of the more glaring oversights in this book to me is no real mention of Tropicalia in the section on Brazil.) There are some other coverage gaps that stick out to me in the book, but overall this is a very immersive and fascinating read. I highly recommend reading the book with Youtube or Spotify nearby to sample some of the hundreds of fascinating bands featured within. –Adrian Salas (Rowman & Littlefield, 4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706, rowman.com)

DEEP FRIED #13, $1, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 24 pgs.

Those fried, greasy, fast food-loving zinesters are back at it again with this new Halloween-themed issue! A favorite holiday to many, this issue features a lot of McDonalds spooky Happy Meal toys, the infamous Halloween buckets (also from french fry giant McDonald’s), and scary fast food tips. Apparently Arby’s will put bacon on your sandwich free of charge if you say, “trick or meat” on Halloween? Pretty gross, but I guess it saves you some cash on your greasy treat. This issue also features interviews with bands Trash Catties and No Men. Not fast food-related, but there’s a pretty funny review of Zima, if you’re looking to take a trip down memory lane of one of the grosser beers from back in the day. –Tricia Ramos (Deep Fried, 2901 Yosemite Ave. S. St., Louis Park, MN 55416, videophobia222@hotmail.com)

FLÜORAZINE #2, free, 5½” x 8½”, 16 pgs.

The completely non-narrative nature of this zine took me a while to acclimatize to, but I finally did… at least a little bit. Most sections function like photocopied ADD meditations that may or may not stick with a specific subject across a page or two. Some of the thoughts and mental real estate in this zine were on the nature of the criminal justice system and the fleetingness of love. There is also a pretty straightforward section on protest singers in the middle. There was also a song transcription I felt pretty proud for figuring out when my brain finally started realizing all the random letters popping up in the middle of what I thought was a poem were actually chords. –Adrian Salas (Kristopher Storey, 26731-018 FMC, Lexington, KY, 40512)

GENEVA13 #23, $?, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 60 pgs.

Geneva13 is a local zine of Geneva, New York. All pieces inside the publication are written by locals or interviews with locals. The theme of this issue is “transitions,” which captures the flux of the city; the changes that are occurring to it and the residents. There’s an essay written by a man experiencing his own emotional transitions, and a small history of three events that shaped Geneva and brought about big transitions. A school loses three teachers to retirement, and a newly elected official is the first African American to sit at Geneva’s City Council. A good zine if you’re interested in local pieces. –Tricia Ramos (Geneva13, PO Box 13, Geneva, NY 14456, mail@geneva13.com)

JAPAN JAUNT Vol. II, No. 1, $?, 8½” x 11”, 8 pgs.

This travel zine by Steve DeRose is a handy Cliff’s Notes on the minutiae of planning a fairly thrifty trip to Japan, specifically Tokyo and Yokohama. DeRose covers lot of basics such as recommending atlases, hostels, and a walk through on currency exchange recommendations. A section on figuring out the multiple train pass systems in Japan gets particularly detailed, but it sounds like it’s the type of system that doesn’t really make much sense until you get to work your way through it firsthand. There is also an interesting, but rather sparse, section on ramen. DeRose admits to not being the most knowledgeable about ramen culture, but it does feel like even here in Los Angeles it is becoming possible to develop at least a little expertise in the subject stateside with the expansion of Japanese-style ramen rapidly taking place (AKA the ramen in insanely rich broths, not the five for a dollar packages in every supermarket). I do have to say I was kind of surprised by the unexpected and lengthy guide about Japanese adult video buying strategies capping off the zine, but I guess everyone has their areas of expertise. –Adrian Salas (Steve DeRose, 4821 W. Fletcher St., Chicago, IL, 60641,

MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL #413, $4.99, 8½” x 11½”, newsprint, 104 pgs.

I wonder what MRR’s place is in the punk scene these days. Is it still the so-called “bible of punk” in the age of Vice, Cult Nation, and Pitchfork? I used to think that punk would crumble if MRR folded, but anymore it seems like the mag is a calcified relic looking to maintain its usefulness and fading influence on a scene that no longer is itself what it used to be. The layouts are uninspired, the columns are, well, the columns (someone is still complaining about Pork magazine, low hanging fruit), then there are the interviews with Fury, Los Impuestos (vapid dude talk), Nofu, Macho Boys, horror film makers Monika Estrella Negra and Michelle Garza Cervera, and the most interesting of the issue, Amy Starecheski, author of Ours to Lose: When Squatters Became Homeowners in New York City. –Matt Average (Maximum Rocknroll, PO Box 460760, SF, CA 94146-0760, maximumrocknroll.com)

MAXIMUM ROCKNROLL #414, $4.99, 8½” x 11”, newsprint, 104 pgs.

This well-known maximum fun punk rock mag from the Bay Area hits their November issue with a big piece about the history of Alabama punk (part one of a series), and interviews with bands Padkarosda, Period Bomb, Unsanitary Napkin, Bad Example, Damad, Midnite Snaxxx (a personal favorite), and many more. Another rad issue, guys. –Tricia Ramos (Maximum Rocknroll, PO Box 460760, SF, CA 94146, mrr@maximumrocknoll.com)

RESIST #49, 1 stamp, 3½” x 4¼”, copied, 2 pgs.

Pocket-sized perzine that delves into a potential mid-life crisis, but the whole piece seems like grasping at straws: riding bicycles that drifts into tedium about carrying beer back on his bicycle; a piece about raising chickens and getting their first egg. The whole zine is a short read, but nothing interesting enough that you will ever remember reading it later. –Matt Average (Mat Resist, PO Box 582345, Minneapolis, MN 55458)

RESTLESS LEGS #13, $6 ppd., 8½” x 5½”, matte color, 30 pgs.

High-quality photography zine featuring mostly smiling portraits of the photographer’s cool-looking friends. Seriously, the print quality is so good in this thing that it feels like I could be flipping through an Urban Outfitters lifestyle catalogue or something, but for Tru Punx with patched-up jorts and fading stick-and-pokes. (Actually, that may still be applicable to Urban Outfitters catalogues, but this is definitely punker.) This was made during the author/photographer’s gradual transition from Portland to the Midwest, so there’s a current of fragile nostalgia that runs through the notes and captions accompanying the photos. For better or worse, this is probably the kind of zine that helps launch wide-eyed punk teens from the suburbs into their own romantic trainhopping, dumpstering, rattail-growing trajectories. –Indiana Laub (Restless Legs, 2616 15th Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55407)

SAN ANTONIO BOUND DEATH SENTENCE #1, $3, 5½” x 8½”, copied, 44 pgs.

This zine is an exercise in procrastination in the best possible way—the author admits that at least one of the articles has been rewritten over and over, continually updated as the current political climate descended further and further into chaos. In the last pages, it’s revealed that this entire zine was nine years in the making, and the author nobly attempts to recreate some of the original articles from memory. In terms of content, it’s a grab-bag of topics: politics, skating, hometown ruminations, record and book reviews, a friend’s oral history of the time he went to a G.G. Allin show twenty-six years ago (a weirdly compelling read)… This zine offers both engaging accounts of skateboarding disasters and thoughtful analysis of Asian American history and identity. If that’s not enough to sell you on this, let me add that there is no shortage of meticulous footnotes—and endnotes! Multiple sections of endnotes in this document! For all of Kris’s endearingly self-deprecating style, this zine is smart and funny as hell. –Indiana Laub (San Antonio Bound Death Sentence, krisSATX123@gmail.com)