Zine Reviews

LEFT HANDED CHRISTIANITY, 8¼”x 5½”, copied, 7 pgs. (and three pages of mail art)

A short pamphlet that discusses subversive Christianity of the sort practiced by William Blake and the Process Church. Way short, but interesting. Included in the envelope was a one pager titled, Albany: Are Those Tulips in Your Shoes?, which recommends radical anarchists work within the system: “You don’t have to quit the Green Party. Of course not, you can even run for local office while distributing Crimethinc. literature.” Okay, sure, but then he goes on to say, “Why not a Police Collective” and suggests, “maybe you can fight racism by joining the Klan? Work within the system, right?” Now that last question he poses suggests that this might be sarcasm, but it’s really hard to tell. Or if it is. If it’s not, that’s just downright fucked up. Fortunately, I have some familiarity with the author’s work, and I have a feeling it’s failed satire and it’s not asking anarchists to organize the pigs. Jason Rodgers tends to send out an envelope containing a number of loose pages of collage, brief essays, and political fliers. If this sounds interesting to you, send him a buck. You’ll probably get a whole different lot than I did. Just ask him not to include the Albany one. –Craven Rock (Jason Rodgers, PO Box 10894, Albany, NY 12201)

LIFE IS POSERS: INFLAMMABLE METROPOLIS, $6, 7” x 8½”, copied, 66 pgs.

This omnibus of loosely serialized comic strips follows the exploits and hijinks of a crew of gutter punk burnouts in the punk-themed town of Poserton, USA. Storylines involve a highly anticipated reunion show, a legendary batch of acid, a lot of kinda-almost-still-relevant jokes about punk culture, and attempted time travel? I’m not sure; it’s all kind of a jumble. This sort of hyper-punx throwback genre always reads like a parody of itself to me, but it’s at least partly intentional—these comics want to be obnoxious and in-your-face, basically a print version of The Casualties. Your odds of enjoying Life Is Posers probably directly correlate with the frequency with which you use the phrase “lowbrow art” in your day-to-day life. The highlights of this zine are the trove of small-print punk puns buried in the background every few pages, and the line “Are you planning to mosh? I will only mosh if they play songs from their first compact disc.” –Indiana Laub (Life Is Posers, lifeisposers.com)

MAXIMUM ROCK’N’ROLL #416, $4.99, 8½” x 11½”, newsprint, 103 pgs.

This issue begins with a eulogy for Dead Moon’s Fred Cole. My favorite part of it—aside from author Erin Yanke’s point that “death is a part of the deal with being alive”—was the anecdote about Fred Cole working in music stores. Apparently, he had a habit of giving customers ridiculous credit when it came to buying instruments they probably couldn’t afford. The interview with comic artist Liz Prince is spiffy, too. When she’s not grinding out the good stuff for Razorcake, Liz puts out books like Be Your Backing Band. What could she do without? Dorks asking her how to get their unpracticed work published in a snap. One cannot just pick up a pencil and get a graphic novel deal with Scholastic in no time. As Prince says, “years of working on comics in obscurity” and “doing a bunch of different kinds of work” is way more important than hurrying art and chasing popularity. That’s not hating on DIY, that’s holding folks to trying it. We also hear from punks abroad: the band Kenny Kenny Oh Oh of Leipzig mention how the punk scene in Germany is behind U.S. in terms of being down with “gender and queerness” and racial diversity, while Zay of Yokkaichi, Japan say that their song, “There Is No Future in Dreaming of the Past,” is critical of punk band reunions. To them, it seems like old groups copy their past selves, which is sad. Are they saying they wouldn’t pay forty bucks to see Raygun play a bar in Wrigleyville? Maybe. Maybe not. “We just have to believe in what we can’t see,” singer Gori notes, as if to say, Move forward, sailor. Trust yourself to make good new shit, even when there’s no promise we’ll be celebrated for it. Another good’n! –Jim Joyce (Maximum Rock’n’roll, PO Box 460760, SF, CA 94146-0760, maximumrocknroll.com)

MAXIMUM ROCK’N’ROLL #418, $4.99, 8½” x 11”, newsprint, 104 pgs.

After having written for Razorcake for thirteen years and having read Maximum Rock’n’roll for over twenty years, I can’t help but wonder if there have been punks who seriously and ferociously debate which of these two fine publications is better. For me, they both cover a number of bands I’ve never heard of, and with music reviews that can be snarky. One of the big differences is with the columns. Those in MRR have always been more political, whereas Razorcake has Rhythm Chicken. Razorcake is bi-monthly, whereas MRR is somehow capable of putting out a zine every month. Also, one hundred percent newsprint vs. ninety-eight percent newsprint. These are some good starting points for any of you punks who want to debate this. Oh yeah, and this issue of Maximum Rock’n’roll has interviews with Martha, Snob, Mauradeur, Neo Neos, Senyawa, F.I.T.S., ISS, Eric Bifaro, Not On Tour, and more! There’s also all the other good stuff: columns, reviews, letters to the editor, et cetera. As always, worth picking up if you’re into bands you’ve likely never heard of and enjoy the smell of newsprint. –Kurt Morris (Maximum Rock’n’roll, PO Box 460760, SF, CA 94146)

MIDLIFE CRISIS #1, $4 ppd. Canada, $5 ppd. rest of N. America, 8½” x 11”, 32 pgs.

This Toronto-centered zine includes a two-part interview with OAF from 2016. The first part is with the singer Tony and guitarists Jakob and Damon from before the band broke up, and the second is with their bassist Cera from a few months later. The band recordings are decent sludgey hardcore, but the interview points put that the band had a bit of multi-generational punk rock legacy as the guitarist Damon is the son of Black Flag’s Ron Reyes. There is also a fun, quick interview with NoMeansNo from 1988. I feel very lucky to have gotten to see the band twice before their breakup in 2016, as they are one of the most awesome weirdo anomalies to emerge from Canada—and probably some of the most intense musicians I have ever seen even on a stage. (I remember Rob Wright played so hard during a song that perspiration got into the electronics of his bass and shorted it out. He switched the bass out mid-song and the rest of the band never lost a beat). The zine also has an interview with punk record store owner Pete Genest, who was like a punk Johnny Appleseed, opening stores such as Roundhouse records in Portland, Singles Going Steady in Seattle, and Hits and Misses in Toronto. A review of the 2012 documentary She Said Boom: The Story of Fifth Column rounds out the zine. I’ve never heard of the band but they somehow emerged out of the early 1980s in Toronto to be important progenitors of the riot grrrl and queercore scenes. Overall, this is a standard interview zine, but the author Daragh Hayes approaches things from an enthusiastic place that makes this an enjoyable read. –Adrian Salas (Daragh Hayes, 250 Pall Mall Street, Unit 601, London, ON, Canada, N6A 6K3, midlifecrisiserahc@gmail.com)

MIDLIFE CRISIS #1, $5, 8½” x 11”, copied, 32 pgs.

It’s nice, and sadly rare these days, to read a hardcore punk zine where the editor doesn’t see himself (and it’s always a male) as another blowhard Lester Bangs with fake attitude and flimsy knowledge. The editor, Daragh Hayes, keeps his writing honest; his enthusiasm and passion for all things hardcore punk is undeniable. He covers the new, as well as the old, with interviews from OAF, and one with NoMeansNo from 1988, as well as a talk with Pete Genest from Hits and Misses record store. There’s also a lengthy review the doc She Said Boom: The Story of Fifth Column. There needs to be more zines like this. Please! –Matt Average (Daragh Hayes, 250 Pall Mall Street, Unit 601, London, ON, Canada, N6A 6K3, midlifecrisiserahc@gmail.com)

MINIMUM ROCK + ROLL, 5½” x 4¼”, copied, 6 pgs.

Music zine that is far too short to connect to. The four-question interview with SOAR was far too brief to be engaging. The eight, sixty-word record reviews, well, they were fine, I guess. It’s just that I read this thing in less than five minutes. There was nothing to grasp. I got no feel for the zine-maker’s voice. –Craven Rock (No address listed)

MINOR LEAGUES #5, $? 8½” x 11”, copied, 59 pgs.

I was kind of hoping this would be a zine about minor league baseball, but instead it’s partially a perzine and partially comics (well, mainly comics). The content includes writing about ghosts, some genealogy of people who lived in the author’s house, and walking in the woods. I really like Simon’s writing. It’s very simple, but also visual. That’s a good way to describe his comics, too. They’re so bare it can at times be difficult to understand the scene, but it also caused me to pause and really contemplate them. That said, there are extraneous drawings and photographs in this issue that don’t have anything to do with the rest of the content. I would have loved to read more of Simon’s words in place of those, but I’m still interested in seeing future issues of Minor Leagues. –Kurt Morris (smoo-comics.com)

MUSICA OBSCURA, $6, 5½” x 8½”, printed zine with CD, 62 pgs.

This zine and CD two-piece collects Adel Souto’s favorite essays they wrote while being featured on the music website No Echo. The music featured on the CDs span from punk or offshoots of punk, disco hits by adult stars, lost Cambodian rock, and some painful screamo tracks. The essays themselves range from murders in darker genres, Hollywood and the adult industry, awful mixed music genres, Communist Cuba, breakfast cereal, cults, and heck of a lot of other things. Pretty interesting essays and a huge companion CD (with a link to downloadable MP3s if you don’t have a disc drive). –Tricia Ramos (Musica Obscura, adelsouto.com)

OWNING THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION: THE STORY OF THE JEFFERSON PEOPLE’S HOUSE, $6, 4¼” x 7”, copied, 90 pgs.

Offering “pocket lessons for your own worker co-op” is what this zine does. That’s not something I see myself doing in my near future, so I’m not really the audience for this zine. Reading it as if I were its intended audience, I found some of it would probably be useful info; some of it was pretty obvious and left me thinking, well, duh. –Craven Rock (Microcosm Publishing, 2752 N Williams Ave., Portland, OR 97227, microcosmpublishing.com)