Jan 22, 2011

Three bands—two Japanese, one American—each with two songs apiece. Your Pest Band: Landing somewhere between The Urchin and the Raydios; a proficient Japanese punk band. Thankfully, they’re not sterile, but they’re also not as memorable as the two signposts I just mentioned. By far, my favorite tracks are by Defect Defect, and although the delivery’s convincing and I like the song, the phrase “Fuck God Lets Punk” is pretty cheesy. Groaning Groove sounds like a grunge band attempting metal, featuring the voice of an angry, lesser-known Muppet. Not my bag. I have total respect for Snuffy Smiles, but this 7” delivered mixed results.

 –todd (Snuffy Smiles)

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Four-Year Depression By Billy McCall, 95 pgs.

April 6, 2020
I’ve enjoyed reading Billy’s zines for well over a decade now—especially his Last Night at the Casino series—and his other zine, Proof I Exist, is also good. Thus, I was happy to get his book, Four-Year Depression, to see how his writing would fare in a longer format. The subtitle on this book is “How to Love Your Family (even though they voted for you-know-who),” which informs the reader that the material in these ninety-five pages isn’t about Billy’s battle with mental health issues but rather a tale of how to deal with Donald Trump’s presidency. (Ironically, I wrote a zine about my initial shock and fear after Trump was elected in 2016.) Billy explores his experience the night of the 2016 Presidential election. He writes about what went on for him that night, but also the range of emotions he went through. Billy also isn’t afraid to write of his politics, which are far left leaning. He delves into the problems of the American political system, including how the main two parties aren’t really that different (yep). He acknowledges that Hillary Clinton wasn’t an ideal candidate but in comparison to Trump, she was certainly the better alternative. Four-Year Depression isn’t just about his thoughts on politics and the election of Trump, though. What makes the book special is how it ties in with finding out his family voted for Trump. How does one negotiate a family who you love and care about but who also voted for someone you find reprehensible? Billy explores the ups and downs, especially in light of how his concern for his brother brings him closer together with his mother, even though she voted for “you-know-who.” It’s the personal angle that causes this book to be a winner. Something that focused on only the political frustrations or the faults of Trump would’ve been redundant in the face of everything we’ve all read the past four years. But the complications that come with loving family that also hurts you is what gives this book depth. That said, I felt this book could’ve used the help of an editor. In case it doesn’t sink in the first few times, Billy makes it clear that he really hates Trump. And while I totally agree, some of the content was redundant and could’ve been cut. Many of us are aware of what a horror Trump is and capturing that in the course of a chapter instead of spread throughout the book would’ve enabled Billy to focus more on the material that is key to this book’s success. Still, Four-Year Depression is definitely worth a read, especially if you’ve enjoyed Billy’s writing over the years. –Kurt Morris (
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