Which is nice, and supportive, and which also kinda bums me out.
been like 17 years since the last issue of Ross's own awesome zine, Tuba
Frenzy, and frankly the only thing more annoying than editors who never
get around to doing a new issue of their own zines, is if it's because they're
too busy speculating about when other people are gonna finish their zines.
In any case Brown (who also plays guitar for Ashley Stove, who are
the old fogies of the Raleigh music scene, simply because they've stayed
together for more than 6 months) is apparently working on his zine. I have
seen him taking pictures. But I have this weird feeling that he's planning a
big thing with lots of pictures and much pithy writing, which just means it's
gonna take him like 9 months to get an issue out, and by the time it's done,
half the bands in it will have broken up.
And if I had a dime for every 100-page music zine that's gonna be
day now," I'd be able to pay Tom Corbitt to put out that Resol CD he's been
working on for over a year now. The way I see it, better to actually do a one-
page zine, instead of just "working on" a 100-pager.
One zine which does exist is Speculum, another in the never-ending
8x5 xeroxed zines done by 17-to-20-year-old women, which I always find inspiring,
even when they suck (which Speculum doesn't). See, it takes only a moderate
amount of effort to slap together a 20-page zine, but most folks are just too
busy re-watching the entire South Park collection on video, working on their
So zines like Speculum are rad enough for simply existing.
What sends this
issue over the top, though, is a one-page comic called "Cunnilingus Woman,"
and some DIY instructions for fermenting yr own mead. Now if they'd just
get over their dumb smoking fetish, I'd feel comfortable calling myself a fan.
Ten thousand times more amazing than Speculum, though, is
a zine called
Doris, which is put out by a west-coast transplant named Cindy, who's
currently living in Asheville. Issue number 9 is the story of Cindy dropping
everything this past April, and heading to the Yukon for a month with a guy
she hardly knew. They camp out for a while, and then spend a good long time
hanging out with some punks in Anchorage. Best part of the whole thing,
though, is the last page, where Cindy says:
"One last trip to the library, and I still hadn't been able to get
ahold of my
mom to tell her I was going. But I was, we did, we left. Got on the plane
and flew over the mountains. Over the ice fields and the Bering Strait.
Landed down there in Siberia and the rest I'll tell you later."
God-damn. I know I'm way too lame to ever consider hopping a plane
Siberia, which is why I'm so glad for folks like Cindy. Issue 10 is supposed
to be the Siberia issue. I'm waiting.
As far as I'm concerned, the mainstream press has done a bang-up
selling you whatever you want to buy, so I'm not too interested in repeating
that process. There's one record you haven't been sold, though, so just
let me do that for you.
Rainer Maria are a three-piece from the snowy midwest somewhere (they're
on a Chicago label, but they may actually be from Wisconsin. Whichever).
Their CD Past Worn Searching takes my vote for album of the year, if such
balloting is based on sheer non-stop hours of in-car play, which is a better
fucking gauge of greatness than anything else anybody's ever been able
to suggest to me.
It begins like this: a fast intake of breath, a drumbeat, and then "God Damn,
I'm not talking about my heart like it's something you could break," sung in
unison by one boy guitarist and one girl bassist, in voices that sound just
pissed-off enough to really mean it.
Nine songs, and a lot of slow quiet parts which build slowly until
singers are screaming their lungs out while guitars ring everywhere like
wind against ice. There is a great grand punkrock disregard for the finer
points of singing in tune. Surprise: two strong young voices singing slightly
out of tune together can be heartbreakingly beautiful. Perhaps not a surprise.
So if you live in the cold snowy midwest, what else can do you but
great crashing rock anthems about love and disconnection? This is music
made by people who still give a fuck about life, perhaps only because
you'll fucking freeze to death if you don't, up there where it feels like
night all winter long.
So a fairly strong, surprisingly diverse lineup of non-punk/glam/cock-rock
[mostly] Raleigh talent is marred slightly by a handful of excruciatingly
crappy cuts. (Joyce Bowden sounds like she's moaning her drippy "It's
a Boy" from the puddle at the bottom of my house's crawl-space. Worse:
She's stuck down there with a drum machine.) And the little snippets of
"cafe soundscape" are about as entertaining as, well, listening to somebody
blow steam through milk.
At least half the songs on the thing are worth repeat listens, which
better ratio than you're gonna ever get from an hour's worth of G-105.
Hell, better than you're gonna get from WXYC half the time--and
I like WXYC.
Hobex's take on 70s soul is saved from the cartoony fate of most
stuff by virtue of the fact that Greg Humphreys is a damnfine songwriter.
Come to think of, that would explain why his duet with Dana Kletter is so
good as well, reminiscent as it is of Rod Stewart's earliest-70s solo work,
pre- Rod's descent into sucky self-parody.
Dana's own band, Dear Enemy, tread water through most of their cut
(a cover they found on one of those 50-cent thrift store records), which
winds up good-but-not-great. Their main attraction for me has always
been the scary dual singing/songwriting of Dana and her sister Karen.
There's none of that to be found here, so I'm stuck waiting for their
length to come out on Rykodisc in April 1998. Given the amazing quality
of their live show, I'm perfectly happy to do just that.
Biggest surprise for me is Joe Knowlton, who sounds a hell of a lot
a somewhat-less-morose Magnetic Fields. Same kerchunking casio-country
vibe, same semi-monotone vocal style. Somewhat more organic sounding,
but that's to be expected since I don't think Joe's a robot, unlike Stephin
Merrit, who actually played Marvin the android on the BBC-TV production
of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
Best of all, hidden away at the end of the Local Honey CD
is an un-named
track by local jungle duo Dzu Teh (whose drummer Will Connor is this month's
NGASAMA poster boy). What initially sounds like pretty good old-school
(meaning as-of-9-months ago) jungle becomes a bit more amazing when you
recall that Will is perfectly capable of playing most of these beats live, with
his two hands, on a drumkit made from old junkyard trash.
Rise would be a metal band, except they don't have a singer. No operatic
screechy singer, no "huh-huh-huh" bluesy Steven Tyler singer, no "bwahhhrrr"
guttural death metal singer. No singer whatsoever. They also don't have
what would traditionally be considered metal guitar solos (or any guitar solos
to speak of, for that matter).
What they do have is riffs. Now, I'm a little ambivalent about riffage.
can be fun for a while (and indeed, Rise were great fun, occasionally), but
too much riffage is about as dull as plain-old boring, no-breakbeat techno.
Except nobody even dances or does drugs to riffage, so I guess that should
say "even more dull."
So I'm thinking how great it would be if Rise would take a tip from
of (ugh) electronica, and add some insane, fuck-shit-up breaks right there
in the midst of all that chunka-chunka. Imagine a crowd full of bobbing
heads and flying hair, suddenly sent crashing to a halt while somebody
onstage beats a drum machine to death with a pickaxe.
Get the picture? Good.
In any case, seeing Cherry Valens' singer writhing around onstage,
rayon shirt unbuttoned to his navel, I think I finally came to terms with this
whole fucking "authenticity" thing, at least. And while I have to say that
the Make*Up still annoy the fuck out of me, I can at least admire the
See, indie-rock's biggest lasting contribution to the world has apparently
been its whole "aw-shucks, we're jes folks like you" aesthetic, which spilled
all over a self-conscious crowd who were already looking for any possible
excuse not to learn how to dance.
At its root is some kind of misguided attempt to not condescend to
audience by "putting on a show" (i.e. pretending to be something yr not).
Which sounds fine, I guess, until you consider just how condescending
very attempt really is. We in the audience aren't idiots. We know you're
not larger-than-life Rock Gods. We also know that the stuff that happens
in the movies isn't real.
But guess what: We're paying you $7 in hopes of seeing you do something
more interesting than what we could see at home on TV for free, just like
we pay our $7 at the movies to see people pretend to kill each other.
So jump the fuck around already. Unbutton your freaking shirt and
It might even help us forget how much your band sucks.
Tim Ross's "Step In the Arena" is in the music area at www.citysearch11.com
The women of Speculum reside at KrAnK0000@aol.com, or 331
Chapel Hill, NC, 27514.
Doris #9 can be had for $1.50 from Cindy at PO Box 1734, Asheville, NC, 28802.
Rainer Maria's CD, Past Worn Searching, is on Polyvinyl Records,
PO Box 1885, Danville, IL, 61834.
Ben's single is on Reality Control? Records at 5970 Birch St. #2,
Carpinteria, CA, 93013.
Local Honey is from The Third Place, 1811 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh, NC, 27608.
All of those records are probably available at Schoolkids Records.
That's where I got them.
If you want to contact me, make your own fucking zine. I'll pick
and read it, just like you're reading this.