Fanzines

DAMN YOU #4

1.00 and SAE from PO Box 3904, Clacton, Essex, CO15 5TF
Oh yes, if only all fanzines were as good as this! The latest issue of 'Damn You!' has been about eighteen months in the making, but the result is a complete mother of a zine. There is now a veritable army of writers who contribute, each of whom have their own individual styles, but collectively they're a very cynical, intelligently critical and often wryly amusing bunch. The bands interviewed, including Fugazi, Sleater-Kinney, Bardo Pond, Sellac, Unwound, Ganger, June Of 44 and Rothko balance the fine line between the established and emergent underground bands from both sides of the Atlantic. If I want to be picky, some of the material reviewed is a bit dated, for example Fourth Quartet's debut single and A&B #2! However, if you have even a remote interest in post-rock, emo or lo-fi sounds this is absolutely essential. Best fanzine I've read this year, no question.

HERE BE MONSTERS #19

1.00 and SAE from 36 Folly Fields, Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire, AL4 8HL
I know I review this every issue, but surely regularity is a good thing? Clive is certainly very efficient, and 'Here Be Monsters' is a consistently fine read. The contributors are probably a bit older than the usual zine writer, and coupled with the fact that they don't live near London means they seem unaffected by scenes and cliques, preferring to rave about bands for how they sound, regardless of image. This is a cool policy, resulting in an eclectic mix of reviews and interviews with Today Is The Day, Amp Records, Electric Frankenstein and Dog Toffee. The interviewees are all pretty wild, and they made me want to investigate further into their bands in the future. Clive felt this issue wasn't up to his usual standard, but I disagree; it's still a solid reference point for all sounds heavy, punchy and angry.

HOMEGROWN #4

1.00 and SAE from 57 Dollar Terrace, Cried, Perthshire, PH7 3EG
This zine is dedicated strictly to Scottish bands, a policy that Neil attempts to justify by arguing that Scottish bands don't get enough coverage from the weeklies. However, I think that our friends up north are pretty well catered for by the NME; scarcely a week goes by without a mention of Idlewild, Mogwai or any of the Chemikal Underground bands, whereas I can't remember the last band from the home counties that the weeklies championed to such an extent. However, 'Homegrown' is still a cool zine. The interviews with the aforementioned bands, plus Akira, Suckle and Bis are focused and interesting, and the reviews are short and sweet, not like the sprawling nonsense you read in A&B. At only twenty-eight A5 pages, the zine is possibly overpriced, but it does provide knowledgeable insight into one of Britain's most famous scenes.

KITSCH #2000

1.00 and SAE from 117 Stockpile Road, Southville, Bristol, BS3 1NX
I can divide 'Kitsch' up into three distinct sections. Firstly, as the name of the zine suggests, there are several cheesy articles and jokey features. These range from the pretty funny 'World of Krap Kitsch Kult TV' to the downright dire 'Steve Lamackerel's Fish Music News'. As well as this, there is the most essential aspect of any fanzine, the interviews. Gareth has long chats with The Lance Gambit Trio, Oobernan and Billy Childish, which is certainly a bit different from the norm, and the questions are well-sustained and insightful. Rather unusually, the aspect I like most about 'Kitsch' is the reviews, which are intelligent but not afraid to give bands a hard time if they deserve it. Honesty is always best in the long run anyway. I think you should all send off a pound to the above address, because 'Kitsch' has its finger on the pulse of today's indie music.

LET THEM EAT KOHL #5

1.00 and SAE from 47 Gilmore Close, Langley, Slough, Berkshire, SL3 7BD
There are several aspects to 'Let Them Eat Kohl' that make it a very 'feminine' fanzine. Firstly, it is beautifully presented, and the full colour cover is especially pretty. Secondly, Lynsey focuses mainly on a small group of bands, rather than trying to encompass a wider variety of sounds. Finally, there are lots of little features, including jokes, a letters page and even a guide to what is supposedly 'in' or 'out'. These are not criticisms however, merely observations about a different approach to the role of fanzines from my own. In actual fact, I very much enjoyed reading 'Let Them Eat Kohl'; the bands interviewed, Quasi and Fungus, make surprisingly engaging conversation, and the smattering of reviews are not too heavy. Overall, the zine has a pleasantly light-hearted feel, and comes recommended.

MILKYBARS IN SPACE #1

1.00 and SAE from 35c Cricketfield Road, Clapton, London, E5 8NR
It's obvious that this is going to be Teen-C orientated just by reading the title, isn't it? Don't let this put you off though, 'Milkybars in Space' is chunky and very readable, especially the interviews with Uresei Yatsura and Brassy and the funny features. Julia has written other zines in the past, and her experience is evident in the quirky humour and relentless enthusiasm prevalent throughout. My main criticism would be that too many of the interviews revolve around superficial questions; after reading the interviews with The Kenadas and The Crayons I still felt I knew nothing worthwhile about the bands. Still, 'Milkybars in Space' is a cute read, and there are pleasing signs that disco-punk won't dominate the next issue.

OVERSTUFFED GUEST LIST #6

1.50 and SAE from 8 Brewery Road, Horsell, Woking, GU21 4LP
I usually can't resist buying fanzines when they're just sitting there in the shop, but I really must remind myself to stop buying 'Overstuffed Guestlist' because every time I read it, it does my head in with its barrage of gossip, pointless articles and ego pampering. I am sure Sophie is a lovely person, but her obsession with ligging and being photographed with vaguely famous members of Mansun and Terrorvision makes a very boring read. The emphasise is very much on personalities rather than new music; for instance, there are no reviews, and the interviews with Ash and Chicks form only a fraction of the issue. Instead we get a large article on depression, with huge chunks ripped from the Melody Maker. Which Sophie happens to be in. Ho hum...avoid this is you want to stretch your knowledge of music further than the frivolous and mundane.

POPART #3

1.00 and SAE from 40 Alma Lane, Farnham, Surrey, GU9 0LH
The baby zine of the Aldershot scene is evolving into something bigger and better every issue. The fact that it's produced so regularly means that everything is pretty up-to-date, which makes a change from the bi-annual release of some zines. Anyway, this time around, 'Popart' interviews a nice blend of rising underground stars and those who are still a long way off being successful; Twist, Vyvyan, Vow and Vinny Peculiar all undergo the interview treatment. In future issues, it would be nice to read more dictaphone interviews; written ones often struggle to portray the personalities of bands. 'Popart' is a very good-looking zine, carefully constructed with poems, pictures and reviews dotted all over the place, and is well worth purchasing, particularly if you live locally because there's a strong focus on the local scene.

QUIRK #8

1.00 and SAE from 42a Eastern Road, Haywards Heath, West Sussex, RH16 3NN
Before I started writing A&B, 'Quirk' was one of the few zines I'd actually read, and so it's probably influenced me a little bit. Anyhow, the whole world has gone online since then, and Andy's been swift to follow. This issue is downloadable from fly.to/quirk, but for a select band of fanzine traditionalists like me, a few copies were photocopied. It would be an understatement to label 'Quirk' as merely an indie zine; there's a wide range of articles covering topics such as the Natural Law Party and neuroticism, and so it's much more of a student mag. However, there's the usual reviews and news, along with interviews with Younger Younger 28s, My Life Story and Angelica. Not my favourite bands in the world, but the proacative questioning makes solid reading material. My favourite aspect of Andy's writing is his honesty and power of persuasion; his condemnation of Vyvyan's 'sexy' new image and cliquey white guitar bands are fully justified. Oh yeah, A&B got into the fanzine top five, I was dead chuffed about that. Another fine issue of 'Quirk' then, and seeing as it's free (online), you've got no excuse for not reading it.

R*E*P*E*A*T #15

1.50 and SAE from 7 Ferry Lane, Chesterton, Cambridge, CB4 1NT
Here we go again...another bumper issue from Cambridge's finest, interviewing no less than sixteen bands, including Liberty 37, The Crocketts, Nojahoda, Cay, Feeder, Vyvyan and Stereolab. Of course, there's the usual Manics stuff as well, which is sometimes interesting, but there's only so many live reviews of the Millennium gig that I can handle! Add to this a healthy blend of left-wing ranting, an enthusiastic crew of contributors and a cut 'n' paste frenzy and the result is a very fine fanzine. Possibly the best out there, and the empire continues to grow with the emergence of R*E*P*E*A*T records and gigs.

THE ORIGINAL SIN #28

1 IRC from Jozef Guislainstraat 6, 9000 Gent, Belgium
How does Didier know so much about the most obscure bands in Europe? Yes, I'm talking about unsigned post-rock from Devon, punk rock from Finland and world music from Switzerland. It's really quite an eye-opener to realise the vast quantity of bands that exist out there. The majority of the zine is therefore made up of reviews, but there are also interviews with Dutch neo-progressives Vanolor, German avant-garders Twin Machine and five bands from that little island above France that thinks it's really important; Mayumi, The Lead Feathers, Saloon, Molotova and Chester. Heard of any of them? Nope, me neither, and I think that the only weakness of 'The Original Sin' is that the bands featured are just too obscure for the casual reader. It must be praised, however, for its tireless enthusiasm and its desire to increase the profile of unsigned bands. Give it a go if you think you're hardcore enough.

POPART

0.70 and SAE from 40 Alma Lane, Farnham, Surrey, GU9 0LH
Sid and Karina have been very efficient and produced two issues of their zine in the last few months. It's quite unusual in that as well as featuring all the usual music reviews, a real passion for poetry and art is prevalent throughout. Very cultured indeed. The first issue was a fine start, but issue two is bigger and better. It has interviews with Spearmint, The Audience, The Conspiracy and Ethereal, as well as an article on the underrated Yoko Ono and poetry by Vis the Spoon, amongst others. It all reads well and looks lovely, and you get a pair of cut-out-and-keep Shirley-Specs on the back too!

THINK SLAPSTICK #1

free with SAE from 2 Ketchers Cottages, Fountain Road, Selbourne, Hants, GU34 3DA
Another zine to emerge from the Aldershot scene, this time from the WEC new kid on the block, Simon Saines. It's definitely good to read about such an eclectic selection of tastes; bands as diverse as Moby, Winner and Six By Seven are all featured, and Simon's writing has a certain charm to it, which involves lots of short sentences. Like this. The guides on how to be a nu-metaller and indie muso made me laugh too. It's a shame it's only one photocopied side of A4, but this is going to be an excellent read when it gets a bit meatier. For the moment though, well worth the price of a stamp.
Issue 6 Contents

 

Issue 6 Summer 2000 © Tim Bragger