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Zine Review: Zine Obscura

Zine Obscura

Fanzine, Tim Lidster, 24 pages, LabelObscura.com

 

obscura-camFor Torontos Label Obscura, what could be covered off in a Facebook page or blog is crammed into a 100% hard copy zine. Thats not a bad thing. Its a good thing. Label Obscura is an indie music label based in Toronto and its eponymous zine is basically a deep dive (or “peek inside” as they call it) into some of the labels artists and artists in similar circles to the labels artists. The Burdocks and Manon Meurt get the feature treatment and otherwise, a small handful of contributors share some bonus first-person content. In terms of the latter, its pretty personal with remembrances of dead and dying artists plus a pretty kick-ass list of top five albums of 1991. The old and the new mesh well, and it reads like a zine created with heart and love and a legit degree of reverence for music of all kinds. Truth be told, this zine may well most appeal to “men and women of a certain age” since it does feel like a bit of a ‘90s time capsule. But again, the sheer spirit of the words and enthusiasm for the music should endear Label Obscura to anybody who makes the effort. (Cam Gordon)

Zine Review: Terminal Boredom: Issue 02

Terminal Boredom: Issue 02

Music zine, Rich Kroneiss + various, terminal-boredom.com

 

terminal-boredom-2-cover-mary-greenA very young Iggy Pop is on the cover of this zine produced by the fellas from Kenmore, NY- based Terminal Boredom Records, as are the words, “Black Flag.” It surprised me that there could possibly be anything left to say on the subject when the zine was printed in early 2015, but it seems there is. Unfortunately it’s really only of interest if you have an opinion about the animosity between current and former members of Black Flag or were curious about live shows by FLAG (TL;DR: fine if you’re interested in watching a glorified cover band play early BF jams for 90 plus minutes.) Mostly I’m sorry there are so many sad punks who are now embarrassed to have four black bars tattooed on their bodies. The first page contains an editor’s note and a mysterious “Want List” which includes the first Eric’s Trip album on SubPop, as well as any Elevator, Elevator to Hell, and Elevator Through cassettes or CDRs. Come to the Maritimes, Termbo friends; we are lousy with all of that. The zine also contains usual music zine fare: band interviews, record reviews — including an exhaustive catalogue of cassettes released by the band Tyvek — poetry, rants, weird stories, and lists of upcoming releases from tiny record labels. My favourite thing was an annotated list of “Top 15 Most Noteworthy Meals Eaten in America,” compiled by Shaun Connor from the band Ausmuteants following the band’s 2014 tour. Highlights include the WalMart of “some dumb town” where the band prepared and ate rotisserie chicken sandwiches in the parking lot. (Mary Green)

Slime Bucket Vol. 1

Slime Bucket Vol. 1

Promo Zine, Ricky Alva, Tony Tompson, tvaordie.bigcartel.com, $5

 

slime-bucket-1-mgI was confused at first by this photo zine printed on thick card stock with Eddie Munster on the cover. “TVA OR DIE PAL!” Eddie insists. What?

Inside, a bunch of dudes mug for the camera in and around a liquor store, sometimes chugging 40s of Budweiser or flipping the bird, followed by some cityscapes, and a collage of the same image of Charles Manson over and over with the words “TVA OR DIE” on his forehead where the swastika should be. I went to their website looking for more insight about what I was looking at, which was when I realized this zine is really an advertisement for a clothing line. Technicolor Vision Apparel — ironic, given that all the photos are in black and white — sells T-shirts with logos of early American hardcore bands mashed up with their own name or characters from horror movies and The Munsters, of all things. The package they sent us included five stickers with Herman Munster’s Frankenstein face photoshopped into the ubiquitous Misfits skull logo. If you’d like fashion tips from a bunch of dudes who like shitty beer, mass murderers, and you don’t have access to a time machine to take you back to the 90s, you should check this out. (Mary Green)

Zine Review: Stuck to You Like

Stuck to You Like

Zine, Kiel Torres, 20 pgs, kieltorres.tumblr.com, $4

 

stuck-to-you-like-jason-lutherWhat begins as an interesting series of black and white illustrated childhood narratives on the theme of things being stuck (teeth, trucks, feet), takes a more curious turn mid-way through, when our narrator addresses a mysterious soulmate whose past s/he is decidedly stuck on. The obsession leads to several food-based prose-poetry pages like this one: “I’ve been having a hard time spelling lately and I think it’s because you liked eating Alphagetti so much.” Other foods used to this effect include kool-aid, butter, and popsicles. Somehow this raises more questions than answers, especially about the “you” our narrator is talking about and what happened to this person? Did they die? Break up? The effect is heartbreaking and bittersweet. Highly recommended. (Jason Luther)

Zine Review: ?Serio? zine

?Serio? zine

Compilation zine, Alvaro Zavalda Luz Magdaleno, issue 2, 24 pages, oxnardplain.com, free

 

serioOne of my favorite kinds of zines is the compilation zine, where different contributors bring poetry, stories, rants, analysis, photos, drawings, and more, all under one zine-roof. A type of magic takes place there, which I think gets to many valuable practices of zine culture: collaboration, mentorship, access and valuing young or new voices, among others. In this issue, ?Serio? focuses on the themes of Mexican-American identity and the Chicano movement, featuring about a dozen voices in a variety of formats. While based in Chicago, the work presented here speaks to experiences which may resonate with the Mexican or Chicano diaspora anywhere. That being said, the contributors are coming from different angles, portraying and celebrating various elements of their identities, from music to cars, social change to schoolyard stories.

“If words are mightier than the sword/why can’t mine slice through/the fists/the knives/the bullets/that tear everything apart?” writes Sarah Yousuf in her poem “Heartbeat”, herself slicing through the banality of common phrases which offer little aid to her struggles. At the risk of being that banal guy myself, I would think that if zines can be of any aid to the struggles for self-expression, self-representation, exchange, and analysis in oppressed communities, zines like ?Serio? are likely to be a part of that movement. Scoop this up! (Stéphane Doucet)

Zine Review: The Rheostatics Saved My Life

The Rheostatics Saved My Life

Fanzine, Mike Bell (author), 6 pages, labelobscura.com, free

 

rheoIn the age of online think pieces and zero-research hot takes, its refreshing to see that long-form editorial content can still smack with heart, humour and reverence. Cue The Rheostatics Saved My Life, a tidy half-dozen pages dedicated to the Toronto indie-rock mainstays, published by Canadian indie record imprint Label Obscura. The Rheos are the band and the author is Mike Bell, recounting his discovery of the band from his small-town roots in Dunsville, Ontario and through encounters in Hamilton, Toronto and the like. The zine is fun because its a quasi-geekout but never sounds overly gushy or trite. Rather, its poignant and its personal and it clicks because of the nuance and normality of language. Bell clearly has a steel trap for a brain as he recounts early CD purchases, 19+ show and future reunions, all with a staggering level of detail. Weve all loved bands, and I personally love this one as well so maybe thats why this works for me. And we all have musicians or authors or artists who we internalize at a level that goes far beyond fandom or (ahem) support. The Rheostastics are evidently at that level for Bell and credit to him for opening the vault and penning this thoughtful paean to explaining the reasons why the band hits for him – and why they still hit hard where it matters. (Cam Gordon)