The Zinophile: Exhuming 1999’s Finest Zine Reviews


Recently, I’ve been in the process of getting a number of the interviews from my old zine Eventide online.  There are six so far, with more to come. (Hint: fans of bands with alumni of Swiz in their lineups will likely be very happy.) Going through the files, stored for over a decade on Zip discs — the storage medium of tomorrow! — I found a lot more as well: PageMaker 5 layouts; the columns that a number of us wrote; a lot of record reviews; and a fair number of zine reviews. I thought it might be interesting to put some of those here. This year, this column has been a reflection of the zines I’m reading in 2013; here’s a look at the zines I was reading in 1999. (Some of them, anyway.)

I’m not going to reprint the entire zine review section from issue 5, because, well, that would be 3,700 words long. I’ve pulled out a couple of highlights — sort of a condensed version of what readers of issue five would have read. Given that this is running on my birthday, you can pretty much think of this as some sort of aging punk version of Krapp’s Last Tape. Between this and Ian F. King’s piece from yesterday, this is apparently 90s zine week on Vol.1 Brooklyn. I have no issues with that whatsoever.

It’s also great to see that a lot of the people whose zines I wrote about fourteen years ago are still writing about, releasing, or making music. That’s something that can’t really be understated.

(FS=full size; HS=half size; LG=legal size; CP=copied; NP=newsprint; OS=offset)

Building Adam #6
(FS, CP)
In addition to interviews with bands 16 Horsepower, No Innocent Victim, and Starflyer 59, this zine has a lot of random writings; topics from road trips to seventies television are covered.  There’s also a somewhat bitter piece of writing by one of the writers asking readers not to stereotype him due to his religion, music reviews, and a piece on Burt Reynolds.  The layout’s got some problems-some text pieces that should be continued on another page aren’t-but this was an interesting read, I suppose.

Change #11
(FS, NP)
It should be noted that this comes with a compilation CD featuring a plethora of bands performing songs that relate in some way to The Simpsons.  Said television show is also a theme in this issue, which has a number of articles and interviews connected to it in addition to the usual mix of hardcore and basketball.  Los Crudos, Kill Your Idols, Fastbreak, and Sweet Diesel are interviewed in here; you’ll also find (as always) the angriest music reviews out there, and plenty of flyers in the layout to make you feel nostalgic.  This is Change; chances are, you know what to expect.  Oh, and the Milhouse song on the comp is worth the price of admission alone.

Coed Naked Sex #6
A pretty thick half sized zine; the interviews are more on the indie tip (Trans Am, Superchunk, Vitreous Humor), while the reviews seem to be more on the punk and hc tip.  And it’s got Mad Libs.  Rock on.

Ennobled Mind #11
(FS, NP)
This is an intelligent zine that used to be based in New England, but appears to have relocated.  EM tends to focus each issue on a theme, and this issue’s is religion; the columnists all deal with it, and Roadside Monument are interviewed, and they discuss it as well.  Smart Went Crazy are also included in this issue, along with a piece on Krazy Fest.  Good reading.

Go Metric #10
(LG, CP)
This zine is one that I always look forward to.  Issue ten has more of what’s made this zine so appealing to me:  a lot of reviews (focusing mostly on indiepop and some pop-punk), a good sense of humor, and articles on various random topics, as well as reviews with Junior Varsity and Nardwuar.  While nothing in this issue tops the “Extreme Living” centerfold from a while back, it’s still (as always) a really good read.  And the Sinatra bit is utterly hysterical.

Hanging Like a Hex #11
As always, Ryan’s going for a nontraditional look to the layout of this issue of HLAH; this time around, though, a problematic print job throws a bit of a wrench into the works.  Still, the content itself isn’t affected by this, and in addition to interviews with the likes of Meshuggah, Compound Red, Buried Alive, and Fireside, you’ll find a Botch/Dillinger Escape Plan/Jesuit tour journal and interviews with Revelation webmaster Kevin Finn and Hyper PR’s Jessica Hopper, which seem to try to get at parts of the hardcore/indie scene beyond bands and zines.  It’s good stuff, and hopefully issue 12 will have a layout that complements the content better.

Heartattack #20
(FS, NP)
This issue devotes much of its space to a multitude of responses to the question of “What is D.I.Y.?”  Twenty-five people answer and give twenty-five different definitions, which is good.  They range from Indecision guitarist Justin Brannan’s defense of a band’s relevance even if their releases bear a bar code to Kent McClard’s questioning of statements that he has made in the past to Mike (Conquer the World Records) Warden telling his side of his battle with Boy Sets Fire, among others.  Heartattack, though I don’t always agree with it, is a publication that never fails to make you think, and that’s why it’s arguably the most relevant ‘zine in hardcore now.

Hit It or Quit It #13
(FS, NP)
HIOQI remains one of the most interesting zines out there; you never know what you’re going to get when you open it.  The news, columns, rumors, interviews, and reviews all have a distinct feel to them; there’s a certain air of wit that hovers around this issue in most places, and it makes this zine unique.  Catpower, Les Savy Fav, and The Self-Starter Foundation are among the interviewees.

Locus #1
(FS, CP)
An intelligently written straightedge hardcore zine from Australia, with interviews with Chris Logan (GoodFellow Records), Another Victim, Earth Crisis, and Value of Strength zine.  Some writings on veganism and the edge are also included.  It’s not bad at all; the interviews are interesting, and the editor doesn’t come off as in the mood to force his views on anyone else.

Lousy #9
(HS, CP)
Matt Traxler, the fellow who writes this zine is also in a band called Brandtson; that has no real bearing on what this zine is like, but I figured that it was worth mentioning.  Most of the writing in here is of a personal nature and is quite bitter; Matt’s voice is distinct, even when he’s reviewing mix tapes.  A few guest writers pop up, and don’t really mesh with the tone set by Matt’s writing (one piece on faith comes to mind).  In zines of this type, I’m more used to it being personal writings by one person, and the addition of a few more is a bit disconcerting.

Number Two #10
(FS, OS)
Scott and I had almost finished the layout for issue four of Eventide; at that point, we figured it would be around 170 pages (it ended up being 168).  “Damn,” we said, “this is going to be the biggest zine outside of Punk Planet that anyone’s seen in a long while”.  And then I walked into Mondo Kim’s on St. Mark’s Place.  I was perusing the zines and saw something that looked like a book, until I noticed “Dalek” and “Starlite Desperation” on the cover.  That’s when I realized that it was the new Number Two, all 228 pages of it.  In terms of content, you’ve got the most intelligent music reviews out there, a diverse bunch of musicians interviewed, and a layout that’s like nothing else out there.  Number Two is in a class of its own.

Punktuality #3
(FS, NP)
A nicely done cut and paste zine with interviewees including Ensign, Try.Fail.Try, Indecision, Plan*A*Project, and more.  Lots of reviews and photos, and done in a way that reminds me of the zines I bought when I first started going to shows.  Rockin’.

Second Nature # 8 & 9
(FS, OS; PO Box 11543, KC, MO 64138)
These are the last two issues of this zine, though saying “this is the last issue” might be more appropriate.  The columns, news section, and reviews all begin in #8 and end in #9.  The article topics, including distros who have stiffed Dan in certain areas and Conquer the World Records, are all interesting, while the interviews, including Botch, Dillinger Escape Plan, Discount, Jejune, and Isis, are all interesting and beautifully laid out.  If you’re going to go out, this is a pretty good way to do it.

Sliver #5
(FS, OS)
Evidently, this is the beginning of the end for this metal/hc zine.  It’s a shame to see it go; I think it was starting to hit its stride.  This issue’s interviewees include Harvest, Samiam, and Slayer, and the layout is, as usual, very good.  The reviews are also pretty good, though the column with two guys just trashing stuff comes off as a bit juvenile, and when they get something wrong, they tend to look kinda dumb to those of us who know what they’re talking about (like their constant references to Uzeda as “Uzenda”).  Still, a good read.

Zine Guide #2
(FS, NP)
What you see is what you get here; this publication is, indeed, a guide to zines large and small.  It’s quite comprehensive, offering listings of what zines have interviewed who, what other zines think about them, and where each zine ranks on a variety of scales.  This is informative, and there’s enough information in here to keep me coming back to it; it’s more interesting than you might expect a reference publication like it to be.  I do have one question:  why does the “Favorite Zines for Boys” category get 200 spots, but the “Favorite Zines for Girls” one only get 70?

Zum #11
(FS, OS)
This is really, really nice.  Interviews, well-written music reviews, comics, a nice print job….  I’ll admit to feeling a bit envious while reading this zine; the fine people at Zum appear to have their shit together.  Chats with musicians ranging from the Spinanes to the X-Executioners.  Smart and opinionated, this zine is worth tracking down.

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