With the Internet, my consumption of music magazines has most definitely declined. Between the various music e-lists that I subscribe to (Audities, Bomp and Shindig to name just three) and the excellent free e-zines that are available (Fufkin, Perfect Sound Forever and Glorious Noise to name just another three) it just doesn’t seem like I have as much time to read the printed word, but I do try to make the time as there is something special about crashing out somewhere with a bunch of rock mags and the radio on in the background that is somehow reassuring. That being said, here is what currently fills my magazine rack at home:
Harp, Magnet and Amplifier– These are the “big 3” for me. Bi-monthly publications heavy on the indie scene but featuring a really diverse blend of bands and musical styles, these mags feature music, music and more music with nary a fashion ad in sight. A refreshing read even if Magnet and Harp feature the same cover subject occasionally.
Mojo– A nice, big, glossy (and expensive!) rock and roll mag featuring all kinds of cool current stuff and amazing features on rock and roll’s past (although a bit Beatles heavy at times). A joy to read but a bit of drain on the pocketbook. I don’t pick up every monthly issue but I usually regret it when it’s no longer available. And the compilation CDs are often excellent.
Uncut– Though not music exclusive, music dominates Uncut with excellent coverage of both the mainstream and offbeat and another great source of fine CD compilations. Another expensive monthly but usually a good bang for the buck.
Exclaim– A free Canadian monthly music newspaper filled to the brim with all kinds of cool bands from rap to hard core. I tend to stick to the more rock and roll/pop stuff but it is certainly interesting to read about all the other wild stuff out there and it is nice to read about Canadian indie bands for a change. The only complaint that I have is that the freakin’ ink comes off easily on the fingers so it’s a must that you wash your hands after reading. A great monthly that is also the sponsor of an annual hockey tournament (the Exclaim Hockey Summit) featuring rock and rollers competing against each other in the name of charity. Pretty cool eh?
Ugly Things– Published every year or so, Ugly Things calls itself “wild sounds from past dimensions” and it’s a good thing it is published infrequently as it takes me about a year to entirely consume the thing. If you are a fan of Pebbles and Nuggets (no not the fast food chicken thingys) then order a copy of this magazine. They are so full of obscure rock and roll knowledge that you will be so busy reading articles and highlighting records to buy that you will barely notice that the year has passed! Absolutely encyclopedic in its knowledge of arcane rock and roll, Ugly Things is a rock and roll fan’s delight.
Shindig!– Another rock and roll archaeologists delight, Shindig! covers “’60s Psych, Pop, Garage and beyond” with absolute authority. Published once or twice a year, Jon “Mojo” Mills has just recently released his first CD compilation and it looks to be great. Another essential rock and roll read.
Scram– Scram is a new one for me. Sub-titled “a journal of unpopular culture” I became familiar with it through the excellent Lost In The Grooves: Scram’s Capricious Guide To The Music You Missed book. Scram features enough cool, bizarre and eclectic rock and roll to keep you hunting record fairs and swap meets for years. A great, fun read for the adventureous rock and roll fan.
There are other mags that I will pick up occasionally like Q, Blender, Tracks and even the odd Spin or Rolling Stone if there is something that looks interesting but the above mags, especially because most are not published monthly are my current reading faves. And I haven’t even touched upon the numerous fanzines out there. I mean, with what else can I get away with telling my wife “Honey, I’m going to soak in the tub with my “Ugly Things.” There will always be a place in my house for quality rock mags no matter what the Internet has in store for rock and roll fandom.
Figures. I just post about the magazines that I currently enjoy and now I discover two more that have made my essential list already.
- Bucketfull of Brains- This is actually a rediscovery as I have read Bucketfull of Brains in the past but it kind of slipped out of view for awhile but I have rediscovered this classic and intend to subscripe post haste. Fabulously diverse with a nice combination of the popular (a relative term for mags like these) and obscure, this UK mag comes out four times a year and is a fantastic read. Since it is impossible to find on the racks I advise you to subscribe.
- The Big Takeover- I feel like an idiot in that I have not even heard of this mag before but holy cow is it incredible. Published twice a year and edited by Jack Rabid, to give you an idea of the scope of this thing check out the contents of the current issue as listed on their website:
- Here’s the lineup on that new issue: It has Wilco on the cover, from a long interview we did with Jeff Tweedy in his rehearsal/recording loft in Chicago. And it also includes long, thoughtful interviews with Scottish sensations Franz Ferdinand, Aussie legend Nick Cave of his Bad Seeds and Birthday Party fame, Bad Religion’s Brett Gurewitz and Greg Graffin, all three surviving members of the reunited MC5, and all five of the similarly reformed American Music Club, Canadian power-pop faves Sloan, that genre’s ageless Chris Stamey of the dBs, London punk/trash rock heroes The Libertines, England’s moody/broody Hope of the States, The Diodes and the history of 1977 Ontario punk, the perennial Stiff Little Fingers, Jeremy Enigk of Fire Theft and Sunny Day Real Estate, Dr. Robert Moog inventor of the Moog synthesizer, older Scottish punk stars The Rezillos, part two of The Weirdos’ John Denney and Cliff Roman, and part two of Rocket From the Tombs’ stars David Thomas and Cheetah Chrome; as well as Matthew Sweet, The Black Keys, Ron Sexsmith, Waxwings, Dora Flood, Inouk, The Places, Oneida, producer Warne Livesey, and more.
Incredible stuff for true rock and roll fanatics.