On Sunday night, the Maybe Mars crew from Beijing made a stop in Downtown L.A.’s Redwood Bar with their flagship band Carsick Cars. I got there just in time to catch White + (featuring Carsick’s guitarist and singer Shouwang Zhang with drummer Wang Xu from The Gar). Their last song had a cool Krautrock-style drone that I’d like to hear more of. Carsick Cars has a new bass player and drummer but played the great, melodic, Sonic Youth-informed old stuff and snuck in some new, more rocking sounds as well. Shouwang is still an axe master, mixing the minimal technique of Steve Reich with the hooks of Pavement and making Carsick Cars the best gateway band to the Chinese indie scene. Rounding out the show was The Gar, whose most jangly song kinda reminded me of Libertines. What do you think?
It was good to see Charles Saliba, one of the guys behind Beijing’s Maybe Mars record label. He facilitated the coverage of Carsick Cars, PK14, and other great bands from Beijing in Giant Robot mag as well as an in-store at GR2 years ago. Charles said that this year’s tour was scaled back some, with just a handful of shows in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Austin, and New York City. If you get a chance to catch the tour in the Big Apple, don’t miss it. Who knows when they’ll return?
Moshpit (52 pages, 4 or 5 bucks)
This isn’t new, but I picked it up from the Hamburger Eyes table at the Los Angeles Art Book Fair a last month. Ray Potes’s zine of SF Giants riot pictures was sold out, so I got this instead. In Moshpit, photographer Josie Raymondetta collects nothing but hyper contrasting images of hardcore punk and metal shows, directing her lens at the crowd as often as the stage. Who are the bands? Where are the venues? Who cares! The energy and images totally rip, and convey the power of heavy music silently and brutally. [www.hamburgereyes.com]
Perpetually 12 9 (68 pages, 5 bucks)
I’m a big fan of this San Diego based-zine, which boasts an adolescent name and format but is fully informed when it comes to indie punk, art, and life. I dig how McHank loves the old bands (RFTC’s John Reis contributes an essay about The Ramones) but celebrates newer ones as well (Q&As with Mary Animoux from White Murder and Brandon Welchez from Crocodiles). The interviews, which are often hand-written, are separated by art contributed by the likes of Bwana Spoons, Skinner, Tim Kerr, Travis Millard, and McHank himself. Very cool and totally unfiltered, with a touching essay on the passing of Tony Sly (NUFAN) by Joey Cape (Lagwagon). [heymchank[at]gmail.com]
Cometbus 55 (72 pages, 3 bucks)
Two decades (and then some) is a long time to read about a guy’s relationship with the scene and his crushes, girlfriends, and bands that pass through it. But Aaron Cometbus’s view of radical politics in Berkeley goes well beyond the indie punk scene of the ’80s and early ’90s, just as his women aren’t just piffling crushes. The newest issue pairs the communist paper Iskra, a no-frills Communist paper with a wooden vending machine, with Yula, a head-turning anarchist from the Unkraine. The plots regarding the disappearance of the crusty publication and a long-distance relationship with the foul-mouthed beauty weave in and out of each other poetically and maddeningly. Longtime readers like me, who project politics in their punk and their personal lives, will eat it up as sad people do Woody Allen movies. [lastgasp.com]
Radon (44 pages, 4 bucks)
45 RPM appears to a series in which writers give serious thought to music that most people blow off. In the seventh edition, authors Travis Fristoe and Aaron Cometbus share their opinions about a Florida band that I’ve never heard called Radon. So for me, the effect was more like reading Don Quixote by Cervantes than Hammer of the Gods. Two views provided by gifted punk writers about a group of individuals that played with more conviction and love than smarts, and not just expanded liner notes or Behind the Music. Sure, actual members of the band could have been contacted for quotes and anecdotes but that would have just made the book more specific, less universal, and not as inspiring in the end. [Libros Interactiv/Salad Master]