Giant Robot Store and GR2 News

I remember one of the first times I corresponded with McHank. He responded to an Instagram picture I posted of the Dum Dum Girls in concert by saying , “Dude, give Kristin, I mean Dee Dee, my love. Old pal!” He did a similar thing with a photo I posted of Mrs. Magician. Later on, John Reis said hi to him from the stage at a Night Marchers/Hot Snakes show at Alex’s Bar. I wondered, Who is this guy and how does he know everyone?

Sometime in between, I met McHank in his hometown of San Diego at Comic-Con. He gave me some copies of his stapled-and-folded zine and I was instantly hooked. It’s like a mixture of  Cometbus, CARtoons, and Tiger Beat with tons of honest introspection and observation, cool and random art, and unabashedly loving band interviews–often written by hand or even brushed.

The ninth and most recent issue of the digest-sized publication has cool art (Tim Kerr, Travis Millard, Skinner, Bwana Spoons, McHank himself…), killer interviews (Brandon Welchez from Crocodiles, Mary Animaux from White Murder…) and all-star contributions (John Reis writing about discovering the Ramones, Joey Cape in memoriam of Tony Sly…). Even so, my favorite piece of all time is still McHank’s essay about growing up in the Bay Area and not knowing how to drive when he moved to San Diego and how he had to ride bikes or take the bus to get to shows. Can you get more personal or street level than that?

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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? ZINE REVIEWS 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. [] 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]] 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...
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