Odds are, you're reading a rock and roll zine for two reasons: to discover new music and to get a glimpse at the people behind the music you already love. Copper Press #14 delivers a bit of both. There are the features on indie favs Hot Hot Heat and The Flaming Lips, as well as interviews with lesser known acts like The Ed Kemper Trio and Shuttlecock -- and, as always, each piece is a good read with an eye-popping layout. Add stories on art, sports and photography, and throw in a free CD, and that should be all the incentive you need to go out and pick up a copy.
Issue #14: I'm Just a Small-Timer Trying to Get By Like Everybody Else.
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If you're still skeptical (or just need something to read to kill time at work), read on, as I will present and appraise the contents of this edition of Copper Press. But be warned -- this review gets a bit self-indulgent at times.
While most of the bands featured were completely new to me, I developed attachments to numerous articles. Stellar pieces on The Feud, Shuttlecock and Riddle of Steel were definite interest-arousers. While the articles mainly focus on the words of band members, between quote narratives serve as miniature album reviews; even if you've never heard these bands before, any of these features will give you insight into what makes them function as artists, while also providing a description of their work that rivals any you'll find elsewhere. Well, mostly, anyway. Unfortunately, the Riddle of Steel article suffers from a serious information shortage. The Quicksand and Fugazi comparisons on the first page immediately grabbed my attention (what can I say, I'm a sucker for good post-hardcore), and the interview explored the band's songwriting dynamics thoroughly, but you're left with no way of learning more about the band. No web links, no mention of a record label or any releases -- it doesn't even mention what town the band is from. Not very helpful, to say the least.
The Minibosses piece was probably my personal favorite. It's only a two page write up, but the design is fantastic. The Minibosses play video game music with real guitars and drums and such, so the layout consists of screen-shots from the NES versions of Castlevania and Contra. One member's mention of the Airman stage of Megaman II as a musical influence will be a trip down memory lane for readers raised on eight-bit gaming.
The Rum Diary interview hits even closer to home, as it mentions the one and only Splendid. The interviewer talks with the band about disagreeing with a portion of the "usually wonderful" Splendid's review of one of The Diary's albums -- it's no outright slam, mind you, but a mature point of not quite seeing eye to eye. It's nice to know that someone out there is reading. Then again, we review every issue of Copper Press, so of course they're reading, but they're looking at more than just their own articles, apparently.
As if these artist discoveries, childhood video game references and website namechecks weren't enough, the Ed Kemper Trio interview definitely caught my eye. It didn't really make me want to listen to the band, and it wasn't brilliantly written or designed, but a curious fact was mentioned: the trio's latest album was recorded in West Point, Georgia. That probably doesn't mean anything to you, but West Point is fifteen minutes down the road from my town, and I was floored. It's hard to believe that a bona fide indie rock record was recorded in my own county, a place where the two music stores still haven't stocked any Interpol discs and the only local bands I know of are a pop punk group and some random collections of high school kids that fumble their way through Deftones covers. We're a solid hour and fifteen minutes from any sort concert venue, excluding basements and churches. I guess you learn something new every day.
Of course, it's a bit pretentious of me to think you actually care about such personal connections, so from now on I'll speak on matters more pertinent to the collective masses' enjoyment of Copper Press #14. The Hot Hot Heat and Flaming Lips articles are definitely the big draws here, and both have their strong points. The photos of Hot Hot Heat are awesome, capturing them at their sweatiest, though the interview isn't terribly substantial. The Flaming Lips article features a less exciting layout, but sheds some light on the themes of Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robot. Sure, it would have been more timely a few months ago, but it's one of the better recent pieces on the band. They also tell us that we can expect a feature film from their camp this Christmas, in which Wayne Coyne is a Martian that transforms into Santa Claus. Better start counting the days now.
In the end, it's the same story as usual -- go out and buy this magazine, gosh darn it! Come on, you know you're just itching to discover a few new bands, and who knows -- maybe the little podunk town down the road from you will show up in these pages!
-- Phillip Buchan