The Word Magazine (from whence we came) is an increasingly distant memory, Mojo and Uncut are chasing each other around the ever-decreasing circles of ‘canonical Rock’, the NME is reduced to a glorified advertorial freesheet for clothing brands, and yet even in the racks of my smalltown WHSmith there appear to be…loads of music magazines. Q and Mojo now fight for space with Shindig, Vive Le Rock, Classic Pop, Classic Rock, Prog, Clash, as well as diehards like Kerrang!, the revitalised Record Collector and The Wire.
I bought two newish titles recently and they’re rather good, and interestingly both are paper versions of already well established online incarnations. John Robb’s ‘Louder Than War’ is quite charming and colourful, a throwback to Select Magazine or Vox – some of the writing is a bit wobbly (the Brian Jonestown interview is incomprehensible) and past issues have seemed a bit too in thrall to meat n’ potatoes Indie, but when did you last see Dinosaur Jr on the front of a music magazine? Best of the bunch is Electronic Sound, it is a thing of beauty – boldly putting Bob Moog on the cover and a list of acts that are hardly household names it may well be nailed to the shelves, but it’s worthy of your attention. Good writing, lovely paper stock, gorgeous design and photography and presented in a way that reminds you of the things magazines can do that the interweb can’t. It also smells nice. Unusually, for me, the covermount CD is a keeper too (Blancmange covering Can’s ‘I Want More’ and Jane Horrocks covering Joy Division – what’s not to like?).
Like the gradual return of Record Shops to provincial towns, this mini-revival I think is a sign of a growing realisation that maybe life isn’t necessarily better when framed through an Apple iDevice and that writing still deserves a place on the printed page, away from the retina frazzling, clickbait-infested monitor screen.