Thom Yorke, The Mountain Goats, Scot Walker, Guillemots, The Spinto Band - Under The Microscope: Pow Pow Pow Magazine.

Bill Cummings 16/08/2006

Pow Pow Pow is the magazine offshoot of the British based new music site www.powpowpow.com According to its creators this magazine “is a lovely thing” and gazing into the eye catching colourful psychedelic cover design (by designer Liam Brazier), and professionally produced page layouts, I'd have to agree: aesthetically “it's a lovely thing.” The content's not bad either, like any fanzine the reviews are of a variable standard, from the more in-depth analysis of albums like “The Eraser” by Thom Yorke and Scot Walker's new opus “The Drift”, to the more perfectly concise efforts, and those that could probably do with a few redrafts.

The interviews section is interesting too, the Guillemots and The Mountain Goats Q&S are the best. The Guillemots interview manages to depict a band on the rise, splicing their quotes with the writer's passion for their music and live performances. Whilst the chat with John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats is enlightening more for the way he batted back the questions than the questions he was asked. When asked about whether the increased audiences hinder the song writing process, at first he claims not to understand the question, then he settles on: “I just write what I write, whole process sort of takes place in a bubble. The only time I really notice the whole wider reception is when there are bigger crowds at shows.” When asked about authenticity and the unappeasable element of die hard fans, he takes issue with the idea: “Some people loved the harder-to-hear stuff, god bless 'em; most people prefer the newer stuff, god bless them too! I have to take issue with your characterization of indie audiences though: I think you're attacking a straw man there.”

The live review section is packed with some good reads, from a mammoth review of Radiohead live at Hammersmith Apollo, down to the smaller gigs like Camera Obscura at Colchester Arts Center (despite the rather oddly placed imagery “the main attraction splurted out a number of new songs”), and the ace Help She Can't Swim at Bath Moles. One minor point about the live section though, there's not enough live photography!! Live photos compliment and enliven, live reviews, bringing the live gigs to life and making the pieces much, much, more than just text on a page.

There's also a healthy unsigned section that adds to the grunt of any zine like this, unsigned music is such an important breeding ground for new talent, and you never know someone reading about the new bands (The Curious Orange, The Dastards, To The Bones) reviewed here might just be inspired to check one out.

There's a neat poetry and art section, even if it does feel a bit tacked on, and a really good free CD featuring the likes of It Hugs Back, Yeti, Jeremy Warmsley, and The Boyfriends, which isn't a bad incentive to get your hands on this magazine on its own.

There are a few problems with Pow Pow Pow though: it just doesn't have enough about it to make it truly unique. The best fanzines seethe at the seems with rants, opinion, and features. Pow Pow Pow simply doesn't contain enough to differentiate it from your normal mainstream magazine (Like the "Fly"), along with its professionally produced look, this means, there's a lack of charm and personality to certain sections of PPP that was present in abundance with the old DIY cut and paste style fanzines ("Repeat" for example).

These criticisms are only minor this is a certainly worth a read PPP, rather like GIITTV zine is produced by a mixture of students, amateur/freelance journalists, and kids with a real passion for music, which is quite heartening, so despite my grumbles, they should be thoroughly congratulated in the main, for getting up off their arses, and producing something that highlights both quality unsigned and more established indie acts. Well worth a read then, just not the best in its field.

Buy it now at a very reasonable price of 2.50 Buy Pow Pow Pow Magazine