Every year the beautifully-printed magazine The Believer, which features some of the most thought-rattling, heartfelt oblique essays you’ll ever read and terrific artwork by cartoonists like Charles Burns and Tony Millionaire, puts out a single issue any music fan or fan of great rock write can’t ignore: The 2009 Music Issue has arrived.
Remember: This is from the same publishing company that first turned us all onto “The Commander Thinks Aloud” by The Long Winters in rough demo form on an affiliated book’s CD mix long before it officially came out on Ultimatum.
The new Believer Music Issue has a free mix CD of new wave bliss, featuring new or rare solo work by Stuart Moxham of Young Marble Giants (!), Dave Wakeling from the English Beat and General Public, Stephen Duffy (The Lilac Time), David Sylvian (Japan), Mike Scott (Waterboys), and special tracks by Lisa Germano, Lloyd Cole, and Sam Phillips.
Best of all (for me) is “From The Diary Of An Early Settler” by Robert Scott, of great New Zealand bands the Clean, the Chills, and the Bats. Not using the word “great” lightly either, and this is one of the best songs of the year. (He also tips us to Haunted Love’s “San Dominico,” another NZ gem quaintly “secretly” buried at the end of the compilation, the way CDs used to back in the 90s.)
The anthology was put together by a children’s book author named Daniel Handler (famous for the Lemony Snicket books), which brings up another reason to buy this ten dollar magazine with a free mix worth at least $5 more than that: feminist writer/graphic novelist Michelle Tea goes on a fashion jaunt in Paris with Beth Ditto and her band, revealing ideas about the body and art and fashion you don’t get in your daddy’s lit magazines; David L. Ulin does an excellent job of imagining what Beatles albums would have been if the band stayed together through the 70s (a VERY “imaginary” excursion); as well as my favorite, Ken Parille’s thoughtful glimpse into the other-world senile-psychedelia of the Lawrence Welk show, which seemed created on a different planet and you didn’t dare watch stoned. Tiny bubbles indeed! And: much more.
If you’re still worried about squeezing out the sawbuck in this economy, remember that this is the same publisher (McSweeney’s) that you can lead back to organizations like the 826 literacy campaign, and founded by the guy who co-wrote one of the very best movies of the past few years, “Away We Go.” Woot! Well worth supporting, I’d say!