Author: Various Authors

Bring the Noise: 20 Years of Writing About Hip Rock and Hip-Hop
Simon Reynolds
Soft Skull Press
Street: 5.24.11
Reading Simon Reynolds’ Bring the Noise feels a lot like taking out your high school yearbook and looking back in depth on the things that were happening during that time. His critical analysis and insight covers just about every single genre of popular music over the past two decades, and this book acts as an abridged encyclopedia of Reynolds’ published album reviews, interviews and features on bands from Public Enemy to The Smiths to MIA. Many of the pieces appear as they were published, while a number of them were reverted back to Reynolds’ original submitted drafts. Reynolds is renown as a music critic for his ability to provide deep insight into the complex dynamics between dominantly black genres (Hip hop, R&B, Soul) and dominantly white genres (Punk, Rock, Grunge), and how the two worlds interact to form new sounds and keep the world of music turning. This book abridges two decades worth of insight into a 400-page collection of the best and most thorough music criticism in recent history. –Chris Proctor

Derek Hess: Black Line White Lie
Derek Hess
STRHess Press
Street: 12.16.11
Derek Hess doesn’t so much draw as he releases energy onto a page. His art is characterized by the kinetic, flowing lines that shape his figures and the starkness of the black ink he unleashes upon white paper. Black Line White Lie is a nearly-300-page collection of Hess’ work, sorted into a variety of categories. One of the most striking parts of the book is the “Aggression” section, containing several drawings set at concerts as crazed singers whip their audiences into a furious craze—this is where Hess’ sketchy style really shines and communicates a sense of violence and movement. Those familiar with Hess from his art for aggressive metal bands such as Converge and ISIS may be surprised to see a variety of more lighthearted drawings, especially in the book’s “Animals” section—though there are several drawings of teddy bears being crucified. The book also showcases Hess’ excellent understanding of the human form, as his subjects—though often contorted and slumped over—are masterfully drawn, conveying weight and emotion, even if it is undoubtedly dark. This book provides a surprisingly varied look at Hess’ creations, and it’s a great way to appreciate his art. –Ricky Vigil

Gig Posters Volume 2
Clay Hayes
Quirk Books
Street: 11.01.11
The visual element of music can be just as important as its aural aspect. When you think of Pink Floyd, you see their Dark Side of the Moon cover. When you think of Nirvana, you think of the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” video. When you think of Kiss, you think of their stupid fucking outfits. And when you see an awesome concert poster hanging in the window at your favorite record store, you wanna go to that show. Thanks to, the concert poster has gained a whole lot of artistic clout over the past decade, and this second collection of work by some of the world’s most notable concert poster artists proves that the artform’s praise is definitely warranted. From a design standpoint, this book is pretty goddamn awesome. Each double-sided 11×14 page features a high-quality reproduction of a notable gig poster, while the reverse features a brief bio of the artist and other examples of their work. The best part is that the pages are perforated, meaning that you can rip these bad boys straight out of the book, plop ’em into a frame and hang it on your wall—instant art. The book features 100 artists, some of my favorites being Gunsho, Jim Mazza, the always awesome Tyler Stout, and Glyn Smyth of Scrawled Design—that dude’s Wolves in the Throne Room poster gives me a serious art boner. There’s no substitute for a screenprinted, signed and numbered poster, but this book is a pretty great alternative. –Ricky Vigil

Hoopla: The Art of Unexpected Embroidery
Leanne Prain
Arsenal Pulp Press
Street: 10.04.11
This is easily the strangest instructional book I’ve ever read, but in a good way. Mixed among the basics, the descriptions, the how-to’s and the photographs are over two-dozen, in-depth interviews with some of the most talented and innovative embroiderists, cross-stitchers and regular stitchers out there. The book is almost magazine-like in its design, integrating the reader into each approach—from how readers can apply each technique in their own embroidery to how to “Make It Social” by starting your own community of knitters. Fans of Prain’s first book, Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti (co-authored with Mandy Moore), will appreciate that “Patterns” sections have evolved into “Project” sections, giving readers more specificity and detail within various tasks on which to test their skills. Four words: Knuckle Tattoo Church Gloves. Whether you’ve been embroidering since you were a kid, are new to the trade or have never touched a needle in your life, I highly recommend this book. Now go read what all the Hoopla is about. –Johnny Logan

Keyboard Presents the Evolution of Electronic Dance Music
Peter Kirn
Backbeat Books
Street: 11.01.11
In a fantastic attempt to summarize the history and themes of electronic dance music, Peter Kirn has gathered interviews and articles from deep within the archives of Keyboard and Remix magazines. The book visits the pioneers of the genre in their shining moments of innovation and experimentation—everyone from Kraftwerk to Depeche Mode, Frankie Knuckles to Juan Atkins, Aphex Twin to Daft Punk, and many more of EDM’s giants. The book stretches back to 1982, and, in patchwork form, reveals the essence of EDM. The Chemical Brothers sum it up pretty well: “It’s all about making sounds that no one has ever heard before” (159). Although Kirn does a great job of painting broad pictures about inspiration, musicianship and the joy of production, the real value in this book is the technical discussion. All of the artists are interviewed about their gear and the specifics of their productions. There are original reviews of the MPC60, the Roland TR-909, discussions on the merits and drawbacks of MIDI, FinalScratch and Ableton Live. When it’s all laid out like this, it’s easy to see just how much innovations in technology have influenced the sounds and styles of EDM, and follow the path through the rise and fall of gear, artists and genres, ending up in the present moment with a new perspective on EDM today. –Jessie Wood

The Sigh
Marjane Satrapi
Archaia Entertainment
Street: 12.13.11
Fresh off the success of the film adaptation of her autobiographical graphic novel Persepolis (if you haven’t read the book and seen the movie, fix that right now—seriously), Iranian author/illustrator Marjane Satrapi’s latest work is a fable aimed primarily towards children. The story follows a merchant’s daughter named Rose, who asks her father to bring her back the seed of a blue bean from his travels. When the merchant is unable to find a blue bean, Rose lets out a sigh, accidentally summoning a ghoulish (but friendly) character named Ah the Sigh. To make a short story even shorter, Rose eventually becomes a captive of the sigh, falls in love with a prince, accidentally kills the prince, then sells herself into slavery several times as punishment—seriously, this is a kids’ book. Unlike her best-known works, Satrapi’s illustrations, though charming and especially colorful, take a backseat to the prose, translated into English by Edward Gauvin. The story is light and the conveniently inexplicable logic of fairy tales creeps its way into the story a few times to make sure we make it to a happy ending. This is a fun read with a dark sense of humor, recalling Grimm’s fairy tales and featuring a proactive female protagonist. This probably isn’t what fans of Persepolis will be expecting, but it showcases another side of Satrapi’s creative talents and is a welcome departure from the “damsel in distress” tales that populate classic children’s literature. –Ricky Vigil

Skinhead Confessions: From Hate to Hope
TJ Leyden with M. Bridget Cook
Cedar Font Inc.
Street: 04.14.08
I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that anywhere from the last 20 years to present day, kids, with all the information and education available, are still duped into believing any of the nonsense these racist groups try and perpetuate. The story of T.J Leyden explains just how he, as recruiter for White Power movement, was able to exploit teenage apathy and anger. Leyden’s’s own journey into the racist skinhead subculture is an intriguing look into this violent and dark world. One of the most interesting sections explains recruiting techniques, such as going to local concerts and passing out bootlegged tapes of racist British punk band Skrewdriver and even going as far as telling kids that Black Flag’s “White Minority” was a pro-white power song. At one point in the book, Leyden’s white power tattoos are discovered by his mother and through that she uncovers the depth of his involvement in the white power movement. Leyden eventually sees the errors of his beliefs, and his journey out that life takes him to many unexpected places. The book itself is an intriguing read, and takes a look into a dark, hate-filled sub culture, that, as a middle-class punk rock kid, I only saw the very outskirts of. –James Orme

Sugar House Review Volume 3, Issue 2: Fall/Winter 2011
Sugar House Review
Street: 10.11.11
Celebrating their two-year anniversary, the Sugar House Review have released their fifth semiannual collection of poetry. While poetry isn’t for everyone, and good poetry is hard to find, the editors over at Sugar House Review seem to do a fair job of picking high-quality poems. The layout is simplistic in nature, allowing readers to take in the rhythm and meter of the words on the page, visualize the lines and examine the meaning of it all. Poems by Joanna Pearson and Kate Kingston stood out most for me, but I wasn’t disappointed by anything I read here. Check out for submission info, poetry samples and to purchase previous and current issues. –Johnny Logan

This is a Call: The Life and Times of Dave Grohl
Paul Brannigan
Da Capo Press
Street: 11.29.11
I don’t get off on that whole “idol worship” trip, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to a few man-crushes. Cliff Burton’s always gotten me all hot n’ bothered. I have a completely absurd obsession with all things Dave Wyndorf … and I’ve had a lifelong goal to one day rage with Dave Grohl. Burton’s dead (I’m prone to tear up if I hear “Orion.”) and Wyndorf gained a few extra chins (and swore off psychotropic drugs), so Mr. Grohl, the “nicest man in rock,” is my final target for hero-boner soothing. This is a Call, Paul Brannigan’s unauthorized Dave Grohl biography, culls an exhaustive set of personal interviews with the subject tracing the drummer’s musical career from DC hardcore basements to ’90s superstardom with that one band fronted by that angsty fellow (you know, they wrote a song about teen spirit) through to his current vocation fronting the Foo Fighters and helping Josh Homme keep making the best records of his career. I hesitate to call the work “warts n’ all,” but it’s extensive and certainly made me fall in man-love with Mr. Grohl even more. Lots o’ little nuggets, like how he almost joined Fugazi, how he had a punk rock cousin who took him to his first show, how he had to go to Catholic school for smoking weed and how Bob Dylan once walked up to him and told him how much he liked “Everlong.” A refreshing and thorough look into the life and psyche of one of the most vital and relevant forces in rock music today. Get it, ’cause it’ll probably rank as the definitive one. –Dylan Chadwick


Art by Tattooists Mini: Beyond Flash
Jo Waterhouse
Laurence King Publishing
Street: 08.01
Beyond their work in the ink-and-flesh medium, many tattooists are talented artists in the more traditional fine art sense as well. This (mini-edition) booklet is a glimpse of the fine art of tattooists from around the world, and does not include any of their tattoo work. As it is explained in the foreword, there are plenty of magazines around today which celebrate tattoo artistry, but few options to check out and celebrate the fine art created by these same artists. As tattooing is becoming more and more accepted as a mainstream art form, it follows that the artists themselves might become more accepted as mainstream artists as well. This book aims to open our eyes to this concept, and give us some real perspective on the level of artistry these tattooists are achieving in many mediums. The art featured has little resemblance to traditional tattoo artwork, the likes of which we see littering far too many trendy T-shirts these days, and instead represents more of a range of vision that the artists are working from. It just goes to show that a good thing can’t stay underground forever. –Ischa B.

Reaching Out with No Hands: Reconsidering Yoko Ono
Lisa Carver
Backbeat Books
Street: 10.23
Many ideas exist about Yoko Ono, and unfortunately a majority of people view her solely as the catalyst for the break-up of The Beatles. In her book, Reconsidering Yoko Ono, Lisa Carver sets out to dispel the myths that surround this woman, and shifts the common perspective that typically casts her in negative light to one of admiration. Ono is cooky, far-out and does not conform to society’s tastes very comfortably, and her art and lifestyle constantly beg you to rearrange your frame of mind. While Ono captivates me, Lisa Carver’s work became too personal for my taste: Although it is obvious that Carver is not trying to be objective in the slightest, she took her bias pretty far in this piece (even going so far as dragging her current boyfriend and his habits into the narrative). It became more of a book about Lisa Carver that praised Ono on the side with adoration completely based on her interpretations of who and what Ono is (and is not), rather than taking a look at Ono’s life outside of herself. –Brinley Froelich

Sugar House Review #6: Spring/Summer 2012

Sugar House Review
Street: 04.01
Founded in 2009, the Sugar House Review is an independent poetry magazine filled to the brim with quality verse from page one. Though the mag is based in Salt Lake, submissions are open to writers from around the nation and beyond, and the combination of eclectic poets and the Review’s diverse group of editors has created a beautifully varied compilation of work for #6. As poetry is very subjective, not every poem resonated with me, but there were a few gems that proved to be a delightful surprise. “Death, If You Don’t Mind, Please Come To The Front Of The Class” by Patrick Thomas Henry immediately drew me in with its irresistible title and kept me interested with a colorfully uncolored description of the draining dread felt by being called to write on the classroom board. “Please Stay On The Trail” by Nate Liederbach was another favorite, combining my love of nature themes, horror, puns and imperfect rhymes into a paragraph that ends in smiles. Kat Finch’s “Wake” had me returning for multiple reads. Unencumbered by punctuation, accentuated with repetition and ringing with rhyme, the nonsense words of “Wake” are transfigured into notes when read aloud. Fortunately for you, Episode #41 of SLUG’s podcast, Soundwaves From The Underground, allows you to listen to all three of these poems read by their authors. When “Wake” reignites the poetry lover in you, make sure to pick up a copy of the Sugar House Review at your local bookstore, or visit for a $2 PDF. –Esther Meroño

VICE’s Dos & Don’ts 2: 17 Years of Street Fashion Critiques
VICE Books
Street: 06.19
If you have been lucky enough to get your hands on a copy of Vice magazine, you are well aware of the Dos & Don’ts section, but if you have no clue what Vice’s Dos & Don’ts are, allow me to explain. In every issue of Vice, there are pages with random, sometimes nude, photos of society’s strangest specimens—from drunken idiots with piss- or vomit-soaked clothing, to dudes with very little or nothing covering their packages, to scary broads letting their titties hang out. All of these photos have been taken in public, mind you. Below the photos are short, crass captions about the subjects. My personal favorite photo in this collection has to be the shirtless, sunglasses-wearing dwarf being showered in confetti. The format of this book is just like the layout of the magazine: Dos on the left-hand page and the Don’ts on the right. I think I speak for every Vice reader when I say the Dos & Don’ts section is one of the best parts of each month’s issue, and this book showcases some of the best photos from the last eight years. This book is a perfect coffee table book or a good restroom read, because you can open it to any page and be completely amused. With well over 1,000 photos and hilarious captions, you will surely be happy with the new addition to your library. In the 200-plus pages, I think I may have even found photos of some ex-girlfriends, one-night stands, friends and even some coworkers.  Pick up your copy at all major book retailers for around $20, or download the digital version on iTunes for about $12. –Eric Granato



Lame Ducks
Isaac Black
Street: 12.22.12
In this brief novella, Black introduces us to LA entertainment reporter Simon Johns and Casper Benton, the “recluse”  of a socialite family. The two are unlikely friends, who find each other in the midst of an unfolding political conspiracy involving the state’s highest representatives and an Orwellian plan to privatize California’s water supply. The story is full of potential and some strong moments, but, with its short length, it doesn’t give nearly enough space to explore complex back-alley deals, or the budding relationship between Simon and Casper that inspires them to stick their feet into the shark-infested waters of the LA politics scene. There is a definite noir flavor to the whole affair that I really enjoyed—a minimalist outlook devoid of flash and gimmick—but it was just too minimalist for what it was trying to deliver. Dialogue fell flat and became exposition-heavy and, despite some truly honest and vulnerable moments, the friendship felt forced as a plot device. The abrupt ending did pack a dark and unsettling punch, which was unexpected and made me smile, but it could have been stronger, were it built on a greater foundation. –Megan Kennedy

60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Salt Lake City (2nd Edition)
Greg Witt
Menasha Ridge Press
Street: 6.19.12
The latest edition of Greg Witt’s 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles lays out excellent ideas for getting off your couch and out the door. This book provides a quick-reference guide to the various hiking trail systems within an hour’s drive of SLC. Witt devises a simple, effective way to convey all the essential info for your day in the hills. Trail access information, total distances, elevations and difficulty level are laid out in an easy-to-digest format. Each hike is broken down into several sections and pictures help give the reader a better idea of what they are getting into. His maps are also some of the better ones I have seen in guidebooks. Each one includes points of interest along the way. My first use of the book included finding my way to Mt. Raymond in Big Cottonwood Canyon. The trip details were perfect and the beta was spot-on.  Even if you are a bit inept in mountain navigation, Witt gives vivid descriptions of the trail, right down to the color of the signs posted at intersections. My friend and I had no problem summiting that day, and, upon Witt’s suggestion, we even went for neighboring Gobblers Knob. I recently used his trail info for Frary Peak on Antelope Island. Although it is intended for summertime use, we took advantage of the profound snowfall to make it a ski tour. I now stash the book in my glove box to supplement my myriad of adventures across the state. –Sean Zimmerman-Wall

What Are You Doing Here?: A Black Woman’s Life and Liberation in Heavy Metal
Laina Dawes
Bazillion Points
Street: 01.08
As a female heavy metal fan, I can attest that it is a wholly different experience than being a dude in the same scene. What I didn’t realize before reading this well-researched and surprisingly objective book was how much more marginalized I’d be feeling as a female minority. Author Laina Dawes weaves not only her own lifelong experiences as a fan, photographer and journalist, but the experiences of countless others into this documentary tale about the unique difficulty minority fans and musicians experience in the extreme music scenes. Some of the stories about encountering blatant and sometimes-violent racism are rightfully upsetting, and demonstrate that, while heavy metal is full of glorious liberation, the scene still has plenty of growing to do. More than anything, I was surprised at how taboo listening to metal/punk still is to a wide swath of the black community, as encountered by the book’s witnesses—how it is equated with “letting the race down” by showcasing emotions some feel are better left alone. Dawes brings a lot of experience, clear and concise writing and good journalism, and while she doesn’t have any long-term solutions for bridging these deep and unfortunate valleys—through no fault of her own—she has still introduced the first step, which is opening our eyes and starting a dialogue. –Megan Kennedy


The Enlightened Cyclist
Chronicle Books
Street: 03.21.12

BikeSnobNYC (aka Eben Weiss) has been “systematically and mercilessly realigning the world of cycling” one blog post at a time for years now over at, and in 2010, one of the most comprehensive and entertaining guides to cycling and its culture hit the market with his debut, self-titled book. The second installment in BikeSnob’s pedaling trilogy (the third, Bike Snob Abroad, was released this April) moves like a perfectly lubed chain from the “what” of cycling to the “why.” With chapter titles like “Communion Through Commuting,” “Heathendom” and “The Alchemy of the Mundane,” it’s clear BikeSnob has transcended the temporal realm of the cyclist into the philosophical—and kept his snarky attitude intact all the while. Where the first BikeSnob book stayed close and safe to BikeSnob’s blog fodder (though all snobbery aside, it really is a book I recommend to all of my friends who ride, as a great cycling guide), The Enlightened Cyclist seems more sincere and introspective in its approach. I started the Genesis chapter, “Who We Are, How We Got This Way, And How To Get To Where We Need To Be” and thought, “Wow, this is going to be a beautiful book.” It truly is. Put down your Bible and pick up BikeSnob—he’s the prophet you should be listening to. –Esther Meroño

Net of Being
Alex Grey
Inner Traditions
Street: 11.20.12

Pope of the Psychedelic, Alex Grey brings the salivating public another gorgeous large-format collection of his works and career with Net of Being. Any fans of TOOL or the Gnostic/alternative art movements in general will be familiar with Grey’s unique vision, which incorporates elaborate, transcendental imagery and knowledge of anatomy with otherwise mundane (as in typical, not unimportant) human moments, thus elevating them to a sacred, mystical experience. Net of Being showcases many of Grey’s famous works in a beautiful reproduction, interspersed with textual reflections and poetry, as well as press releases, photos of fans’ tattoo tributes, his many live painting sessions and the building and relocation of his Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, a gathering place dedicated to his art and Gnostic exploration in general. There are some really interesting sections, like his attendance of Albert Hofmann’s 100th birthday, where Gray presented an incredible portrait of the godfather of LSD, and Grey’s exploration of the phenomenon of artistic precognition vis-a-vis the 9/11 attacks. I noticed, however, that his work has become slightly less inspired since the early part of the millennium, the Net of Being series in particular having a high level of repetition—it’s not hitting the same, deep places for me as his earlier work. If his poetry is to be judged fairly, he should definitely not give up the paintbrush anytime soon. Fans should enjoy this newest addition to his book collection, but I would recommend earlier, more fully realized books like Sacred Mirrors or Transfigurations to curious newcomers. –Megan Kennedy

Official Truth, 101 Proof: The Inside Story of Pantera
Rex Brown
Da Capo Press
Street: 03.12

Amidst Dimebag Darrell’s larger-than-life mythology and the incessant bickering between Vinnie Paul and Phil Anselmo, Rex Brown has long since taken the “voice of reason” mantle in the ever-fracturing post-Pantera camp. Though he’s the group’s least public member, he’s the most fit to write a memoir on the experience. Brown pulls no punches in his yarn, nonchalantly discussing the spandex-clad inception, multiplatinum explosion and untimely demise of the ‘90s’ most definitive metal band. Most compelling are his unflinching looks into the band members’ individual demons, which never come off as antagonistic or gossipy, but genuine attempts at “telling it like it is.” Occasionally, Brown’s calculated tone hampers the story (metal fans like a little bit of pomp and self importance, OK?) and he’s not much for extraneous details, but it’s endearing nonetheless. As the murder of one Dimebag Darrell becomes more and more distant, no other publication has come this close to truly exploring the impact and meaning of what this band meant to the heavy metal landscape, and for that, Brown’s work shouldn’t go unnoticed, and is highly recommended. –Dylan Chadwick

Mike Doughty
Soft Skull Press
Street: 08.28.12

Last year, Mike Doughty republished a collection of his poems previously released in 1996. Doughty’s poems revolve around urban life, consumerism, LA and relationships. I’m a fan of Mr. Doughty’s work in the post-Nirvana off-kilter band Soul Coughing and as a solo artist, so I expected his poetry to reflect his style as a lyricist. Though they explore the same themes, Doughty’s lyrics are a reflection of early slam poetry (“Screenwriter’s Blues” comes to mind) and his poetry is far from that. Doughty’s word choice is stout and weighted in consonance. Most of the poems lack a clear counted rhythm and are sonically conscious (see the poems “When I Was Small” and “Jungle of Numbers / a deck of cards”), with words carefully selected rather than thrown together haphazardly. Fans of the urban pastoralist James Schuyler or the cultural name dropper Frank O’Hara will enjoy this 87-page collection. Unlike Billy Corgan or other musicians-turned-poets, Doughty doesn’t suck at writing poetry. –Alex Cragun


Feeding Back: Conversations with Alternative Guitarists from Proto-Punk to Post-Rock
David Todd
Chicago Review Press
Street: 06.01.12
Before the first page, Feeding Back faces an uphill battle. The tendency to canonize and idolize the Gods of Rock Guitar looms large. It has only recently been challenged in rock history, and these conversations reveal that the style of guitar discussed in this volume is largely built in conscious opposition to that canonization. Alongside the reverence for the holy trinity of Hendrix, Page and Beck, “alternative” too nearly reads “nonessential.” Todd seems to acknowledge this fundamental problem, but does so by underemphasizing the necessity of these conversations (From Proto-Punk to Post-Rock almost sounds like an in-joke–that’s a pretty miniscule slice of the musical universe) and assumes the reader knows as much about these obscure musicians as the author. I’d like to consider myself an assiduous student of music history, and I’m even a guitarist, but I’ve never heard of Richard Pinhas, for example. He also seems to pick pet favorites (Jason Pierce but no Kevin Shields?) in addition to more universally regarded guitarists.While Todd’s introductions are helpful, and his prose transcends typical rock-crit-ese, the significance of the conservations depends wholly on the reader’s interest in the guitarist. The Lee Ranaldo interview is great, but mostly because I really like Sonic Youth. The notable exceptions are Glenn Branca, who proves especially articulate about his style and process, and Kim Deal, who is just really charming. A more compelling book might have had Todd, in his distinctly strong voice, paraphrase these conversations in a series of essays that more fully describes these musicians’ place in the history of alternative rock. –Nate Housley

A Guru Is Born
Takeshi Kitano
Street: 06.05.12
A Guru Is Born follows the fictional journey of Kazuo Takayama as he joins a religious sect and slowly and somewhat haphazardly works his way up to become the order’s guru. The book was originally published in Japanese back in 1990, and the biggest problem this translation has is that, in far too many places, it feels like a translation. Aside from that, the story is interesting on several levels. Kitano pulls back the curtain on organized religion, revealing the ease with which corruption takes place and questioning faith from every possible angle. This is definitely a conversation-sparking book, but, keep in mind, if you’re a devout follower from any corner of religion, this dark satire might not be for you. –Johnny Logan

Jimi Hendrix: A Brother’s Story
Leon Hendrix with Adam Mitchell
Thomas Dunne Books
Street: 05.08.12
I read it in a day and I could not stop tearing up. It’s clear that in this case the struggle is what created the epic artist, but the story of Jimi Hendrix and his brother Leon growing up in utter poverty- making do with practically nothing, supplemented occasionally by the kindness of others- is absolutely heartbreaking. Nevertheless, it truly was this same desperation that led Jimi to first plug his guitar into his Dad’s old-school radio and finagle with it until it functioned as an amplifier- and the distorted sound that emanated from inside led Jimi to his world-renowned signature sound. Revelations such as these are the stuff you can only get from the perspective of someone who really did experience it all with him. Starting with a story of a tragic childhood, so poor they would subsist at times on ketchup sandwiches, Leon describes a life full of constant upheaval, with alcoholic parents whose tumultuous relationship left a dramatic impact on their two sons. It fueled Jimi’s drive to express musically the emotions he otherwise kept strictly in check. When their mother died, it left a major mark on the brothers, and according to Leon, the tragedy led to some of Jimi’s most famous lyrics. There are joyful stories told between the disappointments, but perhaps most disappointing, even if predictable, is the dissolution of family that occurred after Jimi’s death. As is too common in these stories, when the time came to deal with the finances and business matters regarding Jimi’s estate, greed and selfishness dirtied the deal, and Leon was ousted by their father’s more recent wife and step-daughter- a family Jimi had hardly known. I truly enjoyed this story and fully recommend it. It’s full of joy and pain, life and death, money and deceit- all the good stuff. Give it a read and get to know the legend through his brother’s eyes. –Ischa B.

The Lowbrow Reader Reader
Edited by Jay Ruttenburg
Drag City Inc.
Street: 05.22.12
Despite our own booming zine scene in Salt Lake City, I miss the opportunities to receive some of the bigger titles found in bigger cities. The online universe has opened those doors, but, really, I would love to grab a physical copy of The Onion or The Lowbrow Reader anyplace cool along with my copy of SLUG. The Lowbrow Reader Reader is a best-of collection featuring comedic articles, essays and commentary on society, pop culture, the random and, especially, the obscure. Jay Ruttenberg, the mastermind behind this rag, shares his own thoughts on the likes of Billy Madison and other subjects imperative to the survival of mankind. The Lowbrow Reader Reader is also host to a number of other writers spilling their guts on juicy tidbits such as “A visit with Ol’Dirty Bastard,” by Margeaux Rawson, and one of my favorites in the book, “Ways of Looking at Gene Wilder,” by M. Sweeney Lawless. The Reader Reader offers several interesting perspectives and original ideas on topics that we may already be familiar with. This is an illustrated magazine, so you can expect some classy material from David Berman. –Ben Trentelman

The Place of Knowing: A Spiritual Autobiography
Emma Lou Warner Thayne
Street: 01.21.12
I love a good love-life, feel-good, pick-me-up kinda read, and, though it starts off rather darkly to be characterized like that, this book fits right in that category. It’s an autobiography, a snippet of time in Emma Lou Warner Thayne’s life, when she was forced to look her humanity and mortality dead in the eye when she was literally impaled through her face by a rod that flew off a truck in front of her while driving one day. Although it was a near-death experience for her, rather than simply wallowing, she spent her difficult recovery reflecting on what this life meant to her, and came back from the experience ready to live the rest of her life to the fullest. I love the perspective, and it’s not horribly tainted with religious references, and certainly not offensive, so it’s a fine read about facing something all of us will have to at some point: the prospect of dying. Thayne is over 80 years old, so she’s had time to learn some things about perspective, hardship and perseverance, and she’s a great writer, so the read is smooth and captivating. If you’re in the mood for a lift, pick it up and stop to remember that life is sweet, and to appreciate all the little things, all the good—without having to live through the suffering that inspired Thayne to write this book. –Ischa B.


Bond On Set: Filming Skyfall
Greg Williams
DK Publishing
If you haven’t seen Skyfall yet, go do that. Then, after witnessing the incredible beauty of the film, check out Williams’ coffee table book about the filming of the newest Bond movie. Skyfall is one of the most visually stunning action movies of all time, and this book provides a behind-the-scenes look into the making of the best shots of the movie. The book shows us each setting of the movie through candid shots of the cast and crew, different takes on the most beautiful and complicated scenes, and snippets of the script to provide some context. It creates the uncanny effect of being there, as part of the cast, in the plains of Scotland, the too-classy casinos in Macao, the National Gallery of London, among the fires and explosions of the film and in the futuristic cityscape of Shanghai. If you are interested in 007, cinematography, filmmaking or you’d like to see the scope of a big-budget blockbuster, definitely give this book a once-over. It’s worth it. –Jessie Wood

The Collection: Short Fiction from the Transgender Vanguard
Various Authors
Topside Press
Street: 10.16.12
Our language puts boundaries on how we identify with our bodies, and it is important for people to be aware of those boundaries in order to learn how we can cross them in our culture. This collection of stories is the type of anthology I’d like to see becoming more publicized throughout popular literature, as young voices express their gender identity/non-identity. Popular themes throughout the book include difficulties—not in the personal decision to transition as much as the frustration caused by misinterpretations from friends, partners, family, coworkers and strangers. The Collection is profound in displaying a variety of narratives that explore this, while balancing erotica, weird-fantasy and memoir-type experiences with a wide variety of interpretations. With such a diversity of authors, it allows any reader to relate to one of the stories. Trust me, there’s something in here for you. Highlights for me were the science-fiction shorts, including “The Queer Experiment” for its mysterious arousals, and the bizarre witchcraft elements found in “Ramona’s Demons.” –Brinley Froelich

Erik Parker: Colorful Resistance
Mónica Ramírez-Montagut
Skira Rizzoli
Street: 07.17.12
Erik Parker: Colorful Resistance offers us a window into the mind of an angsty, ’70s-child painter who is taking the art world by storm. His ability to combine seemingly antagonistic genres—psychedelic, street art, fauvism, classic modernism, hints of hip hop and Kahlo-inspired pieces—make for one hell of a collection. The book is divided into four major sections: obsessive mappings of places and concepts, internal malaise painted as a series of intricate heads, hieroglyphics and still lifes. In all of his oeuvres, he employs words, color and form to protest both his internal pain, as well as the injustice in government and society he perceives in the world. His commentary feels rather shallow, and his rejection of American politics is overly simplistic: They’re expressed in conglomerations of single words that, together, do not add up to an articulate analysis. In “Texecuted,” Parker quotes the Ramones in a banner across the top of the mixed media on canvas reading, “I Wanna Be Sedated.” The image suggests that George W. Bush’s overuse of the death penalty as the governor of Texas foreshadowed his presidency to come. Although Parker’s pieces are aesthetically pleasing, many of them feel rather juvenile in their inclusion of buzzwords and overall lack of substance. –Anna Kate Gedal

Iron Maiden: The Ultimate Unauthorized History of the Beast
Neil Daniels
Voyageur Press
Street: 07.01.12
This is quite possibly the most definitive tome on these British godfathers to date, which means you shouldn’t let the “unauthorized” tag throw you. All band interviews have been painstakingly culled from old press and media, compiling a well-rounded history from all involved, from the Di’Anno days of yore, through to the misguided Blaze Bayley era. Additionally, set lists, photos, minutia and a list of every single show (yes, every single show) the band has played through to the time of publication, and the input of several, prominent metal guest writers (Ian Christie, Martin Popoff, Mick Wall, Gavin Baddeley, etc.) mean this book is exhaustive in its completeness and obsessively deep. Leaving nothing to be desired, metallic-bashers of all makes will be quite hard-pressed to find anything more lovingly comprehensive on Maiden and their history. –Dylan Chadwick


From the Forest: A Search for the Hidden Roots of Our Fairytales
Sara Maitland
Street: 10.30.12
When we think of fairytales, princesses, witches and forests almost always come to mind. British writer Sara Maitland explores the roots of 12 Brothers Grimm tales through a year spent visiting a dozen British forests—from the Forest of Dean to the leftovers of once-great woods (admirably photographed by Maitland’s son, Adam Lee). The Grimms’ tales, Maitland suggests, have been pruned and de-contextualized—made pious and child-safe—much like the woods. Maitland explores damage done by modernity to the forests and to children shielded from the real and imagined dangers and gifts of those forests. By keeping children “safe” from forests, we limit their imagination and ability to overcome danger, distancing them from Europeans’ cultural roots and, I’d propose, our arboreal evolutionary roots as well. Each chapter ends with an alternative (but not dark or subversive) retelling of a classic tale that illustrates the chapter’s point. This is a lush, enjoyable read for fairytale lovers, naturalists and anyone who can lose themselves in the magic of the woods. While the chapters are occasionally repetitive, reading this made me long to run under the trees, and, even more so, to visit the conserved forests Maitland describes so evocatively.
–Madelyn Boudreaux

Power Chord: One Man’s Ear-Splitting Quest to Find His Guitar Heroes
Thomas Scott McKenzie
It Books
Street: 07.31.12
Power Chord is the journey of Thomas Scott McKenzie to find out what exactly drives the guitar heroes he has loved and looked up to for so many years. Now, ’80s hair metal is not a music genre that I’m an expert in, but the amount of information that McKenzie possesses about guitarists and their axes of choice is truly amazing.  From SGs to Telecasters to Les Pauls, McKenzie covers all kinds of guitars and what they mean to him and his heroes. His journey is not only to figure out what drives these guitar gods, but also a personal journey to find out how hard he will work to get a chance to interview some of his heroes. Along with getting the low-down on his favorite guitarists, McKenzie also gets some pointers from legends like Bruce Kulick, Stacey Blades and Steve Vai. Armed with a guitar in hand and an openness to learning, Mckenzie signs up for Rock n’ Roll Fantasy Camp. His experience culminates with a performance at the Whisky a Go Go standing next to one of his biggest idols of all time, Ace Frehley of KISS. From bedroom air guitar to playing a legendary stage, Power Chord covers it all! –Steve Goemaat

Randy Rhoads
Steven Rosen and Andrew Klein
Street: 06.29.12
Much of rock n’ roll mythology is built on artistic partnerships. John and Paul, Eddie and David Lee, Sid and Johnny. So when a coke-nosed Ozzy Osborne leaves Black Sabbath for a solo career to reinvent himself as an ‘80s shock-rock icon and somehow stumbles upon a flashy, hot-to-trot guitar prodigy from the deep South—it’s a veritable fairytale. To understand the zeitgeist of solo Ozzy, one simply MUST understand the pomp, talent and undisputed innovation of his first guitar player, Randy Rhoads. Classically trained and cutting teen teeth in the American hair metal circuit, Rhoads lent a glitz—an electricity—to the heavy metal landscape, sending a surge through Sabbath’s doom-scapes and ushering in a new era. The book lovingly brings friends, lovers, bandmates and associates together to tell the story of one of history’s guitar gods in a personal and unflinching tribute to his life and legacy, which was cut tragically short in a plane accident in 1982. With nearly 400 pages of pictures, quotes, artifacts and anecdotes, it’s the most comprehensive look at the man’s life to date—sure to satisfy every degree of fandom—and is a great written companion to a glass of lemonade and an afternoon spent spinning Blizzard of Ozz. –Dylan Chadwick