Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Maggot Brain #3

 (Third Man, 2020) I genuinely love magazines, LOVE them, from Jet to The Ring to Circus to Sister 2 Sister to Brutarian to Kicks to The New Yorker to Cracked to Black Beat to Inside Wrestling to Maximumrocknroll to everything else, I really love a textile pleasures of holding and folding back the pages, the experience of swimming in text, and the roll up and stick-in-your-back-pocket-like-Dennis the Menace's-slingshot magic of a traditional print publication. And I am not alone. Just like half the older cops in Chicago seem to want to retire and open a jazz club, plenty of your better music-associated "brands" have tried to dip their toes in these papyrus waters over the years. You couldn't really use resources better than the Beastie Boys did with Grand Royal (Biz Markie flexi; Kareem in Game of Death feature) but the less said about Gene Simmons' Tongue magazine the better. In recent years Pitchfork did OK with their attempt, but to little surprise, when it comes to design and curatorship Third Man Records topped them with their recent eclectic entry, Maggot Brain. The centerpiece of the new issue is a dive into the actual "Maggot Brain" album, letting the Detroit-heritage of the Third Man label trump (should we retire that word?) its Nashville-ness. I also loved a pair of tributes to the unjustly obscure artists, who both came to presumably similar (yet still mysterious) ends, Ephraim Lewis (new to me) and Lydia from Algebra Suicide (not new to me at all, but someone who has never received this kind of critical and research attention). The Southern and Midwestern photo spreads (the former a look at empty spaces where Confederate monuments were removed, the latter a White Stripes concert throwback) are both lovely. There is art and contemporary music and comics and Cockettes and a feature-length Kicks Book review and generally great senses of inclusion and cool that are beautifully expansive. That said, there are weak points and this is not a writing tour de force from cover to cover, but I will take weaknesses because of wideness over something with blinders on any day. Perhaps to many this sound like feint praise, but I sincerely mean it when I say this is a motherfucking MAGAZINE!

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