Everything you wanted to know (and a lot you didn't want to know) about the 80's hair metal scene but were afraid to ask. Listen, I know all these bands are legit terrible. But the stories of success, excess, and disgust in the pages provide maximum entertainment. A massive dissection with only one flaw: we need more!
Legendary hard to find Beatles documentary "Let It Be" seemed to chronicle the bitter end to the iconic group. This fall, Peter Jackson's doc "Get Back", made from the same sessions, but with hundreds of hours of not seen material, sets the record straight. This beautiful companion book is mostly made up of transcripts from the new film and countless never before seen photos, giving new insight to a band that certainly had tensions, but were having a lot more fun all the way up to the end than we might have thought. Lots of good stuff for the Beatles nerd in your life.
For this year's annual dose of Klosterman, everybody's favorite pop culture expert weighs in on the grand, glorious, messy, & troublesome 1990s. Hitting all the beats, music, movies, celebrity, sports, big and small world events and more, this comprehensive & almost exhaustive looks at the naive days before 9/11 brought us togethers and social media tore us apart. Lots of good stuff here on subjects you'd expect and more than a few you wouldn't.
Our maddening modern times, told in separate but connected chapters, each a different resident of a London neighborhood, that comes together, lightly Pulp Fiction style, by the end. Almost voyeuristic peeks into desperate, lonely, sad, and suprisingly funny characters, unaware of their connections to each other and the spaces they share.
Echoes of Dune, Jodorowsky's Incal, Akira, & Princess Mononoke reverberate throughout this thrilling, Eisner Award winning graphic novel. A cult of Christian zealots has set up a New Vatican in Canada, and is violently stamping out tribes of resistance, where we meet Little Bird and her epic quest begins. Beautiful & detailed art, sweeping scope, epic & gross sci fi. I loved it!
What sort of sense of home and safety can you have when your land and livelihoods have been stolen from your people for centuries? A young Coast Salish Native American woman tries to find the big and the small answers as she finds her way though punk rock, trauma, relationships, and poetry. A harrowing personal and ancestral history.
The graphic novel history of a hit making, all Native American rock band as they rise up the charts through the 1960's - 70's. Fantastic art, buoyed by a delightful, intentionally limited pop art color palette. Not just the history of a great band, who cast a shadow on Hendrix & the Doors, but a compelling history of the treatment of Native Americans and the American Indian Movement. Come and get your love!
If an early 2000's boy band comprised of bizarre human/animal hybrid with pipes of gold embroiled in a Vegas locked room murder mystery doesn't grab you, that's on you. Clever, funny, fast paced, and ludicrous. I'd like to add a clever *NSYNC or Backstreet Boys quote here, if only I knew of one. Buy buy buy!
After a match gone wrong sidelines a half white/half Native American semipro Wrestler in Omaha, Nebraska, a desperate journey to the bottom of his self identity begins. Are we the sum of our past or something more? Funny, sad, and poignant. Sometimes when the going gets tough, the going just gets worse and worse!
Is the story Marvel Comics started in the 60's the longest continuous fiction ever told by mankind? Yes, according to this entertaining, informative, and weighty guide to about half a million pages of interconnected superhero tales. Wolk read every single page and bravely attempts (and succeeds) in threading it all together for the hardcore comic guys and casual fans alike, shining a light on both obscure and popular stories, but finding the connective tissue in over sixty years of four color fun.
Behind closed doors, a normal, suburban family is slowly torn apart by unspoken-of mental illness. Comparisons to Alison Bechdel's "Fun Home" are apt, but the expert and extremely satisfying art, mostly illustrating journal entries and ephemera from Kimball's adolescence, really sets this moving graphic novel apart. Recommended!
A writer, gifted a free house by an arts group, comes to grips with (or maybe doesn't!) the high cost of "free" as she becomes part of a mostly Bangladeshi Detroit neighborhood in this very funny, moving, and insightful memoir. With twists & turns both personal & political, the weight of trying to do the right thing is balanced by good old Midwestern cynicism and humor. Highly recommended!
What kind of guy creates The Best Show, the funniest, longest running comedy & music radio/internet show around for over two decades now? Find out what created Tom Scharpling in this swell, fast paced memoir! Of course, it's hilarious, but with the high Highs, you'll hit some low Lows that somehow makes the laughs even sweeter. Don't want to give too much away, but it's worth $80 alone for his ill-fated audition for the "New Monkees" alone. Recommended!
The final chapter of Vernon Subutex comes to a crashing, heart breaking, and shocking end. Loads of politics, both personal and global, consequences galore, and, if you look closely enough, glimmers of hope. Trust me, you do not know where this is going.
It's hard to describe how good this novel made me feel. Two adults fall in love in New York City and we get to experience all of it in lyrical, poetic detail, without side-stepping the natural jealousy and anxiety that comes along with it. From street lights to very involved pasta recipes, all through slighty rusted rose-colored glasses, you get it all from the inside out.
What's an old cowboy to do in the face of rising fascism in the late 30's? Find out in this fun and surprisingly relevant two fisted graphic novel written by Ed Brubaker, the writer that brought us the Winter Soldier and artist Sean Phillips, heir apparent in style to the great David Mazzucchelli. A one and done story, but another great addition to the growing catalog of new classics these two are churning out with astonishing regularity.
A fun and dizzying blast of 1983 New York City club life through the eyes of a young woman fresh out of a sheltered college life. Everybody's there - the club kids, the junkies, the roommates, the celebrities. How does one keep up? A really well balanced mix of "Here's what happened" and "Here's how it felt'. Recommended!
Gentrification hits London's seedy Soho neighborhood like a force of nature. In this sly novel, we see all sides of the story as we follow a diverse cast of characters. From a rollicking brothel, to the bar, a homeless community under the spell of a charismatic street preacher, to the halls and clubs of big business. I truly enjoyed spending time with these people!
Can't get enough pandemic action? In this wonderfully illustrated graphic novel, a family is on the run from a deadly superflu, a military lockdown, food shortages, and their fellow desperate survivors. As topical as it gets and a wild ride!
Beowolf takes a trip to rural Kentucky in a fast paced 1970's drive in movie style thriller as generations of a family and an all female biker gang grapple with an unsolved murder, a deal with the devil, and lots and lots of weed. A hoot and a holler in an old Kentucky holler!
A husband cheats and agrees to let his wife hurt him three times as revenger to keep the family together. What follows is a surreal journey of suburban marital angst as the wounds change them both in unexpected ways. Domestic strife from the ground level to the otherworldly.
A young black woman finds her way in the white male art punk scene of 1970's NYC in this engaging rockumentary style novel as she explores her past while considering a comeback. If you loved Daisy Jones, this is that , with teeth!
With the clever superhero deconstruction of Watchmen and the bright broad strokes of The Incredibles, the best comic book of the year isn't a comic at all but this fantastic novel following the ups and downs of a temp and her rise through the ranks of super villainy.
How do they record the blood curdling screams for Hollywood movies? They might be more real than you think! Fight Club-like levels of cartoonish violence that also serves up lessons in grief, guilt, legacy, love, and loss in this fast and fun Pulp Fictionesqe thriller.
If you're not sold by "World's Most Dangerous Amusement Park" alone, what else can I tell you? This stranger than fiction tale, told by the son of the park's founder, chronicles the rise & fall of the park where "YOU Control The Action"! And YOU sustain the bruises & broken bones, and YOU file the lawsuits. How this monstrosity came to be and lasted as long as it did doesn't just make for a hilarious and terrifying read, but now is also the subject of a pretty swell new HBO documentary.
Thatcher's England of the 1980's, the dystopian wastelands of the future, or maybe just right now. Hard to say when and where it transpires, but this bottomless pit of despair is endlessly entertaining and full of bleak, bizarre, and hilarious stories and characters. Their misery is our hilarity!
Is it too early to call my book of the year? Put this together with Vernon Subutex 1 and prepare yourself for a wild and winding journey through the seedy subcultures of Paris with your favorite homeless punk guru and a mind bogglingly large cast of misfits. Funny, freaky, hits you when and where you least expect it.
What's it like growing up black in the predominatly white punk scene of the capitol of the confederacy? Spoiler alert: not easy! Don't let the rascist cops scare you away from this fun and relevant coming of age tale.
Former Kentuckian Ryan Ridge brings us his first collection of very short (mostly one page) sharp and funny short stories. Like William S. Burroughs narrating a Far Side cartoon, just the thing for our distracted, news ruined minds!
A very specific book for a very specific fan of a very specific era of a very specific type of underground music. Have I scared you away yet? Well don't be afraid! Although tailor made for a guy like me, this book is great for anyone interested in punk/hardcore/underground music and subculture from the 1980s-1990's. Sam McPheeters, of Born Against fame, has spent his post rock years becoming a pretty sharp writer and has a unique point of view and sense of humor that gives us quite an insight to the motivations and stories behind the biggest and best songs and bands most folks were never lucky enough to witness. (Fun Fact! My first visit to Louisville was for a punk show!)
Rock and roll memoirs are like candy to me, and Kathy Valentine, bass player and co-songwriter of the Go-Go's has crafted a doozy! Her teen years growing up in 60s-70s Texas may actually out crazy her years in the Go-Go's. But fear not, plenty of wild 80's LA rock tales as well, and of course, the what's next years and reunion days. Get hip to this!
Lost in the wilderness of his twenties and burdened with a crippling gambling addiction and debt, The Dishwasher finds himself a new family amongst the colorful and equally addicted kitchen staff in this award winning and moving story.
It's tough growing up in a lonely Texas town, but having a dog with seemingly supernatural powers might help. This delightful and fun book, by Gibby Haynes of Texas freak rockers Butthole Surfers, feels like the best 80's teen adventure movie you've never seen.
Part One of a French trilogy. A riotous adventure through the streets and couches of Paris as a down on his luck ex-record shop owner tries to avoid homelessness, losing his few remaining pals, and cashing in on the legacy of his dead rock star pal. The English version of Part Two comes out in July and I cannot wait!
How does an indie rocker define success? How can you define yourself in someone else's shadow? All these fun questions answered and more in this memoir of life on the road from the mid 90's to the mid 00's. With a very Louisville cast of characters and a few names you might recognize. A fantastic rock bio!
It matters zero percent if you are a fan of the Red Hot Chili Peppers or not. This engaging memoir of Flea's first 20 years is some uplift mofo party plan goodness. He packed more shennanigans and life into his early years than most of us will our entire lives. My music biography pick of 2019!
Rest In Peace to the late great David Berman, of Silver Jews and Purple Mountains, as well as the author of the saddest and wittiest songs you'll ever hear. This collection of his cartoons leans more towards his funny side, but still hits a few poignant moments. Also, his swell book of poetry, Actual Air, will be back in print soon.
An engaging 'On The Road' style memoir. After a disastrous drug, depression, death, and debt filled life in 1980's New York City, Kaldheim hits the highway, flat broke, in search of a fresh start. Train hopping, hitch-hiking, homeless shelters, and loads of interesting characters.
These are not the Go-Bots you are thinking of! Tom Scioli takes your favorite cheap Transformers knock-offs and composes his own bizarre psychedelic masterpiece through a kaleidoscopic Jack Kirby lens. A ton of manic, goofy fun!
I can't quite put my finger on why, but I found this story of the disolution of the marriage of a NYC doctor and his successful agent wife totally fascinating. Maybe it's the missing spouse, maybe the shifting perspectives, maybe (probably) the gender politics, or maybe the peek into lives I don't relate to. I read it all in one fantastic vacation day!
A post (or maybe pre) apocalyptic road trip that mixes The Stand with Idiocracy by way of Terry Gilliam. Our loveable loser of a hero has to transport a talking goat across the chaotic territories Formerly Known As the United States, now a series of corporate nation states or lawless tribal wastelands, in order to prevent a possibly second end of the world. A little gross, a lot crass, very funny, but terrifyingly too close to now than it might seem.
It's a bizarre android love triangle! In this alternate history, Alan Turing developed artificial intelligence, the U.K. lost the Falklands War, and Margaret Thatcher got the boot. You might have a crush on your neighbor, but watch out! She might be more interested in your shiny new robot.
Get hip to the Alpha and Omega of post punk and goth with Jon (England's Dreaming) Savage's comprehensive story of the rise and tragic fall of Joy Division, leading up to the birth of New Order. Band members, family, and friends tell the tale in my favorite of music bio formats, the oral history!
You loved "A Star Is Born"! You love Fleetwood Mac! Mash them together and you have this fun and breezy fictional oral history of your new favorite made up supergroup. It's Behind The Music in book form!
The americanized cartoon version of this Japanese classic was the first introduction to anime and manga for a lot of old nerds like me. A space faring, rip roaring cosmic Lord of the Rings with a bit of Robotech thrown in for good measure.
Between this delightfully disturbing novel and his other book "Universal Harvester", the prolific songwriter of the long-running Mountain Goats has found himself the voice of yesterday's forgotten Dungeons & Dragons metal loving dirtbags. The darker side of your "Ready Player One"s and "Stranger Things", if you will. And you must!!!
A super fun and gossipy oral history on the early 2000's NYC "Rock Revival" scene. All the dirt on the Strokes, LCD Soundsystem, the Yeah Yeah Yeah's, and more, straight from the artists and friends that were there. Dig out that crusty old ipod in that shoebox under your bed and enjoy!
A breezy rock memoir from the singer/songwriter or Wilco that's more conversational than controversial that chronicles band dynamics, addiction, recovery, and family. I might've subtitled it "How To Survive & Thrive In Rock & Roll", but it's got a pretty lengthy title without my help. I love a good music bio, and this one still surprised me with how engaging, fun, and interesting the story was through Tweedy's common sense lens. You will enjoy whether a fan of the band or not!