The good news is… I didn’t burst into flame upon reading it. The bad news is… there’s a lot of “terminal bugs” that need a fixin’ before I can recommend the product safe for public consumption.
Granted, purple SKY had a rocky start itself. I certainly don’t view those early days with any sort of rose tinted eyewear. It took a few issues for us to find our footing. In many ways, ASKEW magazine arrives at your electronic door more fully realized than we were at the same age; sporting, for the most part, large full color photos, clean and edgy art design, and attractive packaging. (BTW: Dig the aschewed angle on the ReS cover. Clever.) However, in a few crucial areas they’ve got a ways to go.
It’s easier if I list my concerns in the style of a grocery list.
- Organic Carrots
- The complete lack of introductions to band interviews. Above all my other concerns this one gives me the most pause. I am thoroughly paused and unable to move on from here. This decision basically guarantees that people new to Japanese rock music or even new to the band in question will be completely lost and utterly uncompelled to read further. It also deprives the interviews of context. Rentrer en Soi’s breaking up? This is one of their last interviews ever? Why isn’t that on the cover? Or writ large in the text of the interview somewhere aside from the end? I like the R with the repeating text motif preceding the cover story, but there should have been an intro, perhaps in a slightly larger font amidst that motif.
- Corned Beef of Hash
- The writing is weak. Typos and grammar aside, lord knows that shit is going to happen, the writing needs to get stronger. Someone simply has to go through the magazine and read it aloud and then ask themselves if the words, “It is hard to talk about the great colorful history that surrounds the generation of bands that came before our own generation without giving a deep nod to the boys of GLAY,” really slide off the tongue. More on this later.
- Congealed Pig’s Blood
- Where is the edgy voice implied by the art direction, title and marketing? Seriously, someone needs to say “FUCK YES, this band explodes my head.” or something infinitely cooler sounding. The writers need to step up and get their personalities and the personality of the magazine out there because it’s all just too safe as it is. I know with purple SKY we sometimes had to neuter writing but I fought to find a happy middle ground between a press release and a screaming editorial rant. You don’t have to swear but, a little swagger or a hip waggle would go a long way to really making the magazine stand out from the bloggers.
- A Head.. of Lettuce.
- And some doublemint gum to double my pleasure.
I’m hard on this first issue but it has potential. Some of the departments were cool. The fashion section and the one on makeup (IN REVIEW??) were good ideas executed well enough. I like the Dir en grey round-up review which alongside the Juno Reactor live report had more of the personality I was looking for. As I stated earlier I think the layouts and designs were pretty good (although that warped text on the Mucc piece strained my eyes to tears) If the ASKEW gang can address some of the critical issues I mentioned here in issue 02 and step more outside their comfort zone to define their voice, I think they have a good chance of putting out a solid product. Based on the effort that went into this first issue, ASKEW magazine deserves time to grow.