Sue Coe – The Animals’ Vegan Manifesto (OR Books)

Equal parts beautiful and disturbing, The Animal's Vegan Manifesto draws heavily from Orwell's Animal Farm in a tale of animal and human liberation over 115 intricate, painstaking woodcuts. Sue says she grew up next to a slaughterhouse in Liverpool, which informed her work and inspired her veganism. That her creative process is so scrupulous, but subject matter often so often distressing, makes this book a labour of much devotion from a committed animal rights activist. Each panel is carved from the wood of wild cherry in a cacophony of different voices, which reach a joyful conclusion. The Animals' Vegan Manifesto keeps drawing you back to revisit its sometimes outstanding beauty.

Various – In Tribute to Tom Waites

You get the feeling Tom Waites would welcome this bizarre punk tribute to his work. If Tom's musical career had stalled a few years he would have been swept up in the New Wave of the late 1970s and asked by record company executives to play faster and sneer at the camera – a bit like Elvis Costello or Ian Dury. But he took his own path, unencumbered by musical trends with carte blanche to pursue his own interests. As a roaming outsider, his influence on contemporary DIY punk makes sense when spelled out on vinyl.

The Domestics kick off with a raucous UK hardcore version of Cemetary Polka, which magnifies the desperation and angst of the original into a frantic writhing chaotic mess. And Casual Nausea replace Tom's throaty grunt on God's Away on Business with demented gang vocals. Liverpool punkers Dead Class take hold of Raindogs and give it the Jello Biafra treatment that you always suspected was possible but never dared to articulate. And The Minor Discomfort Band have pop-punk fun with a Waites rarity, Take Care of all my Children to round off a project that could easily have turned into a double album. Love Tom Waites? Love raucous UK DIY punk? Get it before it goes.

Through: Antipop Records HERE


Review: The Spitboy Rule

Michelle Cruz Gonzales – The Spitboy Rule: Tales of Xicana in a female punk band (PM Press)

Reviewed in Cubesville #20

As a female in a male-dominated punk scene, as a small town working class punk in the San Francisco hardcore scene, and as a Xicana Mexican in a predominantly white scene, the Spitboy Rule is a voice straight out of DIY punk – from a drummer in a feminist hardcore punk band, who toured in the late 1980s/early 1990s, and and an account of the role Spitboy played in her personal development.

Many 1990s DIY bands have been overshadowed by punk’s surprising commercialisation during that decade. And as Lookout Records labelmates with Green Day and scenester friends of Nirvana, Spitboy faced that mainstream/DIY argument.

As a feminist hardcore punk band, Spitboy made what would today sound like a surprising step away from the emergent Riot Grrrl movement. But Michelle recounts the band’s position with honesty – an established punk band with deep roots in the Bay Area scene.

Allegiances between band members, and Michelle describes the micro-politics of how people with very different backgrounds fitted together in a touring band.

Michelle’s writing is always succinct, hitting the nail on the head time after time in short, fast, loud chapters of this inspirational feminist punk memoir.

How not to subvert an art exhibition…

So I thought I'd be clever and sabotage John Hyatt's Rock Art exhibition at Home cinema last night and plant a copy of The Vegan's Guide to People Arguing with Vegans in an exhibit. John is vegan and would probably enjoy such an act of subversion... 

The zine wasn't there long, and soon disappeared. Towards the end of the night, I asked a member of staff why they'd taken it down and told her “it's not a punk thing to do”. She told me she'd taken The Vegan's Guide down to read herself, that she thought it was really funny and it had kept her going on a long shift. I was left feeling humbled and very flattered – she got a few free copies of Cubesville to take home too. 

But the charming vegan staff at Home didn't find the copy I sneaked inside one of the comics - The Vegan's Guide is (invisibly) on show for a few weeks more.

Review: Some of us Scream

Various – Some of us Scream, Some of us Shout (Monkey Press), edited by Greg Bull and Mike Dines

Reviewed in Cubesville #20

This collective autobiography of writings and reprints is a piece of history in which to lose yourself. It catalogues a barely chartered era in the early-to-mid 1980s; gathering together first-hand accounts of gigs, zine interviews, Xeroxed handouts, creative writing and artwork.

The punk scene is often guilty of being so lost in the moment that looking backwards would kill its creative energies; it leaves its brave, resourceful, innovative past to be picked over by those without the desire, fight or vision to seek new means of expression.

But Some of us Scream has an infectious sense of urgency that sends a letter of hope and support to DIY punks 30 years into the future; bands practice, zines are glued together and homebrew is drunk despite a bleak backdrop of impending nuclear war, animal suffering and government brutality from Thatcher’s Conservatives.

Throughout, this 270-page collection gathers together personal tales from what we’d later call anarchopunk; Chris Butler gives a fan’s-eye view of his first Conflict gig, while Vincent Learoyd remembers Dirt’s tour supporting Crass. Anth Palmer relates being a teenage vegetarian in West Yorkshire, while Alastair Gordon recounts the birth of UK hardcore. Rudimentary Peni booklets are reprinted in their original, barely-legible glory, while Antisect fanzine interviews are presented with their original, daring honesty.

Whether you were there at the time or are fascinated by a musical and social movement that lost itself in its own moment of creation, Some of us Scream will be your bedtime reading for some time to come – and kindle our dreams of better worlds to come too.