Monday, September 15, 2008

The State of the Press Part 3

There’s been a lot of kerfuffle recently about previously free, soon to be free and not free at all magazines published here in Ireland. In the course of these debates a number of names seem to appear time and again. We tend to forget that most magazines have a limited shelf life. This point was recently driven home after reading an obituary of one of Britain’s foremost magazine publishers of the last thirty years, Jack Hutton. Jack Hutton was the editor of Melody Maker but he also introduced a number of other music publications to generations of music lovers. These included Sounds and Kerrang. As is normally the case with most thing I ramble on about, I have a pretty tenuous link with Jack Hutton in that I know his daughter Mandy. It was Mandy who inspired her father to begin publication of Popswap, a magazine that went on to achieve regular circulation of 650,000 teenage readers. In some ways I like to draw parallels between Mandy and myself. By this I mean that I have inspired myself to publish a blog that goes on to achieve readership figures in the tens and sometimes even the twenties.

Closer to home, and closer to the original topic, there recently came the decision from State magazine to make the move from charging for their wares to providing them for free. As such I’ve decided to do a quick scoot over a number of publications that are available free to the Irish public. Given that I’m based in Dublin a few of these publications are only available in the city or surrounding areas. Others are available online or by post. Some of them are relatively new to the world whilst some are old chestnuts (very seasonal choice of words there). Let’s run the rule over them.

Tax Briefing – Issue 69 – September 2008

Published by the Revenue Commissioners I failed to find one interview with Times New Viking or even a mention of the new Fujiya & Miyagi album. How they expect to challenge the might of Hotpress with this offering beggars belief. It does however cater for music lovers who purchase online by giving us the Average Market Mid-Closing Exchange Rates v. Euro as Supplied by The Central Bank. This is useful in determining exactly how much you paid for that reggae 12 inch ordered on E-Bay from some bloke in Norway.

See for yourself: Tax Briefing – Issue 69 – September 2008

Connected – Issue 39 – September 2008

This little blighter has been available around the place for more years than I care to remember. It’s short, succinct and covers a glut of musical angles. A5, with a laminate cover it means that it’s not much use for an emergency dump. In fact all it does is spread it around rather than help wipe any off. But that’s another story altogether. From a musical perspective it hits many right notes with the public. Highlights in this particular issue are an interview with Roots Manuva, a short eulogy for the soon to be defunct Electric City and an interview with Jon Averill.

See for yourself: Connected Magazine

The Irish Comedy Review – Issue 1 – Autumn 2008

I chanced upon this first issue on a stroll about town today and it is in fact the inspiration for this post. I’m not convinced about this comedy thing. As regular readers will know, I’m a fan of comedy. The publication's cover star is Jarlath Regan and this fails to inspire confidence. I’ve seen this chap a few times recently and he’s not that funny. The old adage does state that I should never judge a book (or magazine) by its cover. It’s not any better when I read the editorial inside. The accompanying picture of the editor looks like a Photoshop effort. The hair doesn’t look like it belongs to him. Maybe it’s a comedy hairpiece. That said I keep reading and find an interesting interview with one of Ireland's least known but great comedic talents, Mark Doherty. The rest of the content is not all that bad for a first effort. Aside from this I’m intrigued as to how a magazine running to 46 A4 pages can afford to be published when there are only three pages of advertisements in it. It appears that basic economics do not apply to comedy magazines. Now that's a laugh.

See for yourself: (Launching October 1st at

Dublin City News – Issue 3 (Central Area) – August 2008

This is kind of out of date at this stage but lets have a quick run through it anyway. To give an idea of the breadth of this magazine, it treats issues such as water conservation, highlights of the Phoenix Park, urban garden design and European Neighbours Day. I’d never heard of any of these bands before and the reviews of them are very hard to fathom. I gave up pretty quickly on this one.

See for yourself: Dublin City News – Issue 3

Analogue – Issue 5 – September 2008

I’ve been casting my beady eye over this publication since its inception. I liked the ad-hoc nature of the first edition where there was only minor emphasis on publishing conventionalities such as design, typesetting and that sort of thing. They’ve upped their game over since then but its still essentially a student publication. We all know that students have notions of themselves and that can sometimes manifest itself in the most surprising ways. I find Analogue surprising because although there are a couple of archetypal student contributors, the majority of it is really good. The article on the Irish heavy metal underground and the pages on artists featuring at the Electric Picnic appealed. I wasn’t so keen on the Album Swap feature. My reason for this is based on personal experience. I’ve been asked before to list a top 5 favourite tunes/albums and explain my rationale for picking it. Unfortunately no matter how earnest your rationale is, you always end up sounding like a bit of a sap. The article served to remind me how stupid I've sounded myself. On a more positive ending, Analogue has tidied up its initial ramshackle look and looks none the worse for it. They’ve also engaged in some artistic patronage by getting some bloke called Scalder to do some illustration. Well done.

See for yourself: Analogue Issue 5


Bren said...

"there was only minor emphasis on publishing conventionalities such as design, typesetting and that sort of thing."

This is true. Think we've come a long way since then. It wasn't too bad for a first effort though. It's mad, it's our first birthday in October. Have some nice things planned to celebrate it.

Matt Vinyl said...

I think yis are great. Keep it up. And have a happy birthday. That year passed quickly

dbspin said...

Cheers for the review Matt, honest and true enough as always.