Various - The Chemical X DVD Zine (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


The Chemical X 📀 Zine (2008)

Geyido Comet

No matter where you stand on the digital divide, it's impossible not to notice the disheartening decline of the once-flourishing assemblage known as the zine. But while running across a stapled stack of Xerox'ed jabber has become increasingly rare, the art has not died. Rather, it has continued to shift form and preserve its place in the punk-o-sphere. There is, of course, the vast array of online webzines (such as the one you are reading), further developed networks and mailing lists for a more narrowly defined distribution of physical zines, the ever-popular hastily-scanned PDF zine, and the subject of our review here, the DVD zine.

Before I lose anyone to my poky yammering, let me take a moment to emphasize the killer bands featured on the Chemical X DVD zine: the Copyrights, Randy, Affirmative Action Jackson, Off with Their Heads, Intro5pect, Riverboat Gamblers, Peelander-Z, the Unlovables, Dick Army, H.O.T.S., Japanther, the Criminals and a good deal more.

The majority of the DVD is devoted to music videos and live performances of the artists above. GC Records act Four Deadly Questions kicks off the videos with a cool time-lapse recording of artist Riot68 bombing a dilapidated wall with a character called "Grumpy" to the tune of "Gotta Let It Go." Following suit, the infinitely underrated Randy provides a video for their hooky anthem "Razorblade," which along with the Riverboat Gamblers video for "Don't Bury Me…I'm Still Not Dead" are two of the clearly higher-budget videos on the zine. One of the more interesting music videos comes courtesy of Killer Dreamer and their song "Not Coming Home," which features some pretty sweet stop-motion animation. Saboteur's music video for "This Is a Bike Crime" is equally amusing, featuring some sort of outdoor bicycle jousting festival and a bunch of punky-looking people getting impaled with giant padded lances. The Las Vegas-based H.O.T.S. (Holding on to Sound) steal the show musically, with a song called "Modern" reminiscent of upbeat American Steel or Against Me!.

The live videos range from professionally recorded, multi-camera setups (like the female-fronted pop-punk of Buck's "My Fascination") to grittier in-crowd recordings like Affirmative Action Jackson's "Mr. Softee Goes to Prom." The Copyrights and the Criminals fall somewhere between with great songs and realistic recordings, while the critically-acclaimed noise punk of Japanther walks the line between music video and highly orchestrated live performance that features Penny Rimbauld of Crass notoriety providing a hauntingly incisive spoken word outro.

With bonus features like a hilarious outtakes montage, extra videos and road trip clips from the GC West Coast tour, The Chemical X DVD keeps the spirit of the zine alive and stronger than ever in a highly enjoyable and entertaining fashion.