Filter Magazine Is Generous on the Opinion, Easy on the Filter

Trying to get into the minds of fans of ‘Music that Sucks,’ Mikel Jollett of Filter Magazine braved the crazed emo scene of a Dashboard Confessional show and lived to tell about it.
‘Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid’ (page 43) helps define what Filter is by demonstrating that it is not a fan of teeny-bopper emo, as Jollett chooses to categorize Dashboard. Jollett laments, ‘What about the Cure and the Smiths and punk and grunge and indie rock? What about our beloved music? What happened?’
Fear not, ‘punk and grunge and indie music’ lovers. Filter is here to act as a savior for those who share Jollett’s grievances.
Just under its title, Filter proclaims, ‘Good music will prevail,’ and proves it by featuring R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe on its last issue of 2003, on display at newsstands near you until February. I picked mine up at Tower Records, which I recommend you do as well.
Let’s rewind a bit from page 43 and Jollett’s decidedly frightening emo experience. Grazing past introductory advertisements, I pause on ‘Letters’ and am intrigued by a Filter fan’s attempt to categorize the magazine beyond its distaste for Chris Carraba. ‘I really do like the magazine,’ writes N. ‘Rolling Stone: too San Francisco, too bloated, old acid. Spin: nice and cheap, but through and through, devoid of soul, light on content, a brochure. Filter: can’t say anything bad about it.’
On page 22 readers can start ‘Getting to Know’ bands like My Morning Jacket, The Rapture, Azure Ray and The Joggers. Howie Day pops up on page 32 and speaks fondly of his latest, ‘Stop All the World Now,’ in an all-too-short interview with Kurt Orzeck.
Now, although Filter is a self-proclaimed music publication, it does not adhere strictly to such a definition. After Day comes an interview with Guillermo Arriaga, writer of ’21 Grams,’ a film featuring Benicio del Toro, Naomi Watts and Sean Penn. And in ‘South of the Shire’ on page 38, movies meet music when Filter introduces ‘Lord of the Rings’ star Elijah Wood to Joel Cadbury of South, a musical trio of which Wood is a huge fan (‘Before Elijah Wood was Frodo, he was a music fan.’). The conversation between the two wraps with ‘The Music of Middle Earth,’ explaining musical dynamics of orcs and elves.
A few pages later readers encounter ‘The Desert Muse,’ a colorful depiction of ‘puny national forest outpost’ Joshua Tree and the ‘Desert Sessions’ recordings that happen there. The ongoing ‘Desert Sessions’ project is the creative genius of Queens of the Stone Age singer Josh Homme, whose newest collaboration with PJ Harvey is a welcome break from Queens fame. While Harvey kicks it in Joshua Tree, Homme daydreams of OutKast’s Andre 3000 and whomever else his next collaboration could include: ‘It’d be great to do the next one with Peaches or Bowie or both of them together’ (page 51).
What many have been waiting for surfaces on page 58. Enter Michael Stipe and his long eyelashes.
The interview probes a bit deeper than what Filter has previously endeavored in this issue thus far. Filter proclaims that ‘R.E.M. is that rare band