DIW Magazine is a Look at the Independent Music Scene
After two whole UCI quarters of scavenging magazine racks, I never dreamed that there might be enough publications out there to sustain yet another quarter of Alternative Newsstand.
And yet here we are, loaded with aspirations for spring 2004 that will probably fade as workloads grow and week five approaches, and you’re all quite possibly amazed that I’m still here to annoy you with my reading recommendations. Yet there are a plethora of overlooked magazines, most with quality of some sort to offer, and in this final stretch of the 2003-04 school year I will continue to draw your attention to such publications.
This quarter, when you find time between lectures and readings for History 180 and Chemistry 131 (or whatever), peruse Issue 5.4 of DIW magazine, also know as the publication for ‘independent thought on independent music.’
Featuring The Shins on the cover, DIW is a quarterly publication that elegantly offers exactly what it boasts: ‘independent thought’ on the best music out there while it was still ‘independent’ and not totally commercial. We’re talking about featuring bands like The Flaming Lips, Bright Eyes and At the Drive-In at a time when most people were like, ‘The Flaming what?’
After the typical welcome from the editor-in-chief (Marc Hawthorne) and letters from readers, DIW changes the pace of most of its contemporaries by examining up-and-coming musical talents in a brief but comprehensive format. With a short band bio and explanation of sound, DIW gives readers a quick 101 on bands like Centro-matic, Canoe and The Warlocks.
Next comes somewhat lengthier pieces on bands Air, Brian Jonestown Massacre and Pretty Girls Make Graves. Articles gradually become longer and longer as one delves into the depths of DIW, grazing on Suede and absorbing Death Cab for Cutie before entering the featured realm of The Shins (page 64).
The interview with The Shins’ James Mercer, the singer of ‘a band that can currently lay claim to being one of the most definitive independent rock groups in the entire Western world,’ is written with charm and dignity. The appeal is mostly sprinkled between the lines describing Mercer’s incredulous modesty and the band’s simultaneous indie success.
Released at the beginning of 2004, DIW, as a music magazine, was essentially required to release a ‘best of’ list for 2003. This trails close behind the article on The Shins, and Zwan’s ‘Mary Star of the Sea’ tops the list as DIW’s Album of the Year. The following nine albums include