Well, everyone, the final stretch of the 2003-2004 school year is upon us, and this means the end of the line for Alternative Newsstand.
For the grand finale, I decided to select my favorite publication to feature. My choice had to be Paste Magazine.
This publication was the truest embodiment of what I hoped to showcase here, and its proclamation of ‘signs of life in music and culture’ demonstrates this attribute. Alternative Newsstand was designed to bright into the limelight magazines that weren’t getting the attention they deserved. Paste is a prime example of a remarkable publication that I’m assured gets frequently overlooked.
A bimonthly publication, Paste released Issue #9 for April/May 2004 with Patty Griffin gracing its cover.
Not unlike its title, Paste is a marvelous collage in layout design as well as in content. When I first noticed Paste on Barnes & Noble bookstands last November, I was reeled in by its simplistic, ethereal cover colors and format. This is a trend that continues from the first page to the last, making Paste a pleasantly natural type of independent music experience.
Fifteen-page ‘Scrapbook’ opens the show with little blurbs on everything and everyone, giving readers their news refreshers for the issue. This is where the freshest faces can be found and where the most random tidbits hoard to greet the audience before it moves on to the meat and potatoes of the publication.
Here comes my favorite part, and the best reason you should consider picking up a copy for yourself: the CD sampler.
Have you forgotten my raving from November? Not only is the sampler Paste’s very own soundtrack, paralleling its content in a most brilliant fashion, but it’s a damn good listen. This issue features the lovely Norah Jones, Jem, Nellie McKay and The Proclaimers, among many others.
Another note: subscribers to Paste also get to pick a free CD to accompany their new subscription. It’s the magazine that just keeps giving!
OK, so now that you’re (hopefully) excited, here’s Alanis! Ms. Morissette has a new album and Paste is sure to cover the action on page 42.
Paste wastes no more time and jumps into Patty Griffin’s multi-page feature, which includes a superb review of her new release, ‘Impossible Dream’ (page 50).
Keep cruising through pages and readers will discover more features on artists like Sarah Harmer (page 62) and topics like progressive rock and writer Andy Whitman’s ‘primer’ on how to do it correctly (page 70).
The advertisement on page 73 is a helpful reminder for me to tell you all about Paste’s roots: Paste Music where you can ‘go beyond pop culture’ through listening and buying the stuff of underground, indie and yet undiscovered talent.
I must take page 76’s ‘4 To Watch For’ as an opportunity to spotlight Nellie McKay. She’s so different from anything else I’m hearing nowadays that I suggest you at least cruise to www.pastemusic.com.
Paste also spotlights the cinema with reviews of films like ‘Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself’ make for a refreshing music break, but not a breakaway from Paste’s commitment to alternative entertainment.
Pretend you didn’t see it coming as I announce Paste’s CD review section. You’ll find the latest from Ben Kweller, Modest Mouse, The Pale, The Bad Plus, Now It’s Overhead and Abra Moore. Music DVDs are next, with releases from Foo Fighters and U2.
Paste is up after that, with the expected two short features to ease readers out after music reviews.
So now I’m feeling a little depressed, because the close of this article means the close of this column. Even if I wanted to keep up the momentum, I feel I have exhausted my resources and would not be able to feed a successor to Alternative Newsstand with enough new material to be considered worthwhile.
I no longer have my legitimate excuse for combing newsstands for hidden treasure. I mean, I suppose I need no excuse, but I liked having one.
You, on the other hand, should not follow my lead in this way! Use and abuse every excuse you can muster for searching out those ‘signs of life’ in entertainment, because between tabloids I find that cognitive content is difficult to track down.
Even if you can’t find anything new, I hope that my attempted revelations here have moved you to reach for Tracks, Ingenue, Filter, Interview, Fade In or Ready Made instead of run-of-the-mill People, Us or Rolling Stone.