Review: DIY: The Rise of Lo-Fi Culture by Amy Spencer

I ordered this book because it seemed really interesting – it’s about D.I.Y. and Lo-Fi culture, mostly zines, indie music and pirate radio stations. Since a lot of the books about D.I.Y. that I’ve seen focuses on art and craft, this book definitely seemed different from the others. And it is. It explores the origin of D.I.Y. ethics, the skiffle movement and Dadaism in the 50s, mail art, independent publishing, sci-fi zines in the 30s, and connects them to the punk and zine scene in the 70s and 80s, as well as the current indie scene. It gives a lot of historical info about the development of self-produced music and litereature, as well as the politics behind it.

Just flipping through the pages, and seeing bold titles about Riot Grrrl and Cometbus, I knew that it’s something I want to read. Most of stuff I have read about before, but not in a way that connected them to each other. There were also some historical stuff that I really didn’t know that much about and was glad to read (like the skiffle movement), but I was kind of disappointed that other than mentioning some bands (like Beat Happening), the indie pop/twee movement is largely ignored in this book. Spencer writes about Nirvana and K Records, but not about Sarah Records or Heavenly or The Field Mice (and not even the Vaselines!). I think this book is really worth the purchase, if only for the information on zines (my favourite part), but I was disappointed too. There are so many books on punk history and music and Spencer devoted a lot of pages to it, but the longest write-up on indie pop I’ve read is the “Twee As Fuck” article on Pitchfork and Spencer hardly mentioned it at all.

~ originally posted on blogspot


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