It used to be much easier to tell the difference between a literary journal and a band. Bands very rarely have the words "review" or "journal" at the end of their names and even less frequently are found in the hands of female poets in strappy dresses sitting in the quad. (Go to any city. Find a quad. There will be a female poet wearing a strappy dress reading the New England Review while quietly eating an organic salad and smoking cloves while absently stroking the hipster head of her boyfriend, who's head is in her lap, a copy of Confederacy of Dunces tented over his chest, a copy of Stoner tucked just so in his messenger bag, which is only a few feet away, in case, you know, messages need to be delivered. I recognize in this image that the female poet has at least four hands, but don't let that concern you.) Of course, band names used to just be names not sentences, but at least since And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, I've noticed a great many bands opting for at least sentence fragments vs. the tried and true definite article followed by a cool word (Ex. The The). And, you know, bully for the bands. At some point, there just aren't enough ways to convey in two words how cool you are and thus, you know, one has to start adding more words, which means verbs come into play.
Likewise, literary journals have apparently decided to stop sounding so damn august and have begun to find names that have a larger, more varied appeal...as in, names that have meanings so obscure only a male poet, sitting on the steps in front of that building across from the quad quietly listening to his ipod and picking balls of lint off of the 56 year old cardigan he rescued from his grandfather's house when mom and dad decided grandpa needed to be somewhere where he could "get the help he needs...he deserves it, doesn't he, Quincy? [in this picture I imagine the male poet is named Quincy, but his friends call him Quinn now, but really he wishes people would call him See]" would know them with any real accuracy.
It used to be, in my younger days, that I knew all the cool bands and all the cool literary journals and could discuss them at length. And then I had a prostate exam and got a tax bill and both felt like someone was shoving red hot pokers into my lungs and things changed for me as a hipster. I began to narrow my field of knowledge and stopped reading every new thing and listening to every new thing and opted to wait for, you know, version 2.0 or for someone more cool than me to tell me what I should like, which has made my life infinitely more easy. I mention this for a specific reason: When I was at AWP in Denver earlier this year, I walked through the book room and looked at all of the literary journals and the majority of them sounded like emo, death metal and alt-country bands. Oddly enough, the people sitting behind the tables representing these journals also looked like they were in emo, death metal and alt-country bands. I don't know anymore what every single literary journal in America likes -- when I was younger and submitting stuff all the time, I had a pretty good idea that they liked whatever the opposite of what I was doing happened to be -- but as a service to those of you in the world searching out these journals to publish your work, I've decided it might be helpful if I listed a few of these places alongside some interesting facts about their history in music. (Note: these are all real journals, at least according to New Pages.)
Barnwood: Oh, man, I saw Barnwood in concert with Drive By Truckers last year and it fucking rocked. Those guys came out totally trashed and just fucking raged. They did a cover of Van Halen's "Jump" that was, like, totally unironic in its irony.
Blood Lotus: Back in the day, their lead singer was in SOD and I remember this one show where he came out covered in pig's blood and fucked a mannequin. Blood Lotus is a little softer now, but the video they did for their song about ass fucking the devil was, like, off the chain.
The Fertile Source: I'm not really into ambient music anymore since my buddy died at that rave, but I love what these guys do with mixing natural sound, Celtic lullabies and whale music.
Fugue: I love that song they have about being depressed about that one girl leaving them and them feeling like, you know, they'll never love again, but then it turns around in the last verse and is, like, a total fuck you. It's almost as good as Hey There Delilah.
Hotel Amerika: When they first came out, I was like, you know, all the bands from that scene in Georgia are the same, but then they added that K to America and I was like, whoa, this is totally a post-consumerist look at rock music. There's no boundaries in their music because, like, it's not about money, it's about emotion. And their hammer and sickle over the American flag t-shirts are awesome.
Lalitamba: I saw them in concert with Yo La Tengo in 2003 and I was really disappointed. Turns out they are Swedish folk singers. Really weird shit, but great lyrics, if you understand ancient Nordic languages.
Mudfish: They covered a Lucinda Williams song and, like, totally made it their own. When their lead singer died, though, that was pretty much it, even though they are now touring with the Gin Blossoms.
Pank: When they pulled out of Lilith Fair, I knew the tour was damned.
Paul Revere's Horse: People think rap-rock is dead because of Limp Bizkit and all that shit, but these guys are doing some really interesting things. That there's only two of them -- one on guitar, one on drums -- and they are able to make so much noize is pretty amazing. And all that shit they do for the wild mustangs in Nevada is, like, really admirable.
PMS poemmemoirstory: When they pulled out of Ozzfest, I was like, you know, what? People don't like bloody tampons being thrown at them anymore by guys in clown masks? What the fuck? Their tour with GWAR was like a zombie movie.
Prick of the Spindle: So powerful. Their lyrics hit right to the heart. It's hard to believe they all got together when they were 15. When they opened up for System of a Down I was like, no way, really? But then they played with Avenged Seven Fold and I was like, wait, no! I love that song they did after their bass player died.
Redivider: Best. Death. Metal. Band. Ever. You do it for 25 years and somehow maintain relevance, that means you're pretty special. Now I see 12 year olds at the mall wearing their t-shirts and I'm like, you know, sell out! But, whatever, they bring it.
Skidrow Penthouse: Saw them in Nashville opening for Lucero. They were booed off the stage and then waited in the parking lot to fight. Pussies.
Subtropics: I love these girlz. They're like The Jesus and Mary Chain in skirts. And chainmail.
Tin House: I'll never forget when I read that interview in Kerrang! with the lead singer about how he writes songs from a place of quiet rage. I was, like, 12 and standing inside a B. Dalton in the Sun Valley mall and I was like, who, I mean, that's where I live. A place of quiet rage. I mean, that's what a tin house really is. That shit still speaks to me.