Review: Hi-Fi Anxiety

Hi-Fi Anxiety
Artzine, Issue 6/9, Jason Boardman, 22 pgs,, $5

There’s a trick to Issue #6/9 of Hi-Fi Anxiety, a record collector’s zine by Jason Boardman that often includes other media (eg. video games, movies). But I can tell that Jason wouldn’t want me to give it away here. His personable writing style conveys the idea that in addition to music recommendations, he wants to give readers a real taste of record collection culture. Hi-Fi Anxiety is meant to be not just information but an experience.

I don’t think he’d mind me revealing some other fun features of the zine, like the fact that it’s always a flip book — read to the middle, flip over, read to the middle again. And the middle of this issue offers much more than just the staples from the saddle-stitch: it gives a playlist of the bands and songs discussed and a QR code to listen to them, all on what looks to be a blank cassette J-card. This is one element of the retro vibe that permeates the zine, an appropriate tone for a record-collector readership.

Another is in his “deep dives” on bands he likes (which helpfully include discographies). Jason’s memories of his first time hearing a band always seem to occur in some hole-in-the-wall record store in the ‘90s. Talk about quaint. “I feel like I start a lot of stories this way,” he says, “but fuck it here goes…” before launching into another tale of how people discovered tunes in the olden days.

Reading about his experiences in getting to know bands made me curious to hear their music, as I’m sure he intended. It’s cool that the zine is typed and easy to read but retains a punk, DIY quality through its casual vernacular and collaged images. It seems the real trick here is that this unassuming zine sneaks up on you with its grassroots charm. I’ll be checking out some of his recommended bands with what I predict will be no anxiety at all.