Friday, April 1, 2011

We took a Vow to Never Sleep - Asian Americans in the indie music scene

Hey readers, I'm back after a long hiatus.

Moving to a new city is really stressful and extremely busy. I see that Lionel and APA went a little crazy in my absence. My apologies - usually I'm the level-headed guy that keeps the group together and out of trouble. I'm one that pulls Lionel out of strip clubs before he gets on the pole, I'm the one that consistently keeps APA from going back to the local high school at 2:30 pm (he tricked me twice by saying he was going to his grandmother's funeral. It did not work the third time), and I'm ALWAYS the one that has to bail ImSoChinese out after he gets arrested for soliciting INSIDE THE POLICE STATION.

You can understand why I needed to take a break. Either way, I'm back now to talk about Asian Americans in the music business. By now, everyone knows that multi-Grammy winning band Linkin Park has Mike Shinoda on the mic and Joe Hanh on the turntables, but here are a few lesser-known bands with Asian-American members that you really need to check out.

1. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

The Pains of Being Pure at HeartNew York indie bands are a dime a dozen (especially in BK, where I also play in an indie band). But TPOBPAH really set themselves apart with their walls of noise and earnest unison in their pop-affected rock anthems. Keyboardist Peggy Wang contributes with both synth layering and vocals.

They just released their sophomore effort - Belong, and its title track/first single was all I listened to for the month of January. The song really reminded me of everything I loved about the Smashing Pumpkins (James Iha!), and I told everyone I knew to listen.

Now it's your turn:

"I know it is wrong, but we just don't belong"

2. Little Dragon

little dragon
Sweden's Little Dragon was originally named after singer Yukimi Nagano's tendency to suddenly burst into temper during recording sessions - much like a dragon.
They effortlessly blend atmospheres and paint sonic landscapes that are perfect for the days where you just want to sit alone and escape from life for a bit.

They were recently featured on Gorillaz's Plastic Beach - on the tracks "To Binge" and "Empire Ants", which, in my opinion, was by far the strongest track on the album.

Check out "Twice" off of their album, Little Dragon.

"Twice I turn my back on you" 

3. The Morning Benders

The Morning Benders
Hailing from California, their sound is often infused with sunny optimism, even when the lyrical content is describing tragic heartbreaks and irrevocable loss. I honestly believe that they are one of the best young indie pop bands around, and when people ask me to describe indie pop as a genre, they are one of the few bands I usually recommend (with the other ones being Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Jr.)

Led by the Chu brothers - Chris and Jon, their most recent release - Big Echo, is a thoroughly enjoyable listen. Check out "Excuses" below:

"I taped my tongue to the southern tip of your body"

4. Asobi Seksu

Asobi SeksuI really enjoy dream pop as a whole, and Asobi Seksu are no exception. Their sound, similar to the Stars and Bloc Party, is heavily influenced by shoegaze and never fails to invoke in me a sense of adventure and beauty of the city nightlife.

Yuki Chikudate's breathy delivery always assures me that tonight will be a good night.

Take a listen to "Thursday", and I'll see you in the morning.

"With sharpened tongue I cried out for you"

5. The Go! Team

The Go! Team

The Go! Team was originally the solo project of Ian Partan, but has since expended into a sextet, including
Chi Fukami Taylor and Kaori Tsuchida on drums and guitar/piano, respectively.

Their music is schizophrenic in the best way, and is guaranteed to get stuck in your head for days after just one listen.

For example, their 2004 single "The Power Is On!" was recently used in a NFL commercial - try to listen to it and not nod along, I dare you.

"Why hello, hello, H-E-L-L-O, well I need you I want you to know"

It's Friday, go out and embrace the night.

Until next time,

j. taipei

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