Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

The life and times of an Asian American activist who tells all the truth (and dishes news and analysis) but with a leftwards slant.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Slanted Eyes, Slanted Hearts

OMG, I have been unable to get the Slants' Kokoro out of my head and I have angryasianman to thank for it. Their latest album Slanted Eyes, Slanted Hearts is like New Order for 2010, with a deadly beat that reverberates and makes me dance, and the drumming is fast-paced and frenetic, powering a music that speaks of illusions and delusions. It's like they're spinning Kate Bush's Red Shoes onto me, with thudding, irreverent and crystal grooves reminiscent of Depeche Mode.

Confession time: I normally shy away from most "Asian American" artists that Angry Asian Man has promoted for competitions (although Rachael Yamagata was a delicious find), because well . . . sadly, some of them really suck. But The Slants rock really hard, filtering candy synth pop through a edgy, cynical dreamscape of love lost, won, like vibrant hearts of glass shattered on a wooden floor painted with a fiery kaleidoscope of colors and emotions. Imagine the heat in each of the facets of the broken hearts burning right back into your eyes and ears, and trying to jump around the lasers, and then you'll have an idea of how such morose music strangely makes me happy, even giddy.

It's really hard for me to name my favorite, but Capture Me Burning might hold the honor. But Love Within My Sins has an opening beat and vocals channeling Robert Smith on Charlotte Sometimes cut with a bit of the Psychedelic Furs and Love and Rockets. The Slants have the crazily memorable grinding beats like The Killers with the same kind of frenetic energy, if it were a postmodern mashup of the aforementioned bands with the ambivalence, distance and isolation of the protagonist in Chang-rae Lee's Native Speaker. I had the same immediate "recognition of self" response to their music that I did to Native Speaker. And I gotta ditto this amazon reviewer who says that they are actually much more American and European than Asian, regardless of their billing it as "Chinatown Dance Rock." Which is what I guess a hyphenated identity means. For me, their pan-AAPI identity is actually a very far second to their sound - I'd be proudly rocking this noise out of my stereos if The Slants were green and purple as opposed to yellow and white. So it wouldn't surprise me if they hit it big soon cos their music resonates with anyone who's felt hopeful despite alienation.

It's hard for me to describe why this band hooked me immediately, except that as someone who grew up listening to white artists making 80s music, and then realizing how much of my identity I had perhaps subconsciously tried to erase by wearing overly pale or dramatically dark makeup, well, The Slants feels like the acceptance and melding together of my adolescent identity with the Asian American activist that I am today. The Slants' music feels like coming home.

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  • At 11:43 AM, Blogger Populuxe Ent said…

    Wow, awesome review. Probably the best that I have ever read about the band. You rock!


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