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Hi everyone,

Ninja Pants is going to go into Inactive Mode for an indefinite period of time. All of us are trying to find time and space for us to work on this bad boy while fitting it into the rest of our lives, and we don’t want to feel bad about leaving you all hanging while we figure it out. Don’t worry – you’ll know when we’re back. Because we. will. be. back.

On an unrelated note, go check out On Appetites, a spiffy blog dedicated to one (wonderful) woman’s thoughts on food. Yum!

pat m.


There’s a free download of a Blue Scholars track that didn’t make it on to Bayani available at Mass Line Media. It’s called “Dawn”, and it’s a nice and mellow 3-minute instrumental track that went out on a promo EP or something. Anyway, check it out here.

pat m.

The good folk over at AARising have two new interviews for us, one with the four young men from Seriously and one with the four sisters from JAZMIN. Check them out at the links below.

AARising – JAZMIN Profile

AARising – Seriously Profile

pat m.

Matty Wise takes us to the limit with a new review of Valerie Chang’s extended play.

Valerie Chang, extended play EP, Indie Rock

Valerie Chang’s EP is a four piece effort that sounds as if it’s trying to find a niche. I like that none of the songs sound particularly similar to each other so you get a good sense of what she and the band are capable of. That being said, the band is clearly better at certain sounds than others.

Chang’s EP starts off pretty sweet, opening with “I’ve Got”. The song is nicely layered with some good hooks from the electric guitar. The band sounds much more like a cohesive band than Valerie’s band. Her voice is somewhat pushed into the background by the growls of the guitar, and comes off as a catchy accompaniment rather than the centerpiece. I could see myself giving this song another listen occasionally. It’s when her voice becomes the focal point that I’ve got a problem. Even in “I’ve Got” there were definitely occasions when she was just flat, but it was forgivable because the electric guitar helped distract me. But when I listened to the next song, “The Goodbye Kiss”, I was simply annoyed when I heard a wrong note or her voice flatten.

Now if my calculations are right, she is only nineteen so I can attribute some of it to her voice simply not being fully developed yet. But being a choir boy (yes, I was in church choir, and no, I can’t sing. Ask Pat for my rendition of “Lady Marmalade”) (vooley voo mocha-choco-latta-MARMALADE. -ed.) I know that all she needs are a few voice lessons that will help her sing from her chest rather than her head. What I mean by that is when she goes into her higher register it sounds like the voice is straining, and often flattens or gets scratchy when maintaining a high note for more than a second. But Valerie can sing. When she’s using her lower register, like in Cold Jeans, she sounds sexy as hell, crooning a strong and more mature sound. She just needs to get a little tune up.
As for the content of what she sings, the lyrics are relatable, but I can’t say there was anything awe-inspiring, life-altering, or even particularly interesting about them. If she were to make a full length, I could not imagine it going very far if she simply writes about love as she has here. Oftentimes, and I can’t believe I’m going to say this given my track record, she’s not personal or introspective enough, and I’m devoid of any empathy when I hear something that’s supposed to be full of emotion like “so one last thing don’t you ever forget, goodbye, goodbye”.
I found “Note From Jailbird” to be an interesting attempt at her being bad ass, and I really like the kinda pop punk sound. The guitars deliver a nice grinding noise, but the lyrics and her voice don’t quite back up the edginess of the guitars the way I hoped it would. And that was how I felt about the EP in general. Everything didn’t feel quite together. I’m curious if this band will grow, or if this is the last we’ll hear of Valerie Chang as even she describes herself as “[having] trouble staying focused on one thing too long.” That certainly fits the EP and its many directions.

matty wise

Vince spits hot fiya RE: the As-Seen-On-TV APA indie rock band Seriously’s self-titled debut EP release. Check it out:

Seriously, Seriously, Indie Rock, Chaos Theory Music

The self-titled EP by the band Seriously is a Sunday afternoon, light breeze collection of cookie cutter, bubblegum pop rock. One wouldn’t be surprised to catch a tune of their’s like “Fireflies” or “Dare I Say” during a touching moment on a teen drama of the 7th Heaven, Dawson’s Creek variety. The album has a very high school groove to it. The band pushes the nostalgia bug on you after a few guitar strokes and the entrance of the sandy vocals, but fades just about as quickly because all the songs drag on a bit too long and sound like some song you heard before already.

Lead vocalist Christopher Pham sings between a reassuring familiarity that nicely echoes the group’s subject matter and the ordinary generic flavor of a coffee shop’s house band that you and your friends thought were okay. The lyrics, guitar riffs, and snare beats are nothing you haven’t heard from plenty of other acts out there. Seriously isn’t bad by any means, there are very “meeh” in every sense of the word. It seems Seriously finds a place more among a mainstream, safer style along the lines of a John Mayer, which plenty of people eat up gladly. But for a soul that’s looking for a fresh sound or double-taking your ears on a great line of songwriting? Look elsewhere, friend.

vincent chen

Today we’re introducing the latest addition to the Ninja Pants staff – welcome Theodore Ko, AKA TKO, who will be covering Filipino smooth-stylin’ R&B/Pop sensation Manny Garcia’s Story of My Life.

Manny Garcia, Story of My Life, R&B/Pop 

I should preface this review by saying that I don’t really think too highly of R&B as a musical genre. It’s nice as a change of pace, maybe an R. Kelly song here and there on the ol’ iPod, but I can’t really handle a full album of the stuff. Which makes me the perfect review option for Manny Garcia’s Story of My Life – riiiiiight. It’s not that I dislike R&B, per se. I just don’t feel compelled to listen to a musical genre characterized by the phrase “mood music” in situations where I don’t feel inclined to set that kind of “mood”. I used to bum rides home from a nice young Chinese boy in high school who would leave Usher’s “U Got It Bad” on loop and sing along while angsting about a nice young Chinese girl; that is, to me, R&B at its best.

But enough of me – on to Manny G.

Story of My Life opens with “Here”, an upbeat, funky little number that tries to set the album off with a little sass. It kind of reminded me of the soundtrack to Ridge Racer IV (dork much?). It’s an optimistic way to start, I suppose, and the juxtaposition between this and “This Ain’t A Love Song” (clever guy, Manny. I see what you’re doing there. And this ain’t an album review!) kind of sets the bipolar tone for the first 2/3rds of the album. Where “Here” is perky, “This Ain’t A Love Song” is a solemn, melancholy track that consists of Mr. Garcia awkwardly using the power of his voice to obscure poorly-written full sentences – a reoccurring trend in this album.For example:


I don’t know what love is. It might be something that makes you feel so alive.


Manny Garcia:  

I don’t know what love IIIIIIIS, it might be something that makes ya feeeeheeeeeEEEEEEEEEEL so a ALIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVE!!!!

  This proceeds well into the album, courtesy of “Next to You” and “Gone”, with “Take It Slow” and its acoustic as a welcome interlude, and “Who Do You Think You Are” as a return to Manny’s more upbeat side. “As Long As I’m With You” is kind of sweet, I guess, but before you know it we’re into the last three songs – “Stand Up and Shine”,  “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”, and “Story Of My Life” – all of which, together, kind of blend into each other like a really long version of “I Believe I Can Fly”. Beware those last few songs – the sappiness is strong in this one.  This kind of review is the trickiest to write because it’s not (it’s not!) a complete pan.

The problem is not Manny’s talent as a musician, because he sounds fairly average for R&B. It’s the variety that suffers – Story Of My Life would have done better as a 4-track EP release, so we wouldn’t have time to get tired of his croon and his piano. Don’t worry, Manny, I’m not turning that dial, you’ll be here for a while – and hopefully you’ll pick up a little more artistic definition.


Kero One posted a neat t-shirt on his MySpace that ties into his upcoming Plug Label mix-tape and is available for $16. From the bulletin:

Who can deny the power and soul of the fender Rhodes keyboard? Used on countless recordings from soul greats like stevie wonder, jazz players like bob james, to hiphop producers like j-dilla and pete rock. This t-shirt/hoodie payes homage while representing the underground hiphop/electronic imprint “plug label”.This shot was taken from the inside of Kero’s windmills of the soul cd sleeve.

A picture of the actual Rhodes that helped pave the plug label sound into underground fame! S,M,L,XL available in Black, eggplant, brown, navy blue colored shirts.

Go check it out here.

The good people at AArisings posted a new video to the “Screening Room” – it’s of APA indie rock band Seriously’s song, “Irony”. Check it out at the link below.  

 AArisings: Da Asian Pacific American Entertainment Resource: The Screening Room

pat m.

Eugene of Boston Progress Radio put up a neat post called “Intergenerational Love” (it’s not what it sounds like!). Read it

It was this bit that caught my interest:

Getting this kind of e-mail makes me think about why this blog and radio station got started. Initially, I wanted the radio station for selfish reasons. I wanted to be able to tune into a station and find awesome Asian American music. With the help of friends, we just did it. That’s it. Today, maybe BPR has a larger purpose. Maybe we’re here to spread the word about Asian American music to communities across this country. Maybe we’re here to make connections to Asian Americans who came before us… And to those who will come after us.

Ninja Pants was born of a similar gut (“selfish”) reaction; we wanted to have a space to talk about new Asian American music, and if other peple wanted to join in, so much the better. It wasn’t until we started the project in earnest that we had to start thinking about what it meant to look for “Asian American music”. After years of throwing events for our college API community, which inevitably included digging up API artists for concerts and such, we just kind of got used to thinking about the race of the musicians that we were listening to. Then we realized, roughly a month after Ninja Pants’ beginning, that we had created a new genre. Oops.

Thinking about “Asian American music” as a genre is a little bit unusual because it isn’t organized around a particular set of musical instruments or techniques, or even a general unifying style. Rather, it is a genre we have asserted into existence, through projects like Ninja Pants and Boston Progress Radio, and its central organizing theme seems, at first glance, to be the racial identity of its artists. It is “interdisciplinary”, since Asian American artists can participate in any genre or combination of genres. We have our Hip Hop artists, our indie rockers, plenty of singer-songwriters (…), jazz musicians, etc. Aside from perhaps an occasional reference to yellow fever or the model minority myth, there’s really no musical consistency that we could expect from browsing a hypothetical “Asian American music” section at our local Amoeba Records. Deborah Wong is careful to dismiss the discussion of “Asian American music” for precisely this reason in her book, Speak It Louder: Asian Americans Making Music; the idea of Asian American music as a musical genre implies that the definition of the genre is located in music (beat, lyrical structure, etc.) or possibly the myriad practices of an identifiable geographic region (a la Hip Hop and its origins in the Bronx), and it isn’t, so she instead opts to study the music that Asian Americans make. Since it seems unclear exactly how an all-white band, for example, could participate in Asian American music in the way that they could participate in rock and roll.

On the other hand, simply being an artist who is Asian American doesn’t seem to be sufficient to participate in Asian American music. Editing a publication like Ninja Pants involves deciding who we let into our own definition of “Asian American music” on a daily basis, and we come across artists all the time who appear to identify as Asian American but aren’t really all that interested in making overtures to explicitly race-based music communities like ours – generally, I imagine, for the same reasons that people who check the “Asian” box might still be reluctant about participating in explicitly race-based non-profits, or student groups, or what have you. Putting your music out into an Asian American space says more than simply “My folks came from Asia” because the term “Asian American” is still an inherently political one. We expect a modicum of social responsibility from artists who participate in Asian American music, that they are somewhat literate with issues of power and privilege and how those play out in issues of race.

This, to me, is the reason we declare particular works, like Bayani by the Blue Scholars, or Sung Kang’s latest movie, The Motel, as “Asian American” works. It seems that denoting a subset of a medium as Asian American describes more of the thought process behind the art rather than a characteristic of the art itself. It’s like food that’s labeled “organic”; while an organic Fuji apple is essentially the same thing, materially, as a not-organic Fuji apple, the “organic” label (at least, ideally) specifies something about where the apple came from, and the process it went through to make its way into your stomach. Those who are drawn to Asian American music are drawn to it not necessarily because we’re drawn to a certain set of musical properties, but rather because we’re conscious not just of what music we’re consuming but who is making it and how. Presenting these artists in the context of an Asian American identity isn’t just a matter of convenience; that we care about the identities and processes of our musicians is a highly political statement.

pat m.

Murdasol follows up on coverage of Valerie Chang’s extended play EP.

Valerie Chang, extended play EP, Indie Rock

Track uno. “I’ve Got” is the right opener for this short EP. I like how the song itself begins. It’s got a catchy quality to it, a sort of rock songwriter’s song that’s single-worthy. It gets things going, and sounds like she is determined to get the message to her lover across. I find it infectious though it’s not really outstanding or unique. What I like about this song is the way she spaces out the phrases “I’ve got my love/I’ve got my unsuspecting/ fears of your love” and matches them to a melody that you can easily warm up to. In other words, it flows nicely, and is possibly my favorite among the tracks.

I like to imagine “Goodbye Kiss” being played while you’re driving down a windy road in the moonlight. In a VW Jetta. Thank you corporate America media for providing me with that one. It’s about giving a goodbye kiss, if you didn’t catch on. It’s got that type of romantic sweet contemplation to it that some might find sappy. I like this sappy though. Again, this track is nothing new but I find it quite easy on the ears.

At the opening of “Note From Jailbird,” I thought my music player was playing songs from another artist. This song plays a shmidgen faster a bit more frenetic than her previous more calmer introspective-like songs. Think rocker girl/indie angst. I’m not as crazy about this song as I am the previous two, for the reason that the tune and her style of singing are annoying here. The same goes for her last song as well. What gets me is that when she emphasizes certain notes at regular intervals, she goes off key. It seems like it is intentional, like it was her style to do so, but it was annoying. Annoying in the way someone sitting by you keeps singing this discordant tune over and over again- it drives you nuts, like you’re on a boat that makes these annoying intermittent lurches every off beat, or as in “Cold Jeans,” in a slow 6/8 time. Slow or fast, those lurches make you uneasy. Also while listening to “Notes from Jailbird” I was imagining this dispassionate expression on the singer’s face despite the frenzied mood of the song. Where was the passion? Was her emotionlessness preventing her from hitting those weighty notes on-key? I wondered. I pondered. I wondered how crazy it is that “wondered” is one letter away from “pondered”. I mean they virtually mean the same thing, but they are pronounced so differently! Amazing.

Well, anyway, Val Chang was a sort of 50/50 for me. I don’t think the last two songs are unlistenable, but they don’t have the repeat quality that the first two songs have. As for those two tracks, I’ll be a-holding on to them and listening to them after my review. While I wonder about pondering and wondering. Or the other way around.

marisol lazaro