Ah, ska-punk. The pseudo-ubiquitous subgenre both loved and hated about equally by legions of ska and punk fans. At it’s best, this mutated strain has produced long-standing bands like the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Less Than Jake, and at it’s worst, well, let’s just say that there’s nothing more painful than a bad ska-punk band. However, or at least to my experience, it’s not a genre with long-lasting appeal, but hell, I remember vomiting out of excitement the first time I saw the Bosstones, and they’ve been doing this for longer than I (or they probably) care to remember.
What we’ve got here is the latest project by Mike “Bruce Lee” Park, maven behind Asian Man Records, as well as groups like Skankin’ Pickle (whose best song was about a girl on the Canadian teen-soap Degrassi Jr. High) and the Bruce Lee Band. And it’s actually pretty good. The standard melodic punk rock major chord changes are all here sewn-on patches and all, and Mike’s got a good voice for this stuff. The band is made up of all Asian members (including the obligatory female bassist), and nearly every song deals with the trials and tribulations of being an Asian-American punk-rocker in this corrupt capitalist society we call Amerika, or girls. While I can’t relate (to the former), I can appreciate the humor in a song like “Asian Prodigy,” whose first line is “I don’t want to be a doctor!”
The record starts off with a bizarre monologue proclaiming the lack of unity between all races and creeds, which is common among bands of this nature (remember Operation Ivy’s “Unity?”) an easy socio-/political veneer to hide behind and point fingers while not offering any worthwhile solutions, but the first track, “You Don’t Know,” is really catchy regardless of the dumb lyrics. But then again, let’s not fool ourselves, we’re not listening to ska-punk for the ground-breaking lyrical content.
And in that respect, the Chinkees proceed to jump and skank through 11 catchy songs that you’ll really like if you aren’t ready to gag from the proliferation of much worse bands attempting to catch a ride on this fading star known as ska-punk. May it rest in peace, sometime soon.
// Notes from the Road
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