The Yellow Album

Release Date: February 4, 2014
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For The Slants’ third full-length release, The Yellow Album, the band continued in the vein of creating an album charged with energy and shaped by an intensity gained only from frequent touring. It is the sound of a band who understands its roots but isn’t afraid to branch out musically. The result is a rounded album that explores the dichotomy between darker undertones and the thrills of new love.

The Yellow Album could be a natural progression from either 2010’s Pageantry or their 2007 debut Slanted Eyes, Slanted Hearts. Musically, it draws from the wider synthesizer driven palette of the first album while retaining the harder hitting rock sounds of the second. The lyrics explore the personal lives and experiences of the members of the band.

During the past two years, The Slants had to balance a rigorous international touring schedule, a lineup change, writing songs for the album, keeping personal relationships from falling apart, fundraising for the tsunami relief effort in Japan, and a fight with the United States Patent and Trademark Office that made headlines across both legal blogs and Asian culture outlets.

“We were pulled into an unexpected struggle,” explains founder and bassist Simon “Young” Tam. “A touring band has enough to worry about, let alone an international disaster involving friends and family or dealing with a legal battle against the United States government.”

The trademark battle was sparked by a government attorney’s claim that the band’s name was disparaging to Asians. “It was like banging our head against the wall, trying to convince someone that we were not offensive to ourselves, that the community was in overwhelming support of our band.”

Despite the frustration, Tam used the opportunity to bring an entire community together in order to defeat the poorly written, antiquated laws that were affecting numerous minority groups, a battle that continues to this day. The title track “Yellow” reflects the constriction experienced by the band.

The album title itself was birthed in a more playful approach to the idea of ethnic pride: The Beatles had The White Album, Metallica and Jay Z had The Black Album, so  The Yellow Album seemed natural. The juxtaposition of a tongue-in-cheek album title and some deeply serious songs reflect a band who can still embrace tragedy with a punk rock swagger.

With The Yellow Album The Slants continue to combine their 80s music heritage, floor-filling dance beats, and cultural experiences that provide the backbone for every note. The result is a collection of undeniably catchy songs that will make you want to dance. However, this album will also resonate with you, providing so much more than an enticing chorus. The Slants manage to combine heart and musicality, a combination that is becoming increasingly rare. The Slants have arrived and are ready to induct you into the Slants Army. It’s time for you to listen.

Album Review

[DANCE ROCK] However constant and far-flung their touring—last year's breakneck schedule capped by a New Year's Eve jaunt through Kosovo entertaining the troops—the Slants remain Portland's No. 1 dance-rock troupe and somehow manage to record another batch of propulsive, poignant '80s-goth-meets-22nd-century-club-kid floor-fillers every so often. The Yellow Album, the band's third self-released full-length, makes titular reference to famed White (the Beatles) and Black (Jay-Z) generational touchstones, but there's an equally pertinent wink to the issues of ethnic identity that have long colored the best of the band's work, won them adoring press coverage, and set in motion ongoing legal battles with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. The members of the Slants share an Asian heritage and, as with N.W.A. and countless other acts keen to subvert the language of prejudice, adopted the racial epithet with clear transformative intent, which went totally misunderstood by regulatory bureaucrats who've evidently never witnessed the multiracial throngs enthralled by the lunatic majesty of a Slants performance.

While the band may well be best experienced live, Slants releases always promise a few blistering, note-perfect singles. Starting with The Yellow Album's first proper tune—hard-charging Thin-hipped Lizzy shout-along anthem "Con Kids," an early favorite to incite small riots among the faithful at anime fests worldwide— there's nary a lull this go-round. More to the point, the band's songwriting dynamic has evolved considerably alongside the vocal prowess of frontman Aron Moxley. From the impassioned musings of "Adoption" to the swaggering "Rescue Me From My Own Heart," there's a new confidence and expansion of ambitions. Though eternally indebted to the old New Order-esque electro-grooves, the local quintet always avoided its genre mates' twiddly annoyances and theatrical posturing while embracing a playful rawk abandon all their own. The federally protected trademark may await judicial discretion, but the Slants' sonic brand has never sounded more distinct.
- - Willamette Week