Asian Updates: Morning Benders and “The Other Asian” on Glee

I know Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is over, but that doesn’t mean the updates on some Asians who are representing needs to end.

Some notable news:

The Morning Benders have released two exclusive non-LP tracks: a stream of ‘Go Grab A Stranger’ and a free mp3 download “Cold War (Wallpaper. Remix),” both of which are available on their official website.

Also, something super exciting: The Morning Benders will be doing a FREE SHOW with Freelance Whales on June 19th at Governors Island as part of Converse’s kick ass “Gone to Governors” live music series on The Beach. Other folks participating in the free concert series include Yeasayer (June 5), She & Him (July 4), and Neon Indian (August 14).
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Sassy Asians I Adore

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month! You know what that means, time to talk about some awesome Asians!

Michelle Phan is a Vietnamese-American vlogger who found fame via her YouTube makeup tutorials and was recently hired by Lancome as their video makeup artist where she produces videos for them on a regular basis.

Here’s just one of her videos about how to do makeup if you wear glasses:

The other night I was watching the Oprah episode about the world’s most talented kids. I missed the Justin Bieber segment, but caught the amazing little Filipina singer named Charice. She too rose to fame via YouTube popularity, which landed her spots on Korean TV, and then later Ellen DeGeneres and the Oprah Winfrey Show.

Her debut self-titled album on Warner Brothers dropped this week. Check out her single, “Pyramid”:

The Morning Benders’ “Big Echo” Swelled and Soared at MHOW

The last time I saw The Morning Benders was just under two years ago when they opened up for the Kooks when I wrote this review:

Openers The Morning Benders seemed like a perfect match in terms of the demographic of the audience. Comprised of four innocuous looking young men with perfectly poppy tunes, the Berkley quartet were probably loving all of the supportive whooping coming from the audience. However, after the show the lead singer caused a giant clusterfuck along the exit path as little ewoks huddled around him asking him to sign their CDs and chit-chatting with him. Gasped one girl to the other, “Ohmigod, it IS HIM!

Some things have changed since then: while The Morning Benders still hold on to their pop roots, they’ve graduated into a grand choral sound full of harmonizing vocals and reverberating guitar distortion. You can’t help but wonder how much of that change has to do with Grizzly Bear’s bassist/producer Chris Taylor, who lent his talents to the production of TMB’s newest LP, Big Echo. But no matter what the origin for the shift in the band’s sound, there’s no denying that the result is stellar.

This is a face any Asian grandmother would love!

The Morning Benders have successfully synthesized the rarely occurring combination of making music that appeals to both geeky music nerds and 16-year-old girls. But what’s most unusual is that unlike so many other groups in the geeky music nerd/16-year-old girl cross section (MGMT, LCD Soundsystem, Beyonce [ironically]), TMBs don’t rely on tons of synthesizers and dancey hooks to reel in their audience.

Instead they lean on their innocent baby faces and mild manners retain their core group of fans who fell for the pop pedigree sounds of their first album, while letting their new sound captivate a more mature, less estrogen-fueled fan base who got a taste of them while opening up for Grizzly Bear and Ra Ra Riot.

PHOTOS: The Morning Benders @ Music Hall of Williamsburg

They also tap into an underutilized marketing tool in indie rock — the power of the Asians. Everyone knows that little Asian girls love indie rock music (take a look at the front row of the makeup of any poppy British band and tell me I’m wrong), and now they finally have their very own set of dreamy Asian-mom-approved guys to pine over. But what about the white dude on the drums? It’s A-OK my friends, the internetz tell me that just like white people like Asian girls, Asians girls like white dudes.

Time to add the Chu brothers and Tim Or to the great pantheon of other Asian dude rockers — like James Iha and… uh… that Asian guy from N.E.R.D.?????
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Asian Hair: Hints, Tips, and What You Need to Know

NOTE: I originally had this article on a site that I was toying with that is no longer in existence. However, I thought the tips in the story were valuable so I’m porting it over onto TMA, even though it has nothing to do with music or pop culture really. Hope you enjoy it anyway!

If you’re anything like me, over the years you’ve probably had your fair share of awful haircuts at the hands of stylists who did not know how to cut Asian hair*. One too many traumatic experiences scared me silly from doing anything too adventurous with my hair for quite some time. I basically kept my hair long and straight (with various side bang/straight bang/no bang variations), not necessarily because I preferred that hairstyle, but because I was afraid to try anything else.

Part of that fear was my lack of understanding about Asian hair, caused by a lack of available information on the topic in magazines and the internet. Try Googling “asian hair” and you’ll get some random message board postings and antiquated articles citing no-name stylists on the topic. Sad, right? So I decided to get in contact with the folks at the Sassoon Salon (formerly known as the Vidal Sassoon Salon), world-famous for being the “Harvard of hairdressing,” to get the low-down on Asian hair from a bona fide expert.

Yuka Tsurumi is the Assistant Creative Director at the Sassoon Salon Uptown in New York City, with over 10 years of experience in the industry. While her credentials with the venerable salon are somewhat intimidating, Yuka herself is the antithesis of stodgy. Petite, with short electric pink hair, and a penchant for dressing in a mishmash of bold patterns, Yuka is upbeat and affable–and exactly the kind of woman from whom I would want to take styling advice.

Here’s some valuable info for you Asian-haired ladies out there:

Q: Are there some general characteristics that can be attributed with Asian hair?
A: Many Asians tend to have straighter and courser hair. Many people think that Asian hair is really straight, but not everybody has totally straight hair–they might have a kink to it. Even though Asians may have straighter hair, they often have a stronger, upward hair growth. For example, many Asian clients have strong hair growth in the hairline, so if you’re not careful and you cut too short, the hair might jump out in more of a cowlick.
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