Every year, as I get ready to throw a holiday party, I make
sure to cover all the bases: Cosby sweaters, check. Spiked cider, sprigs of mistletoe
and the largest Christmas tree of the lot, check. And of course, guilty-pleasure-Christmas-music.
(I didn’t grow up celebrating Christmas, so as an adult, I’m a bit — extra — about it.) This year, if you’re
throwing the festivities for home or office, you might just want to listen to more
than Mariah’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” on repeat. Or maybe not, I
wouldn’t blame you …
You’re in luck though: 2013 was a fantastic year for recording
artists in the Asian diaspora. These artists hail from New York, L.A., Sydney
and London — trust us, you’ll have the flyest playlist of the year.
Here’s a roundup of Hyphen’s favorite jams for your holiday
The Song to Prep for the Party
1. Yuna, “I Wanna Go” (Nocturnal, Verve Universal, 2013)
Zarai’s sparkly voice and bright-hued threads tell the story of her bi-coastal
Los Angeles and Kuala Lumpur, life. As a rising new soul/pop superstar on the Verve Universal label,
her third album, Nocturnal, features some heavy-hitters, including
producers Chad Hugo and Robin Hannibal (Quadron and Rhye). Her video “I Wanna
Go” shows us Yuna riding a long board — it will make you very happy.
Song that Says, “It’s Really Cool Here, Guys.”
2. Ticklah Remix, Lady, "Get Ready"
and Soul Record’s artist Lady, aka Nicole Wray, sounds pretty divine in her own
raw soulfulness, but when you let Brooklyn-based producer Ticklah draw out her vocals into a
catchy reggae groove, you’ve got an instant vintage sounding classic. He’s a
master of distilling the essence of a tune while pushing its sonic boundaries
into something completely new.
The Song That Makes You Seem Hella International
3. Rainbow Chan, “Haircut,” (Long Vacation EP, Silo Arts and Records, 2013)
synth artist Rainbow Chan embraced a DIY process when
recording, producing and mixing Long Vacation in her bedroom. Her electro-acoustic
vignettes are both sweet and dark, inspired by
everything from “Chinese folksongs to 1950's ballads.” Recently, Chan
successfully crowd-funded a campaign to press her Long Vacation into vinyl, to make the listening experience more
“immersive and tangible.” We love it.
The Song that Gives You Indie/Hipster
“All You’re Waiting For” feat. Nancy Whang (Hanging
Gardens, Innovative Leisure, 2013)
It’s nice to see LCD Soundsytem’s
Nancy Whang in the spotlight, as a blinged out, martini-sipping, yacht-riding
diva. Her talent for lovelorn, deadpan disco is always charming and this
collaboration has the songstress at the forefront. We’d love to see Whang
channel this Hiphop meets Goldie Hawn vibe for a solo full-length album!
Song that Starts the Long Conversation About Hiphop's Influence in Everything
Polymath producer and visual artist Fatima Al Qadiri, Asma Marouf and Daniel Pineda of Nguzunguzu, and J-Cush are a new supergroup called Future Brown. Chi-town artist Tink offers up some Foxy Brown-esque flirtatiousness, and this is a solid tune to start subtly grooving to.
Song to Get Everyone Dancing
Souleyman, “Warni Warni” (Wenu Wenu,
Ribbon Music, 2013)
Omar Souleyman’s album Wenu Wenu reverberates the star’s signature dabke Northern Syrian wedding performer magic that he’s perfected over the last 20 years. While this record is technically his first to be completed in a studio, he remains with his longtime collaborator Rizan Sa’id, staying true to their electronic folk sound.
Song Everyone’s Dancing to Three Spiked Ciders Later
/ Sonic Titan, “One” (Uzu, Suicide
Squeeze, U.S. 2013)
“Noh-wave” art-rockers alaskaB and Ruby Kato Attwood are the duo at
the core of this “Asian, Indigenous and Diasporic Art Collective.” “One” opens
with an Iroquois chant and unfurls a riotous dance displaying an eclectic array
of bodies. Each frame of the video showcases their aesthetic, which reinvents
the mythology, black and white television and opera.
Song Where You Edge Closer to Your Crush
8. Cassie, “Indo” (Saint Heron, Saint
Saint Heron, the debut R&B compilation
from Solange Knowles’ label Saint Records, features a lot of exciting young and
shiny artists. Leading the pack is Cassie, who’s kept fans waiting for seven
years for a sophomore record. “Indo,” a breathy synth-y track penned and
produced by Solange, highlights Cassie’s effortless minimalist cool.
Song Where You Get Under the Mistletoe, Stat
Paul, “Jasmine” (XL Records, TBD)
Sixteen tracks attributed to the elusive
British producer Jai Paul were leaked on Bandcamp, one Saturday eve this past?
April. By Monday, they vanished. His official statement claims that the tracks
were “a collection of
various unfinished recordings from Jai's past.” We devotedly await the actual
release. Until then, enjoy one of Jai Paul’s legit singles, “Jasmine,” which
exudes Jai Paul’s understated voice is sexy and remains enigmatic as ever.
Song Where You Lovingly Let People Know: Party’s Over
10. Anoushka Shankhar and Norah Jones,
“Traces of You”
Alternating kaleidescopic images of
startlingly similar half-siblings Anoushka Shankhar and Norah Jones, blended
with Indian cityscapes, makes for quite a pretty video. Between Shankhar’s classical
sitar and Jones’ sweet folksy meditations, “Traces of You” is a loving
commemoration to their father, the late Ravi Shankhar.