Indie punk legend Mike Park’s new album, North Hangook Falling, replaces his usual riffs with gentle strumming and acoustic guitar. But the essential punk ethos remains front and center: Falling is a meditation on politics, race and the Korean War, a topic that Park’s own family refused to discuss with him while he was growing up. Standout tracks include “Born to Kill,” Park’s reflection on a world filled with chaos, which cleverly juxtaposes upbeat guitar chords with lyrics reflecting a world ripe with random acts of violence. On “Asian Prodigy,” he challenges Asian American stereotypes, while “Is it Safe for Me to Go Outside” calls for a united Korea. Park wisely resists the urge to make Falling a collection of politically correct speech accompanied by music. Instead, he has successfully created an album about his world today and about a world he someday hopes to see.
North Hangook Falling (Asian Man Records)