Asian Man Records has been a staple in the DIY punk community ever since Mike Park founded the label in 1996 (after his previous label Dill Records shuttered). In addition to releasing classic albums by Slapstick, Alkaline Trio, The Lawrence Arms, Big D and the Kids Table, Bomb the Music Industry!, AJJ, Joyce Manor, Lemuria, MU330, Link 80, and more, as well as classic label comps like Misfits of Ska and Plea For Peace / Take Action, Asian Man continues to be a home for great new bands across punk, indie rock, ska, emo, hardcore, and more. With the label turning 25 this year, we asked Mike about some of his favorite releases that the label has put out, and he made us a list of 10 of his favorite AMR releases of the past five years.
"These lists are always tough to make," Mike said. "Especially when you consider I've released over 370 records and counting over the past 25 years. I thought I would change it up and do a top 10 list of some of my favorite releases of the past five years. In no particular order..... LET'S GO!!"
Mike also tweeted, "Today AMR turns 25. Wanted it to feel like a community/wanted folks to know a POC was involved in diy/wanted AAPI kids to know they weren't alone in punk/wanted to push ideas of peace/wanted to have an outlet for my music. Thank you for 25 yrs. I am blessed."
Mike Park's band Bruce Lee Band also have their new EP Division In The Heartland arriving next week (5/28), and they've just released a goofy, Chris Graue-directed green-screen music video for its song "BLT" (Bruce Lee Theme), which features band member Jeff Rosenstock on lead vocals, singing in Korean. Watch that video, and read on for Mike's list...
1. Sheena, Anika, and Augusta - "Simple Pleasures" 7"
The trio of friends: Sheena, Anika, and Augusta, who all front their own respective bands, got together for a nature getaway to create music. The result is one of the most hauntingly beautiful releases from AM. Lush harmonies, heart-piercing lyrics, dreamy eyes-shut-holding-on-to-your-friend's-hand type of music
2. Mike Watt + The Secondmen / Bernays Propaganda - "Split" 7"
Hard to fathom some of the releases I've been lucky enough to release. Add to the list is legendary bassman and punk icon Mr. Mike Watt. Being a fan of the Minutemen and Firehose since my high-school days, I can only say that dreams definitely can come true.
3. Diners "Three" - 12"
When I first heard Diners I was sitting at my desk when my co-worker Bob from the band Shinobu said, "You should check this band out called Diners." After the first 30 seconds, I knew I wanted to release this record. "15 ON A SKATEBOARD" is my jam. When I was 15, that's all I cared about. Just skating through the neighborhood.
4. Hey-Smith - "Life In The Sun" 12"
This beast of a band from Osaka, Japan, plays blistering SKA PUNK. Seriously, the moment that first track hits the turntable you can feel the power just shredding in your face. I am a sucker for Japanese punk rock. I love the sound of the bands singing in English. Just hearing the American influence in bands from Japan is such a cool thing. I love that punk rock is universal and no matter where you are in the world there's someone who loves the same bands as you.
5. Hard Girls - "Floating Now" 12"
Just listen to the song "HERD," and if this is not one of the best songs, regardless of genre, then I have failed as someone who loves music. Every time I hear the song I get chills. I'm a sucker for three-piece bands who can create such a huge sound. Hard Girls is one of those bands.
6. Small Crush - "S/T" 12"
What a dreamy band. If you love bedroom pop, indie rock, lush melodies, then this is the band for you. When this came out in 2019, three of the members were still in high school, with ringleader Logan Hammon playing the OG at the age of 19. I love discovering new bands. I had an intern named Joey Miller who played this one day while we were in the garage packing records. I immediately asked who they were and then continued listening. By the end of the day I messaged the band about putting out a record.
7. Dowsing - "Okay" 12"
Chicago Emo. I don't even know what that is? I'm always confused about the term EMO. Is it the lyrics, the music, the tempo, the dynamics? I always thought it was the dynamics. Bands like Cap'n Jazz or Rites of Spring or Fugazi. Anywho... It doesn't really matter 'cause I just love the songs on this record. It just sounds like good ol' fashioned rock music that will have you singing along.
8. Grumpster - "Underwhelmed" 12"
My dearest Grumpster. I love this band so much. Because I'm from the Bay Area and grew up with 924 GILMAN and Lookout Records, that scene will always have a warm spot in my heart. Early Green Day, Operation Ivy, Mr. T Experience. The sound of Grumpster reminds me of the bands of yesteryear playing good ol' punk rock, but with a Lisa Marr type on vocals with the spirit of Kathleen Hanna or Joan Jett. This album is just so good and warm and fuzzy and all the ingredients that make a great punk record.
9. Moore Family Band - "Missy" 12"
The uniqueness of this record is why it makes the list. This trio of siblings from San Jose all moved back to their parents' home at the beginning of the pandemic. Stuck at home, they just started demoing songs together. The result is so good. Think Weezer meets Alkaline Trio meets The Muffs. I don't think I've ever released a record from a band who's never played a show before, but this was just too good to pass up.
10. Ogikubo Station - "We Can Pretend Like" 12"
Is it weird to include a band that you are in on a Top 10 list? Well, screw it. I'm adding it. I've played in a ton of bands and I've written thousands of songs for myself and for other artists. A lot of the songs I just can't listen to without cringing, but this release is something I'm truly proud of.