Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

No-No Boy: 1975 [Smithsonian/Folkways, 2021]
Assembling a dozen self-written songs with Asian themes for "a Smithsonian series representing 'Asian American' music," Nashville-raised Vietnamese-American Brown University American Studies Ph.D hopeful Julian Saporiti sings them in the style that comes naturally: bland white-guy singer-songwriter folk-rock. He gets away with it for three reasons: his melodies get your attention, his voice projects a tenderness that's neither wimpy nor faux-folksy, and, most of all, the things he sings about are altogether unprecedented. Listen and hear tell of a young Rolling Stones cover band airlifted from Saigon into the jungle to divert American GIs, an all-Japanese-American swing band that played out from their Wyoming internment camp, an expat who named his Chrysler after Ho Chi Minh, a Chinatown Ramones fan, and, oh yes, Central American migrants "wasting in line" for 40 hours. Wonder what his love songs are like. Bet we find out. A-