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OGIKUBO STATION + BORTS

Mike Park has been behind many, many (many) important records within the realm of punk and ska. Through his label Asian Man Records, he’s been responsible for over 300 releases and in no uncertain terms has left an indelible mark on the scene by giving a voice to dozens of deserving artists. So when he occasionally takes off his label owner hat to pick up an instrument, he’s got an entire community eager to support him – like the George Bailey of punk rock. To the delight of many loyal followers, Park announced a new project this year with Mixtapes’ Maura Weaver called Ogikubo Station.

While Park has historically been a proud torchbearer for ska with his work in The Chinkees, Skankin’ Pickle, and The Bruce Lee Band, he and Weaver take a different approach with Ogikubo Station and their debut album We Can Pretend Like. The two combine forces to make an indie punk record that is at times fun and at times tender. On some tracks, the album employs a full-band sound and on others, it quickly slides to gentle acoustic duets. Park and Weaver trade off on vocal duties throughout the songs, with neither of them really fully coming into the forefront, but both always feeling present.

The strongest example of Ogikubo Station’s spiraling duet approach comes at the very end, on the album’s closer “Let the World Know.” Sounding like a Jets to Brazil-era Blake Schwarzenbach, Park is backed up by Weaver as they ask, “When will the papers confirm happy things instead of the constant of war and bad dreams?” The two plea for a world of “love and compassion without so much greed,” an ethos that Asian Man Records was pretty much built on.