For Friday, December 3, 2010
POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Dec 3, 2010
Brothers Cazimero (Mountain Apple Co.)
Archival photos, vintage film clips and the natural wit and wisdom of Robert and Roland Cazimero are the best parts of this beautifully assembled musical biography. The spectacular opening sequence sets the mood with aerial footage capturing the natural splendor of the islands en route to an encounter with the duo singing "Home in the Islands" on a cliff overlooking the sea.
The earliest photos come from deep in the family photo albums; they include childhood photos of the brothers, their parents, and Roland's twin sister, Kanoe, at home, playing music and as students at Kamehameha. History is also well-served in sections covering their days with Peter Moon in Sunday Manoa, their rebirth as the Brothers Cazimero, the May Day concerts, their years as Waikiki headliners at the Monarch Room, and their parallel careers as solo artists — Robert as a kumu hula and recording artist, Roland as a Hoku Award-winning recording artist.
The Brothers speak frankly about their experiences and some lessons learned. Robert discusses his commitment to hula and how he became a nicer person as he became more comfortable with himself. Roland recalls how the night he gave some prostitutes he knew a ride in his truck inspired a song — "Girls Girls Girls" — that has yet to be included on a Brothers Cazimero album. He also rips through a Cazimero-style arrangement of "Amazing Grace" that certainly should be.
Numerous talking heads are also part of the documentary. Kanoe Cazimero, Rodney Cazimero, Wayne Chang, Jon de Mello, Nina Keali'iwahamana, Don McDiarmid Jr., and Skylark Rosetti add valuable insights. Some of the other "heads" do not.
Peter Moon, founder and leader of the Sunday Manoa, is acknowledged as "brilliant" and "entrepreneurial." Moon enlisted Roland and then Robert into what became the biggest and most memorable version of the group. "Guava Jam," the first Sunday Manoa album recorded by Moon and the Cazimeros, is generally regarded as the catalyst of the Hawaiian Renaissance of the '70s. The Brothers say they had no warning that Moon was planning to dissolve the group and retire, and were blindsided when he announced it (Moon opened a record distribution company and did not perform publicly for several years. In 1979 he came out of retirement as the leader of the Peter Moon Band.) It's a shame that Moon's current ill health, which has kept him out of the public eye in recent years, precluded his being interviewed for this landmark project.
Frank De Lima (Pocholinga Productions)
Few island recording artists have benefited more from the widespread popularity of music downloads than "Pocho Prince" Frank De Lima. De Lima and his writing partner, Hoku Award-winning composer Patrick Downes, have been addressing political issues and current events since the late 1980s — "Don't Block the Sidewalk" and "Bishop Estate Trustee" being two early examples. However, until recently the songs became available for sale only when De Lima's record label released his next album, sometimes long after the issue had faded from public concern. All that's changed now as "TSA," De Lima's latest straight-from-the-headlines download-only release, attests.
Ross Bagdasarian Sr., better known since the '50s as David Seville, is the musical donor for this political parody as De Lima uses "Witch Doctor," Seville's 1958 million-seller, as the vehicle for a lighthearted account of a "pat-down" at an airport check point. It's classic De Lima from start to finish.
"TSA" is available for free at www.frankdelima.com but Hawaii residents and fans elsewhere will certainly make an optional donation to his Student Enrichment Program in return.
The Angry Locals (self-published)
The idea of angry locals wishing anyone aloha hinges on how one chooses to use the word, but that's just one of the interesting ideas to be found on this project by Osna, Mic3, Krystilez and Big Mox. Given their individual credentials it's no surprise that they're adept at coining memorable hooks and phrases constructed around island culture — "raising money like Zippy's chili," for example. The quartet and various guests also mesh smoothly in spinning tales of life in contemporary Hawaii — sexual encounters, battles with less-talented rappers, and other facets of local street culture. Unlike the local artists who affect faux-Jamaican accents or pose as denizens of mainland ghettos, they keep things honest and utilize vocabulary from several languages other than English along the way.
One of the most impressive cuts is "All Piss Off Local Skit." Krystilez takes the lead in denouncing local radio stations that claim to be urban but don't support local hip-hop, local event promoters who rip off the artists, and an educational system that grinds out "miseducated locals" who lack the life skills necessary to climb the economic ladder.
Osna (also known as Osnizzle), Mic3 and Big Mox take the lead in other skit tracks. Mox stars in "Upset Sole," Mic3 plays the dialect comedy card in "Perturbed Pinoy Pirate," and Osna spews obscenities in a track whose title can't be printed here.
There are clever ideas in play elsewhere. Kluv joins the quartet for "Collapse Slow," a defiant celebration of agile cars and high-powered auto sound systems. "Kiss my amps" is the message to the "haters" who complain about the volume.
There are also times when spewing obscenities serves no good purpose.
"School of Rock" includes an inspirational message from Krystilez about the importance of math in real-life situations --such as calculating how much you should have been paid for a show that made $15,000 for the promoter.
—John Berger / email@example.com