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Thursday, December 18, 2014         

Island Mele Premium

"Motherland" Keale (Rhythm & Roots) • "Reunion" Amy & Willie K (Island Soul Entertainment) • "Ku‘u ‘Aina Aloha" Kawika Kahiapo (Pono) • "Island View" Ozzie Kotani (Ozzie Kotani)

"Kawaiokalena" Keali‘i Reichel (Punahele Productions) • "Our Treasured Memories" Society of Seven (Society of Seven) • "The Real Thing" I.A. featuring Mike Izon (no label) • "Lost in Paradise" Greenwood (Forest in Leaf) • "An Ukulele Christmas 2" Various artists (Neos Productions)

"Kahelelani Niihau (Music for the Hawaiian Islands Vol. 2)" • "Tainted Love" • "Salsa in Paradise" • "Good Thing"

Download-only releases are the way many people buy music these days but the traditional hard-copy CD still gives an artist's work an additional level of credibility.

"Slow jams" was the term used in the 1990s to describe songs with slow rhythms, introspective lyrics and heavy, solid bass lines. Vocalist Maryanne Ito and her producers revive that genre with her debut album and toss in an up-tempo dance club cut as well.

Ken Emerson reintroduced Hawaii to the sound of the acoustic steel guitar in the late 1970s when he and brother Phil Emerson recorded a self-titled album in 1979 and did a second milestone al- bum, “South Sea Island Magic,” with Moe Keale in 1980.

“Hanau Hou” • “Karma” • “Na Pua Mohala” • “Po‘ohala” • “Lava in Their Soul”

Hawaiian and hapa-haole standards presented with crisp acoustic arrangements and sung often as not in beautiful Hawaiian falsetto make this first album by Kapono Na'ili'ili a delightful celebration of modern island music.

With the 2014 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards now history, it isn't playing favorites or giving anyone an unfair advantage to review an album that was released last year but not provided for review until after the preliminary ballot went out.

Hutch Hutchins — known in years past as Hutchi Boy-E, and now as HutchiBoye — has been involved with the island music scene since the 1970s.

Vocalist Shivani Kumar and several talented musicians share the credit for this polished celebration of mainstream cocktail-lounge jazz.

Kumu hula Kunewa Mook had planned for years to re­cord an album of hula songs with his sister, kumu hula Paleka Leina­‘ala Mattos.

Lanai resident Larry Endrina shares his love of his family and home island with this collection of 14 Hawaiian and hapa-haole songs.

With the release of "Hawai‘i Keawe (Music For the Hawaiian Islands Vol. 1)," Kuana Torres Kahele embarks on a musical project that is almost unprecedented in Hawaiian music.

The latest musical stop in Daniel Ho's continuing creative odyssey is this partnership with a children's choral group from Taiwan.

Local music veteran Neal Yamamura opens his third solo album with a straightforward rendition of "Waikiki," a hapa-haole classic that never loses its appeal.

Singer-songwriter Kei­ki­lani Lindsey upholds tradition while sharing new ideas with "Mele‘uhane." An opening chant, performed by Puni Patrick and accompanied by "new age-y" electronic music, defines one musical boundary.

A powerful mele kue (song of resistance) and a whimsical tribute to a place named Wai­­lua are two of the best numbers on this musical calling card from the Crossover Project.

The continuing evolution of Hawaiian and hapa-haole music is evident in "Swaying Sea," the economically packaged debut album by 2009 Ka Himeni ‘Ana contest winners Kaiholu.

These days, when almost everyone has a mobile device that can be used to re­cord musical performances and then post them on YouTube, "live" recordings of almost everything are commonplace. Jump back to the '60s and it was a different story.

The sharing of music from one generation to the next is seen in this new album by Cyril Pahinui. Pahinui's father, slack-key master Gabby Pahinui, was an inspiration and mentor to many young musicians. • Also: "Water Songs" by Malani Bilyeu

It's been 32 years since Joan Jett told the world that she loved "rock 'n' roll" ("… put another dime in the jukebox, baby!"). From the first seconds of their new self-titled album, the members of Kings of Spade — Kasi Nunes (vocals), Jesse Savio (guitar), Matt Kato (drums) and Tim Corker (bass) — show that they love rock 'n' roll with the same commitment and intensity.

Singer-songwriter Erika Elona put several years of work into her newly released debut album — a successful Kickstarter campaign, a track on a compilation album ("Alternative HI") and many hours recording the 12 songs she's introducing here.

From his early days as a member of Pure Heart through his time with Pure Heart's successor group, Colon, and ever since then as a solo artist, Jake Shi­ma­bu­kuro has been known as a visual performer.

The continuing development of Alx Kawakami as a singer-songwriter is nicely documented in the new album by ManoaDNA. • Also: "Honoli'i" by Sunway

"D-Tour" by John Keawe featuring Charles Recaido and "Vivo" by VIVO

From the first bars of “Makaha” through the final notes of “E Ku‘u Sweet Lei Poina ‘Ole,” this year-end album by Maui’s Hulu Lindsey is a delightful celebration of modern Hawaiian music.

This long-awaited album from James Daniel Pahinui — known almost universally as Bla — is an impressive reminder of his contributions to the Hawaii music industry across six decades.

Throughout his career, currently two decades and counting, Herb Ohta Jr. has emerged from the shadow of his father, internationally acclaimed ukulele virtuoso Herb "Ohta-san" Ohta, with a similar commitment to precision and technique. • Also: "Hanu 'A'ala" by Kamaka Kukona

Henry Kapono Ka'aihue's 1989 Christmas album, "Merry Christmas to You," is one of the best full-length local Christmas albums of the 20th century for a list of reasons that would take too much time and space to get into here.

"Island Boy" by Mike Young • "Soul Sound Slack" by Stephen Inglis

"D-Tour" by John Keawe featuring Charles Recaido and "Vivo" by VIVO

The multitalented Makana has always defied easy categorization.

Although Greg Sardinha is one of the few Hawaii musicians of the “baby boom” generation who has helped perpetuate the Hawaiian tradition of steel guitar, this is by no means a traditional Hawaiian steel guitar album.

The term "supergroup" came into use in the late '60s in reference to performers like Blind Faith and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, whose members had already achieved stardom as soloists or as members of another group.

"Island Boy" by Mike Young • "Soul Sound Slack" by Stephen Inglis

Big Island falsetto singer Mark Yama­naka hit big in 2010 with his first solo album, "Lei Pua Keni­keni." The album contained an assortment of Hawaiian standards and newly written Hawaiian songs, almost all sung in a beautiful, clear falsetto, and it made him the big winner at the 2011 Na Hoku Hano­hano Awards.

"Live" albums can be throwaways done for contractual reasons, or they can be recorded and produced to capture the excitement an artist generates outside the sterile environment of a recording studio.

After recording with ukulele virtuoso Tory Fernandez and Nathan Nahinu as members of the group Palolo and as a sideman on countless other projects, Chino Montero makes his long-awaited debut as a solo recording artist with an album that displays his formidable talents as a musician and vocalist. • Also: "Paradise" by Roman.

Expatriate islander Faith Ako, currently a resident of the Bay Area, excels at doing Hawaiian standards in traditional nahe­nahe (soft, melodious) style. She does so here with beautiful arrangements of "Pauoa Liko Ka Lehua," "Pua­mana" and "Poli­ahu" and introduces three new songs as well.

The list of island families in which musical talent has passed from one generation to the next continues to grow. There are the Beamers and the Fardens and the Keawe-Aikos, Ohta-san and Herb Ohta Jr., and Dennis and David Kamakahi.

"A Hui Hou (Until We Meet Again)" by Hula Honeys

"From Here to Now to You" by Jack Johnson • "Anthology" by Peter Apo

Pali Ka‘aihue has been known until now as a Na Hoku Hanohano Award-winning record producer, songwriter and recording artist with his namesake band, Pali, and for his service as president of the Hawai‘i Academy of Recording Arts. • Also: "Dangerous Crossing" by Stuart Hollinger

You'd never know from the beautiful Hawaiian and hapa haole songs that fill Sean Na‘auao's new album that he has an important place in Jawaiian history as a member of The Mana‘o Company, a pioneer act in that genre in the early '90s.

"Lauryn Hill." That's the immediate answer to the question, "Who does Yoza sound like?" The mono-monickered singer-songwriter steps forward as a recording artist with her self-titled debut album. Evoking memories of Hill isn't a bad thing.

A hit album is good reason for a group to celebrate. With "Hawaii '13," the third album by The Green, coming out Tuesday, the hardworking sextet — Ikaika Antone, JP Kennedy, Caleb Keolanui, Zion Thompson, Brad Watanabe and Jordan Espinoza — is a few short days from going 3-for-3 in terms of hit albums and celebrating big time.

Comparing artists of different generations must be done with care lest the impression be given that the younger artist is copying the older, rather than following a logical career trajectory.

The term "hapa-haole music" is typically used as a label for a particular type of 20th-century music, but in literal terms any music that is part Hawaiian and part non-Hawaiian is hapa-haole music. "Aloha Summer Time" is an excellent contribution to the genre. • Also: "You Should Know by Now" by KUmZ

The countdown that began in June with the release of a download single will conclude Tuesday with the release of the third full-length solo album by Kuana Torres Kahele.

How time can fly! It's more than 20 years since Robi Kaha­ka­lau first burst onto the local music scene with Merri Lake, Bryan Kessler and Wade "Che" Cambern as the Hawaiian Style Band.

The entire score of "Jesus Christ Superstar" arranged and performed as heavy metal. That's the concept of this imaginative and artistically successful two-CD project from producer-musician Gerard K. Gonsalves and Tin Idols Productions.

Slack key is so much a part of the local music scene that it is easy to overlook other guitar traditions here. Ian O'Sullivan follows in the footsteps of Charles Michael Brotman and Jeff Peterson in bringing some of those other traditions to the fore.

An "overnight success" is almost always many years in the making. Not to jinx it, but Justin Young's career trajectory, from the release of his debut album, "No Better Time Than Now," in 1996 to his latest effort, "Makai," is a perfect example.

Kuana Torres Kahele is following his Na Hoku Hano­hano Award-winning Christmas album, "Hilo for the Holidays," with "Kahele," a 14-song collection of original songs that will be released next month. He's started the countdown to its release with this download-only single.

This week's synopses of Korean television dramas includes: "Wonderful Mama" • "Jang Ok Jung, Living by Love" • "All About My Romance" • "Secret of the Birth"

The Green — Na Hoku Hanohano Award-winner in 2011 for its self-titled debut album — starts the countdown to the Aug. 20 release of the group's third full-length album with two download-only singles, "Take Me On" and "Something About It." • Also: "Key" by Victoria Vox

Bay Area ki hoalu (slack key) guitarist Patrick Landeza made history last month when his album "Slack Key Hau­ka‘i" won a 2013 Na Hoku Hano­hano Award. It was the first time a nonresident artist and a download-only project has won the slack key category.

"Maliu" by Ikaika Blackburn: The Hawaiian falsetto singer brings the 3-D revival to Hawaii's record industry with the illustrations for his album's liner notes booklet (3-D glasses included). • Also: "This Wave" by Stef Muzic

Tony Conjugacion's performance credits stretch from Broadway (where he performed as Tony C. Avanti in "Miss Saigon") to "TC2000," an avant-garde pairing of Hawaiian chant with mainstream electronic dance music. • Also: "Take 2" by Herb Ohta Jr. and Jon Yamasato

Hawaii's music has been enriched by the contributions of several families in which talent extends from one generation to the next. This aptly named album by Herb "Ohta-san" Ohta and his son, Herb Ohta Jr., is an excellent example.

If the top Brill Building pop songwriting teams of the late '50s and early '60s had been tracking what Dick Dale and the Beach Boys were doing in Southern California, and if the Beach Boys and Jan and Dean had spent more time in Hawaii, they all might have come together to create a group like the Dukes of Surf.

Beautiful acoustic Hawaiian music played in the old Hawaiian style and recorded to preserve and perpetuate the language and traditional music of Hawaii — that's what Nate Kana‘e's economically packaged album is all about.

Troy Fernandez holds an important place in contemporary local music for his work as a member of the Ka‘au Crater Boys with Ernie Cruz Jr. in the '90s. The duo won the Hoku Award for contemporary album of the year two years in a row.

Kupaoa — the husband-and-wife duo of Kellen Paik and Kalikolihau Hannahs Paik — goes from triumph to triumph with its third album. A majority of the songs are written by the couple or by Kellen working with other collaborators.

Mailani Makainai broke out big as one-half of the pop duo Keahiwai; the group's debut album won two Na Hoku Hanohano Awards in 2002. Mailani and producer Dave Tucciarone keep the instrumentation uncluttered.

In the 13 years since he released his first album with Riley Lee, soft-spoken slack-key guitarist Jeff Peterson has made significant contributions to Hawaiian music. • Plus: "Tiki Tonic" by Tiki Taboo

As Kristian Lei and her husband, Gavin Vinta, anticipate their first child, this CD is a timely retrospective on where she's been. The first few selections represent the trajectory of her career.

Multitalented musician-arranger-producer-studio engineer Pierre Grill is the third member of the de facto trio heard on this recently released album by Herb "Ohta-san" Ohta.

Robert Cazimero's fifth solo album is a sequel to last year's Na Hoku Hanohano Award-winner, "Hula." Like its predecessor, "Hula 2" makes excellent use of his talents as a singer and pianist.

The words "island music" on the cover of Manu Boyd's first solo album may confuse folks for whom the phrase is a euphemism for Jamaican-influenced music. No, Boyd hasn't jumped on the Jawaiian bandwagon.

Weldon Kekauoha's third solo effort, released last fall and a 2013 Grammy finalist for regional roots album, celebrates the richness of Hawaiian music with classic compositions by Helen Desha Beamer and Lena Machado and a larger collection of newly written songs by ‘Iliahi Paredes and Kainani Kahaunaele.

Daniel Ho explores a new genre of cross-cultural island music with an imaginative and impressively packaged album, "On a Gentle Island Breeze," which was nominated for a 2013 Grammy Award in the regional roots music album category.

Bobby Brooks Wilson, known in Hawaii as Bobby Brooks, broke into show business here in the '90s portraying Jackie Wilson in the original Waikiki production of "Legends in Concert."

It's been 28 years since Na Leo — then performing as Na Leo Pilimehana — debuted as the 1984 winners of the original I-94 "Brown Bags to Stardom" talent contest. A dozen-plus Na Hoku Hanohano Awards later, Na Leo's newest release is a major new title in modern Hawaiian music.

Start with the basic modern Hawaiian string instruments — guitar, ukulele and bass — add steel guitar, a drum set and a horn section, and the result is Kahulanui.

It would be understandable if some people assume this is a locally recorded solo project by the lead singer of the Beach Boys.

Singer-songwriter Johnson Enos' new album "Lehua" builds on the momentum created by his children's musical, "Honu by the Sea," last summer. • Also: "Almost Home" by Reggie Padilla

Soft-spoken recording artists are easily overlooked in an industry often driven by hyperbole and hype. Nathan Aweau's new "‘Io" album is a timely reminder of his unusually diverse repertoire as a singer, musician and songwriter. • Also: "Sweet Embrace" by ManoaDNA

An exclamation point would be an appropriate addition to the title of this long-awaited album by mono-monickered vocalist Sunway. It's been more than 20 years since she made her debut.

"Don Tiki's Hot Lava Holiday Songs" • "A Christmas Wish"

Rolling Stone magazine has made itself the subject of ridicule in recent years with its lists of the "Greatest (fill in the blank) of All Time" — as if "all time" began only around 1940 and doesn't have billions of years yet to run.

Louis "Moon" Kauakahi writes in the liner notes of Ho‘okena's newly released 11th album that the title can be translated three ways: "past recollection," "a turning point" and "a time of change." All three translations apply.

The banjo is not often heard these days in local recordings. Its prominence here sets the Intire Project's first full-length album apart from this year's other local releases.

Neos Productions celebrates Christmas with a collection of 14 songs recorded by an assortment of artists — some of them major figures in local music, others virtual unknowns.

Kuana Torres Kahele — a multiple Na Hoku Hanohano award-winner as a member of Na Palapalai and also as a solo artist — achieves another artistic triumph with this recently released album of Christmas music.

"Book of Cliches" • "Hold On Tight"

"‘Get a Job' Soundtrack" by Barefoot Natives » Eric Gilliom and Willie K return with the soundtrack album from the duo's 2011 comedy film. The local film was released on DVD last week so fans can enjoy the work in both formats. • Also: "Ukulele Dance" by Taimane

"Legacy" by Kapala: The responsibilities of being Hawaiian — a legacy from previous generations to be shared with those who will follow — is the theme of this collection of new original Hawaiian and hapa haole songs. • "Nani Ahiahi" by Agnes Kimura

When an artist of Henry Kapono Ka‘ai­hue's stature revisits his older work, the results are always noteworthy. That's true of the 15th-anniversary "special edition" re-release of his 1997 "Home in the Islands" album.

Mike Kaawa's recently released album, "Kuapaka‘a," follows three previous solo albums — "Hwn Boy" (1999), "Hwn Groove" (2003) and "Kanikapila Live" (2007) — plus many more projects with other artists.

Jake Shimabukuro has explored many ideas with his music since stepping forward as a solo artist: electronic effects, high-speed strumming and the meticulous technique he has described as respecting the space between the notes.

"FLYGHT808" • "Summer Love"

The title of Gary Aiko's long-awaited album is fitting for several reasons. It describes his family's impact on modern Hawaiian music. It applies to Aiko personally although he is far too modest to describe himself that way. It also applies for a reason that he reveals in the liner notes.

The lyrics of Bo Napoleon's current single should have distributors of Hei­ne­ken beer knocking on his door with an endorsement deal in hand. Napoleon, a Native Hawaiian singer-songwriter now residing in California, doesn't just mention "green bottles" in this song about being "born and raised Hawaiian."

In the 17 years since the release of her debut album, "Native Child," Amy Hanaiali‘i Gilliom has proved herself one of the most versatile island singers of her generation.

Malama Ko Aloha (Keep Your Love) » With career accomplishments from the early '70s onward, Keola Beamer needs no hype regarding his importance as a slack-key guitarist, composer, vocalist, recording artist and educator. • plus "Na Hoa"

Uncle Tom's Gabbin' … The Legacy 2 • "Summer!"

Celebrity marine artist and environmental activist Wyland's second "Blue Planet" album harnesses the power of the blues to deliver an important message about protecting our ocean and freshwater resources.

"Shades of Grey" • "Redefined"


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Whither Polygamy
Those of us who espoused same-gender marriage on the grounds that government should not control whom we marry find ourselves in a bit of a pickle about polygamy. Read More »
 

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