"On budget and on schedule." No, we're not talking about the Honolulu rail project but about Kuana Torres Kahele and his almost unprecedented commitment to record and release six full-length albums — each one a collection of new songs about a different Hawaiian island — over a three-year period starting in 2014.
"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)
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
"‘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.
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.
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."
SMEI Honors Dennis Francis
Sales and Marketing Executives International (SMEI) recently honored Honolulu Star-Advertiser president and publisher Dennis Francis as its 2014 Salesperson of the Year in Sheraton Waikiki’s Hawaii Ballroom. Read More »