Island Mele: Pepper still goes ‘Local Style,’ Uncle Tadashi shares stories, Tin Idols recall Partridge Family
Reviews of the latest music releases with ties to the islands by Star-Advertiser critic John Berger.
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It’s been more than a decade since Pepper — Bret Bollinger (vocals/bass), Kaleo Wassman (vocals/guitar) and Yesod Williams (drums) — left the Big Island for San Diego, but the “mahalo nui loa” in the liner notes of their recently released album shows that they’re still Hawaii residents at heart. Their music makes them a group Hawaii can be proud to claim.
The trio’s shared interest in reggae, ska-punk and Jawaiian music is the throughline. Bollinger’s bass lines are guaranteed to get heads bobbing and feet moving; he and Williams are a solid rhythm section throughout.
Several songs stand out amid all the musical magic.
“We the People” is a nondenominational call for social action (“You, the System, don’t care at all!”).
“Goddaughter” is an intergenerational love song.
Others describe the joys of relaxing someplace close to the shore or celebrating the start of a new day.
Uncle Tadashi & Da Boyz (Self-published)
Uncle Tadashi & The Boyz is lyricist/arranger Michael Ige and some friends who sing or play an instrument — none of them goes by the name Tadashi.
Ige writes in a stream-of-consciousness format that ignores traditional notions of rhyme, rhythm and meter, but his lyrics describe the experiences of Baby Boomer Hawaii sansei in authentic style.
His shopping list accounts of local foods and other childhood activities, and his descriptions of the uncertainties that come with male/female relationships, ring true throughout.
“COME ON GET HEAVY!”
Tin Idols (Tin Idol Productions)
Tin Idol Productions debuted in 2013 with an imaginative metal rock album that transformed “Jesus Christ Superstar” into “Jesus Christ Supernova.” The majority of Tin Idol projects since then have been original music, although the label paid tribute to the Osmonds with “Metal Mormons” — metal rock remakes of Osmonds hits — in 2016.
“Come On Get Heavy!” reworks the early 1970s pop hits of the Partridge Family, namesakes of the ABC sitcom that starred David Cassidy and Shirley Jones.
It is usually interesting to hear music of one style reworked into another, and that’s true here. However, this would be a better retrospective if it included the names of people who wrote these songs, and a few lines explaining why Tin Idol chose to do it. Did one of the guys have a boyhood crush on Jones? Did guest vocalist Steffanie Borges have a crush on Cassidy? Or is this like the Circle Jerks’ 1983 single, “Golden Shower of Hits” — a demonstration of how radically they can remake other artists’ hits?