Island Mele

By John Berger

Friday, April 16, 1999


Originals brighten
debut album


Bullet East to West
Bullet Artist: Countryside Band
Bullet Label: East to West Productions

THE ideas run out before the album ends but "East to West" is a promising debut by a Waianae coast family.

Patriarch Kai McKeague and daughters Cassidy and Leslie are the main voices. Kai and Leslie play guitar and percussion. Son Kawelo adds bass, backing vocals and various synthetic effects. (Studio players Roy Hamada, Elton McKeague and Roy Naki also add to the disc.)

Kai, Kawelo and Leslie share credit for the originals that make this album notable. Leslie's "Pu'ukalena" and "Na Mele E" are fine traditionalist songs about the beauty of the Waianae area. Kai's "Plantation Steamtrain" and "Papaya Mama" are contemporary cosmopolitan Hawaiian.

"New Tide Rising" adds a reggae-beat number inspired by the group's growing pains. Other songs drift toward weaker neo-Jawaiian and local pop material.

Four remakes amount to basic filler. "Young Love" is nicely sung but adds nothing to the Judds' 1989 original.

Featuring a woman on "16 Candles" is interesting, but done in an odd context. "Blame it on the Bossa Nova" and "Pass the Dutchie" are throwaways; the group is better than the material.



Bullet Pound 4 Pound
Bullet Artist: Pound 4 Pound
Bullet Label: Bid "D" Productions

MOLOKAI'S Pound 4 Pound debuts as one of the many earnest young local bands now balancing the traditions of Hawaii and Jamaica. Most of the songs pull toward Jamaican influences. One or two songs are traditional Hawaiian. These groups usually include a country remake; Pound 4 Pound recycles Brooks & Dunn's 1992 hit, "Neon Moon."

Credit Pound 4 Pound, though, with song-writing ambition. "Honi Honi," a catchy crosscultural song about sex, is the most polished of Allin Dudoit's three originals. It deserves play on Hawaii's island music radio stations.

Shane Dudoit's "Aloha Ka'imi," a requiem for Kai'mi Kamuad, is notable as an honest expression of grief over a friend's death.

"Pelekane" and "Manu O'o" are memorable nods to the group's cultural heritage. A remake of Titus Kinimaka's "Nani O Kaua'i" also shows their way with harmonies.

Studio professionals Nathan Aweau, Wendell Ching, Marvick Esquibil, Raymond Hiro, Anela Kahiamoe and Henry Makua join in as "guest musicians."

Keep an eye on this band. It's too late for this year's Hoku Award ceremony, but they may be up for a reggae prize in 2000.

See Record Reviews for some of John Berger's past reviews.
See Aloha Worldwide for locals living away.

John Berger, who has covered the local
entertainment scene since 1972, writes reviews of recordings
produced by Hawaii artists. See the Star-Bulletin's Home Zone
section on Fridays for the latest reviews.

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