Island Mele

By John Berger,
Special to the Star-Bulletin

Friday, September 12, 1997

Tone Deaf Teens
display their polish

1%: Tone Deaf Teens (Crash the Luau Records)

THE Tone Deaf Teens follow their 1995 calling card, "Fixed," with more than an hour's worth of polished original insights on life, love, beer, posers and alienation. These guys are ready to go national.

"Most Likely to Suck Seed" uses a local pun in expressing the shock of reaching 30 only to discover that "nobody is all you'll ever be." It's a perfect theme song for anyone struggling to survive the economic recession. The other songs are generally more ambiguous; printed lyrics are provided to aid decryption attempts.

Up Close and Personal: Forte (Cinnamon Red) music video

LOCAL music videos are as rare as local double-disc albums. Consider: Producing even a single-song music video with good production values costs way more than was apparently spent on Forte's "Up Close and Personal," a 35-minute hodgepodge of live action segments and stills culled from family photo albums.

One of the performance segments looks like it was done in a single take with a single camera; footage from the most professionally shot session appears several times. Forte and its fans deserve better. The girls are also shown shopping, applying makeup, fidgeting through basic Q&A sessions, taking a singing lesson, and gamely attempting an on-camera conversation among themselves.

The musical content is a sampler of their debut album. The emphasis is on generic remakes but Forte wisely omitted its threadbare copy of Whoopi Goldberg's remake of "I Will Follow Him." Glenn Medeiros' "Follow the Sun" is a fresh signature tune for them.

Visual appeal remains their forte. Neither the album cover nor the video sleeve artwork does them justice. The better bits of footage do. Gissele "Gee" Tejada registers as the most outgoing and video friendly; she has international appeal. Kristina "Kay" Babaran is the petite one with the big memorable voice (Joanne Banda and "Sweets" Baldueza are the others). Forte still seeks imaginative artistic direction, but as eye candy for their teenage male fans this video album should hit the spot.

Hawaii's Golden Treasures: Various (TBC&M Records)

STEEL guitarist Alan Akaka is the locus of this hapa-haole anthology. Gary Aiko, Iwalani Kahalewai, Benny Kalama, Sonny Kamahele, Nina Keali'iwahamana, Ed Kenney and George Paoa appear as featured artists on classics such as "Waikiki," "Blue Hawaii" and "Aloha 'Oe."

English translations of producer Tetsu Shimazu's liner notes may not be entirely accurate but these beautiful recordings will delight hapa-haole fans worldwide.

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.

See Record Reviews for some of John Berger's past reviews.

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