Island Mele

By John Berger,
Special to the Star-Bulletin

Friday, October 10, 1997

breaks through

Breaking the Curse: Tweaked (Crash the Luau Records)

TWEAKED employs the buzz saw melodies and frenetic rhythms defined to perfection by Bad Religion in the early 1980s. That's not a criticism. A small army of bands nationwide have built careers on that foundation and Tweaked proves itself mainland caliber in musicianship and lyric content.

Moreover, it's a Hawaii band creating original music and not recycling other artists' hits. Band members Dave Byerly and Mark and Dennis Peralta write with articulate cynicism and wit of victories and defeats in life and love.

Defeats -- such as described in "About Me" -- dominate. Other songs relate the frustration of loving a woman who doesn't return the feeling, being too shy to talk to a woman you admire, or being used by women for one reason or another. Rejection, alienation, desire, the lonely search for someone who cares, it's all here.

Na Kumu Hula: Songs From the Source Vol. 1: Various artists (State Council on Hawaiian Heritage)

EIGHT kumu hula participated in this Krash Kealoha project. Most of the chants and mele they selected date from well before the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy and tell of the love affairs and other accomplishments of the alii. Others reflect the perpetuation of those traditions in modern times. Lyrics, English translations and background information add to the value of this anthology.

The most notable example of going to the source is Manu Boyd performing a song, "Aia I Nu'uanu Ko Lei Nani," written by his great-great-grandmother. "He Ua Mai Kalani," a new Hawaiian language composition by Randol K. Ngum, uses several traditional devices in comparing a sudden change in a relationship to cloud burst; a single English phrase adds dramatic impact.

One selection here doesn't fit. "E Ku'uipo" is performed predominately in English to a local pop arrangement. It belongs on another album.

Makalapua 'Oe: Frank Kawai Hewett (Prism)

ALAN Yamamoto was on a roll as Jay Larrin's multi-Hoku-winning record producer when he teamed with Haunani Apoliona to produce this disc, Hewett's vinyl debut in 1981.

"Makalapua 'Oe," now reissued on CD, won Hewett his first Hoku as a recording artist. Apoliona, Aaron Mahi and Haunani Bernardino joined him in recording it.

Hewett received a Hoku in 1981 as the composer of "Ka Wai Lehua 'A'ala Ka Honua," a hit for the Brothers Cazimero the previous year. His interpretation is found in this beautiful collection of original Hawaiian songs; English translations convey the basic meaning of Hewett's lyrics.

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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