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Quartet sampler rocks


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POSTED: Friday, May 29, 2009

'...here nor there'

Amitystreet
(no label)

; It's been years since Honolulu was short of talented rock acts. Amitystreet joins that long list of local rockers past and present with this six-song sampler. The quartet—Jason Everett (vocals/guitar), John Gonzalez del Solar (guitar), Jhon Lynch (bass) and Eli Oguma (drums)—is somewhat reminiscent of a young U2, but not to the point where they sound like either mindless clones or a “;tribute band.”;

Everett's voice often serves as another instrument rather than as the focal point of the band's sound. This makes careful listening a must for anyone trying to decrypt the lyrics. In “;Better Man”; the message is first broken into segments for insertion in the somber, well-crafted instrumental arrangement and then restated almost in its entirety as the song builds in intensity.

“;The Setting Sun”; is a pleasant change of pace because it doesn't follow that same template. Poignant and romantic, it speaks of loneliness and the pain of separation in vivid terms.

“;Sekai no tame ni,”; although sung primarily in English, is as cryptic as the others in posing the age-old question, What are we living for?

Amitystreet doesn't presume to provide an answer. But with “;...here nor there”; as a sample of what they have to offer, it seems safe to bet that they'll be back.

www.myspace.com/amitystreet

;» ”;Benediction Road”;
;» ”;Chameleon”;
;» ”;Better Man”;


'Kohala Moon'

Rodney Cazimero
(Heloke Productions)

; Rodney Cazimero has been known for years as the benign older brother of Robert and Roland Cazimero—aka the Brothers Cazimero—and Roland's high-profile twin sister, singer/dancer Kanoe Cazimero. With his debut album, he joins his younger brothers in having recorded a full-length project (Kanoe has sung as a guest vocalist on her brothers' albums). “;Kohala Moon”; also introduces him as an earnest and ambitious songwriter.

Cazimero's most polished compositions are written in traditional hapa-haole style. “;Kohala Moon”; personalizes the ever-popular subject of moonlit romance. “;Maunaloa Blossom,”; also in English, draws together images of flowers, a hula dancer and starlight in beautiful style; rearranged for performance by a Hawaiian “;big band”; with a live string section, it would be gorgeous indeed.

Most of the other songs are written in an expository style that generally disregards conventional concepts of rhythm, rhyme and meter. “;Run Sunny Run”; is a stream-of-consciousness account of a ballgame. “;Lazy Day”; is essentially a shopping list of close friends who joined him in deciding which movie to see.

Two are opaque. One is a requiem for a couple who died under circumstances that the lyrics don't clarify. Another is a daughter's message for her deceased father.

Cazimero's years as an observer of the local record business pays off with the packaging; a 10-page booklet includes lyrics for all songs and background information to help put them in context. Knowing that Cazimero was raised in Kohala by his grandparents makes “;Kohala Moon”; more than just a song with a romantic title—it's also a song about home.

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;» ”;Kohala Moon”;
;» ”;Run Sunny Run”;
;» ”;Lazy Day”;


'G Style'

Micah G
(G Style Productions)

; The musical influences of Fiji, Ekolu, the Mana'o Company, Joe “;J.D.”; Daniels of B.E.T., and Demetrius “;Big D”; Oliveria, lead singer of the late-'90s Big Island group Ka'u, come through loud and clear as producer/recording artist Micah G (aka Micah Keolanui) juxtaposes Jawaiian rhythms with smooth R&B harmonies. All but one of the tracks are originals, and they position him as a man with a promising future as a songwriter.

He opens with the title track, a smooth and quintessentially commercial song written as a message to a man who has “;been replaced”; by a woman who got tired with his “;acting up.”; If Hawaii's “;island music”; radio stations aren't on this one already, they soon will be.

Two songs address local social issues. “;P.E.A.C.E.”; calls for an end to the conflicts between local groups fueled by regional loyalties or ancient ethnic grudges. “;Extra Curricular”; is a well-phased plea to Hawaii's living dead (drug users for whom “;a green bottle is not enough”;) to get off the pipe. Several other selections give him the chance to stretch out and do his stuff as a crooner.

Give Micah G credit as an arranger, too, for using live horns instead of synth tracks. The keys add ear-catching hooks; a brief bit of cocktail-lounge music kicks off the final song with a hint of sophistication—exactly the type of riff a financially upscale “;Uptown Girl”; might appreciate.

But for all the talent and potential here, there's a missed opportunity to introduce Micah G with a complete calling card. There are plenty of people who don't know the back-story on who he is or what inspires him as a writer. More information in the liner notes would have been a welcome addition.

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;» ”;G Style”;
;» ”;Ms. Confusions”;
;» ”;Take a Chance”;