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Island Mele
Friday, July 7, 2000

By John Berger


Fernandez’s solos
shine with honesty


Bullet Surfer From Palolo:
By Troy Fernandez (Dinosaur Mountain Productions DMCD 1962)

WHEN Troy Fernandez was one half of the Ka'au Crater Boys, his virtuosity on ukulele overshadowed his vocal skills in the same way that Ernie Cruz Jr. stood out more as a singer than a musician. Fernandez's solo album corrects that and firmly establishes him as a vocalist.

The songs are straight musical snapshots. Two are autobiographies. Others salute his closest surfing buddies, celebrate his favorite surfing spots (Kaiser Bowls, Ala Moana Bowls, Threes, Haleiwa and Velzyland) and give props to the Hui O He'e Nalu.

Fernandez shares tips on how to surf those spots, advises all surfers to respect the Hui when visiting their beaches, and mentions with disarming frankness that the final song on the album, "Rose," was written in 1989 while he was in prison.

Fernandez writes in several styles. "Kaiser Bowl" is reminiscent of "Rock Around the Clock" without being an interpolation of it. "Rose" and "Leialohapo'inaole," the latter written for his daughter, are straight ballads.

Fernandez acknowledges recycling some ideas from his earlier work and shows equal honesty in the extensive liner notes that make this album a perfect introduction to the man and his music.

Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet Surfer From Palolo
Bullet Kaiser Bowl
Bullet Rose
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info



Bullet Island Ways:
By Wala'au Brothers Island Kind Band (Ocean Breeze OBR 2001)

JUST when it seems that every new young local pop group is copying every other young local pop group, along comes the Wala'au Brothers!

The septet includes three women. It also includes veteran vocalist Al Oliva, who first surfaced on Matt Young's 1989 "Starmaker" anthology. Rodney Butchie Canencia of the original Fabulous Krush guests on lead guitar.

The group blends smooth contemporary urban-style harmonies, reggae rhythms, rock, rap and pop with an imagination that sets them apart from the herd of Jawaiian and local-style reggae groups vying for attention here.

Give them credit, too, for not sounding like they're trying to sound Jamaican or African American.

All but one of the songs is an original written or co-written by producer/musician Steven Ventric. The exception, "Pauoa Liko Ka Lehua," is nicely done in modern pop style.

The order of the songs appears to follow the experiences of someone who grew up here, fell in love, moved to the mainland, missed the culture left behind, and saw their relationship fade as well. (The liner notes are hard to read but reveal that Ventric and the others are based in Nevada.)

Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet Honey Girl
Bullet Island Ways
Bullet Pauoa Liko Ka Lehua
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info

See Record Reviews for some 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 Today
section on Fridays for the latest reviews.

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