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Island Mele
Friday, October 13, 2000

By John Berger

Jon, Justin
complement each other

Bullet Y2J:
By Jon & Justin (Island Groove Productions IGPD2020)

CHANGING alliances are signaled by the debut of this duo. Justin Young first surfaced as an aspiring young talent on the Neos Productions label and recorded four albums for Neos as a solo artist while gaining studio experience working with other Neos artists. This album finds Young on another label.

Jon Yamasato, formerly of Pure Heart, left his partners in an extremely awkward position last November when he announced he was quitting music to concentrate on school. He popped up recently on KCCN/FM100's "Pride Of The Islands 3" and now has a full album to his credit.

J&J might seem an odd pairing since Pure Heart hit with acoustic pop-chart remakes while Young is a prolific composer of synthesizer-based, testosterone-free local pop. The fact is they mesh well. The ever creative Young contributed five originals; Yamasato added one.

"Y2J" exemplifies the term "album-by-committee" in being the work of five producers, eight engineers and 20 "guest musicians" in six recording studios. That isn't necessarily bad since bringing in specialists like Brett Fovargue and Michael Grande creates a strong instrumental foundation for J&J's experiments with reggae-beat music.

Young reaffirms his local pop appeal but is equally strong as a acoustic balladeer. It's hard to imagine Young or Yamasato knocking back a cup of kava but Young's "Represent Right" has a reggae-beat groove that should get major FM100 play.

An assortment of oldies is smoothly recycled. Two Dennis Kamakahi songs add a welcome touch of Hawaii. Comprehensive liner notes and attractive art make this a powerful debut.

Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet It's Enough
Bullet Represent Right
Bullet She Loved Me
Bullet Looking For Me
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info

Bullet Tou'one Siliva:
By Sake Faleta (FobStyle Productions FPCD003)

EVEN if the term "island music" is used as a euphemism for "reggae-style," it properly includes more than music from Jamaica and Hawaii. Hawaii resident Sake Faleta's blending of Tongan lyrics and Jamaican rhythms offers a fresh alternative in the genre.

Faleta, a native Tongan, plays keyboards and sings. Another keyboardist, a guitarist, two banjo players, and a backing vocalist are his band; the percussion is evidently synthetic. Lilting reggae rhythms predominate. Ballads and a polka add variety.

Unfortunately, producer Fehi Niutupuivaha adds nothing that would make Felata's music accessible to people who don't speak Tongan. Translations, composers' credits and cultural information would make this a better introduction to Faleta and his music.

Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet Loto Kuo Kavea
Bullet Tou'one Siliva
Bullet Univeesi 'Oe Fiefia
Bullet Cindy (Kavaman Remix)
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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