Island Mele

By John Berger



"Hawaiian Memories"

Na Leo Pilimehana

Na Leo Pilimehana -- Nalani Choy, Lehua Kalima Heine and Angela Morales -- has gone from success to ever greater success in recent years. This perfect album continues that trajectory.

Long-recognized as the top female vocal group in contemporary Hawaiian music, and as composers of many beautiful songs, Na Leo pays fond tribute to the Hawaiian standards they grew up with in "Hawaiian Memories."

A majority of the songs have ties to the Big Island, where Heine grew up listening to her father's group, the Hilo Kalimas. Her father and two uncles represent the older group as they join Na Leo on "Kona Kai 'Opua."

Choy and Morales share memories as well, and the sense of ohana culminates with "Koni Au I Ka Wai," recorded with family and friends.

Song lyrics, translations and the trio's notes about the significance of their choices make this a great introduction for those unfamiliar with the trio. "Hawaiian Memories" is one of the most beautiful albums of the year.

Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet Kahakuloa
Bullet Ku'u Sweet Lei Makamae
Bullet Kona Kai 'Opua
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info



"Storming Over the Island"

Hot Rain

First there was Reign, originally Cool Reign, Kale Chang's local Polynesian quintet that sought to blend African-American and Polynesian musical traditions in new ways. Now there's Hot Rain, a completely different local Polynesian quintet, solidly into basic reggae-beat "island music." Some of their songs utilize faux-Jamaican affectations, but all are commercial originals.

Two noteworthy songs depart from the basic Jawaiian sound. "Venus" uses an uncredited interpolation of Frankie Avalon's hit in an otherwise original song. "W/Out Your Love" is a pleasant acoustic rock ballad slightly reminiscent of Extreme's "More Than Words," but is in no way a copy of it.

Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet W/Out Your Love
Bullet Reggae
Bullet Venus
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info



"With Aloha From Hawaii"

Various artists
No label

Last September was the time for recording songs referencing the Sept. 11 attacks, releasing CD-singles, and donating the proceeds to the American Red Cross. Pat Rocco's CD-single grew into an album that is reaching the market at a time when the designated charity is suffering a credibility problem regarding its use of the millions already received.

Despite the timing, Rocco's album succeeds in displaying the diverse talent of those who donated recordings. The songs range from American show tunes to original anti-war rap. Darlene Ahuna, Kainani Kahaunaele, Glynn Motoishi and Pauline Wilson join Rocco as the main vocalists on the big synth-track arrangement of "The House I Live In," the song originally intended for release as a CD-single last fall.

Consider this an appealing sampler of Big Island talent albeit with no information on who the artists are.

Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet The House I Live In
Bullet People, Treat Each Other Equal
Bullet I Miss You So
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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