Island Mele

John Berger



"Ke 'Ala Beauty"

Na Palapalai
Koops2 Entertainment

Shawn Kekoa Pimental introduced Na Palapalai in 2002 with one of the year's biggest Hawaiian albums, "Makani 'Olu'olu." Four Na Hoku Hanohano Awards later, he and the group -- Kaeo Costa, Kehau Tamure and Kuana Torres -- are back with this second album that offers more of the same, sweet Hawaiian falsetto music. From the opening bars of "Hilo Medley" through the finale, a live recording of "I Call Him Lord," the trio's smooth harmonies and crisp acoustic arrangements are a joy to hear.

Producer Pimental again eschews synth-track effects and makes judicious use of pianist Aaron Sala and steel guitarist Casey Olsen as studio guests. Sala's work on "Hilo Medley" especially helps kick off the album in fine style.

While a majority of the songs are standards, several of the five originals will likely achieve that status in years to come. The title song, written by guitarist Torres, is particularly nice.

Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet Hilo Medley
Bullet Ke 'Ala Beauty
Bullet I Call Him Lord
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info



"Chillaxin' "

Various artists
Hi-Risk Entertainment

Local compilation albums don't come any better than this. Producer Guy Paredes and singer-songwriter Vince Moe are the primary talents featured, but several other artists, representing various styles, are showcased as well. Executive producer Kyle Paredes provides ample information about all of them in his liner notes.

Moe bookends the project with impressive cross-cultural anthems that call on Hawaiians, Samoans and other Polynesians to set aside old rivalries and start working together. The opening chant "Polynesian" tells of the rich heritage all Polynesian peoples share. The lyric hook from the Bee Gees' hit "How Deep Is Your Love" reflects the impact of contemporary Western music on island music.

The other songs, however, are a mixed bag. Jawaiian rhythms give "Weekend Warriors" and "No Hook-Up" instant commercial appeal as potential theme songs for local sports shows, but "Boom Shake-ah" stands out primarily as a chance for members of the production team to show off their ability to mimic Shaggy, Eminem and stereotypically depicted Jamaicans.

A generic remake of the Manhattans' 1976 tearjerker, "Kiss and Say Goodbye," is problematic for other reasons. Gemini "Big Ni" Burke does a solid job on the vocal, but the arrangement offers up no new ideas or fresh insights.

"Come On Boy" is a different story, as 13-year-old Kaitlin Kiyan teams up with rapper Mass Effects on an appealing and bouncy age-appropriate pop tune reminiscent of the Bergstrom Brothers' work with Sunland back in 1996.

Fiji joins Kaulana Pakele and Guy Paredes on the compilation's title song, a catchy litany of current island slang that should be one of several local hits from the album.

Local pop is represented by veteran recording artist Cory Oliveros' "Once In a Lifetime," a light ballad that would have more substance without the synthesized strings. Amy Fox offers similar fare with "Just The Way I Feel Inside."

Besides his liner notes, executive producer Paredes adds the needed final touches to this compilation by including song lyrics and photos of the artists as well.

Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet Chillaxin'
Bullet Come On Boy
Bullet How Deep is Your Love
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info

See the Columnists section for some past reviews.

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. Contact John Berger at


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