Release Date: March 2021
Bub Pratt, the curator of Hilo’s Kukuau Studio, has gathered a collection of original tracks by eclectic singer-songwriters for a new vinyl release titled Kukuau Compilation. All nine songs were performed and produced over three years at their in-house recording studio. The compilation features mostly local women artists, two tracks by Pratt, and one by Drew Daniels. Engineered by Keli’i Nance, the 180g release was pressed on translucent brown vinyl with marbling. As a bonus, the album comes with a digital download card of the tracks.
A few of the standout tracks include “Grateful” by Portland-based Karyn Ann. The simple but satisfying piano and vocal arrangement has an indie-folk vibe and it’s very radio-friendly. The album has uncredited liner notes on the back, but nothing that goes into detail about the artist. For the curious, Ann is a geologist-turned-musician and seasoned road warrior. Since her 2015 debut release Into the Depths, she’s continued to release singles and albums.
Big Island’s Pricilla Momah’s contribution “Indigo” is filled with dreamy vocals that leave you wanting to hear more. Before the pandemic, she was playing venues like the Hilo Town Tavern and the Pāpaʻaloa Café. On Spotify, her discography includes one album (The Divine), and three singles.
Drew Daniels defines his style as “conscious music grounded in the human experience,” but it goes much deeper than that, especially if you’ve seen him perform live. Daniels is one of those local artists whose talent you know would make it on a national level, but you want him to stay here so you can watch him in a local club setting. “Gemini Lullaby” is a tribute to his daughter, and closes out side one.
The Kukuau Compilation is a must-add to your record collection, and a half-hour audio snapshot of the great talent that the Big Island has to offer.
Side One: Holding Shadows (Bub Pratt) | Indigo (Priscilla Momah) |Illuminate (Collen Yost) | Gemini Lullaby |
Side Two: Grateful (Karyn Ann) | You (Hannah Kaplan) | Heaven (Bub Pratt) | Fall Asleep (Grace Scanlan) | Kupenga (Kunzwa Marimba Ensemble) |
How to order: Contact Bub Pratt for cost, shipping, and payment details at http://kukuaustudio.com
Waipunalei – EP
Artist: Kainani Kahaunaele
Release Date: February 2021
Hawaiian singer-composer Kainani Kahaunaele’s masterpiece album Waipunalei has received the royal treatment on this limited-edition (200 copies) EP. Four songs were taken from the 10-track digital version and were pressed on 180g teal blue vinyl. This lovely compilation is truly a collector’s item and much more of an intimate experience than you’d find with the CD companion – Kainani personally signs each one!
For one, the cover art is different. A soft-toned image of Kainani playing her six-string ukulele with a Mona Lisa-like smile is very inviting. The album has a gatefold cover that opens to photos of the recording session, lyrics (Hawaiian/English), Kainani’s notes, and a list of the session players. On the back, Kainani writes that she likes to play the EP on the record player of her kupuna and stashes it in their collection of cherished Hawaiian music. Gotta Groove Records, out of Cleveland, did a wonderful job on the pressing – the audio quality is stunning.
Side one opens with the beautiful title track “Waipunalei.” Kainani said she was inspired to write the mele about the lush forest found in the Waipunalei-Mauluanui region of the Big Island and its history. Zachary Lum’s upright bass and piano embellish the song’s gentle tone.
Kainani offers a contemporary version of John Kameaaloha Almeida’s “Roselani Blossoms.” She admits she’s a big fan of the Oahu multi-instrumentalist whose music was popular in the 1920s, and a regular performer on the Hawaii Calls radio show.
Kainani continues her audio journey on side two with songs about the Kohala coast and Molokaʻi.
The only criticism for the recording is its short duration – 17 minutes is not enough time to spend with this classic recording. Kainani has explained the 41-minute full album would not fit on a single disc. If you’re a true fan, you need to have both.
Side One: Waipunalei | Roselani Blossoms |
Side Two: Kīholo | Waihānau |
Order Waipunalei here.
Read our review of the full album here.
Steve Roby is a music journalist, best-selling author, and editor of Big Island Music Magazine.