Album: SDIB (2007)
Label: Aku Roots
Where available/price: Online at akuroots.com for $13.99 and cdbaby.com for $14.
Songs: 1) Midnight Hour 2) Sugar 3) Runnin 4) Sweet Anela
5) Wrapped Up 6) Where's That Girl 7) Spreading Culture
8) Pretty Face 9) Get Down 10) Love at First Sight
Band: Anthony Kua (vocals, ukulele, guitar, keyboard, bass), Jeff Iwashita (ukulele, vocals), Pauahi Ontai (guitar, vocals), John Naki (drums, vocals), Carlos Sigarroa (keyboard), Adam Cruz (bass)
Website: Myspace Page
Extra info: SDIB is scheduled to play the Rock Bottom Brewery downtown on November 30.
Although played well, the first half of this album doesn't offer much except strict reggae -- no liberties are taken, no boundaries expanded. Soft atmospheric effects, such as a rushing waterfall and chirping birds, add a small amount of interest, but those things are discarded quickly in favor of the standard rock-steady beat and Jamaican sound. Ontai's lead guitar lightly follows along with jazzy plucks and delves into a nice solo on "Midnight Hour."
The album's narrative runs from sweetly serenading love interests or the complicated feelings of a love gone awry to declarations of independence, as in "Runnin," which goes, "It's up to every man/ for him to choose a path/ and find his promised land."
By track 4, "Sweet Anela," the band shuffles off the regulations and restrictions of rigid reggae and blends in some Polynesian influences, including a plucky ukulele. The album takes on a breezier beach rhythm but maintains a reggae sensibility. Track 5, "Wrapped Up," marks the shift from lyrics of drums and smoke to "crystal-clear waters" and Hawaiian girls.
Together, the Polynesian and Jamaican intermingling have proven successful for the band. Two songs, "Midnight Hour" and "Sugar," are getting regular radio play in Hawaii.