CD Reviews: The Waitiki 7 and Kainani Kahaunaele
The Waitiki 7
New Sounds of Exotica
Exotica is a pretty niche genre these days, so fans of tropical lounge music will be happy to discover the Waitiki 7 carrying the tiki flag with this new album. The group claims direct ties to godfathers of the scene Martin Denny and Arthur Lyman, and the music backs that up—the attitude might be smoother and less in-your-face than Don Tiki’s irreverent brand of exotica, but this is jazzy, enjoyable stuff. Entirely awesome bonus: The liner notes feature tasty recipes for cocktails to sip while listening, such as the Chee Hoo Fizz.
It’s been almost seven years since Kahaunaele last released an album, but it’s clear she hasn’t been sitting still. Ohai Ula offers a polished, adult-contemporary take on Hawaiian music, and guest musicians such Aaron Sala, Ernie Cruz Jr. and Brian Kessler bring their own talents to the table. But the album’s high points are those moments when Kahaunaele strips back the production and lets her bell-clear voice lead the way.