Warm sun. Beautiful beaches. Volcanoes. That obnoxious guy in the brightly colored floral tee, a rainbow-colored lei, a straw "nest" hat on his head, and the biggest camera that they make for public use strapped around his neck.
But when it comes to Hawaii's music, what comes to mind?
Ukelele around the campfire, anyone?
I'd like to introduce to you one of my favorite accidental music discoveries: Upstanding Youth.
Upstanding Youth is a six-piece ska-punk (with a touch of reggae) band from O'ahu, Hawaii. Six very different people, pursuing very different goals in each of their respective lives. One goal that unifies them, however, is to share their music. Whether it's used as an outlet, a universal language, or is just simply everything, these guys came together, began performing locally in Hawaii in 2001 and have been playing together as a band ever since.
And with prominent influences such as Reel Big Fish, Less Than Jake, NOFX, The Mighty Mighty BossTones, Bob Marley, and Sublime, among others, where can they go wrong? Apparently they can't, because each of their four albums have won Best Ska/Punk Album in each of their respective years at the Hawaiian Music Awards, which are said to be the Grammys of Hawaii.
Seems like what they've been doing is working. And their newest award winner, A Sense of Urgency, is no exception whatsoever. An somewhat edgier release, in the rock sense, than earlier albums Trying to Stand, Kam Highway Catharsis, and Still, the album totally delivers. This new edge can be seen in tracks throughout an album, from Bigger than You and Me, Flying V, which, I might add, displays the band's flawless ability to build up a song. Songs like Detonate, a tune questioning the eventual fate of the band, Empty Pockets, and Electric Fence, my personal favorite of the album, reinstates the band's identity as a SKA band, but it's not as if anyone was questioning it. It still continues to be the most prominent aspect of the album.
Key tracks to check out from other albums include -- Fatalist, Desperation, and Conflict Resolution (from Still); Paint By Numbers, Jimmy (from Kam Highway Catharsis)
Want to check them out?
That's all from me, more to come later.