There are rare moments in life when you stumble on a diamond in the rough. For me, one of those moments was hearing the smoothly crooned lyrics, “I heard about you through the coconut wireless / I heard about you, know the things that you did,” in Kepa Kruse’s song “Coconut Wireless” (off his latest, likewise named album). I urge anyone who’s ever lived in Hawaii and understands local culture to listen to this native Kauai boy’s contemporary Hawaiian music. Kruse’s self-described “Hawaiian musical escapism” is transfixing (and I’m not just saying that ‘cause he’s a hottie). Impressively self-produced, Kruse’s signature sound fuses R&B beats, soft rock melodies and cutely relevant lyrics loaded with insiders’ insights (best exemplified in tunes like “Green Bottles,” “Honey Girl” and “Back to the Beach”). I’d describe his style as Jack Johnson meets Jack Black, and with tracks like “Wingman” (ooh, ooh, she’s with her girlfriends / so I’m gonna need a wingman”) and “Metaphors” (“if you were a surfboard, I’d try to surf more”), it’s clear dis buggah has a knack for pinpointing culture like a comedian and turning it into auricular pleasure. But before you write this artist off as nothin’ but a shits-and-giggles kind of artist, take note of Kruse’s 2011 Na Hoku Hanohano award for Best R&B Hip Hop album of the year. Whichever way you look at it (even if you just want to look at him), Coconut Wireless is a gem.
Coconut Wireless (remastered)
(Petroglyph Productions; 2011)
10 out of 11
All albums reviewed in this space are available at Maui’s only record store, Requests
(10 N. Market St., Wailuku,