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The Thieves of Kailua 

CD Review: Jason Holstrom

The Deal: Hawaiian music without the Don Ho.

The Good: As a rule, the only time I want to hear about somebody's vacation is if I was on it, but Seattle-based Jason Holstrom sidesteps the typical tedium by packaging his post-vaca slideshow in a set of sun-dappled songs that conjure an Island vibe without resorting to that musty, Folkways-approved feel. There are plenty of traditional ukes and slack-keyed slide guitar, but the electric surf-guitar, tribal beats, Esquivel whip-cracks and Beach Boys harmonies scattered throughout suffuse the music with crisp audio modernity. That's more in keeping with the song-cycle subject matter, to wit: couple flies to Hawaii, storm clouds appear, tourist gets robbed, sun comes out, couple falls in love beneath swaying Tropical palms, etc. Holstrom plays virtually everything on the record, and does so with as much zeal and panache as a seasoned sessions pro. For a guy best known as a founding member of United State of Electronica, the lack of synthesizers or processed beats may be one of the record's most impressive traits.

The Bad: Little here sticks to the ribs. Like too many vacations, the songs start to fade the minute they're done.

The Verdict: With my personal plans for an island vacation thwarted by writers' wages and a crippling fear of over-sized winged insects, it's nice to know Jason Holstrom brought home something more than sunburn and jet lag from his Hawaiian adventure. And for a few moments, it's not so bad listening to someone go on and on about theirs.

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