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Reverend Dennis Kamakahi
Dancing Cat

That feeling started with a trip to Sun Jose Hawaii store. Then it continued when Hapa rolled through Mountain View last week. Yes, a strong yearning for Hawaii flew through like the headrush from an Azeka's shaved ice. Fortunately, the Reverend Dennis Kamakahi preaches the reassuring word through his lazily strung guitar and charmed voice. If you've never been to Hawaii, this album offers a reliable gauge of the speed of life outside Honolulu and Waikiki beach. Kamakahi, who won fame with the Sons of Hawaii, flows with a warm backyard timbre. Using gorgeous slack key guitar and voice, "Koke'e," "Ipo Lei Manu," and " 'Apapane" are pure porch music. "Na Kopa O Wai'anae" addresses cultural survival--though the woody, brown sound makes one think otherwise. Each song's sustained ending instills each listener with the desire to do one thing: sigh. (Todd S. Inoue)

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The Alligators
Pre-X Zoom
Garage Records

Paying homage to the rockabilly roots of pre-punk Hollywood, Pre-X Zoom captures the freshness and unbridled enthusiasm for no-nonsense rock that fueled the '70s underground L.A. cult band the Alligators. Former X lead-guitarist Billy Zoom's rootsy licks and blistering leads pave the way through a compilation of 12 tracks, including eight original roots-rockers and four covers of rockabilly/rock & roll classics. Starting with the raucous remake of Wanda Jackson's 1960 hit "Let's Have a Party" and winding down with the power-pop shadings of "Crank It Up," Pre-X Zoom brims with rebellious, youthful vigor and bad-boy attitude. You can almost picture the band, dressed in black, cramped in a makeshift studio, stale pizza and egg cartons amongst the ruins. (Judi Blackwell)

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Frank Rogala
Crimes Against Nature

Somewhere in hell, there's a cover band, and Frank Rogala is the ruffle-shirted band-leader. On Crimes Against Nature, Rogala thought it would be a gas to re-record classic pop/rock/swing tunes with orchestration and greasy vocals. Wouldn't cheesy versions of "He Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss)," Nine Inch Nails' "Closer" and the Pointer Sisters' "Slowhand" sound just ridiculous with a mandolin, dobro and Nick Cave­like vocals? Rogala-penned tracks "The Avoid Song" and "I'm Feelin' Fine" come up with studio tricks that Aswad and Depeche Mode rocked back in 1987. Rogala's solo prayer for this money pit is the dwindling hope that folks will hoard Crimes Against Nature 20 years from now, like pseudo hipsters collect lounge music today. Until then, this CD can be dismissed as the disposable crap it is. (TSI)

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Social Distortion
White Light White Heat White Trash
550 Music/Epic

On Social Distortion's first album in four years, the band takes leave of the primal '50s country and rockabilly that fueled its last two albums, drawing instead on the first wave of American punk rock: Johnny Thunders, the Ramones and Dead Boys. With the welcome addition of Chuck Biscuits (ex-DOA/Circle Jerks/Black Flag) pushing the rhythm, the new album proves to be simple and effective. The first single, "I Was Wrong," has been well-received by radio, and the blast of instrumental raw power that opens the album, leading into "Dear Lover," has the sound of success. Throughout the album, the band goes on to build a firestorm of guitars over simple but brutally effective rhythms as Mike Ness' compassionate growl brings out walls of pain, anger and jubilation. (JB)

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From the December 12-18, 1996 issue of Metro

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