Island Mele: Best Hawaiian Albums of 2013

Jan. 1, 2014 | 0 Comments


2013 was a good year for the Hawaii recording industry. Memorable work was done in genres from mainstream Hawaiian and hapa-haole to rock, jazz and pop. Music downloads have become the market standard for selling and buying music – a rapidly growing number of new releases exist only as downloadable files – but the deluxe version of any release remains the old-school CD with album art, liner notes and complete composer and production credits.

All that information is particularly important for Hawaiian releases, where full knowledge of the correct lyrics is essential. Consider the many ways native speakers of English have “misheared” the lyrics of songs ranging from “Runaway” and “Levon” to “Purple Haze,” and the chances of getting the words of Hawaiian language songs wrong if printed lyrics aren’t available is self-evident.

Hawaii resident recording artists did excellent work in many genres in 2013, and so compiling a “best of” list from all of them would be comparing apples to oranges… and cherries, bananas and mangoes.

Narrowing the field to modern Hawaiian music, here’s a list of the top nine Hawaiian albums from 2013 that best presented the artist, material, performance and production values.

Albums are listed in alphabetical order, by title:


“A He Leo Wale No E”
Hulu Lindsey (Kahulu Productions)


James Daniel Pahinui (Big Knife Productions)


Kupaoa (Hulu Kupuna Productions)

nate kanae

“Hawaiian Music”
Nate Kana‘e (Ai Chance ‘Um)

“Hula 2”
Robert Cazimero (Mountain Apple)

0730 kahele

Kuana Torres Kahele (Kuana Torres Kahele)

1024 mark yamanaka

“Lei Maile”
Mark Yamanaka (Hulu Kupuna Productions)

“Mele ‘Ailana”
Manu Boyd (Hui Waianuhea HW001)

0807 kumz

“You Should Know By Now”
KuMZ (Kauakoko Foundation)

AND HERE ARE two more non-Hawaiian releases whose fresh ideas in contemporary music made them exceptionally memorable:

1125 makana ripe

Makana (Makana Music)

dukes of surf

“The Dukes of Surf”
The Dukes of Surf (Coconut Groove Music)
John Berger has been a mainstay in the local entertainment scene for more than 40 years. Contact him via email at

No Comments

Comments are closed.