The Waitiki 7

World in Stereo: The Waitiki 7’s Waitiki in Hi-Fi

World in Stereo examines classic and modern world music while striving for a greater appreciation of other cultures.

The Waitiki 7: Waitiki In Hi-FiThe Waitiki 7: Waitiki in Hi-Fi (Pass Out, 4/12/11)

The Waitiki 7: “Ouanalao”

[audio:|titles=Waitiki 7: “Ouanalao”]

When Dwight Eisenhower signed the bill admitting Hawaii into statehood in 1959, Americans were living in a post-WWII United States, ready to forget and eagerly optimistic to start anew.  Though a standard history book will tell you that everyone was consumer-crazy and making a lot of babies, it won’t tell you that a large percentage of the populace was listening to exotica.

Borne out of Hawaii’s post-war music scene, exotica is marked by its lounge-like feel, a tropical summation of Pacific, Caribbean, and Latin sounds fused with American pop and jazz.  As a precursor to the modern world-music movement, artists like Martin Denny and Les Baxter introduced stateside audiences to new sounds and rhythms.  By the 1970s, exotica was snooze-worthy, stock-heavy pop, but a listen to the golden-era recordings exposes some groove-heavy material with plenty of progressive rhythms and dreamy, vibraphone-drenched melodies.

Fortunately, Oahu-based The Waitiki 7 has managed to steer clear from contrived kitsch to bring modern sensibility to exotica’s late-’50s to mid-’60s pinnacle sound.  As heard on its 2009 debut, Adventures in Paradise, and on the 2010 follow-up, New Sounds of Exotica, the septet builds on Latin-jazz foundations with an ear for vintage and retro qualities.  Now the band is releasing a set of alternative studio takes from both records with Waitiki in Hi-Fi, a vinyl-only release that will have you dusting off that vintage Crosley record player.

100 Unheralded Albums from 2010

Among the thousands of under-appreciated or under-publicized albums that were released in 2010, hundreds became our favorites and were presented in ALARM and on Of those, we pared down to 100 outstanding releases, leaving no genre unexplored in our list of this year’s overlooked gems.