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Kona Wind, Come Into My World. Despite the odd name, the fantasy-inspired artwork, and song titles like "Ache," "Bite My Neck," "Halloween Blues," and "Images of Twilight," Kona Wind are NOT a metal band. Rather, they are a female-fronted pop/rock group with a bit of a modern country bent. The album features strong musicianship and singing throughout, sticking mainly to the guitar-bass-drums-vocals format ("Quiet Passion" substitutes piano, strings, and acoustic guitar for the electric instrumentation, and "Halloween Blues" adds some cartoonish spooky organ playing). The production is also quite professional -- I doubt most people would notice any difference if this was in the CD changer with major-label-produced recordings (the packaging on my copy is pretty shoddy, but it's a review copy and, hey, the music's what we're here for anyway). Despite their popular aspirations, Kona Wind's lyrics are suprisingly adult-oriented -- the title tracks chides a lover for methamphetamine abuse, the structure of "Bite my Neck" purposefully mimics lovemaking (including a somewhat unintentionally hilarious guitar solo "orgasm"), and "Halloween Blues" features numerous goofy Halloween-related double entendres. The lead singer (know only as "Gina") seems to be purposefully courting a Liz Phair-esque bad girl image. Unfortunately, this posture is hard to take seriously when wedded to precise, professional production, playing, and singing. Especially when Gina switches from her singing voice to a sing-speak delivery, it's hard to imagine her as anything but an actress. The disparity between the group's music and the lead singer's pose does make the album entertaining, for sure, and the band is sometimes able to bridge the gap (the catchy cheese-country "Would if I Could," for example). But the band's best-written songs, the Southern rock mid-tempo anthems like "Come Into My World," "Fadin Away"[sic?], "What Am I Doing?," would probably work better without the shtick. And songs without the bad grrl stuff, like the overly fragile "Quiet Passion" and the instrumental "Images of Twilight," while already out-of-place musically, seem completely inappropriate in the context of the album. Kona Wind seem to have the potential to connect to a fairly wide audience, but they need to decide whether to be a bad-girl-themed country-rock act, a straightforward Southern rock group, or whatever. It's not that I don't appreciate eclectic albums -- I listen to John Zorn, after all -- but I think it's working against the band at this point. Adam Murphree ~ EER-MUSIC.com
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