The Thieves of Kailua – Jason Holstrom

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Better known for his work as a producer and mix-artist on such efforts as Aqueduct, Dolour and Of Montreal, Jason Holstrom is also a member of Seattle bands United State of Electronica (U.S.E.) and Wonderful. Despite being recorded in Holstrom’s Seattle bedroom, however, The Thieves of Kailua, his new album on Mill Pond Records is, as its title suggests, an ode to Hawaii. Complete with surf guitar, horns and ukulele, the album is an indie-rock, lo-fi interpretation of Don Ho. If that sounds cool (as I thought it might), trust me, it’s not.

At its best (tracks one and ten: “Crystal Green” and “Waikiki Serenade – Crystal Blue,” respectively), the music sounds how the Beach Boys might if they were contemporary indie rockers who had decided to spend the rest of their band career on “Kokomo” renditions. But most of the time, Thieves just sounds like Guster on a trip to Maui. Opening with “Crystal Green,” the album’s symphonic instrumentals and choral harmonies establish a cinematic foundation. But there’s only so much synthesized a capella “ooh-ahs” over ukulele someone can take. By song number six (“Under Setting Sun”) – quite possibly the most annoying song ever recorded – I wanted to stick a fork in my ears.