CD reviews: Sir Elton John, Zedd, Faber Drive

Posted at 02/23/14 6:49 PM


From drumming for a metalcore band to in-demand remixer, 24-year old German wunderkind Zedd (real name: Anton Zaslavski) has made significant progress in his young musical career in such a short time. Now he’s taking an even bigger leap forward producing his debut album of mostly original materials.

The initial impression is that he plays to his strengths being a rising star in the electronic dance music realm. Surprisingly, unless you have a fine ear to weed out the tiny thefts or debts from his previous clients Black Eyed Peas or Skrillex, Zedd mostly relies on his own imagination on "Clarity."

To clear the small lapses out of the way, “Codec” reminds of a hundred other big beat club thumpers. “Shave It Up” is a sweeping dance number to be expected from an acolyte of David Guetta and Afrojack.

Fortunately, Zedd’s got the title track, “Clarity (featuring Foxes),” whose goose pimple-raising hooks darting around stadium-ready rave-up cancels all the petty larcenies on the way to a club classic. “Spectrum” will see you wiggling your hands in the air while singing along to its insanely simple lyrics. More happy hooks jam the clanging electro of “Lost At Sea” and the choppy Daft Punk trickery of “Fall To The Sky (featuring Ellie Goulding).”

No wonder, Zedd’s stock is zooming up the DJ Hot 100 list, with a bullet.


Elton John
"The Diving Board"

It’s tempting to categorize Sir Elton John among the “has beens” who’ve seen better times in four decades of making music. Like, who still listens to this ageing singer?

Well, those who were at his sold-out concert at the Araneta Coliseum last year came out gushing about his three-hour marathon show. Heightened expectations aside, Elton John’s latest recording, his 30th overall, won’t be turning twenty-somethings into instant fans. Their parents who should have been at the Araneta gig might check out the new album but most of them would probably be put off by the introspective mood of "The Diving Board." No “Skyline Pigeon,” or “Rocket Man” nor “Crocodile Rock” in its 15 tracks.

Instead, "The Diving Board" feels like a country record performed on keyboards rather than guitars. Most of the songs recall the musical flight and lyrical mindset of “Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters” and “Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road” -- Sir Elton’s eclectic piano playing out front as he sings about “counting on a memory to get me out of here,” or a tune called “The Ballad of Tom Blind.”

It’s been 40 years since “Burn Down The Mission” and Elton John, working once more with Bernie Taupin, would rather build on the bones of his classic years. Rust never sleeps, actually.


Faber Drive
"Lost In Paradise"

A quartet of punk-pop damaged Americans, Faber Drive ain’t too proud to be the new dance-rock kings. For much of their new album, they borrow from sources ranging from My Chemical Romance (“Set It Off”) to Simple Plan (“Too Little Too Late”).

The result is highly entertaining even if lead vocalist Faber can be bland expressing a dire need for romance in these terms: ‘I know your love is such a sugar rush and I can never get enough/I’m like oh oh oh’ from certified hit, “Candy Store.” Whatever happened to rock n roll, groupies and uhm, sex?

Stranger still, the best of the bunch, “Life Is Waiting,” burrows deep in Bruno Mars’ pop reggae blues. Guess the instantly memorable melodies and frat boy belting make everything go down with a smile. That’s paradise enough, for sure.


Various Artists
"Pure… Rock Ballads"

All ye aspiring karaoke chumps. Here’s a tome of the juiciest rock-tinged ballads ever made. Journey, Bonnie Tyler, REO Speedwagon, and Meatloaf are in the house. Boston, The Calling, Soul Asylum, and Europe also show up in this 4-CD pack priced at P350.

Dust up on friendly rock ballads before you get death threats for constantly mangling “My Way.” You’ve been forewarned.