CD reviews: Lorde, Eminem and a wedding singer

Posted at 05/04/2014 8:35 PM

Elmerjun
"Rhythm of Love"

Multi-instrumentalist Elmerjun Hilario is a singer-songwriter by artistic inclination and a wedding singer by profession. The album "Rhythm of Love" is his calling card to earn a living. It’s also an indie release which he personally peddles, rather discreetly, at music-related press events or gives away to popular artists to as sampler for his skills.

The album is a collection of covers of love songs from the likes of John Mayer, Loggins and Messina and Adele. Accompanied by acoustic guitar, Elmerjun turns Parokya’s “Halaga” into a happy-go-lucky song, Gottye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” into a fractured dance tune and tames “Yellow” into a simple croon. His contributions to OPM are two pleasant bonus tracks even as he says he’s got a box full of original radio-friendly compositions.

Check him out at www.facebook.com/ElmerjunOfficial.

*****

Lorde
"Pure Heroine"

With a stark album cover that reminds of early releases by post-punk icons Joy Division and New Order, the debut from New Zealand’s 16-year old pop wonder Lorde packs a lot more emotional charge than its apparent forebears. Producer Joel Little adds subtle strains of soul, gospel and electro house to post-punk’s somber template and Lorde spices up her songs of young love with intimations of betrayal, dashed ambitions and sexual foibles. The album’s major theme thereby crosses international datelines despite its emanation from a land outside of mainstream pop culture.

Sensitive souls, especially teenagers, will be instantly captivated by the album’s two front-running songs. “Buzzcut Season” imaginatively expands on The XX’s melancholic pop balladry to rain down unforgettable hooks that gloss over the double entendre as Lorde warbles about living in a hologram and explosions of IV. “400 Lux” haunts with its bell-like tones and percussive underpinnings and it opens with these intriguing lines: “We’re never done with killing time/Can I kill it with you?”

“Royals,” “Team” and “Glory and Gore” are a tad less attractive after an initial run through the album but as standard critic-speak goes, they will grow on you. In fact, "Pure Heroine" will play around with your head similar to the drug reference in the album title. “Pure Heroine” has got a profoundly disquieting overall effect that can pull you out of your comfort zone.

*****

Eminem
"The Marshall Mathers LP 2"

All you masochists out there, please raise your hands. Go on, score this album and bang your head against the wall once more as Em tears out the scabs from old wounds.

From the track titles, the new disc from Eminem props up then destroys most of the same demons that have bedeviled his alter egos in the past, namely Slim Shady and Marshall Mathers. Ho hum, it’s another go-around beating the crap out of evil wives, brainless cops and bad love gone haywire.

Dr. Dre and Rick Rubin are also back on the saddle. It becomes doubly convenient to think that it’s classic Eminem lyrical rampage from start to finish.

But wait, a gun sounds off, then comes “Rhyme Or Reason” powered by a nice ‘60s psychedelic rocker from The Zombies. After his one-dimensional rapping, Em himself even sings along in tune.

In “Hole,” Skylar Grey supplies the R&B spine to Slim’s tribute to his homies. “The Monster” with Rhianna on guest vocals sees Eminem blurting out on a bed of rollicking beats and hooks. Same deal with “Love Game” where the amazing Kendrick Lamar playfully breaks the rush of hate in a ‘50s throwback refrain.

With "Marshall Mathers LP 2," the bitter pill that’s Eminem sounds easier to take. Just bear in mind that the diatribes from the meanest white boy in rap remain explicit and painfully repulsive. Still tread with utmost care.