CD reviews: New from Slapshock, Christina Perri

By Jackie Dosmanos

Posted at Jun 01 2014 03:52 PM | Updated as of Jun 01 2014 11:52 PM

Slapshock
"Night Owls"

US-minted metal DNA is embedded in the "new music" from the hardest rocking Pinoy band ever. Produced by Black Eye Pea’s apl.de.ap, Slapshock’s latest body of work, a six-song EP, was completed in an iconic LA studio with a Grammy Award-winning studio pro and a well-known sound engineer on hand.

While staying in the land of opportunity, Jamir and crew freely borrow from Marilyn Manson (“Dangerous”), Metallica (“The Crown”) and Korn (“Coma”). The sonic influences are pretty obvious but when Jamir opens his mouth, the songs connect as a truly Pinoy rocking experience. Between the lush melodies and locomotive drive of most tracks, Jamir sings, howls and growls through tales of brown angst, guilt and redemption. Check out “Coma” for serial snapshots of pain and beauty in three minutes.

On the title track, the singer declares, “We will survive / We will never die.” It would appear schlocky coming from any other artist. Slapshock however make it sound like survival is their collective destiny.

*****

Christina Perri
"Head or Heart"


With an album title like that, you can already imagine that newcomer Christina Perri seeks her corner in the space reserved for the girl-next-door. Her pretty face on the cover also says she can be the kind of mischievous girl who can easily attract a lot of notice.

 

It’s her repertoire however that will draw the most attention. On her sophomore release "Head or Heart," Perri tackles the simple problem of the pimply young in a variety of pop styles. During the first half of the album, her voice weaves through the sleek dance grooves of “Burning Gold” to the pleading balladry of “One Night,” then on to a new cycle of songs starting with a mid-tempo club number “I Don’t Wanna Break” to the Tori Amos mannerisms of “Sea Of Lovers” and the Chris Isaak-inspired “Lonely Child.”

She’s no Rhianna or Mariah Carey. Possessing a wisp of a voice reminiscent of a mild-mannered Lorde, Ms. Perri knows instead how to make good use of her limited pipes to exude girl-next-door charm. She thereby succeeds in unearthing fresh wrinkles in the usual riddle that hounds budding lovers. Buy or die?

*****

Frank Sinatra
"Duets (20th anniversary edition)"


The booklet included in this lavish 2-CD pack states that the legendary Frank Sinatra once told an associate in 1993: “Can you believe this success at this time of my life. That’s just wonderful.”

 

It’s an unimpeachable fact that the Chairman of the Board was the greatest entertainer of his generation. In his lifetime, he championed wonderful music that endured beyond the jazz age. He asserted as much when he received his first Grammy award in 1959.

This expanded version of Sinatra’s "Duets" album which originally came out some 20 years ago is a testament to the staying power of the great crooner himself. Harmonizing with younger stars in jazz, rock and pop music, he remains the dominating presence in each of the 32 tracks.

Soul queen Aretha Franklin gives The Chairman enough support to fire up “What Now My Love” and Liza Minnelli puts in Broadway la-di-da to the call and response in “I’ve Got a Crush on You.” Otherwise, rockers Bono and Chrissie Hynde as well as country greats Willie Nelson and George Strait can only contribute minor diversions from The Chairman’s canon.

In short, "Duets" is still an all-Sinatra show with the invited guests playing second fiddle to the main man.

*****

Andre Rieu
"Magic of the Musicals"

If you enjoy stage musicals with its fabulous musicality and florid instrumentation, you may very well take to heart and home the music of violinist Andre Rieu. Here, he’s paired with a bevy of classical theater and opera divas whose soaring voices can leave a Celine Dion in a huff. His jams with the orchestra also put across Rieu’s knowhow of his instrument that permit little room for adventure outside of the box.

That’s not to be taken for lack of imagination because in reworking stage musicals for mass consumption, being true to the originals weighs more than any intelligent revision.

Andre Reiu hardly meanders from the main path in rendering "Magic of the Musicals," proof of an ideal match between chosen materials and self-styled interpreter.