It may be his encore, but he isn't finished yet
Look beyond the hype. Look behind the fights. Look beyond the controversy and see an artist that has beat all the odds and grown almost to his full potential.
Eminem has crossed over every line possible, has disrespected almost everyone and yet has managed to gain utmost respect from many people in the process of doing. Yes, this "respect" is subjective, but as an artist, Eminem has undoubtedly seen little if any decline in his career and has yet to fail in surprising, stunning or disappointing his fans.
"Encore," is Marshall Mather's fourth album. An encore usually signifies the end of a show, but for Eminem's new album, it seems as if he's just started. With Em's discovery of 50 Cent, it is not surprising that "Encore" has more of a club feel. Many of the beats are repetitive and there aren't too many surprises overall. On the album opener, "Evil Deeds," Eminem sounds off about his father saying, "father please forgive me for I know not what I do/I just never had the chance to ever meet you," and he speaks of his identity when he says, "everything's always predominantly/predominantly-white/predominantly-black/well what about me?/I guess that I'm predominately both of 'em."
Nate Dogg and 50 Cent appear on the song "Never Enough," which sounds as if Eminem had taken producing tips from Kanye West. "Toy Soldier," sounds off on Eminem's beef with The Source magazine and he speaks about how he inherited 50 Cent's beef with Ja Rule. The song "Mosh," is Eminem's take on everything from President Bush and bin Laden, to encouraging a "sea of people/don't matter what color, all that matters we're gathered together/to mosh and raise hell." "My 1st Single," and the comedic songs "Big Weenie," and "Ass Like That," are club-oriented and capture Eminem having fun with his rhymes and offending every celebrity in his path. "Mockingbird," is Eminem's hip-hop lullaby for his daughter and his niece; it is an emotional and honest song about his fatherhood but is hard to take seriously after five comedy songs in a row. "We As Americans," was written to magnify why many American battles are being fought upon American soil.
The album falls short of the masterpiece surprise of "The Eminem Show" and barely surpasses the bite of "The Marshall Mather's LP." For long-term listeners, much of the underground sound has been overshadowed by the club sound, but it is clear that Eminem will continue to tip the scales and cross lines; "Encore" shows that Eminem will continue to have fun doing so.
Collective Soul, "Youth"
Youthful energy strong on one of the '90s finest hard rockers
Collective Soul never managed to gain the popularity of other post-grunge artists such as Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam or Bush, but it have managed to survive by staying true to its sound. Besides surviving the post-grunge scene, they also managed to survive the nu-metal trend as well. Back for the first time in four years with a new lead-guitarist, Collective Soul returns with "Youth." In comparison to its last couple of albums, the band hasn't matured very much. In fact "Youth" sounds like it may have preceded the past few records, and that isn't entirely bad. The energy is fun, and the Georgia quintet sounds like they are enjoying themselves again. Long-term fans may have mixed emotions about the new album, but for big fans of the sophomore album's heaviness, it will be a disappointment. "Youth" has lots of hard-rock gems, yet sounds more like The Cars than Led Zeppelin. The guitar riff on the opener "Better Now," is a throwback to AC/DC and includes a saxophone solo. "There's A Way" includes some Who-esque keyboards and The Cars-esque guitar strumming.
"Home," is a solid-rock track that describes the "poetry of politics." It is not surprising that after two members of Soul, who also happen to be brothers, went through divorces, songs such as "Him" and "How Do You Love?" reflect the emotions and struggles that go along with breakups.
"Feel Like," is energetic, propelled by punk guitars and powerhouse drumming that "feels like all sugar and nicotine/ready to go/like a Sunday dress/stained with sin but always blessed." "Counting the Days" and "General Attitude" are songs closest to Soul's heavier days.
One song does show the band's maturity – the Georgia-style ballad "Satellite" uses a steel guitar for that Southern sound and closes the album on a soft side.
For a band that has been around for over a decade, "Youth" is a solid pop/rock effort, but to surpass or meet the hard rock sound of its past ability, Collective Soul will need to mature a little more.