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A long time ago, in a culture not so far away…
A long time ago, in a culture not so far away… avatar

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Make your Motion!

For his latest album, David Gray boldly goes where not only Jedi have gone before PLUS Gesticulations and Split Enz tribute.

This week’s album reviews from The Courier-Mail (ratings out of five stars):

ALTERNATIVE

David Gray, Skellig

(Laugh a Minute/AWAL) ***

They provided a spectacular backdrop for the latest Star Wars trilogy, but here on Earth Ireland’s Skellig islands have a cultural and spirituality significance all their own. And it’s that spirituality David Gray channels on his 12th studio album, a departure from his previous electronic effort. It’s a pastoral, flesh-on-wood affair where his voice and lyrics take centre stage, at times even recalling Grant Lee Buffalo’s more contemplative moments. Highlights include the opening title track, Spiral Arms, The White Owl and funereal closer Can’t Hurt More Than This. Current single Body and Soul is the resident earworm.

ALTERNATIVE

Gesticulations, Sense of Purgency

(Independent) ***1/2

“Still one nostril out of the water/Just enough to forge ahead.” Even more minimalist than David Gray is Brisbane’s own Graham Ashton (The Shambolics, Way Cool Junior), whose brooding spoken-word lyrics are embellished by dark, desolate, atmospheric guitar. “This consciousness is kicking the s— out of me” he laments on Whenever It Fades, one of three tracks featuring female vocals that are also the most tuneful. Another is Stay Curious, on which Ashton implores us to “keep sucking the marrow out of life”. The Band is an ode to whoever your favourite band happens to be: “They’ve got your back until the bitter end.” The Company I Keep is from the point of view of the Kelly Gang, while Punk is a soliloquy celebrating the birth of the genre (though Brisbane’s own Saints are conspicuously absent). And The Glue (Rolo’s Song) mourns the Blowhards’ recently departed Brentyn Rollason.

POP

Various Artists, True Colours, New Colours: The Songs of Split Enz

(Warner) ****

With Crowded House coming back in yet another form, and now this 40th anniversary Split Enz release, it is truly a great time to be a fan of all things Finn. And while some of the tracks herein take the annoying tack of going too radically different – I’m looking at you, Chelsea Jade’s Shark Attack – for the most part these new versions are refreshing while still being faithful to the originals. It’s also refreshing they’ve taken a particular Enz album in full, rather than the predictable route of rolling out the greatest hits. Highlights include Bernard Fanning’s turn on I Hope I Never and Shihad’s higher-energy rendition of I Got You. As has been the trend in recent years, the Enz’s original versions are thrown in on a bonus disc as an added incentive.

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