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There and Somewhere Here
Artist: Compliments of Gus
Label: Mustard Records
Length: 7 tracks/49:52 minutes

It seems the Melbourne Christian music scene is brimming with acoustic acts lately--Paul Colman Trio, Simeon, and Chrissie. Joining this scene is Compliments of Gus. I would be wrong, however, to label them acoustic music. COG's style is an acoustic based mixture of pop, funk, punk, and emo. Consistency is kept through Justin Gall's soulful vocals. 

What makes COG an admirable band is that they make excellent use of their instruments (voice, guitar, drums, and keyboard). Whether it's the raw guitar lines or the emotive piano play on "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night," There and Somewhere Here makes brilliant use of the instruments. There and Somewhere Here is not the band's first album. Their debut EP, Watch, was released last year and was an instant seller. The trio built a stable fan base through their entertaining live show and the success of Watch; that fan base will gladly greet the arrival of There and Somewhere Here, but immediate disappointment is inevitable. The album is too short--seven songs, two of them under three minutes. But where they disappoint length-wise, they please musically. The album opener,  "Fashion Victim," will have listeners scrambling for comparisons. It begins with rapid classical guitar and fast vocals, then envelopes into an acoustic-punk chorus. The combination is confusing but for those who can figure out what is happening, the song is a gem. 

Besides "Fashion Victim," most songs are instantly accessible and beg for radio play. "Drain Trippin'" is a wonderfully quirky piece of work where Justin Gall's vocals bear a striking resemblance to those of Jimmy Hendrix. The guitar line is phenomenally fun, and Jared Hascheck pulls off some interesting effects on his keyboard. The only downer is "Angels," which is pretty much your average pop song and designed to let the band be heard on radio. 

Credits for writing the songs are evenly divided between Gall and Hascheck, and each hold remarkable songwriting skills. They avoid many of the cliches that often come with the themes they explore--Jesus' gift of love; trusting God when everything seems against you; going through life with hope as a Christian. Perhaps their desire to not use cliches can be summed up in the chorus of "Fashion Victim":

This is a song of cliches
Like bad year ten poetry
What's wrong with plagiary?
Have you seen my face lately
My brand new identity
Now I've become my cliche
The disc continues to play after a five-and-a-half minute remake of "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night." For over fifteen minutes, there is silence. Then -- at last -- an organ greets our ears. It plays for a couple of seconds, then ends, and the album is finished. It's a disappointing ending to an otherwise great album.

Eric Daams


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