Thursday, 17 October 2013

Review: "Crucible: The Songs of Hunters and Collectors"

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This is the first tribute album dedicated to Hunters and Collectors, and the latest tribute album collecting a whole heap of hip young Australian indie bands.

As is par for the course, Tribute albums are hit-and-miss at the best of times. I really wanted to give this one my full attention and an open mind, but it's just so lackluster that I just can't help feeling disappointed with it.

The music of Hunters and Collectors is, by its very nature, emotional. "Soul" is probably not a word associated with the band, at least in the Motown sense of the word, but in a purely spiritual sense. It is music that expresses the purest of feeling, from the guts. It creates a space where deep-rooted longing, love and loss collide with a heady mix of bravado and sensitivity.

In short - it's music that breaks your heart while it's kicking your arse.

Each and every one of the bands on here (with the exception of three) reinvents the song in their own style, giving a modern sonic update of sorts. Full power to the bands for doing that. But, at the same time, they have stripped every ounce of soul, feeling and, in some cases, recognisable melody away from the songs, leaving them with all the excitement of a wet mop. If the originals had a power and drive like a Pilbara road train, these new versions have converted them into a 2-stroke lawnmower: Especially on songs like "The Slab", "Do You See What I See", "True Tears of Joy", "Still Hanging Around" and "Hear No Evil". On Husky's version of "Blind Eye", the find the emotion that was obscured in the original and bring it to the fore, exposing the depth of pain in the lyric.

The Panics have taken a difficult, angular original in the form of "Alligator Engine" and made it accessible, while the Living End and Something for Kate have kept the original power of their respective songs, largely because they play them note-for-note like the original versions. Ditto Eddie Vedder and Neil Finn, whose version of "Throw Your Arms Around Me" is pretty by-the-numbers as well.

On tribute albums you don't necessarily want to hear a band play the song in a carbon-copy of the original, but you also don't want to hear people take a t-bone steak and turn it into a tofu platter either. Unfortunately, on this album, you get both...although a lot more of the latter than of the former, admittedly.

Here's the album on Spotify below. It includes the originals from track 16 onwards. Make up your own mind.


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