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Jens Lekman, Hell’s Gates, Mr Universe

Listen: Jens Lekman – I Know What Love Isn’t

Moving to Melbourne from his native Sweden a couple of years back in the pursuit of true love, the lovely Jens Lekman is the anti-Assange, all sweetness and strings and looking for the best in even the most heartbreaking moments. His new album, “I Know What Love Isn’t” has been five years in the making and manages to incorporate the jaunty humour of his most popular work whilst plumbing new depths of love and loss. Perfect for an afternoon of insular listening whilst trying to get some work done, or as a little company for whiling away the hours in the spring sunshine.

Read: Hell’s Gates: The Terrible Journey of Alexander Pearce, Van Diemen’s Land Cannibal by Paul Collins

Between a trip to Tasmania in 2011 and the numerous songs by favourite Melbourne band Augie March referencing the remarkable history of the place, Hell’s Gates was a pre-sold bargain when I found it in a secondhand bookstore recently. A sparsely written but never dry history book tells the story of Alexander Pearce, one of thousands of convicts sent to our end of the earth to be whipped, enslaved and tormented for the term of their natural life. Pearce and some fellow convicts escape one of Tasmania’s notorious penal colonies and through some terrifying and tense adventures, Pearce becomes the first white man to survive some of the most difficult wilderness in the world (twice), but in doing so condemns himself to another death. In the tradition of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, the author (previously a Catholic Priest) raises some interesting questions about where man’s capacity for evil begins and what marks it leaves on the person and country’s soul.  A fascinating look at how the darkness of humanity manifests away from “civilisation” and the sort of people who built Australia as we know it.

Watch: Jim Gaffigan’s Mr Universe.

Most famous for his rolled-gold stand up bit about terrible American microwave food Hot Pockets, Gaffigan has followed in the footsteps of the comedy godhead Louis CK by releasing his latest stand up special, Mr Universe, as a downloadable special for only $5 on his website. Gaffigan’s obtuse take on food, modern living and more (it is really mostly about food) is hilarious and for those interested in how the magic of comedy happens, was co-written by his wife and produced without the aid of a tv network anywhere. With the bonus of knowing the cash goes directly to him, the artist who made it (instead of a bunch of Patrick Bateman-esque corporate gatekeepers), Mr. Universe is worth more than the five bucks it’ll cost you any day of the week.

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