Staff Top 10
Top Ten Australian Artists You Need To Hear Now



contrary to popular opinion, we don't all drink Fosters/crack whips/say “g'day”/ride kangaroos 'down here' in Australia. And contrary to what you might think if you gave the rock press a cursory glance, we don't all like our music to be of the three-chord, two-brain-cell, one-idea variety that Jet and The Vines are so enamoured of. Let me level with you: on radio, on music television, in the record stores, we Australians get fed a lot of music from the USA or UK. At a pinch I'd say that Australian commercial radio probably even plays more Scandinavian music than it does Australian (sure, there are 'local content' advisories, but most stations manage to play the bare minimum, to appease the rules, and little else). By comparison, I'd hazard a guess that you don't hear a lot beyond what really makes a splash in either the charts or the circus of hype: Jet, The Vines, Delta Goodrem, Kylie Minogue. At the more 'obscure' end of the spectrum you may have noticed Ben Lee, Architecture In Helsinki, Neon or The Avalanches causing a stir. But, us being the little island that we are, I'm guessing (probably correctly) that if you step into your local record shop, you're not going to be buried under a landslide of Aussie releases.

And even if your CD provider of choice does have a massive 'Australian invasion' window display, I thought I'd share with you ten local artists I think should rightly go bananas overseas, the criteria being that, for these acts, it hasn't happened—yet. This could be for any number of reasons: a case of wrong place, right time, it might be due to lack of record company muscle (or lack of record company), it might be financial or it might be circumstantial—but one thing's for sure, it's not for lack of talent that they remain largely tied to the colonies. There are hundreds of fine bands in Australia, but these are the ones that seem to be, unjustly, forever knocking at the glass ceiling. Some of them are starting to chip through it, but it's nothing a little encouragement won't help fix. We'll give you an idea of what they sound like, what they look like, and where to find out more—and as a special treat, we'll be hosting MP3s from the top three artists from this list on the styPod, so sit back and listen up as we present to you... The Top Ten Australian Artists You Need To Hear Now!

Wolfmother
Bursting out of Sydney's Spanish quarter (though not even close to Spanish themselves) came Wolfmother last year with their debut, “Woman”, and for once the lazy music journos were right: they really did sound like Led Zeppelin jamming with Black Sabbath in Deep Purple's living room! Proving that 'derivative' is sometimes just a product of the collective unconscious, singer/guitarist and songwriter Andrew Stockdale (who likes to wear a headband when playing live) didn't actually hear Sabbath until after the band had written and demo'ed “Woman”. Wolfmother are one of Australia's most scintillating live acts and, with their debut EP managing to fit a LP's worth of psychedelic rock'n'roll into four tracks, hopes are high for their inevitable album—preferably recorded in Quadrophonic Sound on triple-gatefold vinyl.

For more information click here.

Jade Macrae
If there's one style of music that floods our charts more than any other, it's R&B. Until recently we've been more than happy to welcome American and UK R&B to our airwaves thanks to a paucity of local material, but things are changing—along with Daniel Merriweather and her collaborator/producer Israel (who is also a fine MC in his own right), Jade Macrae leads the Aussie neo-soul charge. Her sophomore “So Hot Right Now”, based around a swinging Django Rheinhardt sample easily as bewitching as J-Lo's “Get Right”, is a steamy slice of aural foreplay that sees the former Sydney Conservatorium of Music student and Jimmy Barnes backing-vocalist stake her claim as young queen of Australia's burgeoning R&B scene. She's so... oh, you know.

For more information click here.

Slam Dunk
Comprising art student buddies Alex Vivian and Christopher L. G. Hill, Slam Dunk may, criminally, not play that often (a recent performance occurred at a suburban house-party, in the birthday girl's bed), but when they do, people come running to soak up their witty, hilarious and danceable electronica, which they once described as “techno music that you want to hear”. Their key track is their anthemic, call-and-response-esque “Do You Like Your Hardcore” (“Do you like your hardcore? Yes I like my hardcore! How do you like your hardcore? I like beats, doofs and piercings!”). Armed with ancient synths and programmers, and always dressed nattily, Slam Dunk are well versed in the theatre of live music: a while back they played a 9/11 aniversary gig dressed, in fridge boxes, as the Twin Towers—where they proceeded to throw paper planes at each other. Everyone—including me—needs a little Slam Dunk in their lives.

For more information click here.

Blood Duster
There's a memorable ad for Reflex photocopy paper here where “Xena”, the unreliable secretary for fictional firm Davies & Lange, puts a bunch of Japanese investors on hold only to have the 'on hold' music blare forth from their conference-call speaker like a hot blast straight outta hell: that's our Blood Duster. It's also, probably, the closest the Melbourne smutcore metallers (or as they call it, “anthemic grind porn”) will get to the mainstream in a looong time, which is a pity, really: blessed with a charismatic front-yeller in Tony Ford and a breakneck-paced live show, The 'Duster both revel in and lambast metal and grindcore's cliches and hallmarks with inimitable wit and loudness. When they launched their Drink, Fight, Fuck EP at Melbourne's Cherry Bar, the ceiling fans were pulled off the, er, ceiling by revellers. The 'coffee' tables (reviously bolted to the ground) were also forcibly removed. Chances are your nanna won't like them (provided you don't tell her that they're all top blokes, that is).

For more information click here.

Cut Copy
Fresh from a rash of well-received spots at SxSW, Cut Copy look set to have the UK/European markets notched on their belt very soon; the three-piece electro-pop outfit are teed up to support Mylo on his May UK tour. Synthesiser-collector Dan Whitford wrote the stunning debut album, Bright Like Neon Love, on various pieces of retro electronic equipment, but punters are often pleasantly surprised to find that Cut Copy appear at gigs as a real, live band—a product of having found their genesis in Melbourne and Sydney's music scenes, where premium is placed on live prowess. Pinpointing sound-alikes is futile, such is the jackdawish joy of ... Neon Love’s electronic/Europop/retro/futura/romantic mishmash, but one thing's for sure: Cut Copy make electronic music to fall in love with—and fall in love to.

For more information click here.

Digger and the Pussycats
Veterans of various legendary Melbourne live acts, Digger And The Pussycats' Sam Agostino (vocals/guitar) and Andy Moore (drums/vocals—and by “drums” I mean two toms and a solitary cymbal) make one helluva racket for two relatively unassuming guys. They play a breakneck brand of pumping rock'n'blooze with impressive energy, their debut record Young, Tight, And Alright beating listeners about the ears until they stand to attention. Having toured Europe in earnest and with their new record Watch Yr Back (featuring community radio favourite “Coming To Get You”, aka “You Drive Like A C**t”) in their sweaty paws, they look set to win over a whole new buncha converts when they head back overseas this May to preach their dynamic, demented gospel all over again for the first time.

For more information click here.

The Drones
Hurtling out of the isolated confines of Perth around 2001, and ending up ensconced in Melbourne's pubs, via a stinking mattress in a Sydney van, are The Drones. Purveyors of clanging blues and eerily low-key country scuzz, the four-piece wowed punters and critics alike with the joint artillery of their debut album Here Come The Lies and their cathartic, ragged live performances, garnering praise from peers and heroes. After spending some time in a record-label-induced wilderness, writing and seething, they returned this year with the hypnotic, swampy themes of Wait Long By The River And The Bodies Of Your Enemies Will Float By. It's good to have them 'back'.

For more information click here.

Mia Dyson
There are two things that set Mia Dyson apart from the rest of the guitar-slinging fraternity: her youth, and a Y chromosome. Raised in relative seclusion in Daylesford, country Victoria, with nothing but her parents' records and luthier father Jim's Sunday afternoon noodlings to keep her inspired, Dyson exploded onto the blues and roots scene in 2003 with her incredibly assured debut Cold Water, snaring praise from everyone including Tony Joe White, who said of Dyson last year, “I tell ya man, that Mia Dyson is somethin' else. She's a great guitar player”. But while youth and young womanhood might make her something of a freak in her millieu (she's still shy of 25), it's her songwriting and performing chops that really mark Dyson for greatness; on her follow-up record, Parking Lots, she plays electric, lap steel, baritone, slide and acoustic guitars. When you add that to her magnificently husky, bruised voice and her ability to write songs that cut straight to the heart, you've got a pretty undeniable package.

For more information click here.

Bird Blobs
Spawned in Tasmania's notorious musical underground (yes, it actually has one) and incubated in Melbourne's sticky-carpeted live music wilderness, Bird Blobs corner the market in freaky, feverish swamp blues (and yes, there is actually an Australian freaky, feverish swamp blues market). Frontman Tim Evans, a beanpole with matinee idol looks and white winklepickers, leads the four-piece with a seedy growl that's part Howling Wolf, part Residents, all unsettlingly attractive appeal; it was enough to convince infamous scuzz-merchants Jake and Dinos Chapman to invite the band to play their All Tomorrow's Parties Nightmare Before Christmas, while Mojo Magazine recently snapped up live favourite “Billy” for a mag-front sampler. Their self-titled second album is uncompromising, thrilling and frightening: in short, Bird Blobs are essential.

For more information click here.

Dallas Crane
The undisputed champions of the Australian rock'n'roll scene, no matter what anyone says. Fate dealt them a cruel hand years back when they travelled to the UK to showcase their wares only to be pipped at the post by a supernovaing Vines—and then there was that little Dallas support band called Jet—but if anything, these setbacks have made Dallas Crane even more determined. Melding classic Australian pub rock with Television-esque clanging and even some spooky Eastern European surf stylings, 'The Crane' might find the shine of youth starting to slip through their fingers (it's overrated, anyway), but they've got everything else in spades: charisma, a killer live show, and most importantly, a swag of excellent songs. Three albums into their nine-year career and signed to legendary Australian label Alberts (home of The Easybeats, Stevie Wright and AC/DC, to name just a few), the Melbourne band are just hitting their stride. With a European tour planned for this year, it feels like their time might—finally—be now.

For more information click here.

Head to the styPod to hear “Wrong Party” by Dallas Crane, “My Last Gold Dollar” by Bird Blobs and “Parking Lots” by Mia Dyson.


By: Clem Bastow
Published on: 2005-04-22
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