With a country as large as Australia, you may be thinking that we don’t hear enough music coming from the “land down under”. Maybe that is about to change; I think that 2013 and beyond will see a real push in Australian exportation, especially to Europe.
You would think that due to the vast size of Australia, the country would produce much more talent (America does so why doesn’t Australia?). Well, the answer lies in the population of such country. Take the UK for example with a population of just over 63 million. Compared to Australia’s 23 million-strong population and the fact that it’s 35 times bigger means that musical acts are hard to source. These days Australia is thriving, one of only a handful of countries that didn’t get hit by the recession and has one of the quickest population growths in the world.
A Blast from the Australian Past
It would seem that one of the major stepping-stones for Australian singers has been the popular TV soap Neighbours. Kylie Minogue, Holly Valance, Rogue Traders, Delta Goodrem and Alan Fletcher (Dr Karl Kennedy for those more familiar with Aussie the soap) have all come out of the overseas show and found some great success on UK shores. In fact, Alan Fletcher has – allegedly – played Glastonbury Festival more times than anyone else, but don’t hold me to that fact! You may also remember the likes of INXS, Jet, Savage Garden and a little band called AC/DC, who have all found global success whilst keeping their origins grounded in Australia.
Busting out of ‘The Bush’
Nowadays, Australian artists seem to stay in their homeland; by being so vast it means that touring the country is like touring Europe twice over. Hopefully, you’ll find some little-known Australian gems from here on in, to widen your musical tastes to Oceanic shores.
Iggy Azalea is the latest Aussie name on everyone’s lips here in the UK, with her fresh and unusual music reaching great heights. Her first UK single ‘Work’ reached a credible number 17 in the charts, and is still constantly being played on our radio stations. Tame Impala are another band that have made the trip to Britain, and have become a popular figure with the UK public and critics having topped Album of the Year polls in Rolling Stone, Triple J, NME, Filter Magazine, Urban Outfitters, FasterLouder and Obscure Sound with their 2012 album Lonerism. Other acts to have had success in Europe include, Gotye, The Temper Trap, The Veronicas and Parkway Drive.
San Cisco formed in 2009 whilst they were in high school. However they are already hitting the headlines in both Australia and Europe, and have also recently played at the Reading and Leeds Festivals. The band have been attracting comparisons to Vampire Weekend and The Flaming Lips, and have been praised by the Guardian for their “bright and bubbly indie, full jangly guitars and dolorous lyrics.” If you haven’t checked out their debut album San Cisco, then I recommend you do.
On the Airwaves
Australian commercial radio is obligated to play 25% Australian-performed music between 6am and midnight. This surely means that acts in Australia are getting a decent amount of exposure in the country and attracting a wide audience, especially with the wonders of the internet. I am constantly listening to Australian radio at 2am in the morning – but who isn’t, right? Indian Summer are one of the acts that have really caught my attention on an early Saturday morning. Originating from Melbourne, they have some amazing singles out including ‘1.01 My Heart Drops’, which they describe as “slowed down chill-wave dope goodness”. The duo are contracted to Sweat It Out Music, who were nominated for Best Indie Label of 2012 and also have the likes of Yolanda Be Cool and Parachute Youth on their books. If you enjoy Indian Summer, then you may also like. Bag Raiders, Cut Copy and Empire of the Sun.
If electronica is not your cup of tea then you may like the sounds of Hungry Kids of Hungary and Last Dinosaurs, both great Indie/Rock bands from Brisbane who are currently tearing up Australia with their Fleet Foxes-meets-The Vaccines type music. They both have multiple albums released but have never made it big over here, which is surprising given our love for everything Indie at the moment.
If you fancy something a bit more heavy, then look no further than Dead Letter Circus. The five piece band have recently released their second album – The Catalyst Fire – on August 9, and are about to embark on a capsule European tour with eight dates planned across the UK, Germany and Belgium. Their second album follows their successful debut called This is the Warning, which reached the top of the Australian Album Chart and propelled them into support with Muse and Linkin Park during their tours of Australia.
I couldn’t possibly mention Australian music without one of my favourite acts that go by the name of Bliss n Eso, and have been the dominant force of Australian Hip Hop for many years. Their influences are no other than hip hop gods Wu-Tang Clan whom they reference throughout their music. The trio – consisting of Australians, Eso and DJ Izm alongside American native, Bliss – have had great success in Australia, but have never emulated that success in America or Europe. Flying Colours was the album that really ‘made’ the group, by making them only the second Australian group to have a hip-hop album certified GOLD.
Their fourth studio album Running on Air, saw collaborations with Xzibit (Most notable for presenting Pimp my Ride) and other Australian rappers including Jehst and 13 Mind over Matter. It was the first album to knock Eminem off of the album chart, and was also the group’s first PLATINUM selling album. The album’s tour comprised of 14 sold-out shows across Australia in front of a total of 60,000 people, and cemented itself as the highest selling local hip-hop tour of all time. They released their fifth studio album Circus in the Sky on June 28, which to this date has only been outsold by Daft Punk in Australia – which is not something to take lightly. With hip-hop really finding a market in the Australian music scene, other artists have come out of the woodwork to rival Bliss n Eso. Spit Syndicate have been hailed “hip-hop’s next big thing” by many a critic and have really made a mark on the Australian music scene, having recently released their third studio album called Sunday Gentlemen.
If singer-songwriters are more your thing, then look no further than Owl Eyes who appeared in season 6 of Australian Idol. Unfortunately she was eliminated from the contest but luckily for us she carried on writing her own music, which has been receiving endless praise from both critics and fans. Her debut EP Faces was a great success, really showing her talent in writing elaborate fantasies of escapism in fictional worlds into breezy, intelligent indie-pop songs. Owl Eyes is just one act of many great singer-songwriters from Australia; take Courtney Barnett and Diesel for example, who have both been on the music scene in Australia for much longer than Owl Eyes. Courtney Barnett recorded her debut EP in a friend’s living room in 2011, and later released the album in April 2012 which had great airplay on Australian radio. Courtney was suitably surprised by its success, commenting: “It’s funny, because it doesn’t even have a chorus”. She is now tipped to be crowned “Australia’s new Queen of rock ‘n’ roll”.
There are so many Australian artists that I could speak about and really wanted to, but I feel this is a great overview of what the Australian music scene is filled with at the moment. If you like some of these artists then I urge you to download their material. If you are able to, then I suggest you try and listen to some Australian radio. Like I said earlier in the article: “Australian commercial radio is obligated to play 25% Australian-performed music between 6am and midnight.” It really does mean that you can find some great artists that are trying to not only break the Australian music scene, but are also trying to make it big worldwide.
If you have a couple more minutes to spare, why not check out the past week’s other content?
- Feature: Harry’s August Music Highlights
- From The Archives – Review: The Beatles – ‘Rubber Soul’
- The Monday Playlist: Wild Wild West!