On the very slight off chance that you take time to read this, I wanted to quickly get across a coupla things.
Australian music as it stands sits underneath the surface of this silly ol’ country most of the time. As is evidenced time and time again on this site and a fair few others, there’s a great deal to be excited by when you have a dig around. Too many of us however (although maybe not you – the other us perhaps) either don’t know or actively don’t give a fuck. I hope for many that it’s actually the latter, although from the small amount of rummaging I’ve done, I fear it to be the former.
I hope it’s the latter because it would mean that the industry itself is working. People are hearing all this great Australian music and realising that it’s not for them. It would make the whole process a hell of a lot easier.
Instead though, I fear that the stories that the musicians below have invested so much of their pain and time into largely go unnoticed. This isn’t the fault of the musician – although there is some utter drivel out there. For a large group of artists though, you can hear the stories and the soul and the makings of people within song. These songs are incredibly personal things. And what’s fucking great about music is that the form opens these really personal ideas up and allows Audience to feel a deep connection.
It has much more to do with the way in which our (although again, you dear reader may well be the odd one out) institutions (largely the media in this instance) have made it more difficult for Australian musicians to be heard. This isn’t something limited only to music as a cultural form. Practitioners of other forms like film, television, literature often have to cut their teeth overseas before anyone locally cares to take notice. The most popular post ever made on this site was for Gotye’s ‘Somebody That I Use To Know’ way back in 2011. This was around 2 years before the track became massive in Australia, which only happened after a small amount of groundswell here and it going massive in the States (and right around the world for that matter).
It’s great that such an incredible track (yeah, I still feel that way about it) ended up getting the coverage it deserved, but shouldn’t it be the other way round? Sure, tall poppy syndrome and all that, but we (this time it’s all of us), as a broader media consciousness should be shouting this stuff from the highest fucking rooftops from the get go, not just those low level townhouse rooftops. Let the world take notice of Australian music instead of Australia taking notice of the rest of the world taking notice of us.
So with all that said and done, how about some actual proper writing. As usual, considerations of a select few are below. That’s not to take away from those other excellent songs that form this list.
Something that appears infinately important to our local Australian music scene is the sense of family that emerges. Sure we are one big ol’ family for the most part, but those smaller ones, largely based around labels and management – think Flightless, Mirror Music, Osborne St – are where we see the real affect of what that close, tight knit sense of family (in a broad happy positive sense) can bring. Pieater, built around the incredible work that Big Scary do are another such family. Airling, who is on Pieater, you can tell brings that sense of warmth across in her work (you should catch her live if ya get the chance). ‘Move Me’ of course sounds like an Airling record. It also sounds like a Pieater record if their sound is anything to go by. ‘Move Me’ is a jaunt of sorts, a kind of angular continuous prod at the body, forcing it to move.
Young people eh? Who needs ’em, wants ’em? Well lotsa people as it turns out. Gretta Ray has kinda taken the whole of this local scene by storm with an incredible song. Easily up there on my list of the best Australian songs for the year, ‘Drive’ manages to catapult itself forward with a sophisticated propulsion, something that it feels a lot of artists are doing, but very few do well. Gretta does this incredibly well.
To see the rise of an artist like Jarrow has been nothing short of exciting. From those more humble cut and paste beginnings, a more earnest/ramshackle approach to music-making has emerged. The agitation in a track like ‘$$ Spoilers $$’ is slight but effective. Ideas feel purposefully cut just short, the fragility of how the drums come through in the mix. Everything Jarrow does feels resolute – everything is in it’s right place.
Prudence Rees-Lee is of course an artist that works on a sense of displacement. Having an experimental string-laden pop thing in the middle of a playlist that is about championing new Australian ‘popular’ music, is a displacement. The way in which ‘Fair Witness’ manages to sit within this playlist with such ease skews the way in which we hear popular music. And all this in just under 2 minutes makes for a quick short jab to the guts. Nothing short of excellent.
Tape below. Press play on all of it. Go check out some of these rad artists if they’re playing in your town. Go make sure that you go out and find a new favourite.