Goddamn, there’s a lot of cracking Australian music currently roaming the planet. And it’s a good thing; because each band below is killing it on tour as well as back here in Oz.
The Seattle-based KEXP Radio is a big deal, it has put a number of artists into the eyes and ears of American fans, who, in the best way possible, can be rabid over new music. There’s just something about the way we do things, and these bad boys (and girls) below know how to do their thing; whether it be psychedelic rock, pop or electronica.
So here it is, a bite-sized, lip-smacking take on those who have left our shores and have killed it, who you should be acquainting your ears with, and who to tell your overseas friends about; all thanks to the magically shot live performances at KEXP.
Got some spare time on your hands? Sink into some Aussies live on KEXP and killing it with these seven amazing performances, and do us proud in the studio.
Brilliant, unpredictable psychedelia courtesy of Perth. Think distant cousins of Dead Meadow and Comets On Fire and you’re getting warm. Midnight Mass is a fantastic example of what they’re all about. You can’t help but be enraptured by the tripped-out fuzz, the delayed guitar and bubbling, warping synth (used dramatically and skillfully, might I add). It is a direct paean to legends of the genre, 13th Floor Elevators, and with aplomb. Sit back, close your eyes and let go. The alien-esque finale, as the mothership relinquishes from earth, is a stunning ending to a ripper of a track.
Sydney’s Jagwar Ma made a pretty big impact overseas and at home back in 2013 with their brilliant debut album Howlin’. They spent a pretty solid chunk of their time after it’s release roaming the UK and US, winning over audiences with their infectious psychadelic pop. With a Stone Roses heart, and an Avalanches mind, Jagwar Ma create a wonderful electronic pastiche, with colourful beats, samples, noises and melodies, that are wrapped in a warm psychadelic package. They pull it all off surprisingly well, considering the complexity of it all. It’s all pretty loose and organic, and goddamn those vintage synths in Come Save Me sound nice.
Twerps make adorable guitar-centered pop courtesy of Melbourne town. Happy music that feels like Saturday morning and first kisses, and that totally belong on the soundtrack to the next Wes Anderson film. Simple Feelings, as captured here, is a jangling 60s flashback that definitely brings to mind easier times, simple days and orange flavoured Sunny Boys on a verandah as a kid. It’s a great introduction to a branch of pop that still has an indie rock sensibility – playful, shiny melodies and relaxed vocals that are almost sounding like an Aussie Thurston Moore.
I don’t know about you, but Plain Gold Ring by Nina Simone has got to be one of the most haunting songs ever created. All sea-floor-crawling vocals, so round with sadness, set against a menacing snare drum. This video highlights Kimbra’s rich voice at its most versatile and imaginative, and the song is given an entirely new feeling without losing its potent meaning. It’s a crossroads where jazz and soul meet the grittiness of her very own electro-influenced pop. While New Zealand born, I’m still shouting her as a wicked Aussie performance…it’s Gotye’s fault.
Courtney Barnett is currently turning into a phenomenon – winning the world over with her devil-may-care guitar (and hair-do) and grungy tales told through ironic lyricism. The lack of artifice, and focus on guitar, has endeared people with her natural aesthetic and innate quirkiness. She reminds me of The Red Sun Band, only with an added six pack of Victoria Bitter. Here, with her band all dressed as cult horror antagonists – because, well, it’s Courtney Barnett – she plays a mean guitar, and wears whatever the fuck she wants!
Quirky harmonies, circus synths, reverb drenched vocals and twangy guitars are what Sydney’s Cloud Control are all about. Although heading into the KEXP studio just before the release of their second album Dream Cave, it’s the Bliss Release track Meditation Song #2 (Why, Oh, Why) that is the highlight of this performance. That blistering fuzz guitar and intoxicating vocal hook! It’s all that super 70s rock n’ roll that makes Cloud Control one of our most adored international exports.
Electronica that rewards with loads of funk, awesome hooks and less navel gazing; this is music to dance to, swigging that vodka black at Purple Sneakers or The Espy post-gig with a 1am buzz.With a knack for sing-a-long bridges that leap or slide into almost anthemic choruses that you can’t help but get caught up in, Miami Horror portray Australia’s fun-loving interpretation of the electronic genre which can be passionate but kooky – it doesn’t always have to wade into greys and be aloof and intellectual, or grim and jagged. For those with a love of Cut Copy, Van She and The Presets (albeit with less monotone delivery and more quaver) – indie-tronica is something Oz does well.