Music

7 acts leading the next wave of Australian rock

Over time, Australia has become a petri dish for some of rock’s most innovative acts. These 7 groups represent the next wave of homegrown talent.

Rock and roll has been the lifeblood of Australian music for decades. AC/DC struck into the mainstream with their no-nonsense hooks. Beds Are Burning from Midnight Oil was a masterstroke of message meets music. The songcraft of Powderfinger remains endearing as ever.

Today, we’re sharing seven newer Australian rock acts with you. Like their predecessors, we believe these inventive acts have the legs to find their way to the canals of rock and roll history.

Amyl & The Sniffers

Amyl & The Sniffers are as wild as their name suggests. The band described themselves to us as “having mullets and kinda playing Aussie pub rock”, which is the gospel truth, but it’s more than just raucousness driving this lot to the top. Amyl & The Sniffers paint a vivid picture of angst, throttled with relentless riffage and energetic vocals with every song. Amy’s voice rings rugged and true, an XL megaphone voicing the youth’s dissatisfaction with the rat race of modern life.

Naturally, the band excelled throughout Australia’s beloved pubs, raising their fan base with every chorus. The band are reshaping rock by bringing the genre back to its roots: unadulterated head-bopping with lyrics that speak to the commoner.

Amyl & The Sniffers won Best Rock Album at the 2019 ARIAS, and they haven’t let their guard down since. So if you’re looking to let loose, look no further than this motley crew.

Recommended tracks: SecurityI’m Not a Loser, Guided By Angels. You can also pre-order their upcoming album Comfort To Me here.

The Buoys

The Buoys are a band that puts words to the unspoken moments. Has someone nicked your taxi? Fucked you around at work? Given you a Tinder date dryer than powdered milk? The Buoys have spoken on it, with sighs between the hooks that ooze emotion.

The Buoys pair the old school with the new school, bringing a fresh atmosphere to the rock game. Outback guitars and rolling drums drench their sound. Still, the vocals are pop-polished and melodic, a wondrous juxtaposition for those craving gut-punching stories of the every day with both pop and rock elements.

Their cheekily misleading band name also highlights another exciting aspect of the four-piece; this is an all-female ensemble offering perspectives seldom lit, increasing the urgency of their experiences.

Recommended Tracks: Bad Habit, Linda, Blues Point Road 

Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers

Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers, not to be mistaken for King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard, are a group looking for some ass to kick. In only a few years, they’ve captured the endless frenetic habits of adolescence and bottled them up into three-minute long anthems.

From escaping monotony (“I’ve been setting my alarm just a little bit late just to feel the rush of the deadline”) to recalling times of innocence (“Out late on the grass and talk, and we never felt scared”), the punk rockers pull it off so damn effortlessly.

TJATJT have been reshaping Aussie rock by injecting elements of punk and grunge into their tunes, giving their modern production some nostalgic charm. Already playing alongside contemporaries like Dear Seattle and Alex Lahey, they’re simply bursting with potential.

Recommended Tracks: Desk Chair, AHHHH!, See You In A Bit (I Still Care)

Yours Truly

For the pop-punk bone in your body, here comes Yours Truly. Yes, they rock the hairstreaks and the ripped jeans, but my god, they’ve earned it. Their tracks gallop with shimmering guitars, belted choruses, tom breaks, and all the hallmarks of sticky pop-punk. Yours Truly remain unique and innovative with their lyrical content, exploring the complex issues of mental health and anxiety, previously unheard of in the punk world.

Even better, Yours Truly never sound contrived in their process. In every track, they manage to work vulnerable moments of catharsis (“you’ll never be my hero”)  into fist-clenching moshpit bangers. The band performed their tune Funeral Home for us Live At Enmore, and needless to say, the irresistible lead guitar lick had us hooked.

Recommended Tracks: High HopesFuneral Home, Siamese Souls

WAAX

What do you get when you combine vocal quivers, chugging guitars, inimitable angst, and an audience of fist-pumpers who missed the last train to watch the encore? WAAX, that’s who. This little Brissie punk band has gone from stride to stride, sharpening their songwriting until it leaves a scar on your bruised heart.

For their landmark 2019 debut album Big Grief, WAAX worked alongside Powderfinger frontman Bernard Fanning and production titan Nick DiDia (Springsteen, Pearl Jam) to sculpt one of the most dynamic records of the year. If you’ve got some rage pent-up, go for a walk and pump some WAAX. You won’t regret it.

Recommended Tracks: Labrador, Most Hated Girl, I Am

Carla Geneve

“Mixing antibiotics with alcohol. When you kiss me you say that I taste like methanol.” These were the first lyrics I heard from Geneve, and it was all the proof I needed to give her discography a headfirst dive.

Whether she’s getting her emo-rock on with Dog Eared or knitting indie-rock and country on The Right Reasons, the Perth singer/songwriter has a distinctive touch for catching a lifetime of heartbreak into a single song. I think that’s one of the key selling points of Geneve. Her output is always vulnerable, before anything else. If you’re chasing some considered Aussie rock that’s as vivid as it is uninhibited, raise a glass of cheap piss and give this up-and-comer a crack.

Recommended Tracks: Dog Eared, The Right Reasons, Greg’s Discount Chemist 

Courtney Barnett

I’ve always had a soft spot for Courtney Barnett. No wordsmith has ever quite captured suburban mundanity like her, and during lockdown, her observations ring truer than ever. Barnett is largely influenced by folk, country, and fuzz-rock, lacing her melodies with harmonica, screeching guitars, and deadpan storytelling. But, like Bob Dylan, Barnett leaves the uncomfortable facts out to dry, and it’s our job to peg them up with our own experiences.

Barnett is reshaping rock because her deliveries are understated, a refreshing contrast to the thousands of rock acts belting high notes for your attention. She doesn’t need sweeping melodies or euphonious solos for the story to shine.

Recommended Tracks: Avant Gardener, Rae Street, Three Packs A Day