These days, all you hear about Western Australia is the mining boom, but we here at Radar are far more interested in the music boom. While Brisbane might be stealing the spotlight with their surplus of show-stopping bands,
four thousand kilometres west, Perth boasts its own rich vein of underground musical treasures.
In the past, the city’s been renown for its rock output - Eskimo Joe, Jebediah, Gyroscope, Tame Impala et al - but this time it’s a far more diverse collection of cool acts bubbling to the surface, everything from electro-pop to post-dubstep to ‘80s disco funk.
Here's ten Westside acts worthy of your attention right now. Let us know what you think…
A roaring mix of howling, scuzzy guitars and searing sex appeal, Abbe May’s latest album Design Desire had critics crawling over each other to bestow praise. And rightly so – songs like “Mammalian Locomotion’ and ‘Taurus Chorus’ proved as thrilling as they were fierce. Her hard work recently paid off when she claimed six WAMis (West Australian Music Industry awards) including nods for Live Act, Female Vocalist and Rock Act.
Sounding like the runaway children of The Knife and Ladytron, the Voltaire Twins splice big, shadowy synth, sparkling pop hooks and the haunted harmonies of twins Tegan and Jaymes. Equally striking is their visual aesthetic, which has seen them produce amazing if somewhat creepy videos on an independent band’s budget. Their new EP Apollo drops this month.
With three members in common (Kevin Parker, Jay Watson and Nick Allbrook), it’s no surprise that Pond drink from the same wigged-out water as psych-rock stars Tame Impala. Also featuring Joseph Ryan and Jamie Terry, Pond’s status as a loose musical collective got a little more formal when they signed to Modular, home of Tame, The Presets and Cut Copy, last year and dropped their groovy-as-funk fourth album Beard Wives Denim last March. Mind-bending stuff.
An obvious inclusion, you’d be hard pressed to find an Aussie band who’s had a better 12 months than this Fremantle four-piece. They've sold out shows around the country and land a record deal with Alberts, home of Gotye, Washington and some band called AC/DC. On top of that, earlier this month these teens walked away with a staggering eight WAMi (West Australian Music Industry) Awards.
Sitting somewhere between Bat For Lashes and Cat Power on the sonic spectrum, this spunky siren delivered her spirited, sweeping debut album Gossamer last year. Veering from spritely tribal pop (‘Finders & Keepers’) to dark, haunted laments (‘Siren Song’), the record earned her a whole new legion of fans east and west, plus five nominations at the recent WAMi Awards to boot.
Happily free of pretence and hipster posing, Perth’s Emperors aren’t afraid to rock out in all their raw, rugged glory. Recalling the likes of Smashing Pumpkins and the Silversun Pickups, they hark back to grunge’s golden age with crunchy, distorted guitars wrapped around rousing sing-a-long choruses and frontman Adam Livingston’s impassioned vocals. Love it.
Bastian’s Happy Flight
You've got to love a band that takes its name from the classic ‘80s kids flick The Neverending Story (Bastian was the boy who flew on Falkor the Luckdragon, but you already knew that, right?). As the retro name suggests, this five-piece love the ‘80s with a passion, throwing themselves into synth-drenched disco funk like it's going out of fashion and; again. Awesome.
Rainy Day Women
Like The Beautiful Girls, Perth’s Rainy Day Women includes absolutely no females – rainy or otherwise. It does however feature four lads with a penchant for beautiful, drifting indie pop that’s as sunny as it is smart. If that flicks your switch, track down their recently released Sleigh Bed EP.
There's a healthy level of hype surrounding Perth's runner and it's one that's well earned. The Perth quintet blend lovely, lush post-rock with dual drums, multi-layered harmonies and occasional vocals to hypnotic effect. Their recently released Indiana EP may just be the ultimate post-Saturday night hangover cure.
Ylem's pronounced 'Eye-lem' and means "primordial substance from which all matter was formed." It's also the moniker for this talented Westside musician/producer/ DJ who's made a name for himself with his dynamic live shows. Using dubstep and bass music as a launch pad, he sets off on his own course into dreamy, glitchy, alien beatscapes that sound like a chill-out party on the dark side of the moon.