Words by Zoe Sainsbury
Australia is teeming with quality music: it’s coming out of the secondhand Vinnies furniture woodwork (the only type musicians can afford).
There is so much good stuff fogging up mikes around this great land, perhaps that's why it’s so difficult for new artists to get decent airplay and sell units? Thank god for Facebook is all I can say, *groupies nod their heads* and bandcamp, twitter etc.
We here at Radar do our best to get indie acts into the ears of people with a quality genetic makeup, and the Aussie scene right now is a creative melting pot we feel bloody privileged to be able to dip a spoon into and share with you guys.
The 20-strong list of bands below includes some who are on the cusp of making some serious waves in 2012 & some who deserve to be. Some we’ve spun… and some we unfortunately haven’t (but it is always in the name of really championing those we do choose & giving them a healthy rotation).
If we’ve missed any of your favourite up and comers, please let us know by dropping a link in the comments. Share the musical love!
A NSW 4 piece made up of 3 brothers & a childhood friend – is this Australia’s answer to Kings of Leon? (Let’s hope not after Come Around Sundown). These guys have their own style of heartfelt rock with soul. This track Lay it Down speaks for itself, as does the 5K + plays on their Facebook page… Big things to come in 2012 me thinks.
We have fallen in love with the topsy-turvy sweetness of this male & female vocal led 4 piece from WA. Watch their latest video for single “Awkward” and tell us you don’t feel the same! Their forthcoming 2nd EP is sure to chip into the hearts of many more this year… they already have over 10K Facebook fans – that’s a damn fine start!
This quirky mustached solo artist is Jervis Bay’s answer to Tom Waits! I happened to catch his enigmatic stage performance live at Peats Ridge: the weight and sheer power of his vocals forced punters strolling by to bank in layers back from the tent’s edges. Rolling Stone France also just gave his EP 4/5 stars. Why people don’t know more about this guy keeps me tossing and turning at night...
A hypnotic live band with a lead vocalist who combines the power of Florence Welch with the dappled, mysteriousness of Bjork. They’re a 6 piece from Brisbane that haven’t quite yet generated the buzz they deserve. I can only hope the glowing reports post Peats Ridge performance find their way back to the metro & give their cause a well deserved kick. Their debut album Hadean is due out early 2012 – FYI – it won’t be long until everyone finds out about Founds, so get on it.
Supposedly Australia’s answer to Two Door Cinema Club - although it’s rough branding bands so early on in their career. They do have a Foals-esque staccato style to their guitar playing that does ring a familiar bell... but their indie pop flavour has some beautiful unique variations of it's own - I love a mid-song tempo change! That and they have a tight live throwdown to match. Judging by their rafter-packed live shows, 2012 is their year.
Although this Newcastle 6 piece already made some ground with their 2010 LP By Limbo Lake, their frenetic instrument swapping live show is yet to gain them some serious traction – why? Who knows. The guys are currently in studio recording their second LP (& after getting handed a few sneaky samples on the sly) you can definitely expect some exciting new things. Watch out!
She’s little and cute but her explosive one-woman show packs a punch to boot! Elizabeth Rose’s future looks bright, not only as a solo artist but she’s made some killer remixes of Jinja Safari & Flight Facilities definitely worth checking out on her Soundcloud. She seems like one of those “Jonathan Boulet” type artists that has so many creative ideas flowing, she has to work on a million side-projects at the same time just to sleep at night. FYI I think she’s going to be huge.
This guy’s ethereal electronic production has seen his Dreams EP slip into many a prestigious Top 50 Albums list of 2011 (Inthemix for 1, mine too but I don’t think it’s “prestigious” yet). It’s been good to see experimental electronic music get more of a local push in 2011, but still artists like Seekae and PVT are having to leave our shores to get the support they need. Hopefully Oliver can help turn this around in 2012.
As the story goes frontman Dylan (or Diz) started out busking outside a pub in Newtown, to recently selling out shows at the Enmore Theatre – why they are still unsigned remains a mystery (I hope it’s by choice). Such a refreshing mix of indie, pop, rock and reggae icing-ed off with Diz’s silky smooth vocals, if this band don’t break soon… I might lose faith that there’s a place for ‘outside the square’ music in this country.
Featuring former Red Riders members Al and Tom, these guys are working on altering their sound away from the “pop” they proclaimed they used to make. And true to form their first offering under the new name “Summer is Done With Us” has a different, more retro feel…The Drums V Yuck perhaps? Either way a fresh start means fresh enthusiasm and if this 1st single is anything to go by, it’s going to be a hell of a year for Palms.
They’re supporting Girls tour in February which is a damn fine start to the year. Their hazy lazy lo-fi stylings also saw them creep onto some critically acclaimed Top 50 list (RCRD LBL for 1) & Pitchfork gave their self-titled debut a 7.9! Once again I fear the Melbourne 4 piece will have to jump ship to get a larger slice of the music market pie. Alas… We’ll be watching your imminent progress Twerps!
An indie garage band with some real hooky riffs – reminiscent of Modest Mouse/Port O’Brien. Their first single "Bad to Me" is an absolute corker: if you can remain still listening to it, I’d be concerned about my health. Sam’s vox have that rough three-day-growth edge that really give their songs both grunt and heart. I can see these guys taking it to the world, as the second band on the Girls support list, they're on their way.
These guys are a thrash punk duo who started sending a rush of blood and excitement to many young peeps heads only just last year, and we’re more pumped than ever now. On the Laneway ticket this Feb, it will be interesting to see how they rock out on stage… Considering their Facebook profile reads “We started at a house party... we will most likely end at one.” I think they will smash it like they don’t even care! NME just named them as one of their top 20 bands to watch too – mad chops right there!
I just read on their Facebook page “Wow, we just finished our album”, are you just as excited? Australia has some of the best indie pop acts in the world and this 5 piece from Ballarat are set to lead the way. Their music is both catchy and experimental – tick, tick in my book. Remembering when I 1st heard Treehouse on the radio I had my pen poised to write down the artist name… let’s hope their forthcoming album has many others doing the same.
So as far as I know, this Brisbane duo only have one mastered track, “Half of It” but they’re gigging around so I’m guessing their set list is more extensive (they bagged the Neon Indian Brisbane support so they must!). This one song is enough for me to bet on them for a bonza year in 2012. The track has some sweet fuzzy layers of keys and marimba beats (Toto, is that you?). Can’t wait to see what these guys have up their Hawaiian shirtsleeves in 2012.
He’s a Sydney solo producer (Harley Steen) who bounced onto the electronic scene with this Summery little ditty “Sleepless” (feat. Anthony & Cleopatra) just last year (he’s also produced some really interesting re-interpretations of indie tunes of 2011 – check them out on his Soundcloud – that show he has a real artistic maturity well beyond his years). His EP of the same name had me at first listen – enough to bag him a Field Day slot too. Flume, the future looks as bright as this track feels.
Only freshly signed to Spunk Records, this Sydney five piece have a lot of promise. Yes they’re another indie rock band, but their music is really melodic: some interesting guitar arrangements that separate them from the rest (I’d liken the vocals to Earnest Ellis). I can see this band producing a really solid album from what I’ve heard. We’re spinning their freshest single “Angeline” which received a yes all round for a playlist add back in December.
What happened to indie folk in 2011? Boy & Bear stole all the limelight. And not to rain on their well deserved parade in any way, but their success didn’t leave much stage space for other tune-toting bands like Tin Sparrow. They lay some really beautiful harmonies over stomping, Xavier Rudd style percussion and air-guitar worthy riffs. Take your shoes off and dread your hair, as these guys are going to be bringing it back in 2012.
Island Records have just jumped on these guys, and with good reason. The Cairos make alternative garage rock that doesn’t stinge on power riffs or melody – and it’s nice to see a bit of spit-on-the-mike, head banging front-of-stage music get a deal. Their latest single is probably the least heavy I’ve heard them and the most catchy – and variation will always take you far my friend! Check it out.
These disco infused pop peeps hail from Perth and are just starting to make some waves with their recent booking to perform at South by Southwest Festival. They sound like a mix between Justice, Ou Est Le Swimming Pool and the Pet Shop Boys (keh? Yes!). Either/or you won’t be able to not cut some serious shapes to these guys pulsing synth dance music. I especially dig their first single Animalia (listen below). There’s not really an act on the Aussie scene that sound like the Voltaire Twins, so I’m hoping 2012 they get the break they deserve.