Adelaide, Radelaide, Sadelaide. The city of churches, Coopers and boredom, right? Being the constant butt of jokes, it’s no surprise Adelaide’s the musical underdog when it comes to Australia’s mainland capital cities. And yet, looking back, it’s given us classic acts like Cold Chisel, The Angels and Paul Kelly and in more recent years Sia and the Hilltop Hoods... and Ben Folds wrote a song about the place right? Despite the fact most of those listed have since packed up their gear and high tailed it elsewhere, it still goes to show Adelaide has a lot more to offer than this country gives it credit for (and to be fair, all my Adelaide buddies are pretty damn cool… then again I’m from Newy, I think drinking longy’s in the park is cool).
Without further ado, here’s our tour guide to ten top Adelaidean acts guaranteed to banish the boredom…
“There’s not much to do in Adelaide, except start a band,” write Bad // Dreems in their bio. So they did, penning songs about “shitty Adelaide summers, doomed relationships and bad comedowns”. Thankfully, they’re pretty good songs too, channelling jangly, bittersweet retro guitar pop (think Real Estate, Twerps etc) that sticks in your head like an old photo.... most likely of the remnants of a doomed relationship. Earlier this year, they unveiled their gorgeous debut single ‘Chills’, which was produced by Children Collide frontman Johnny McKay and their latest track “Too Old” I featured in my Top 5 tracks of the Week.
Since cutting his teeth in rap freestyle and battle comps as he was a teenager (he won the first ever Australian Scribble Jam MC Battle) , MC/producer Purpose has gone on to build a solid reputation off the back of his If the City Had a Voice mixtape series. Boasting a liquid flow, no-bullshit attitude and a deft touch for tight productions, now he’s channelling his energies into a new long-player entitled Where It Starts, due out… well… anytime now.
It’s been a long, winding road for these long-haired lads but they’ve finally hit the fast lane. After dropping their debut EP Socialize in 2008, City Riots recorded their first album overseas a year later. But then they shelved it, choosing instead to continue refining the tract with Melbourne producer Paul ‘Woody’ Annison (Children Collide, Hunting Grounds).
The result is their polished gem of an EP Matchsticks and its gorgeous title track, which came out last October. Stoked with the results, the band re-entered the studio to finally nail that album and by all reports, it’s now in the can. Hopefully, they share it soon…
Fire! Santa Rose, Fire!
Love insistent, inventive indie-pop? Crave excessive, expressive punctuation?! Well, this fab five-piece pack both. They first grabbed our ears with early singles like ‘War Coward’ and ‘Animal Spirit Guide’ before pulling them right off with their 2010 debut album Sea Priest. They spent last year crafting its follow-up with UK producer (Foals, The Go! Team) and Nilesh Patel (Björk, The XX) who mastered it. A bold first step in the band’s constant evolution (they started as a post-hardcore band), the first cat out of the bag, ‘Panther Shrine’, leaves behind their spiky guitars behind for a lighter, brighter sound with Caitlin Duff’s angelic voice floating over it from high above. Sublime stuff.
Steering By Stars
Having stamped themselves on the musical map a year ago with their debut album Cables, this foursome have wasted no time, dropping a new double A-single ‘Ties That Bind’ / ‘Shallow Breath’ this month. A test drive for their forthcoming second record, the songs see the band pushing their signature post-punk sound into darker, more shadowy terrain with lead singer Lachlan Wilson sounding like he’s lost in a haunted forest, hence it’s no surprise they are doing a few shows with former Snowman frontman Joe McKee. Stay tuned for an east coast tour in late August / September.
I was also a big fan of this older track of theirs from “Closer”, great video.
Things move fast in this high-speed-broadband world and no one knows it better than Adelaide act Messrs. Formerly known as The Touch (thankfully they ditched that name), the band reinvented themselves last year with a fresh sound that’s all slick 80’s indie-disco, sparkling synth and snaking basslines.
They hit the ground running with their first single ‘Everybody Knows’, released last October, and have already clocked up appearances at Parklife, Big Day Out and the Fuse festival. Their curiously-titled next single ‘Moroccan Boy’ sees them continue to deliver the goods - and ‘80s flashbacks we just can’t put our finger on.
Sounding like some sort of fire-breathing superhero, Sparkspitter revel in instrumental post-rock/math rock that’s as sharply honed as it is hypnotic. Deftly built on lush layers and guitar loops, this trio’s tracks duck, weave and double back over expansive five-minute-plus soundscapes, often peaking in a dramatic squall of sound. They released their debut self-titled EP earlier this year and are already eyeing a South East Asian tour this November.
Having produced or guested on tracks for the Hilltop Hoods, Drapht, Funkoars and Pez, Adelaide’s Andrew Simmons stepped up last year with his debut solo album Audio Biography. Released through seminal Aussie hip hop label Obese (home of M-Phazes, Mantra, Illy), the record is a fresh blast of light and shade, humour and hard-hitting truths taking aim at modern life, consumerism and hip hop culture. As he tellingly declares on’Schoolyard Politics’: “We used to make beats on the lunch room table / Now we beef over bullshit labels!”
Amusingly, this band is just one letter away from the latin word Axilla, which means armpit, but these hardly stink (boom tish!). Dishing out a dynamic, dramatic brand of charging rock, this storming six-piece bat in the same ballpark as prog rockers Karnivool and The Butterfly Effect. Which might have a little to do that with the fact that their single ‘Jonah’ was mixed and mastered by producer Forrester Savell who’s worked with both bands in the past.
Decidedly female-free despite their name, this electro-rock unit have already ticked their fair share of boxes, scoring coveted slots in the Big Day Out Boiler Room, at Parklife and in front of 40,000 people at the Adelaide Fringe Festival. Combining rock and rave can be a tricky terrain – often it sounds forced or crap – but these guys pull it off with flare and lace it with an unabashed party attitude.
Case in point: their single ‘Animal’, which sounds like Jane’s Addiction’s Perry Ferrell going off at a rave. On the strength of the EP of the same name, the lads recently toured the UK and we can’t wait to see what they do next…
Ooops did we say 10? I'm a creative, I can't count.
These guys have been around for a while (formerly Sundance Kids) hence their late inclusion, but they've just released a new track "Where She Wants Me" (which we've added) after 18 months of scribbling, strumming and scraping together a new album (recording it in Chapel Lane Studios). They have that quintessential prog-rock/emo sound (think Incubus - new age Incubus - not old, Birds of Tokyo, eve Temper Trap) which you would imagine would well in the States. The boys have worked with a international producer for this new album so here's hoping it helps take them round the world.