Here are up and coming Australian bands to keep your eye on.
When people think of Australian bands, they’ll think of the country’s classic exports: AC/DC, Nick Cave, and The Triffids. There’s a history of pub rock that holds strong on the mainland of this continent, and the term ‘rock dog’ gets thrown around with knowing irony. With many great venues and relatively small cities, it’s easy to catch great live music on the regular in a thriving scene. The close-knit nature of communities in cities like Sydney and Melbourne fosters new talent wonderfully—and this tends, in homegrown scenes, to favour seeing gender diverse line-ups supported. Here are some bands, old and new, to get yourself acquainted with the rock scene Australia has to offer.
Hailing from the quiet suburbs of Southern Australia, Terrible Truths are a trio with a sporadic output. Having only released one full-length LP, yet having enjoyed a stellar reputation before the advent of that record, Terrible Truths have proved themselves worth the wait. Their tracks are spare but forceful, a masterclass in well-honed punk and post-punk, with sparse layers of urgent vocals from Rani Rose and Stacey Wilson scattered over tight bass lines and impatient drums from Joe Alexander. Look out for the next LP; however long you have to wait, it’s sure to be rewarding.
On the release of her self-titled fourth album, Jen Cloher experienced significant success overseas for the first time. It’s a timely recognition: her record documents a distinct Australiana and provides an insightful take on the country’s music scene. ‘On this faded shore, forgotten and ignored,’ she chants on track ‘Great Australian Bight’, which details the difficulties of sustaining a career in music when you’re quite literally a world away from other scenes. There’s a beautifully intimate chemistry to Cloher’s band that is captured on the recording (her partner and She Shreds cover star Courtney Barnett plays guitar on the LP). She proves her capability for moving from folksy tunes like ‘Dark Magic’ to sheer riot grrrl-inspired rock like ‘Strong Woman’ in just one skip of a track.
If you ever get the chance to see Loose Tooth live, take it. They’re a band who have mastered the good old fashioned art of on-stage banter. Since they’re neither shy nor retiring, watching Loose Tooth play live is also like watching a bunch of mates having a bloody good time catching up—there’s no moody atmosphere, just hilarious anecdotes and a good dose of Aussie humour. Quite aside from their brilliant live shows, having recently released ‘Keep Up’, their third (and arguably most accomplished) record yet, Loose Tooth gives you some kick-on ready garage pop tunes, with a distinct mix of Etta and Nellie’s call-and-response vocal arrangements ready to whip you into a frenzy.
It’s difficult to talk about up-and-coming bands in Australia without mentioning the confrontationally cutting-edge duo Habits, who are a firm favourite in the Melbourne scene and beyond. While their music might best be described as gothy bangers (though there’s no really apt way to describe their records), the attitude is undeniably and viscerally punk. They’re a band dead-set on warping every conceivable norm—from gender to sound to aesthetics—preferring to grab their listeners by the guts and wrench them through as many bars of intoxicating noise as they see fit. Which makes it sound like there’s no melody to Habits’ music—there is, and quite often affectingly so. It will just come when you least expect it. And that’s what makes Habits a truly distinct act in the Australian music scene right now. With them, there’s no such thing as an impartial listen.
A seasoned act from Melbourne, Deaf Wish recently released their fifth studio album, ‘Lithium Zion’, to real acclaim. The band has previously enjoyed comparisons with the heady sounds of Sonic Youth and Joy Division and for good reason; singers Sarah Hardiman and Jensen Tjhung certainly don’t shy away from the dynamic they’re often compared to. But beyond the comparisons, the band’s latest record particularly marks a maturation in their sonic journey, not least thanks to their abandonment of thrown-together recordings in favour of proper studio production. The band has long been a proponent of rock’s ability to provide the listener deliverance—and they show no signs of slowing down now.
Composed of four sisters hailing from rural Victoria, Stonefield are a distinct band coming out of Australia’s rock scene. Inspired by their parents’ record collection, which included the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin, the sisters first came to recognition through Australian music station triple J’s renowned Unearthed competition, a nationwide search for the best new talent. The sisters have gone on to book spots at Glastonbury and tour their home country, bringing their reverberating throwback psychedelic rock to a wider audience. The sisters’ discography—which includes four full-length releases so far—references prog rock and psych from the sixties and seventies, while remaining thoroughly modern, all at once.