Invasion Australia Day! For those of you who have never had the immense pleasure of visiting the land down under (where this particular music writer was both born and raised), you could be forgiven for thinking it’s all about koalas, surfing and barbeques (although you’re definitely not forgiven, please read a book or something). Not only do Australians play with koalas, surf, throw shrimps on barbies, and relish in promoting untrue cultural stereotypes overseas (it’s so easy), they also make some really good art from time to time, and music is no exception. This isn’t a boast, but: Men At Work, Crowded House, AC/DC, Olivia Newton John, Kylie Minogue, Cold Chisel, Daryl Braithwaite, Rick Springfield, INXS, Air Supply, Paul Kelly, Nick Cave, Natalie Imbruglia, Savage Garden, Silverchair… And that’s only a scratch! Australia is still turning out some amazing artists, with 2011 being a big year for the Aussies. Here are seven artists that rocked that great southern land last year, and that will soon be rocking the rest of the world (that means YOU!):
We’ve already introduced you to Gotye, whose track “Somebody I That Used To Know” is taking the world by storm. In the tradition of Australia Day, Australia’s premier radio station, Triple J, known for launching new talent, runs a Hottest 100 show, as voted by listeners. “Somebody I Used To Know” came in at number one, but it’s no surprise really; the track was the highest selling Australian song of the year, the video has 50 million views on YouTube and is sitting comfortably at 21 and 58 on the UK and US charts respectively. Gotye also won an ARIA (Australia’s answer to the Grammys) for Best Male Artist and Best Pop Release, as it soon to be VH1’s featured You Oughta Know artist (squee!) so watch this space…
Forget Kimbra‘s roaring success with her Gotye duet, “Somebody That I Used To Know,” her platinum selling debut album, Vows, and her ARIA for Best Female Artist, and what you have left is a beautiful, talented young woman who is as vocally dexterous live as she is on record. Her album is filled with deliciously seductive pop songs that teeter comfortably between an otherworldly Kate Bush-era femininity and speakeasy charm, and there’s something almost perfectly incomplete in its execution that will leave you intrigued, and hankering for the next chapter in the Kimbra story.
3. Architecture In Helsinki
Architecture In Helsinki have been stalwarts of Australian pop music since their 2003 debut — when all else fails you can always rely on AIH to inject joy back into music with their upbeat tempo, high energy videos and signature whimsical, quirky lyricism. Their 2011 album Moment Bends, took off where 2007’s Places Like This left off, giving fans a slightly more mature, but no less raucously fun set of songs to help us deal with the “Heart It Races” comedown.
4. San Cisco
Newcomers San Cisco may just have the next big indie-pop anthem with the catchy “Awkward”. Coming in at number seven on Triple J’s Hottest 100, San Cisco follow in the grand tradition of Architecture In Helsinki, The Grates and Operator Please to build upon a legacy of adorable lyricism underscored with a cheeky wit and played over an infectious beat.
5. The Jezabels
The Jezabels offer a romantic, Pitchfork-ready buzz-sound with their deeply referential style that sits somewhere between the haphazardly defined “chillwave” genre, the soaring openness of 80s synth (we even find similarities between “Endless Summer”‘s runaway beat and M83‘s horizon chasing “Kim & Jessie”) with a touch of the 90s alterna girl vocal that lends The Jezabels an unassailable edge.
6. Boy & Bear
Fresh off the back of a hyped and subsequently acclaimed US tour, Boy & Bear cleaned up in the Aussie ARIA’s taking home awards for Best Group, Breakthrough Artist in both Album and Single categories, as well as Best Adult Alternative Album. “Feeding Line” came in at number four on Triple J’s Hottest 100, so Boy & Bear are definitely building up to be a force in not only the Australian but the international scene. They’ll especially resonate with you if you’re a fan of Arcade Fire, Villagers or Local Natives.
Last year WIM were busy taking their self-titled debut album on the road, and got quite the reception here in the states. So much so they played at Sundance last week and are on the bill for 2012’s SXSW festival (they’re touring the states between the events), and we’re expecting somewhat of a critical explosion once they’re showcased before the experts. Their music is captivating to say the least, haunting in parts, and for an Australian living overseas, songs like “Something For You” evoke a certain nostalgia for the mother country. WIM the album is a journey from the ocean to the rainforest to the dust bowl at the centre — evocative and affectionate, WIM is as relevant and buzz-worthy as it is imbibed with the spirit of the Australian landscape.