Last time I explored my Australian music journey through the rearview mirror. This time I’m going to bring everything up to date with a look at the contemporary scene which must be as strong as it ever has been. Before I look forward there are few notable performers who should be mentioned. Courtney Barnett has been a favourite for some while – she has a new album, ‘Things Take Time, Take Time‘ coming out in the Autumn, and it shows that the time with Kurt Vile was well spent.
All of her records are worth the investment. Also worth noting at the same time is Jen Cloher; she’s been recording since 2006, and here’s a track off her 2017 eponymous album. You might recognise some of the people featured in the video.
One band that has done a lot to raise the profile of Australia recently has been Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever who have been going since 2013. They’ve put out a couple of albums and EPs, and are something of a hybrid of the Go-Betweens and the Feelies (and as great as that concept might be, in reality, it is even better): with three guitarist/vocalist/songwriters, things are never still. Here’s ‘French Press‘ from the EP of the same name. If you like this then I’d suggest you read on.
One band that I’d pick out for developing into something great is Quivers. Ever since I heard ‘Ridin’ on the Hearses‘ I’ve been completely smitten. Their album ‘Golden Doubt‘ from earlier this year shows a massive development – ‘You’re Not Always on My Mind‘ is a particular earworm. They even covered REM’s ‘Out of Time‘ and made a charming and disarming job of it. They remind me of the Chills, without sounding anything like them.
Another band making a few waves (and garnering Go-Betweens comparisons – perhaps not surprising as Robert Forster son, Louis, is one of the trio) are The Goon Sax. Their latest ‘Mirror II‘ has received positive reviews even as they try to expand their sound. I’ve chosen one from their 2018 release ‘We’re Not Talking‘, ‘We Can’t Win‘.
Next is a band that has already run its course, from 2008 to 2017, Twerps were part of the Melbourne scene (that has been characterised as Dolewave). They left behind a couple of records and EPs. The track I’ve chosen is from their final record ‘Range Anxiety‘. They, like a lot of the bands I’m going to mention in Part 3 of this survey of Australian music – there’s just so much going on that it needs a whole series), have a languorous feel, a kind of casual disdain for anything other than playing music and a hint of the Flying Nun bands. Try ‘I Don’t Mind‘.
I’m going to close with The Stevens, who also released their last record in 2017, again from Melbourne, this time playing fractured power-pop, plenty of short songs, tons of ideas, and attitude, with a gift for finding little nuggets of melody. Here’s ‘Turpins Falls‘ from ‘History of Hygiene‘ released in 2013.
I’ve only really scratched the surface so far and with a lot of this music not getting the exposure it deserves, I’ll be back in a couple of weeks with more Australian music with an Americana bent that you might actually like.