Between international festival headliners Tame Impala, Grammy Award winning electronic music game-changer Flume, critical darling Courtney Barnett, seven-piece psych cult favorites King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, and guitar-looping mastermind Tash Sultana on her way to becoming the next thing overseas, Australia has proven itself time and time again as a hotbed for globally recognised talent.
It’s important to note that there’s so much beyond the aforementioned big league artists; a world behind the breakthroughs. To name but a few waves of creativity, there’s the new budding acoustic and surf punk scene, a homegrown hip-hop revival, the continuing forward-thinking electronic landscape, a new women-led DIY indie rock resurgence, and so much more.
When you think of the current landscape in Australian music at an international level, hip-hop is probably the last thing that comes to mind; while Aussie hip-hop has risen locally, it’s remained insular, as there has yet to be much international crossover. Enter Blessed: the multi-talented Sydney MC channeling mixtape-era Kid Cudi and 808’s & Heartbreaks Kanye West with his own dark, alternative flair. With continued support already from Pigeons & Planes and Beats1, a debut EP that was just released, and not to mention a supportive fanbase under his Miracle moniker, there’s no denying that the genre-defying rapper, singer, producer and multi-instrumentalist is on his way to something big.
While we’ve seen a resurgence of modernized emo and acoustic-punk over in the States (think Run For Cover Records, Pinegrove, the return of American Football), there’s been a similar movement happening Down Under. While seemingly spearheaded by The Smith Street Band and the rest of the Poison City Records roster (Camp Cope, Luca Brasi, Cable Ties), it’s really Melbourne’s Ceres that is bringing us the freshest, most innovative moments of this movement while still remaining classic. Case and point: their newest EP, Stretch Ur Skin, features both their mentor and recent tourmate, The Smith Street Band frontman Wil Wagner, for the Triple J-supported title track; as well as unexpected-on-paper previous collaborator, Japanese Wallpaper, who takes their heartfelt ‘90s-indebted emo tunes to an exciting new, synth-driven place. With a headline tour of Australia’s East Coast coming up, we can’t wait to see what the four-piece do next.
Singer-songwriters can seem a dime-a-dozen, no matter where in the world you are, but every once in awhile someone special will come out on top of the oversaturated market - in this case we have Melbourne via Warrnambool’s Didirri. Flitting somewhere between Fleet Foxes and Jeff Buckley, the 22-year-old crafts acoustic, indie-folk gems that manage to sound both original and timeless with vocal character and mature lyricism beyond his years. He’s already appeared on Spotify’s Viral Australia charts, shared the stage with Tash Sultana, and gotten support from Triple J. With all that in mind, we’re expecting great things.
As mentioned earlier, there’s an undeniable up-and-coming DIY scene led by female musicians throughout Australia, which includes Babaganouj frontwoman Harriette Pilbeam’s new dream-pop solo project, Hatchie. Here, the Brisbane native perfectly combines shoegaze tendencies with pop sensibilities for a sound reminiscent of The Cocteau Twins with her effortlessly dreamy vocals, hazy guitars and ethereal synths. While Hatchie’s sole single to date, “Try”, was released a mere six weeks ago, she’s already gotten tremendous support from American institution NPR, Australian leaders in what’s new Triple J and streaming giant Spotify. There’s no stopping Hatchie!
Eight months ago, THUMP posted a thinkpiece considering the term “Post-EDM”. Now, while I don’t believe the term really caught on, I do agree that we’re entering a world where hands-in-the-air big-room electro house is finally being traded in for forward-thinking, live electronic music, with traditional instruments and song structures. Best of all, Australia is absolutely leading the pack here with live acts like Nick Murphy, Flight Facilities, RÜFÜS DU SOL, Vallis Alps, Japanese Wallpaper and, of course, Nocturnal Tapes. Combining swirling psychedelia with four-to-the-floor beats and disco synths, the New South Wales duo demonstrates a genre-defying and refreshing take on live electronica that could see them filling in a support slot for anyone from Tame Impala to Tycho to Mura Masa. The sky’s the limit.
While Australia is making innovations in nearly every genre, they appear to be making the most noise in the electronic world with up-and-coming producers like Cosmo’s Midnight, Paces, Wave Racer, Elk Road, the entirety of the Future Classic roster, and perhaps the most exciting producer to come from Down Under since Flume - Melbourne’s Roland Tings. Signed to New York tastemaking label Cascine, Tings creates primarily instrumental dancefloor-ready electronica, chock full of bubbly synths and colorful maximalism. With an album, two EPs, and lots of touring under his belt, there’s no denying a bright future for Roland Tings.
While it’s only been a few months since she uploaded her debut song “I Want” to Triple J Unearthed, Ruby Fields has already become one of Australia’s most buzzed about, beloved new artists. With a mere four-minute catalogue, the eighteen-year-old Sydneysider manages to lure you into her world by combining DIY indie-pop-punk with hit worthy songwriting that does a brilliant job giving off a relatable best-friend-next-door vibe à la Alex Lahey and Amy Shark. With a debut track that’s already in high rotation on Australian radio and some upcoming high-profile shows, Ruby Fields is off to a very promising start.
Australia’s female-led DIY scene is absolutely thriving, and with only one song under her belt, Sloan Peterson is next to join those ranks. Clocking under three minutes, debut single “105” nods to ‘50s pop and ‘00s garage rock with an anthem of a chorus and a retro noir Nancy Sinatra-inspired video that makes me wonder if the Brisbane native is on her way to becoming a double-threat, tackling the fashion world simultaneously. Get ready to hear more from Sloan Peterson, as she soon embarks on her first tour supporting psych poppers Green Buzzard ahead of her July EP release.
Remember when Wavves and Best Coast ushered in a new surf punk wave over in America back in 2010 that died down almost as quickly as it started? Well, it’s only continued in Australia and is thriving, with the likes of Violent Soho, Dune Rats, Bad//Dreems, and most recently, Byron Bay’s Skegss, whose most recent EP Holiday Food has arrived just in time for the Northern Hemisphere’s summer. Holiday Food - and their EPs before it - is full of carefree, breezy punk-pop anthems about non-stop parties, girls, drugs, skateboarding, nostalgia, and celebrating youth, with anthemic choruses like young once then you’re old forever. Having just come off supporting Dune Rats’ biggest tour to-date, the trio is ready for their own limelight as they prepare for their very own sold-out tour.
While all of these aforementioned emerging acts are heading towards the top of their respective scenes, Winston Surfshirt is completely in a class of its own. What was once a solo hip-hop project has become a six-piece band combining melodic rapping with earworm choruses, soulful vocals and silky smooth instrumentation. With support from Elton John, a completely sold-out upcoming national debut headline tour, and two of the most sensual and immediately addictive jams of the year, there’s no doubt that Winston Surfshirt are about to become Australia’s next exciting export.