Oz Rising (part 2) – The Sixty-Six (Plus Three) Best New Australian Bands

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OK, everyone’s had a chance to absorb the first installment of this piece (but if not, check it out here) including the nice bit of intro we included for context, which we’re not bothering to repeat here but instead are adding a touch of (presumably helpful) commentary to each listing. As well, since that original piece, a few more bands have come to SEM’s attention, one of which may well qualify as the most promising newcomers of the bunch. Which one, you ask? Sorry, you’ll have to delve and read to find out, but do trust that all will be revealed (in alphabetical order).

NATIVE CATS (Hobart)

An enterprising duo of Tasmanians, the Cats manage to make ominous, near-thunderous post-punk pop with nothing but a bass guitar, a couple minimal machines and a killer deadpan vocal. So good are they, this is the second time they’ve featured in SEM.

[on their third LP, those and various other projects available here]

 

 

NEW WAR (Melbourne)

More post-punk, pure and haunting, bringing the band attention far beyond their borders, with British label ATP and US label Fast Weapons joining homegrown Polyester in releasing their debut. Great video doesn’t hurt either.

[all releases available here]

 

 

NIGHT TERRORS (Melbourne)

Post-rock meets Arcade Fire and we all know who wins that fight. The prog-it’s-OK-to-like, that’s who.

[buy their latest record Spiral Vortex here]

 

 

THE OOGA BOOGAS (Melbourne)

Besides being the poster children for the Oz scene’s incestuousness, sharing its members with Bits of Shit, Brain Children, Eddy Current Suppression Ring, The Onyas, The Sailors, Total Control, and the Unfuckable (best band name ever, that), they also make a sound that suggests Suicide blagging drinks off of Thin Lizzy, and that’s a suggestion we’ve never really heard before.

[find their most recent – self-titled – album here]

 

 

THE PAGEANTS (Melbourne)

No, not the doo-wop circa 1961 group but instead a steady-handed indie band from Down Yonder playing pure pop for really now people.

[buy Dark Before Blonde Dawn on Sensory here]

 

 

PER PURPOSE (Brisbane)

Lurching aggro-indie with a lunging post-punk heart, a bit Swell Maps if they’d wanted to be Birthday Party. Yeah, sounds good to us as well.

 

[most recent record Circle The Stains available from Bedroom Suck Records]

 

 

POND (Perth)

Near granddads of the reborn, world-conquering psych scene that has come blowing out of Australia like a long strange hurricane over the last ten years or so, Pond is perhaps the best known on this list but not known enough if you’re asking us (even if they do share two members with Tame Impala). Already five full-lengths already under their trippy (but solid rock’n’roll leather) belts since their first in 2009, Beards, Wives, Denim from 2012 is the one to seek out first should you be so inclined. And listening to this, you will be.

[check out their most recent Hobo Rocket on Modular]

 

 

POP SINGLES (Melbourne)

As well-named a band as there’s ever been. That would go for their only LP so far as well. They named it All Gone, which was appropriate since only 160 of them were made and, yes, they’re all gone. Which, if it all sounds as lovely as this, like the Apartments sped up, is as bloody a shame as there’s ever been.

[listen to the album here, where you can also contact the band and demand more copies be pressed. Like ten thousand more]

 

 

PSY ANTS (Brisbane)

Speaking of Birthday Party…and Jesus Lizard….and PiL…and, umm, the Very Things, and, umm…

[get their couldn’t-be-better-named 12″ Bit Tongue Prik here]

 

 

RAT COLUMNS (Perth; San Francisco)

Formed originally in Perth by David West, who also moonlights in Lace Curtains as featured in this piece’s first half, the band relocated to San Francisco, picked up some crucial parts, and ended up in charmed Chimeville.

[pick up everything Rat Columns from Smart Guy Records]

 

 

RUINED FORTUNE (Sydney)

Noisey, garage-y, and vaguely psych-otic, no more evidence is needed to prove the reach of John Dwyer’s influence (nor that of Royal Trux), which in our view is never a bad thing.

[grab their one LP here]

 

 

RULE OF THIRDS (Adelaide)

Been wondering what it would be like to hear Lydia Lunch front a grunge garage band? Us too until we heard this lot.

[both of their EPs available from Major Crimes]

 

 

SCOTT & CHARLENE’S WEDDING (Melbourne)

Another band that’s made at least a slight dent in the US market, it’s nonetheless the case that their profile is not nearly prominent enough outside Australia’s biggest city. And with skewed pop-o-rama this heavy on the melody, it seems high time to remedy that.

[2013 album Any Port In The Storm available from Fire Records]

 

 

SCUL HAZZARDS (Melbourne)

Not sure what’s going on with the double ‘Z’ thing down in Oz (see King Gizzard etc in the last installment) but who cares, Scul Hazzards cover Big Black’s “Kerosene.” Need we say more? Thought not.

[buy most recent record Landlord here]

 

 

SKY NEEDLE (Brisbane)

Avant folk with the emphasis on ‘avant.’ Think the Raincoats as interpreted by The Knife, that should get you close enough.

[most recent effort Debased Shapes available on Little Big Chief]

 

 

SLUG GUTS (Brisbane)

Another band here that’s found an audience outside their native land, this time thanks to the patronage of Sacred Bones, which makes sense given the Guts’ brand of scuzzed-up post-punk garage, a sound pretty much made for the Brooklyn label with the highly identifiable album cover aesthetic. One wonders, however, if landing on a US label of such renown contributes to masking their origins. Fear not. With (again) Birthday Party-tinged leanings this pronounced, there shouldn’t be too much worry.

[get their most recent, Howlin’ Gang, on Sacred Bones here]

 

 

SNOWMAN (Perth)

Prophetic post-rock, filled with grandeur and devotion. Formed in Perth in 2003, sadly disbanded in London in 2011. Regardless, too damned good to be left off this list. Check it.

[buy the final – and aptly-named – album Absence here]

 

 

SOVIET VALVES (Perth)

Vibrators go garage, say no more, say no more. Sadly, the adjective ‘short-lived’ is attached to them on the interwebs. Pity, especially considering the presence of members of Total Control. Lace Curtain and more.

[grab their most recent 7″ here]

 

 

SPOOKYLAND (Sydney)

Alright, you got us. This was the band coyly mentioned up top as quite possibly being among the most promising. Something about the audacity, the pop authority, that commandingly quavering voice, Conor Oberst had the Omahan been born with Aussie verve. Judge for yourself, but we’re WAY sold. This is artistry.

[catch Rock and Roll Weakling on Monday Records]

 

 

STANDISH / CARYLON (Melbourne/London)

Originating in Melbourne, with roots in the Devastations, S/C take the sexy mid-80’s and make them sexy again by turning them into synth pop gone all sad.

[2013 album Deleted Scenes available from Felte]

 

 

STEP-PANTHER (Sydney)

Sometmes slightly ramshackle, kind of charming and not a little like a sweet Memphis garage band doing JAMC impressions, other times an indie-punch knockout that sees the VU changing their initials to BTS. We’ll take either.

[grab their self-titled debut in whatever format here]

 

 

THE STEVENS (Melbourne)

Sincere, DIY-indebted, often summery pop jewels pushed forward with a Vaseline churn and a June Brides charm, which, hell, we’re sold right there, even before we find out they bonded over love of Wire, GBV, and R.Stevie Moore

[album & EP available on Chapter Music]

 

 

SUPER WILD HORSES (Melbourne)

Not to get too technical, but we in the business call this ‘unhinged indie,” in that it goes about proposing now and again Royal Trux meeting (and getting beat up by) the Dum Dum Girls.

[most recent album Crosswords available from Dot Dash via Midheaven]

 

 

TACO LEG (Perth)

Also a bit on the shambolic tip but tight as hell, with a classic Messthetic (Ozthetic?) sound that suggests an Antipodean Parquet Courts, Taco Leg also grabs best band name honors here, hands – and legs – down.

[self-titled debut available from Fan Death via Midheaven]

 

 

TERRIBLE TRUTHS (Adelaide)

Where you go when you’re looking for moody, insistent post-punk pop, apparently.

[though all the vinyl is sold out, you can obtain digital copies of everything Terrible Truths here]

 

 

TOTAL CONTROL (Melbourne)

Another band related to just about every other band on this list ( Dick Diver, Eddy Current Suppression Ring, The Ooga Boogas, Soviet Valves, the UV Race) and many more besides, they also happen to be the most prominent and, well, worthy of bands that earn the vaunted post-punk designation on this list, which may explain why their profile has grown well past their country’s borders.

[most recent full-length, 2011’s Henge Beat, available on Iron Lung Records]

 

 

TOUGH TROUBLES (Sydney)

Looking for the Fall with an added layer of glossolalia? Look no further.

[get their 2012 digital-only album Romances here]

 

 

TV COLOURS (Canberra)

Punky power-pop churning out some heavy effervescence, and we doubt you need to hear more than that.

[get their lone LP from 2013 on XVIII Records]

 

 

THE TWERPS (Melbourne)

Though related to noise rockers Batrider, Twerps produce unself-conscious honesty-indie as genuine and reassuring as a favorite hoodie, pilled fabric and all. Just in time for fall up here in the northern hemisphere.

[check The Twerps label Underwater Peoples for availability of their debut self-titled album from2011]

 

 

THE UV RACE (Warragul/Melbourne)

Related to Dick Diver, Total Control, and lairy hardcore punks Straightjacket Nation, you’ll find UVR down at the angrier punkier end of the post-punk spectrum, menacing the neighbors and generally causing mayhem, albeit with instantly memorable hooks ‘n’ beats, of course.

[most recent album Racism available from In The Red via Midheaven]

 

 

WHITE HEX (Melbourne)

Stately synth pop darkwave that can get pretty damned meaty at times, the band’s promotional pic for their debut album Heat (2011) shows Jimi Kritzler and Tara Green, dressed close to the nines (eights, maybe), standing in some rare Australian snow – one guesses about an inch – which tells you much of what you need to know about this band. Cool, not quite icy, unique.

[grab recent release Gold Nights here]

 

 

WIREHEADS (Adelaide)

If we said “garage indie with a Warren Ellis-looking violinist” would you go for it? Of course you would.

[check out the Wireheads catalog on Format Records]

 

 

WITCH HATS (Melbourne)

We wanna just say ‘Nikki Sudden-esque post-punk,’ but instead we’re going to say ‘What if that had been a post-punk band at the Roadhouse in “Twin Peaks”?

[get your Witch Hats here]

 

 

WONDERFULS (Brisbane)

Downer soundtracks, jams. That’s what they specialize in by their own reckoning. By our reckoning, they’re empathetic, mesmerizing, rather narcotic. You decide.

[physical copies of their Salty Town album are sold out, but you can get it digitally here] [live version of “Relapse”]:

 

 

WOOLLEN KITS (Melbourne)

Pop-fried garage with a touch of the Saints, already on their fourth album. What more could you wish for?

[most recent album Four Girls available from Trouble In Mind]

 

 

THE ZINGERS (Melbourne)

Primitive shambles rock, early highly caffeinated Half Japanese with a Melvins jones. Yeah, sounds pretty ace to us as well.

[get your Zingers on here]