By now you’ve surely heard “Somebody That I Used To Know,” the surprise hit by left-field Australian artist Gotye. After all, the video has racked up, at last count, over 135 million streams on YouTube — more than Beyonce’s “Run The World,” Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” or anything on Kanye West’s Vevo channel.
In recent months, a flurry of hype has descended upon Gotye and his Oceanic entourage. New Zealand native Kimbra, who currently lives in Australia and shares the mic on Gotye’s hit, was snatched up by Warner Music. Together, they’ve sold out every large venue between San Francisco and Stockholm.
The way things go in the music industry, we’d bet that a label exec is hungrily eying the Australian indie landscape in search of the next Gotye. And it just so happens that Australia is booming. The nation that brought us ACDC and Savage Garden is bursting at the seams right now with innovative acts, from catchy, disco-tinged Electro-Pop to harmonized Indie-Folk.
Straight out of Melbourne, Miami Horror has a concept that is so obvious, it’s hard to believe nobody has pulled it off before. They take a funky-as-hell classic House sound and tack on the high-pitched, reverbed-out vocal sound of today’s Rock bands, a la MGMT. Their tracks take cues from the electronic Disco coming out of Europe in the 1970s, with fat-assed bass synthesizers and tight little muted guitar licks. Following a string of successful tours in the US, they’ve decided to relocate from Australia to Los Angeles.
Watch them perform their hit “Sometimes” live for MTV Iggy below. Also check out the song they did with Kimbra, “I Look To You” back before she was “that girl in the Gotye video.”
Fire! Santa Rosa! Fire
Following the Kimbra trail, we get to Fire! Santa Rosa! Fire, an Adelaide-based indie Rock sextet who performed with her in Melbourne last fall. Their 2010 debut Sea Priest included gems like “Little Cowboys, Bad Hombres,” a boy-girl duet full of razor-sharp guitar stabs and a giant chorus. For their yet-unreleased sophomore album, they are teaming up with a big shot UK producer (of the Go! Team and Holy F*ck), so bigger things may be yet to come.
Jinja Safari calls their frenetic Pop sound “Forest Rock.” On hand drums, sitars, toy pianos, and whatever else they can find within arm’s reach, Jinja Safari makes never-grow-up music for the lost boys of today — big rowdy adventure songs about mermaids and wilderness. There are African guitar riffs, silky harmonies, and tinkling textures aplenty. In 2012, they’ll be making a UK debut at Brighton’s massive Great Escape Festival.
Boy & Bear
With albums all over the Australian charts in the past few years, Boy & Bear is a big deal Folk-Pop band in its native land Down Under. They sing sweet choral harmonies over bouncing guitars and banjos, dropping videos of costumed hipsters hunting each other on bicycles with bows and arrows (see “Rabbit Song,” below.) They swept the 2011 ARIA awards (Australia’s answer to the Grammys) with five awards, including “Group of the Year,” but lost “Single of the Year” to Gotye.
Brooke Addamo, aka Owl Eyes, is an Electro-Pop singer who managed to go from one-time Australian Idol competitor to a chart-topping indie heartthrob. The video for her hit, “Raiders,” features a bow-wielding warrior woman dancing her way through an overgrown estate in the fog. Really Australia, why are all your videos about archers?
Flight Facilities is an Electronic duo out of Sydney, but that’s about all we call tell you, because they keep everything else about their identities under wraps. Their Neo-Disco songs are smothered in jazzy piano chords, shimmering flutes, and four-on-the-floor beats. “Crave You,” featuring vocals from Giselle Rosselli, was a 2010 viral hit and is the kind of song you want to listen to on repeat while driving towards city lights.
Just listening to Seekae’s music is impressive: countless little sounds float around the tracks seemingly unhinged, yet the sum total grooves hard. The Sydney-born band’s three members are clearly virtuosos in the art of producing electronic music, but their live show takes it to another level with live drums, synths, guitars, and glockenspiels.
San Cisco’s “Awkward” is the perfect teenage response to Gotye’s “Somebody I Used To Know.” It’s yet another duet about a conflict between a boy and a girl, but instead of detailing a heart-wrenching breakup, it’s about un-returned text messages. The band does it all in unflinching deadpan, and the result is adorable. “Awkward” catapulted the teenage Western Australia natives to national charts, and a flurry of catchy singles like “Golden Revolver” and “Rocket Ship” soon followed. Chances are we’ll hear a lot more from these kids…so long as they’re not grounded.
Parachute Youth is Matt K Von, a former military jet technician, and Jonny Castro, an established synth player. Together they make tasteful progressive House with spaced out vocals and club-ready drums. The newcomers started getting buzz around their video for “Can’t Get Better Than This” (below), which documents a dusty motorcycle race that happens every year in Burkina Faso — and it happens to go really, really well with electronic music. Parachute Youth’s first release is expected in April.
Melbourne rock outfit The Twerps do lo-fi Garage Rock influenced by the sounds of New Zealand’s seminal 1980s punk imprint, Flying Nun Records. The reverb-heavy, broken cassette Surf sound is a treat for Velvet Underground fans. Right now, The Twerps are on tour in the US with labelmates Real Estate, who share the band’s less-is-more philosophy.
By Marlon Bishop
Feature image courtesy of Getty Photo