Aussie rock bands still rockin.
Spin recently cobbled together a list of 50 of the best rock bands kicking around at the moment with just one Aussie band – Royal Headache – making the cut according to their loosely defined criteria. So to redress their oversights here are 15 ‘Strayan bands killing it in 2015 from the world conquering likes of Tame Impala and Courtney Barnett, to the still vital stalwarts of the scene like You Am I and The Drones and the next generation of local legends.
#1. Courtney Barnett and CB3
Sure, Courtney Barnett may be billed as a solo act but anyone who has seen her live would know that her band CB3 are a vital element that has helped to elevate her beyond the singer-songwriter tag into a fully-fledged rock star. And they actually played on her album, which makes them more of an “official band” than Tame Impala. Either way it’s impossible to list the Aussie rock stars killing it at the moment without including Courtney – especially as Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit will be near the top of the table when every publication on earth starts dropping those end of year lists.
Highlight of the year: Where to start? The eight ARIA nominations? Supporting Blur at Madison Square Garden? Recording a single with Jack White? It has kinda been a massive year for Courtney Barnett.
#2. Dick Diver
Dick Diver’s 2013 album Calendar Days featured on FL’s list of the 50 album that defined the last decade and the followup Melbourne, Florida is just as good. As Annie Toller noted in the FL review, the band has finally shrugged off their “dolewave” origins for the smooth tones of ‘70s and ‘80s FM rock, creating their most ambitious and outward looking release yet.
Highlight of the year: Their debut tour of the US, which featured 18 dates in less than a month.
We’re still waiting on that debut album from DMA’s but the trio have been very busy this year capitalising on the success of their 2014 debut EP. After selling ice to the eskimos with a successful UK tour last year, the band made their mark on the Americans in 2015 with sets at the Bonaroo, Boston Calling and Governor’s Ball festivals, and have signed a US deal with Mom+Pop Records (Wavves, Sleigh Bells, FIDLAR, Flume). They’ve also been writing a lot of new material. “We’ve written a lot of songs”, Johnny Took recently told FL. “A shitload of songs. Especially during this first release, but then before that too. So [when] picking the songs, we specifically wanted this first album to not stray too far from where we are as a band live – which is a very guitar driven pop band.” The debut album is set to drop in February or March next year.
Highlight of the year: Getting slagged off by Noel Gallagher – who hadn’t even heard them yet.
#4. The Drones
The foul-mouthed Drones are stamping on the ashes of the West’s musical traditions with their new single ‘Taman Shud’ according to noted music critic Andrew Bolt. Or to put it more simply: it’s fucking excellent. With frontman Gareth Liddiard spitting out the c-bomb and vividly describing his distaste for right wingers, left wingers and tribal tats, the single suggests that the upcoming album from The Drones is set to be their most uncompromising and aggressive release to date. What else would you expect from something recorded at their new Tropical Fuck Storm studios?
Highlight of the year: Celebrating the 10th anniversary of their classic of Wait Long by the River and the Bodies of Your Enemies Will Float By with a run of incendiary live shows, including a storming gig at the Sydney Opera House.
#5. High Tension
High Tension have destroyed all comers in 2015 with their second album Bully. Matt Young from King Parrot and Adalita made cameo appearances on the record, but singer Karina Utomo led the way with her guttural, barbaric yowls that lacerate every eardrum they encounter.
Highlight of the year: The female fight club video for ‘Bully’. “The goal of the video is about conquering fear, conquering ‘bullies’, including our own personal bully,” Utomo explained. “We want to show that women are strong, powerful and tough as shit despite any physiological and psychological limitations.”