Living in a Marsupial World

>>READERSHIP ADVISORY: Please be aware that we will continue to update the posts between this date and last Christmas in the coming days and that they will appear below this post until we catch up to February. There are some great posts to come (including some awesome animal videos) so keep on the lookout!<<

Over the past months in Oz, we've discovered some dynamite tunes from new and local music artists, a delightful cornucopia that has become our adventure soundtrack in the Marsupial World. As much as stories and pictures can be emblematic of an experience, music has a way of filling in the cracks of your nostalgia and bridging the emotional gap for those who couldn't be there with you. That being said, we'd like to share a sampling of the music that has carried us through our travels in Australia since Perth, post-Devin and Emily adventures. 

For a few of the songs below, you might notice a familiar, slightly hilarious theme. When we got our first taste of the Australian indie music scene, it became abundantly clear that the 80s had returned with a vengeance, and it was wearing neon leggings and a cutoff sweatshirt. Gaudy synthesizers and octo-drums were back, only this time produced with a contemporary, playful aesthetic. It was as if the musicians of Australia handpicked what was creative and groundbreaking (and gloriously cheesy) about the 80s and left out the schlock and shoulder pads. OK, maybe a few shoulder pads got to come back, but only if sequins could come too. An Aussie music journalist recently wrote about this curious revival, asking the question as to whether the 80s had come back because of overlooked artistic merit, or because something needed a comeback and the 80s happened to be sitting alone in the corner, unloved. He felt it was probably the latter, but you can judge for yourself. We hope you enjoy.

We apologize to our readership with slow internet connections. This one's a doozie. 

o   Last Dinosaurs, "Time & Place" - Hailing from Brisbane, Last Dinosaurs have been getting serious attention since releasing their EP in 2009. This particular song has an Afro-Caribbean feel blended with indie rock in a Phoenix or Vampire Weekend sort of fashion. 
o   Art vs. Science, “Finally See Our Way” – A dance-punk band from Sydney; This song has a fantastic nod to Final Countdown (epic synth solo!), and is a great example of the 80’s music revival. The video is nerdaliciously awesome.
o   Boy & Bear, “Rabbit Song,” “Fall at Your Feet" - Great band from Sydney, they’ve got a Fleet Foxes vocal harmony style going for them.
o   Crystal Castles, “Not in Love (Feat. Robert Smith)” – How could this song not be awesome when it features Robert Smith from the Cure? The band itself is Canadian, and describes themselves as 'electronic noise pop'. Also another well conceived 80’s revival song. 

o   Tame Impala, “Solitude is Bliss” – An Aussie band from Perth that has gained a lot of popularity nationwide. Easy to hear the psychedelic Beatles influences on this group.
o   Mama Kin, "To My Table" - we saw Mama Kin open for The Cat Empire in Darwin and were thoroughly impressed with her soulful vocals and personal songwriting; she also performed at the "Our Generation" film premiere. She's from Fremantle in Western Australia.
o   Gypsy & the Cat, “Piper’s Song,” “Jona Vark”– an electro-pop duo from Melbourne, Aus; their song "Piper's Song" made us think of a contemporary Toto. 
o   Saltwater Band, "Bolu" - an amazing group from Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, these guys feature an Aboriginal-style, Paul Simon, Graceland feel. We wanted to feature the song "Compass," but we couldn't find it anywhere as the group is really local and grassroots. 
o   The John Steel Singers, “Overpass” – from Brisbane. We're both becoming big fans of these guys - quirky, catchy, fun tunes, and this particular video is pretty frickin' entertaining.

o  Katalyst, "Day Into Night" feat. Stephanie McKay - a wonderful soul-filled reggae influenced track from Sydney producer Katalyst featuring the vocal talents of US-based Stephanie McKay. The two also do a great cover of Cold War Kid's song "Hang Me Out to Dry" on the Triple J radio station's program, "Like a Version" which you can find on YouTube.  
o   Oh Mercy, “Get You Back” – another band from the awesome town of Melbourne, influenced by Augie March and the Go-Betweens with a little bit of the Shins mixed in with their sound. This video is particularly rad. 
o  Papa Vs Pretty, "Wrecking Ball," - a rock band from Sydney and originally a solo-act for front man Thomas Rawle when he was only 15 years old. This track sounds influenced by a blend of Radiohead, Muse, and Queens of the Stone Age. 
o   Cloud Control, “There’s Nothing in the Water We Can’t Fight” – indie folk rock band from the Blue Mountains near Sydney; beautiful video, and you can really dig the use of tambourine. 
o   Grouplove, “Colours” – actually a band from the states (LA), their first EP really exploded onto the music scene here in Australia. This song has a bit of a Modest Mouse vibe and, as you'll see in this video, their motto is: "never trust a happy song." They're touring the states in March/April so check out this insanely talented bunch if you can!
o   Sparkadia, “Talking like I’m Falling Down Stairs” – alternative rock pop band formed in Sydney that first gained recognition in Australia in 2007 and now has extensive followers here as well as in Britain and Germany. Their latest single for 2011, "China," is also a great tune.  
o   Hungry Kids of Hungary, "Wristwatch" and "Set it Right" - A great four piece indie pop group from Brisbane whose songs are catchy and rhythmic with a nice balance of vocal harmonies. The first track is fun and energetic, with syncopated, stop-start hooks reminiscent of Dudley Corporation, and the second shows a bit of their versatility - that they're not just a Vampire Weekend rip-off band. It's also nice to see a band that doesn't take themselves too seriously. 
o   The Naked and Famous, “Punching in a Dream,” "Young Blood" – Kiwi band that has rocked our socks off. Love their indie-synth grooves and catchy vocal stylings. All of their songs on their latest album Passive Me, Aggressive You (including the two below) were written collaboratively by the entire group, and are all gems. Passion Pit fans will probably be rocked.
o   Angus & Julia Stone, “Big Jet Plane” – voted number one song of 2010 by Australian listeners; a great brother-sister duo from the Sydney area
o   POND, "Greens Pool" - A band comprised of three members of Tame Impala, from Perth. Both bands draw influence from psychedelic 60's pop, but POND has a slightly harder, quirkier edge. This track sounds a bit like Dr Dog and the Unicorns, with a li'l bit of space rock thrown in.
o   The Middle East, “Jesus Came to My Birthday Party” – musical collective based in Townsville, Queensland; their music comes together from a variety of influential genres including indie, folk, pop, and country and they often use tight vocal harmonies. 
o   The Wombats, “Tokyo (Vampires & Wolves)” – a super energetic, indie pop rock band from the UK (no idea why an Aussie band didn’t snatch up this name first)
o   Washington, “Sunday Best”- fronted by Australian lead singer Megan Washington, currently based in Melbourne. If you like Rilo Kiley or other chic-based indie pop, you'll dig this. Also check out "The Hardest Part."
o   Paper Plane Project, "The Road" - a production duo from Perth recorded this album on three continents - Mainly recorded in Brazil and NYC, and putting the final touches in Oz. If you're fond of British group Lemon Jelly, you'll really like this track's soft, funky, Chick Corea-influenced groove.
o   Adalita, “Hot Air” – from Geelong, Australia (near Melbourne) she was the founding member of the band Magic Dirt, and recently put out a solo album. We really enjoyed this mellow, stripped-back song of hers.
o   Cut Copy, "Take me Over" - My (mar) friend Norie originally introduced me to Cut Copy, a synth/electropop band from Melbourne, who released a new album just this month - Feb 2011 - called Zonoscope. This track is an excellent example of the Australian 80's revival and makes a significant nod to Men at Work, Talking Heads, and Genesis - basically like drinking an early 80s smoothie with your ears. Hot Chip fans will probably dig this song. 
o   Grinderman, “Palaces of Montezuma” – a rock band formed by front man Nick Cave, but put on hold while he was working with the Bad Seeds. This track is off the band's sophomore album, Grinderman 2, which was released last September 2010. 
o   Talib Kweli, “Gutter Rainbows” – this latest album by legendary Kweli is fantastic. Would we completely expose our whiteness by saying the beats are phat? Yes. The production for this track in particular is incredibly silky, mmmm.
o   Mark Ronson & the Business Intl, “Somebody to Love Me (Feat. Boy George & Andrew Wyatt)” – UK, Great great song with a wonderful rhythm and bass line. Who could’ve guessed that Boy George could still soulfully wail like that? The video, a tribute to Culture Club's heyday, is a bit distracting, but still voyeuristically interesting.
o   Florence + the Machine, “Dog Days are Over” – London based artists whose debut album Lungs was released in 2009. Soulful rock! This song originally debuted in 2008 but was re-released in 2010 and we couldn't help but love the weird awesome weird video. 
o   Adrian Lux, “Teenage Crime” – Swedish DJ/Dance music producer; the video for this track is a bit creepy, though we know some will love the cougarlicious action.
o   Yeasayer, "Ambling Alp," "Crazy" (Cover) - an experimental rock band from Brooklyn, NYC, we can't help but love their sound, which they describe as "Middle Eastern-psych-snap-gospel." You definitely pick up on an Ethiopian sound in the first track "Ambling Alp," and only a few days ago they did a great cover of Seal's original "Crazy" for Aussie radio station Triple J on their "Like a Version" program. 

o   Abbe May, “Mammalian Locomotion” – from Western Australia - dirty guitar rockouts blended with muted, Garbage-esque vocals. This guitar solo may actually melt your face.
o   Drapht, “Rapunzel” – a very catchy tune from this Perth-based band, which took us a while to get into simply because Aussie hip-hop makes us giggle. Not to say that they can’t produce great hip-hop music over here, but white hip-hop artists generally are pretty hilarious, especially with ridiculous accents. 
o   Gorillaz, “Doncamatic” – just a good song. This video is absurd - an uberhipster, Jules Verne steampunk fantasy. If you really hate hipsters we'd advise turning off your monitor or averting your eyes while the song plays, otherwise you might have a hate seizure. 
o   Illy, “It Can Wait (Feat. Owl Eyes)” – another catchy gigilicious Aussie hip-hop song from Melbourne rapper Illy and Melbourne indie artist Owl Eyes. Good luck getting the refrain out of your head after hearing this one.
o   Ou Est Le Swimming Pool, “Dance the Way I Feel” – an English synthpop group; sadly, the lead singer took his own life last year. This video embodies what hipsters wish their 80s parties looked like.
o   Cee Lo Green, “Fuck You!” – Obviously not an Aussie artist and probably already overplayed in the States, but we can’t help but love this freaking awesome song. This was the first song we heard on Aussie radio while driving around Perth that made us aware that Aussie radio stations don’t censor or otherwise corrupt songs with bleeps, blanks, or substituted words. Instead, the station puts out a “Strong Language Alert” warning prior to playing the song, suggesting that if you are offended by strong language, to simply tune out. Brilliant! We also love his song "Bright Lights Bigger City."

mum's the word

Fantastic addition to an ever-entertaining chronicle! Music was much appreciated by students at HTS.


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