This week, our intrepid music writer James Hendicott is headed to the southern hemisphere to check out the scene in Australia. Forget the didgeridoo and check out James’s six picks — from rock superstars AC/DC to one very over-the-top pop legend.
The Scene in Six Sounds: Australia
By James Hendicott
Indigenous music in Australia -– which is based around instruments like the didgeridoo -– dates back more than 60,000 years, and is kept alive to this day by a number of contemporary artists. Most modern day Australian music, though, is a result of ‘cross pollination’, a creative force that has seen the land down under produce some of the best genre-fusing bands in the world. Not to mention a certain iconic rock band….
A Rock and Roll Education: AC/DC
There can hardly be a more memorable image in rock than the Young brothers strumming away, Angus in his old-school school uniform. And 200 million worldwide album sales makes the band comfortably the biggest Australia has ever produced, while songs like ‘For Those About To Rock’, ‘Highway To Hell’ and ‘It’s A Long Way To The Top’ live long in rock memories, and have taken the AC/DC to ninth on the US all-time, top-selling artists list. In short, they’re undeniable rock legends.
Metalheads Play Drum and Bass: Pendulum
Yes, okay, they relocated from their native Perth to London to be more in the thick of things, but Pendulum are arguably the best example of Australian genre fusion. They sound exactly like you’d expect a group of metal-obsessed rockers to sounds if you asked them to play Drum and Bass music, incorporating live guitars into the intense stage shows. Debut album ‘Hold Your Color’, the most electronic of their efforts to date, remains the biggest selling Drum and Bass album of all time.
The Angsty Indie Rockers: Jet
Debut album ‘Get Born’ made waves around the globe for this strained garage rock band, especially with the single ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl’. While they’ve never matched that early success, Jet continue to be regulars on the international festival circuit, and recently released third album ‘Shaka Rock’. In Australia’s crowded, mostly under-the-radar indie scene, Jet managed to scramble through nonetheless.
The Cult Pop Stars: Crowded House
Formed in Melbourne, but drawing members from Australia, New Zealand and the US, Crowded House are a ’90s pop band best known for tracks like ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’ and ‘Weather With You’, and a recent reunion has bought them back into the public eye. For many Crowded House were an essential soundtrack to the early ’90s depression; they’re also known for their elaborate set design and curious album cover art selection.
The Soap Actor Turned International Pop Star: Kylie Minogue
Kylie’s never lived out of the limelight — from childhood actor to childlike pop-star producing tracks like ‘I Should Be So Lucky’ and ‘The Loco-Motion’ to a more adult star known for mammoth singles like ‘Spinning Around’. Recognition for her efforts has included an OBE (given by the Queen of England) and a Grammy Award, at the age of 41, Kylie remains a style icon and pin up, and now has her own statue standing along Melbourne waterfront.
The Slick, Heartfelt Boy Band: Savage Garden
Fresh-faced vocal duo Savage Garden split from their unsuccessful band ‘Red Edge’, heading out on their own, to produce tracks like ‘Truly Madly Deeply’, ‘Crash and Burn’ and ‘To The Moon and Back’. Somehow more touching and emotional than your average boy band, Savage Garden picked up a more diverse fan base, and continued to go strong until Darren Hayes went solo in 2001. They have the highest average per album sales of any Australian act in history, at 12.5 million copies per album.
James Hendicott is a travel and music writer living in Ireland, and your guide to Celtic punk in Music+Travel Worldwide from Museyon Guides. More of his work can be found at hendicottwriting.com. Want more on Australia’s art rock scene? Check out Art Rock Confidential by Mel Campbell Music+Travel Worldwide.
image via danorbit/Flickr