“Living in a land down under
Where women glow and men plunder
Can’t you hear, can’t you hear the thunder?
You better run, you better take cover”*
So sings Colin Hay on the 1981 Australian rallying cry and number one song by Men at Work. Besides those guys, what’s Australian for rock ’n’ roll? Oh, the Easybeats, the Saints, Radio Birdman, Rick Springfield, Midnight Oil, the Go-Betweens, the Hoodoo Gurus, Nick Cave… Now off to the land down under ca. 2019:
First stop, Brisbane…meet Harriette Pilbeam, making music under the name Hatchie since 2017. In the 80s-90s dream-pop tradition of the Cocteau Twins, the Cranberries, and My Bloody Valentine, Hatchie uh, hatched “Sugar & Spice” last year and will release her debut album Keepsake on June 21. Check out lead single “Without A Blush” and Hatchie herself in NYC at Music Hall of Williamsburg on April 24 and Bowery Ballroom on April 25!
Heading down to Newcastle…have a listen to Vacations, a four-piece with one full-length album, Changes, and a handful of EPs under their belts. Campbell Burns, Jake Johnson, Nate Delizzotti, and Joseph Van Lier deliver a Smiths-style concoction of emotive vocals and ringing guitars on their latest, “On Your Own.”
Making our way along the coast to Sydney, here’s Jermango Dreaming, headed by photographer/musician Jermaine Sakr. He released the songs “Lamp Day” in 2016, and “I Want You” and “Modern Day Living” in 2017, all on his own label Yeah Nah Yeah. This year the artist offers up an ethereal but bouncy vibe on “Breeze.”
Off to Melbourne now…where Quivers make their home. Sam Nicholson formed the band in Hobart, Tasmania “to keep singing” after the tragic loss of his brother in a free-diving accident. The rest of the group – Michael Panton, Bella Quinlan, and Holly Thomas – round out a sound reminiscent of early R.E.M. So far they have one album release, 2018’s We’ll Go Riding on the Hearses, and a new single, “You’re Not Always on My Mind.”
More from Melbourne…behold “Aussie supergroup” the Stroppies and their nifty single “Cellophane Car” from the album Whoosh! Angus Lord, Claudia Serfaty, Adam Hewitt, Rory Heane, and Steph Hughes released their eponymous 7-track debut in 2017, and are back in 2019 with a melding of Feelies-type driving guitars with some dazzling, dizzying keyboards.
A quick flight over the Great Australian Bight brings us to Perth, home of neo-psych darlings Tame Impala. In contrast to the other artists mentioned here, Tame Impala have been around for awhile and have even won several music awards in their native land and elsewhere. Kevin Parker and company are poised to release their fourth album this year, but in the meantime here’s their latest, “Patience.”
Finally, full circle back to Brisbane…and Jaimee Fryer’s dream-pop project Pool Shop (seems Australia’s a real dream-pop epicenter nowadays). Fryer’s previous band, Major Leagues, were quite the “garage-pop dreamers,” as one article pegged them (and as evidenced by their 2017 track “It Was Always You”). Major Leaguer Vlada Edirippulige along with Luke Pallier, Peter Bernoth, and Dougal Morrison join Fryer on Pool Shop’s “Shooting Star.”
Wait, before we leave this land down under, let’s get an update on Australian-American band (singer/lyricist/harpist/didgeridoo-ist plus four Long Islanders) – and Schizomusica favorites – the Walk-A-Bout. At this moment three of their songs are in the top five on the Roots Music Report alt-rock chart…and their album Things Are Looking Up has been top ten for almost two months! Catch ’em this spring and summer at Michael Braceland Art Gallery (May 18 and June 14) and Bobbique (May 24), both in Patchogue, the Junction in Long Beach (May 26 and August 2), Revolution in Amityville (June 23), KJ Farrells in Bellmore (June 25), and the Great South Bay Music Festival (July 20). That’s all L.I. by the way, no Australia tour – yet. And while you’re at it, have another look/listen to their video “That’s Just the Way It Goes.”
Charcoal and coloured pencil by Reg Mombassa
*Songwriters: Colin James Hay / Ronald Graham Strykert; Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
Images courtesy catsmeow.com, dbldblwhmmy.com, vacationsfanclub.bandcamp.com, lyricsfa.com, quiversss.bandcamp.com, thestroppies.bandcamp.com, stereogum.com, poolshopsound.bandcamp.com, walkaboutband.com, regmombassa.com