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Three Things You Should Know About Australian Music

Posted by October 16th, 2008 No Comments »

For Your Consideration: A Column about Music Down Under 
Three Things You Should Know About Australian Music
By Sam George-Allen 

So, Australian music. Some of it is okay. Some of it is rubbish. Most of it, however, is woefully underrepresented in the worldwide music scene.

Having grown up in the Antipodes, steeped in Australian and New Zealand music, I feel it is something of a duty to get the word out on the musical goings-on Down Under.

Here is a crash course in Things To Know about Aussie music – a perfect primer for when you next decide to play musical know-it-all and impress that chick (or bloke) from Sydney you know…

So, Australian music. Some of it is okay. Some of it is rubbish. Most of it, however, is woefully underrepresented in the worldwide music scene.

Having grown up in the Antipodes, steeped in Australian and New Zealand music, I feel it is something of a duty to get the word out on the musical goings-on Down Under.

Here is a crash course in Things To Know about Aussie music – a perfect primer for when you next decide to play musical know-it-all and impress that chick (or bloke) from Sydney you know:

1. It’s not all AC/DC

Australia has come a long way from the pub-rock of the 80s; people tend to resent the immortalisation of Aussie music by an over-boozed, school-uniform-wearing bunch of yobbos. Don’t get me wrong: every Australian can and will sing along to “it’s a long way to the shop if you want a sausage roll”, but if you suggest to any self-congratulating Melbournian indie snob that AC/DC is the best and only to come out of the Aussie music scene, you’d better be prepared for cigarette burns to the face. Which segues nicely into the second point of consideration about the Aussie music scene.

2. It’s got issues

Namely, cultural cringe: a whopping complex about how shit you perceive your own culture to be, which Australians have got bad. Hence the absolute disdain you see from indie kids towards the Southern Cross-tattooed paragons of Australian culture that actually do play AC/DC.

Yet there’s also this bizarre sense of Australian pride, evident in the absolute lack of criticism available in the Australian music press. Others have written about this much better than I could (see in particular This Is Not A Photo Opportunity at http://www.notaphoto.com/everett-true-vs-the-australian-music-press), but basically the mentality seems to be if it’s Aussie, it’s good, and fuck the lot of yas.

Yes, it’s a twisted paradox of self-loathing and staunchness, Australian music – however:

3. Some of it really is good

Despite all this, there has been some absolutely fantastic Australian acts in recent years. Ignore Jet (pretentious plagiaristic wankers), Silverchair (sellouts) and Bernard Fanning (wimpy songwriting at its worst) – instead, check out Cut Copy for awesome, original electro-pop, the Drones for wicked-solid rock that’ll put a maniacal grin on your face, and Gotye for Radiohead-tinged, beats-and-beeps dance-rock.

Sam George-Allen lives in Brisbane, Australia. When she’s not learning all the words to the Drones’ new album, she studies writing and anthropology at the University of Queensland and gives people chocolates for money. Look for her column periodically on www.nadamucho.com.


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