Sounds Of The (Down) Underground Vol. 2: Five More Australian Acts You Should Be Listening To

sounds of the down underground

Australia has a proud history of punching above its weight, musically speaking. This is particularly true when it comes to acts operating in the heavier music spectrum. With the seemingly endless advances in streaming and social media technologies making the ears of the world more accessible than ever, the Australian independent scene is thriving. The result is an influx of bands across a variety of genres making a considerable impact on the music scene globally.

As a UTG contributor and proud Australian who resides deep within the nation’s undisputed punk rock heart of Melbourne, it gives me great pleasure to be able to provide you with a unique insight into the Australian scene via my locally focussed reviews and interviews. However, with so much great music being produced down here, I have come to the painful realisation that I cannot possibly cover it all, so below you will find the second installment of ‘Sounds Of The (Down) Underground,’ a list of five Australian acts that I believe you should all be listening to right now. So gather your headphones and get ready to take a ride on the back of a digital kangaroo as we take a second trip through the sounds that are currently killing it in the land down under!

Artist: Ne Obliviscaris
Genre: Progressive Metal
Latest release: Portal Of I
For fans of: Opeth, Emperor, Enslaved
Why should you care? Because they are hands down one of the best progressive metal bands on this or any other planet. As absolute perfectionists, their tireless commitment to their craft is the stuff of legend down under. Their unique blend of intense progressive / extreme / melodic / violin-laden metal has connected with audiences worldwide, resulting in the band establishing a network of fans who appear as committed to pontificating the band’s merits as the band are to giving them reasons to. These fans recently helped Ne Obliviscaris set an Australian record for a crowd-funding campaign, by contributing over $80,000 via Pozible to fund a world-wide tour in support of the upcoming release of their second full-length, Citadel, the followup to their critically acclaimed 2012 release, Portal Of I.

Having honed their live show supporting the likes of Devin Townsend Project, Enslaved, Soilwork, Cradle of Filth, Between the Buried and Me, The Contortionist, Sirenia, and Suffocation, the band was recently granted the honour of being the first band announced for Soundwave 2015. Having secured a global release for Citadel via Season of Mist, Ne Obliviscaris are set to embark on their largest Australian tour to date in November in support of the record, before setting their sights on the rest of the globe. If the live performance below is anything to go by, the world had better be ready to have their minds blown.

Artist: My Echo
Genre: Punk / Rock / Rockabilly
Latest release: My Echo
RIYL: The Living End, Against Me!, The Clash, The Loved Ones, Rocket From The Crypt.
Why you should you care? Since forming in 2011, Melbourne’s My Echo have been on a consistent rise to prominence within the Australian music scene. It is a rise that has been achieved ‘the old fashioned way’ of climbing in a van and laying waste to rooms of all shapes and sizes all around the country, converting the masses one sweat-soaked rockabilly-infused rock song at at a time. In keeping with the organic nature of their rise in profile, the band’s latest release, the six-track EP My Echo (which can be streamed via ToneDeaf) was recorded live to tape at Melbourne’s Sing Sing Recording Studios, with renowned local producer Hadyn Buxton at the helm, and the results are nothing short of inspiring. An honest, raw and energetic recording that wears its heart on vocalist Brenton Perry’s full sleeve tattoos, the EP is the perfect display of everything that is great about this band and serves as the perfect introduction for the uninitiated.

Highlighted by the rollicking lead single “Lonesome City” which has earned the band airplay on rock radio nationwide, My Echo looks set to provide the perfect metaphorical launching pad for this underrated and hardworking band’s journey to the stratosphere. On tour in support of the EP throughout 2014, My Echo appear predestined to take over the world, one discerning pair of ears and multiple pints of beer at a time. Check out “Do Or Die” below.

Artist: DZ Deathrays
Genre: Garage / Indie / Post-Punk
Latest release: Black Rat
RIYL: FIDLAR, Air, The Horrors, Violent Soho, Dinosaur Pile-Up, Death From Above 1979
Why should you care? Since forming in 2009, this Brisbane via Bundaberg duo have earned the love and respect of Australia’s youth by providing an endless supply of angular trash-party anthems for them to get down and dirty to. Comprised of vocalist/guitarist Shane Parsons and drummer Simon Ridley (both also of Velociraptor), these self-described merchants of thrash-pop combine elements of metal, punk, dance, indie, grunge and garage to create a unique and exciting sound that oozes nervous energy and emits the sense of omnipresent danger upon which great parties are made.

Having launched an all-out assault on the senses with their critically acclaimed, ARIA Award winning 2012 full-length, Bloodstreams, the ‘Pitchfork approved’ duo have spent the best part of the last two years entrancing audiences around the nation and the world with their riotous live show, inspiring all out party mayhem via the likes of “Teenage Kickstarts” and “Cops Capacity.” Having smashed out sets on the stages of festivals such as Reading and Leeds, A Perfect Day and Splendour In The Grass, DZ Deathrays earned a new level of notoriety when their SXSW set was forced to be cut short by authorities due to the deafening volume of their music, earning them pride of place in the hearts of many discerning scenesters and college radio DJs.

Returning home to Australia with hero status in check, DZ Deathrays have set about building off the success of Bloodstreams with their sophomore effort Black Rat. A more mature and adventurous collection of songs than Bloodstreams, Black Rat maintains the spirit and energy of the band’s earlier works while introducing an undercurrent of lo-fi electronica, providing their party starting jams with an added element of darkness and a significant increase in sex appeal. Spearheaded by singles “Gina Works At Hearts” and “Less Out Of Sync,” Black Rat has been well received by critics and fans alike, enabling DZ Deathrays to book a dizzying array of dates both at home and abroad as they etch further towards the realisation of their quest for world domination. Check out “Less Out Of Sync” below.

Artist: Corpus
Genre: Post-Hardcore / Indie
Latest release: Everything, All At Once, Always
RIYL: The Blood Brothers, letlive., Refused, At The Drive-In
Why should you care? One of the most unique bands I’ve stumbled upon in quite some time, this positively unhinged duo from Sydney’s West, take elements of post-hardcore, post-punk, garage and indie and mash them into auditory chaos. Comprised of vocalist/guitarist Kieron and drummer/vocalist Jack, Corpus are a fiercely independent and progressive thinking act that wear their art on their sleeves and deliver their ideologies via a caustic turn of phrase.

As ambitious as they are creative, Corpus have built themselves a solid following over the last three years, thanks in large part to consistently devastating live performances and cleverly conceptualised videos. Ever the protagonists, Corpus gained considerable attention by ‘gatecrashing’ the East Coast run of the Australian Warped Tour, performing a slew of guerilla gigs in between sets by much more established (and officially credentialed acts). The band also held the launch party for their EP Everything, All At Once, Always in an abandoned house. In keeping with this spirit of ingenuity and defiance, the lads decided something similarly unorthodox was in order for their next EP release, and that’s how they found themselves in Tokyo in June at Bazooka Studios, Takadanobaba with Sydney producer Clayton Segelov (The Brain Studios recording the forthcoming Awash With Monotone).

The first taste of what they produced in those sessions comes in the form of “Awash With Monotone,” a seething, dark and sinister track that channels the hedonistic spirit of the red light district of Tokyo in which it was written. Having just completed a run of dates as the hand-picked support for the mammoth The Used/Taking Back Sunday co-headline tour (chosen by Bert McCracken, no less) during which they not so much warmed the stage but rather set it on fire every night, Corpus seem destined for bolder, brighter and more brazen things in the year ahead, and you’d be highly advised to accompany them on the ride. Check out their latest single and video “Awash With Monotone” below, and if you like what you hear, head on over to the band’s Bandcamp to download it for free!

Artist: Postblue
Genre: Grunge
Latest release: I Hope They’re Praying For Me
RIYL: Smashing Pumpkins, Dinosaur Jr, Mudhoney, The Pixies
Why should you care? If you are one of those people who believe that the true spirit of grunge died with Kurt Cobain and you have been waiting for it to be revived ever since, then Postblue may be the band that leads you to salvation. Born out of a collective desire to escape the boredom of the picturesque yet sleepy Byron Bay (NSW), the now Melbourne-based trio play the kind of dishevelled, raw and yet undeniably melodious alternative rock that inspired a generation of teenagers to embrace the painful absurdity of the long, slow ride to the middle and made the humble plaid shirt a must have item for the fashionista set. Their debut full-length, I Hope They’re Praying For Me (available to stream via Bandcamp), features ten of the finest grunge-inspired tunes penned in recent memory and will have you yearning for a simpler time when mobile phones were brick-sized accessories exclusively for yuppies (or Paul E Dangerously), and social media meant reading a fanzine on the worn out couch of your local record store while Sonic Youth played in the background.

More than just an exercise in early ’90s nostalgia, the record takes the blueprint laid out by those that came before and updates it for a modern audience- an audience, that if the band’s recent shows are anything to go by, seems to be growing every day. Much of this spur in popularity is due to the band’s visceral live performances, in which their undeniable songwriting nous combines with a genuine outpouring of emotion to create a sense of communal catharsis for all in attendance. As the band themselves put it recently (in jest, I assume), “Postblue will change your life, touch your soul on an existential and metaphysical level, while renewing your faith in solidarity.” Still need convincing? Then check out “Ugly” below:

Tip Of The Akubra – An Aussie scene legend you should check out this month!

Artist: Bodyjar
Genre: Pop Punk / Skate Punk
Latest release: Role Model
RIYL: No Use For A Name, NOFX, Lagwagon, Pulley, Frenzal Rhomb
Why should you care? Skate punk pioneers Bodyjar have been a staple of the Australian alternative music scene for the best part of the last 20 years. Formed in suburban Melbourne in 1994, the band quickly rose to prominence in Australia’s independent scene, becoming the land down under’s primary representatives in the global punk rock boom that saw the likes of Blink-182, Unwritten Law, Pennywise and The Offspring achieve unprecedented levels of success.

The band has consolidated their local and international following with relentless touring, demonstrating the blistering high-energy live shows that have made Bodyjar one of the most respected punk bands in the world. The band now boasts hordes of committed fans in Japan, America, Korea and Europe. Highly respected by their peers, the band can count amongst its fans members of Foo Fighters, Yellowcard, Good Charlotte and Blink-182, who the band have toured with no fewer than four times, including being invited to tour America with for their hit album Enema of the State. This would coincide with being signed to Nitro Records, owned by The Offspring’s Dexter Holland.

You won’t last long in the fickle music industry without killer songs, and Bodyjar have delivered consistently throughout their career. From the sonic assault of 1998’s No Touch Red through to 2000’s gold selling How It Works and 2002’s Plastic Skies, Bodyjar have released a string of classics including top 20 singles “Not The Same,” “One In A Million” and “Too Drunk To Drive.”

In 2014, Bodyjar are sounding better than ever, a fact that becomes abundantly clear after just a single spin of their stellar new record, Role Model. Arguably their finest album yet, Role Model was released in the US via Sinking Ship Records in September. Check out the album’s lead single, “Fairytales,” below and then allow yourself to fall into a glorious ‘YouTube rabbit hole’ of videos from their back catalogue.

Conceptualized and written by Brenton Harris

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