The Aussie Music Scene

Helen Reddy, The Bee Gees, Olivia Newton-John, The Little River Band, Air Supply, Men at Work, Split Enz (and later Crowded House), INXS, Midnight Oil—these are all great Aussie acts that I listened to in the ‘70s and ‘80s in America. And some of these people are still around. Peter Garrett, the lead singer of Midnight Oil, will likely be the new Environment Minister in Canberra next month. Colin Hay, front man for Men at Work (you remember, "Who Can it Be Now?" and "Down Under," don't you?), will be playing in Brisbane next week. Olivia seems to be on the cover of some woman's magazine every month. Crowded House reunited and toured Australia this year, and Nick Finn performed an acoustic show on TV recently. And although my current music listening habits largely feature the music of my youth, I consider myself fairly knowledgeable about current music (I love “Thout Shalt Always Kill” by dan le sac VS Scroobius Pip, for example).

Well, moving to Australia has reintroduced me to the greatness of the Australian music scene. Most of the top bands here reportedly have had modest success back in the States, but I hadn’t heard of most of them before July: Powderfinger, Silverchair, Missy Higgins, Sarah Blasko, The John Butler Trio, Rogue Traders (who have a lead singer who is too beautiful!), The Waifs, Sneaky Sound System, Ben Lee, and Damien Leith. Even a recent inductee to the ARIA Hall of Fame, Nick Cave, barely registered in my consciousness in the past decade, and that’s probably because I had heard him on previous trips to Oz. As I mentioned in an earlier post, my favourite show on the ABC is “Spicks and Specks,” which is an incredibly cool music trivia game. Their guest panelists are frequently Australian musicians from the past 30 years who are completely unknown to me. Next week, Australian Crawl's former singer, James Reyne, will be on. Who's that? And I certainly can’t answer most of the Australian music trivia questions, such as “What was the name of the second Hoodoo Gurus album?” It’s really quite amazing that, despite the globalisation of American music, there is still so much great original music coming out of this relatively small country. I'm looking forward to getting to know it better. I just wish I had more time to listen to Triple J...

A recent act from Brisbane, The Veronicas, are 23-year-old twins who now live in Los Angeles (as do many of the other acts listed above). Their new song, “Hook Me Up,” is so catchy that I had to feature it here: