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Archive for the ‘Australia’ Category

For Australian hip-hop, this was the song that made things start to happen. Very little hip-hop from Australia had been popular before this (other than bands like 1200 Techniques and their 2002 hit ‘Karma‘). But this song not only cemented the mainstream popularity of Australian hip-hop, but also the mainstream popularity of bands such as The Hilltop Hoods.

This song, like the majority of Hilltop Hoods songs, is built around a sample. In this case, the song sampled is ‘The People In The Front Row’ by Melanie Safka. It was quite possibly the title of the sample that led to the name, lyrics and meaning of the song. The song focuses on the ideals of having a great time, whilst dedicating the song to “my people in the front, in the nosebleed section.

To me, it seems that the general appeal of this song lies in the groundbreaking factor that this song yielded whilst being able to deliver a fresh sound whilst mixing in older hooks. Mixed with the lyrics that the general punter in the nosebleed section could relate to, this song has every earmark of a successful song. And of course, all Aussies love homegrown music, so there was no chance this song was going to fail to be a success.

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The Hard Road

3 years after the Hilltop Hoods released ‘
The Nosebleed Section, they released their most successful song to date. This song, ‘The Hard Road‘ focused on the idea of how the band had “gone down the hard road to get where they are today. With sharp, insightful lyrics (although the lyrics at times border on distastefully funny; “I’ll finish with a bang like Kurt Cobain’s biography“), the song manages to make a strong point regarding the lives of the members  and their pasts, presents and futures.

Once again, this song is built around a sample (‘Out In the Woods‘ by Leon Russell), and again it is the ability to mix older styles with newer, fresher beats that heralds the song’s ability to be successful. But of course, Australian hip-hop is still fresh, so while the band is able to make catchy tunes that the average punter can relate to, their songs are bound to be successful.

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63. Polka – Yves Klein Blue

So it happens like this; a small Australian band releases an EP in 2008 and one of the songs becomes massive, and I am talking f***ing huge! ‘Polka’ made it’s way onto national car advertisements and alternative radio, but no one knew anything about the band. But of course, that doesn’t matter, because the song holds it’s own and keeps up its popularity.

The song is a fun little ditty about drug use and the repercussions of such. But the references to famous musicians, the seemingly run of the mill experiences for drug users and the overall bouncy and enjoyable vibe to the song made the song so catchy. And in a style similar to Third Eye Blind’s ‘Semi-Charmed Life’, no one ever realised the drug references and the song became huge.

The song has an amazingly fun feel with jazzy, polka style chords that add to the bouncy rhythm of the song, and the singer’s voice has guts, real power that has great potential in terms of heavier songs. But the song itself is so raw and fun, that no one ever seemed to mind loving a song about drugs, they were too enthralled by how clever and amazing the song sounded.

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With this song, my faith in garage rock is renewed. This young band from Victoria made a significant impact in the world of alternative music in 2006, but it wasn’t until 2008 when they released their debut album, did they begin to receive great recognition.

Put simply, these guys sound like a rock band. No freaked out solos and inventive drum beats, but pure plain and simple rock and roll. Even their songs, well at least this one is, are about the rock and roll lifestyle. Vocally, their singer has a clean voice that suits any rock band out there. But it is the way the band manages to put their music together that makes this song work.

As I said before, the vocals are quite unique. By unique, I mean there is nothing unique about them. They are quite plain, but this works to the advantage of the song. The chorus shows an awesome ‘vocal riff’ that would get some rather loud attention at concerts, but the way that their singer expels the energy out as he sings it shows dedication as a musician and that is one very admirable thing.

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When I chose this song for the countdown, I had only heard it 2 days prior. It had an astonishing affect on me the first time I heard it. I don’t know what it was, perhaps it was the beautifully sweet melody, the vocals of Tyrone Noonan, the message of environmentalism or a mixture of everything that attributed me to choosing this song. But whatever it is, it made me fall in love with this song so much that I actually spent an afternoon with this song on repeat.

As I said, the song it about environmentalism and the how the big corporations are in fact breaking the world slowly. However, it is the way that the message is said that makes it seem intriguing. The vocals are soft and flowing, but the underlying message is that of political concern which makes you really sit up and inadvertently take notice of what is being said. It’s such a rare song though. In fact, George are a rare band as well. The singing is handled by siblings Tyrone and Katie Noonan, both of which have had classical vocal training. It’s rare to have such good singers in a band such as this, but the mixture of the two manages to give the band an extremely powerful aspect, as seen in the chorus of the song. This is a beautiful song with a pure message, and it needs to be heard again and again to be truly appreciated.

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By now you should have realised my penchant for strange and deliciously alternative bands. Well, they don’t get much stranger than Machine Gun Fellatio. MGF are Australia’s answer to Ween, who have been commonly referred to as a ‘jack of all trades’ band, whereby they can change genres with ease. Well this song is a more rock orientated departure from their previous songs; the sombre Unsent Letter, the upbeat Rollercoaster and the a cappella (Let Me Be Your) Dirty Fucking Whore. Regardless of their history, in What The Fuck? MGF manage to essentially deliver an anthem for the apathetic people.

The song discusses the art of not caring. To put it bluntly, the song is a about Pinky Beecroft (the singer) essentially saying “What the fuck do I care? I’ve got bigger problems.” However, the message is delivered with great eloquence, which is actually quite surprising. But the song’s upbeat and catchy atmosphere manage to overshadow the message of the song, and actually make the song seem to be of a totally different nature. But despite this, the song is able to be not only fun, but incredibly serious whilst raising a good point.

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The Girl Of My Dreams (Is Giving Me Nightmares)

Let me take you through a rundown of what the average listener might say when they listen to this song; “What?”
That’s right. This song does not make a lot of sense, other than the obvious theme which is about how the perfect girl has turned into something other than perfection. But somehow, the strange metaphors and confusing sayings manage to make this song almost sensible. It’s strange, but the strangeness manages to make the song normal. If you can work out why the heck that is, you know where to find me.

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80. 77% – The Herd

I have mentioned previously about how I feel regarding the topic of hip hop and how I differentiate my thoughts on Australian hip hop. Well dig out those old sentiments because this is another fine example of Australian hip hop. The Herd is a hip hop group featuring members such as Ozi Batla (a fine lyricist and singer) and Urthboy. In 2003 they released their breakthrough album An Elefant Never Forgets, which featured the song 77%. The song dealt with the touchy subject of the then controversial ‘Tampa affair’ in 2001, which regarded a vessel from international waters coming into Australian waters. In a survey conducted following the event, 77% of people surveyed agreed with John Howard’s actions regarding the barring of the boat people from Australian shores. This led to the song mentioning that “77% of Aussie are racist”, and the fact that all Australians are themselves immigrants. The touchy subject was delivered with a powerful wake up call to Australians (in fact the lyrics of the song are “Wake up, this country needs a fuckin’ shake up, wake up, this cunts need a shake up”). The band are themselves noted for their fierce nationalism and their political views, so of course if any band was to record a song that featured such topics, it would be The Herd.

At the best of times, Australian hip hop is quite eloquent and very sharp. 77% is no exception. The band manages to make a song that effects every single emotion that a nationalistic Australian would feel, and in doing so, manages to drive a very important topic home. If all hip hop was made in this sense, and every political song featured the same format as this one, there would be very little chance of there ever being a bland, preachy political song ever again.

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We Can’t Hear You

Again, hip hop songs are very well written when they are done right. Even songs such as this which manage to incorporate a very strong party vibe whilst still incorporating the typical political undertones that The Herd enjoy implementing into their songs. The fun, bouncy beat of the song makes reference to the current political situation in Australia and how the ‘little guy’ is quite often unheard. The almost motivational song is once again delivered with great dedication and total relevance to the subject being delivered. The Herd are not to be messed with, they are one of the most serious and most fun hip hop groups of recent years.

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There are many songs out there that follow the hard rock template of riffs, chorus, verse, riffs, more riffs and a killer ending. However, when you have bands like Karnivool (who I might add, seem to be the saviour of Australian rock and roll), they tend to change the formula into their own and make everything work for them. Roquefort is a perfect example of this. However, no one can quite be sure what the song means because, well quite frankly, the song is a series of metaphors that make it seem like the singer was a quite a fan of Alice In Wonderland. Regardless, this song still manages to deliver a knockout blow to any bands that act as imitators to the real rock and roll.

The vocals that Ian Kenny possesses are enough to make any fan of rock music jump for joy. Seriously, Kenny is one of Australia’s best vocalists at the moment, in fact he’s so good he’s singing for both Karnivool AND Birds Of Tokyo. But again, fantastic vocals, thundering bass and a deep-as-Jame-Earl-Jones’-voice guitar riff makes this song not only one of the best Australian rock tracks ever, but one of the best hard rock tracks to ever be recorded. Now all we have to do is make sure the entire world knows about these guys.

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Most songs show very differing approaches to the topic of suicide. Some songs deal with a sense of inevitability, some with a sense of hope, but very rarely is there a song that manages to address the topic with not only beauty, but a sense of understanding. Epicure’s Tightrope Walker is one of the most beautiful songs you will ever hear. The song revolves around a young girl who is clearly troubled and her male friend who believes that “she’s a tightrope walker and he’s the streets below”. However, the meaning of the song is far deeper than that. It deals with the fact that this girl is in a serious situation where she cannot be saved, despite the efforts of others and the willingness they show to ‘catch’ them as they fall.

The beauty of this song lies within the poetic, fragile lyrics that are delivered with such honesty and such dedication. The song has great instrumentation that manages to not overshadow the vocals and the meaning of the song. The acoustic guitar at the beginning is joined by string instruments after a verse before the rest of the band joins in to accompany with a jazz based backing. The appellant tone of the song features so much beauty that I cannot begin to describe how it makes ME feel. Yet, with brutally poetic lyrics such as “So put your arms down honey, this ain’t no execution, I was just watching you sleep” listener begins to see just how much the ‘lead character’ in this feels about the girl and the problems she is going through.
A beautifully stark song that deals with such troubling topics in such a delicate way.

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For me to recognise a good song, it must have 3 elements present. Number 1, the music itself must be either catchy, well played or adventurous. Number 2, the lyrics must be very good, and number 3, the performance of these two elements must be very good. In the case of I’m A DJ by Sonic Animation, all three elements are met too the most extreme level. The opening banter between two technoheads that leads into the riff is absolutely superb, and the riff itself is classic. I have actually listened to this riff for roughly an hour on repeat and managed not to get tired of it. This shows how good the riff is.

The lyrics of the song are also amazing. It is essentially a satirical view on the lifestyle of DJ’s, whom the band itself is comprised of. So you can instantly appreciate the point of view that the song takes. With such great lyrics as “‘Cause I’m a DJ, I’m a self indulgent git, if the record’s not from Germany, then it must be shit” and “I’m a DJ, my whole set sounds the same, you’re not allowed to speak to me, unless it’s about fame”, you can really appreciate the point of view that the band actually employs. It shows that they are not only self aware of the stereotypical DJ, but they are also fully aware of what is expected of them.

However, the band has, in the past (and prior to their breakup), gained recognition for their fantastic live performances which consisted of two fans being dressed in furry suits. This act in itself shows how different Sonic Animation attempted to be from other DJs, and that is something I completely respect. That is just one of the reasons why I despise techno music. The fact that DJs are never actively involved in their music and instead spend their ‘performance’ in a booth, bathing in their own superiority and delusions. But when a band like Sonic Animation is able to point this out in their own music and actually make an attempt to differentiate themselves from this stereotype, it has to be applauded.

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How does one define Wolfmother? Well, if you were to raid your favourite underground music store and buy every single record they own of Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Kyuss, AC/DC, The Doors, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd AND The Who, placed it into a blender and burnt the remnants onto a CD, you would have Wolfmother’s debut album (and quite likely, every subsequent album). But regardless of the fact that Wolfmother are almost a direct copy of all of these bands, they have still manages to carve out their own individual niche in the international rock music scene.

Wolfmother’s debut album spawned international acclaim and a record breaking 6 positions in the Triple J Hottest 100, 2005. In said countdown, Mind’s Eye reached number 6, the band’s highest position for that year. It was also the 3rd most popular Australian song for the year, which means that the Australian public voted this as the 3rd best homegrown song behind the likes of Bernard Fanning and Ben Lee. But we’ll forgive them for voting for Ben Lee. Regardless, this song’s popularity was very well deserved for the great song that it is.

The song itself is quite clearly influenced by the like of Led Zeppelin, The Doors and even features a keyboard solo that is quite influenced by The Who. But despite these influences, Andrew Stockdale’s direct guitar work and vocals give the song, and rock music in general, a sound that has not been heard for a long time. While I generally find Andrew Stockdale to be quite pretentious (in fact I have recently dubbed him Ben Lee, Jr.), I have to give him full credit for the musicianship he portrays in this song. The song is also complemented by a fantastic film clip which draws much inspiration from Pink Floyd’s Live In Pompeii, and can be seen here. Such beautiful mastery of the guitar and the soaring vocals that prove that Wolfmother are in fact a rock band that will live on for decades. Not only as a good band, but as an influential band that will have helped defined future musicians.

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Apple Tree

This song can be described in one word; fun. This song is immense fun to listen to. What starts with distorted vocals turns into a fast moving rockabilly inspired jam that only scratches the surface of what these guys are capable of. This song reached position 16 than Mind’s Eye in the Triple J Hottest 100, 2005, proving that this song can also hold it’s own against other Wolfmother tracks and other international musicians (It’s quite noteworthy that this song was the 7th most popular Australian song and the 3rd wolfmother track in the top 20, behind Joker And The Thief at position 9. This also means that out of the top 9 Australian songs in the countdown, Wolfmother made up a 3rd). The only reason this song did not make my 100 is mainly because of the fact that Mind’s Eye was the first Wolmother song that I heard, and it therefore holds a special meaning for me.

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