Back in 2017 the Sydney band Sunscreen released a shimmering, guitar driven EP titled Just A Drop, which featured two Ripe favourites ‘Tide‘ and ‘Voices‘, with ‘Voices’ placing #17 in our 100 Best Australian Tracks of 2017 post. The natural technical abilities displayed on Just A Drop didn’t come as a surprise though, because the lead singer Sarah Sykes also lends her vocal and keyboard hook talents to another standout Sydney band Flowertruck.
If you’re yet to catch Sunscreen live, you’re in luck, as they’re set to play at the Grampians Music Festival between February 15th-17th this month. There’s a very good chance that they’ll be sound tracking your drive back home from the festival, especially if you detour back along the Great Ocean Road.
For those who can’t make those dates and or live elsewhere on the Australian East coast, we have their other February shows listed below!
Sunscreen’s Trading Tunes is five songs with the theme of Australian ’80s Hits.
Do Re Mi – ‘Haunt You’
“Do Re Mi‘s “Haunt You” is probably their most straightforward radio friendly single. It’s a great showcase of sweaty Australian female-fronted ’80s rock music. People forget how much of a badass Deborah Conway is. The ’80s wasn’t all Jimmy Barnes and Michael Hutchence.” – Alex
The Go Betweens – ‘Cattle And Cane’
“‘Cattle And Cane‘ by The Go Betweens is a perfect example of Australian pop eccentricity. The dreamy, haunting melody and introspective lyrics really reflect the barren landscape that we call home.” – Ollie
Mondo Rock – ‘Come Said The Boy’
“‘Come Said The Boy‘ is an Australian classic about coming of age. It epitomises the carefree beach culture of Sydney in the 1980s.” – Hugo
Paul Kelly – ‘Before Too Long’
“Paul Kelly is one of the greatest storytellers of all time, and can soothe your soul when you are buckling under the pressures and confusions of life. As well as featuring the best guitar line ever, Before Too Long laments that the only constant thing about life is that it is ever-changing. If you watch the fantastic music video you will also see that his drummer is rocking a mullet ponytail – a strong look that I’m impressed by.” – Sarah
Kylie Minogue – ‘Locomotion’
“What really needs to be said here? It’s obvious. An iconic early Kylie track, a party staple, and the backdrop to many Oz-Aerobics workouts since.” – Sarah & Hugo
This is our updated weekly playlist of the 40 best new Australian songs released within the past three months. This week’s guide includes new entries from Honey 2 Honey, Jess Ribeiro, Nite Fleit, Ani Lou, Julia Jacklin, Katie Dey, Planète, Capital Gains, DJ Heure, Ara Koufax, Baro ft. Nasty Mars, Maliblue, Skydeck, Mope City, Roza Terenzi, Leisure Suite, Good Boy, Bad Bangs, Grand Pine, V, Roland Tings, Smoke Rings, SO.Crates ft. Alnitak Kid & Nelson Dialect and this week’s best new track by Liluzu.
Apologies for the delay on this list, it turns out finding power outlets in the remote parts of Himachal, India was harder than I expected. But, better late than never, and it gave me time to really disgust all these tracks. In previous years we would usually post closer to 100 artists for variety reasons, but this year we’ve gone back to having up to three songs per artist. This way, the artists who shined the most this year get the appreciation they deserve. After all, lists like these are created so people can find new music, and when you see three songs from the same artist, that’s typically a sign that you need to really check them out. These lists can also create interesting conversations, especially when people disagree, because unfortunately not many music websites in Australia exist anymore, so it’s important that we still create these discussions, and highlight artists who are underexposed. The order doesn’t necessarily means #1 is worlds better than #100, it’s just chosen as a tone setting entry point. It’s up to you as to how far you want to dive into this list.
So, as we say every year. Thank you to all the bands, artists, managers, random people, DJs, venues, festivals, PR workers who send in music all year and make it much easier for us to track it all. We’ll continue to try and post as much as we can, as we get older and busier in the real world. I still enjoy it as much I did on day one, so that’s a good sign. If you want to see previous lists, I’ll have the links below. Hopefully you find something you enjoy and if you do, please go support them!
Probably the first and only time Ripe will use a click-bait feature image, but something’s wrong. No wait, not something, the music industry economy is wrong. It’s been a false economy for years, and now we’re paying for it — or more literally, not paying.
You can point your finger at the bookers, the sponsors, the labels, the artists or the locations. But the main reason Australian Music Festivals are either selling out in 2018 or not selling well, is because of the generation that attended festivals for the first time during the ‘pay what you want’ era. The generation that sparked so much open minded interest in artists that don’t attract big bucks, the same generation to start niche festivals with no plan on making profits. This generation now needs money, this generation now have families, HECS debts, loans, and they don’t live at home anymore. That free loan era between 2007’s Radiohead – In Rainbows, where one of the biggest bands in the world gave away a classic album for free, and somewhere between 2013-2014 when Spotify doubled it’s subscriber numbers and hit 10 million. Marking an end to the era of ‘pay what you want’. The peak point coming in the middle of 2010 with the shutdown of Limewire and free easy downloads without the average-joe needing to know anything about Torrents or VPNs. Now in 2018 it’s all tight Facebook algorithms making you pay to post, Spotify algorithms limiting your music horizons not expanding them, and YouTube algorithms feeding you only the biggest of YouTube channels. But it’s not algorithms that make algorithms (not yet). It’s companies hiring smart code writers, who are paid to max funds and compete with the other big companies. It’s their job, it’s their livelihoods, so I can’t blame them either.
It’s the same with the bookers of Laneway Festival 2019. 2018 didn’t sell out, and they’re running an expensive and tough business. They had to put a lot of Triple J artists on the bill to sell tickets. I’d love to live in a world where the Laneway lineup had the most critically acclaimed artists of the year, like Laneway used to aim for each year. But a lineup of Idles, Low, Yves Tumor, Snail Mail, John Coltrane, Skee Mask and Amen Dunes ain’t selling tickets. Who are they, you may ask? They’re some of the most critically acclaimed artists of 2018, but this algorithm generation will likely never know. And for the bookers at Laneway, they’re also the more expensive options.
So how does a Festival like Meredith get away with featuring so many critically acclaimed artists, just a couple Triple J artists and manage to sell out every year? numerous reasons. The first is that the people pay for the festival experience, not just the lineup. There’s no experience left at Laneway, it’s just teens popping pills or as one commentator posted on the Laneway Facebook page, “could have been a better lineup but I’ll still go lmao chance to get fucked uppppp.” Secondly, Meredith owns the land, it owns a lot of the infrastructure, it doesn’t have to tour the lineup around a country that’s less invested in live music than Victoria. Meredith still have a lot of expenses that punters don’t think about, ever wondered how they get rid of hundreds of couches every year?
Speaking of those couches, that’s where the festival problem reaches beyond Laneway all the way to Meredith. The same culture that made Meredith so relaxing and welcoming, that freedom to bring a couch from your home to the front of the Amphitheater, has attracted the same crowd that think it’s cool to throw rubbish out of your vehicle. “Hey bro, at Meredith you can smash beers on a couch all day, piss on it, and then just leave it behind at the end. It’s sick!” said an attendee who would only venture down to the stage when they need to charge their selfie-taking phones. This isn’t Meredith’s fault, the festival itself has barely changed in its almost 30 year existence. I can never remember which Meredith year was which. What did change over that time was the death of festivals that drew crowds who just want to “get fucked uppppp” such as Stereosonic, Future Music or Soundwave (lesser extent). All three of which died in 2015 and that crowd’s been looking for new options ever since. Laneway targets those who just need half a day to black out. Meredith targets those who worked hard (I’d like to hope so) all year, and come December just want to escape the city and let off some steam. I get it, life can be really tough and messed up for a lot of people, you may not even really care much for music, and when else can you catch up with all your friends and get away together for a whole weekend. Meredith makes a lot of sense for those people. The calendar position makes a huge difference, because the crowd at Golden Plains (same location and team behind Meredith) held in March is vastly different. If you’re still spending money on festivals in March, when university or work or family life is full throttle, you must really like music, because there’s cheaper ways to “get fucked uppppp.”
If you’re ready to run away to even smaller niche festivals, you’re in the minority, because those festivals are struggling to sell 1,000 tickets with interesting line-ups, line-ups far more critically acclaimed than the 2019 Laneway lineup. However, many of them paid the price. Paradise Music Festival ran a loss for many years and became financially unsustainable. Many others are trying to stay afloat such as Inner Varnika (didn’t sell out this year), Hopkins Creek (didn’t sell out last year), By The Meadow (didn’t sell out this year), Freedom Time (didn’t sell out this year) and Shady Cottage (have had to take two years off to think hard about their model). Maybe too many niche festivals popped up at the same time and the market wasn’t ready for all of them, but even collectively the numbers just don’t add up. How can so many festivals in Melbourne, the live music attending city that makes more money from live music than the AFL does nationally, struggle to sell out 1,000 or less ticket festivals. There’s no simple answer. You could point your finger at the talent crops or those damn algorithms, but I think it’s something else. I think it’s the novelty, the location novelty.
You see, most of my music loving friends with deep historical musical knowledge and really varied tastes in music, never seemed to know 80% of the Paradise Music Festival lineups. They went because the location on Lake Mountain was unique, the location was the experience, there just happened to also be interesting music, too. These interesting artists may be fantastic, but they’re also local, we can watch them anytime in Melbourne, often for free. So are niche festivals meant to change location every year? They would if they could, but locations are extremely hard to find. Permits are even harder to get. The always popular and respected party throwers Animals Dancing recently tried to host a festival on the upcoming Grand Final weekend at the Tallarook location that’s hosted Boogie Festival since 2008 (and more recently New Year’s EVIE Festival). But even Animals Dancing couldn’t fight extreme opposition from local residents. Apparently electronic music is a no go in Tallarook, despite the fact that Boogie has a stage called Clubhouse. It’s all just a big misunderstanding, the people of Tallarook probably lumped Animals Dancing in with the same crowd who once went to Stereosonic, and you can’t be mad at them, how are they meant to know the difference.
Which brings it all full circle. Everyone is misinformed, or simply doesn’t have enough time to be informed. Music Festivals in Australia are dying, and that’s just not a message that’s getting spread publicly. Who is meant to spear this information? Triple J promote their festivals, you know all about those. Triple R promote their festival associations, you hear about those. Everyone else, they don’t have a voice, a media outside of online algorithms. If numbers continue to drop at small festivals, they’ll die. If the loyal crowd move away from the bigger festivals, they’ll die. If Music Festivals die, then you’ll struggle to get an international artist to fly all the way to Australia. Local artists will have to move overseas to make real money in order to fund their profession and find financial value in their already niche market, because it’s now very hard to do that online in 2018. Australia will be right back to where it was before 2007, dictated by Triple J and playing catch up to the rest of the world.
I want this post to be about Cool Sounds’ warm music — and it will be. But I also wanted to use this post to acknowledge my deepest sympathies for all the band members after their good friend, collaborator and touring partner Zac Denton passed away late October unexpectedly. Zac played several Ripe events over the years with The Ocean Party and helped KEWL with their crowdfunding campaign. Zac couldn’t haven’t been more unselfish and a positive representative role model of what makes the Melbourne music community so special. His passing effected me and I wish I’d shown more gratitude towards him while I had the chance. We held off this post until Cool Sounds were okay moving forward with press coverage.
Now on a lighter more uplifting note. Cool Sounds new album Cactus Country is perhaps exactly what I needed to hear. The closest comparison that kept coming to mind was actually the debut Girls self-titled album. That deliberate lack of low end frequencies, that ‘calm warm breeze on a rooftop with sharp crispy instrumentation and vocals never too deep or never too in your face either’ vibe. It’s incredibly easy to put this album on loop and let is simmer all day, and you’ll never question why you chose the album in the first place.
That could also be considered a flaw to some people, who are looking maybe for a clearer point of emphasis, but that would just distract from all the lush instrumentation of the seven piece band. It’s the multi-blend of instruments that creates their unique juice flavour. Which is why I suggest playing the album on full range speakers with good left and right separation, because you really need to hear the full Cactus Country audio spectrum to enjoy the full experience.
From band member Lauren Huynh:
“These are all songs I listen to when I wanna indulge in my loneliness but dance at the same time. I’m a real sucker for unrequited love songs and I think there’s something really beautiful about people who can sing about something sad in an upbeat and catchy way.”
House Or Home album tracklist:
02. Cactus Country
03. The Best
04. Loose Grips
08. Nowhere To Run
09. Golden Nights
10. Twin Turbo
Instead of being a co-headline album tour, it will instead be The Ocean Party’s tour, supported by Cool Sounds, as a bit of a celebration of Zac.
November 16th | Tanswells | Beechworth *
November 17th | The Bridge | Castlemaine *
November 25th | The Eastern | Ballarat *
December 1st | The Tote | Melbourne *
December 2nd | Birdhouse | Wagga Wagga *
December 3rd | Phoenix | Canberra *
December 4th | CCOX at The Bank | Sydney *
December 5th | Franks Wild Years | Thirroul *
December 6th | Netherworld | Brisbane *
December 7th | The End | Brisbane
This is our updated weekly playlist of the 40 best new Australian songs released within the past three months. This week’s guide includes new entries from Harvey Sutherland, Wonderfuls, Donny Benét, Tram Cops, Way Dynamic, Dr Sure’s Unusual Practice, Julia Jacklin, Sweater Curse, Sarsaparilla, gregor, Anatole, Good Boy, Field Maps, Darcy Baylis, Two People, The Woodland Hunters, Ben Wright Smith, Milk Buttons and this week’s best new track by Crepes.
Melbourne Music Week starts November 16th until the 24th, and what better way is there to get excited than by listening to a Melbourne playlist by one of the best Melbourne bands, RVG. You can gather elements of RVG’s sound from these five chosen artists. From Terry‘s sharp guitar lines, to Divide and Dissolve‘s depth and power, to Cyanide Thornton‘s levelled usage of the full band, to Spike Fuck‘s personal lyrics. Lead vocalist and song writer Romy Vager‘s unique take on what’s vaguely described as post-punk can be traced through these array of influences. You really need to see Romy and RVG live to understand how hard they can truly hit you inside, and luckily you can and see many more awesome artists during this year’s Melbourne Music Week.
There’s an endless list of Ripe favourite’s playing such as Andras, Andy Garvey, Ara Koufax, Brooke Powers, Chiara Kickdrum, Dianas, DRMNGNOW, Ella Thompson, Fantastic Man, Habits, Hexdebt, Hymns, Jen Cloher, Krakatau, Leah Senior, Mikey Young, Moopie, Pjenné, Roza Terenzi, RVG, SilentJay, Simona, Sui Zhen, Sunbeam Sound Machine and many more!
“You know the kind, please be kind” – my favourite line of the year so far. Terry write these little pop songs that say so much without any pretension or concern for being on trend.”
Divide and Dissolve – ‘Reversal’
“Not long ago I saw Divide and Dissolve play at a co-op in Austin, Texas. It was one of the best and most intense shows I’ve seen this year. The best music is the kind that doesn’t just make you feel good about yourself.”
Cyanide Thornton – ‘The Weight’
“Cyanide have consistently been my favourite band to see in over the last few years. They’re just about to release their debut album and it’s gonna be amazing.”
Dark Water – ‘Siren Song’
“Dark Water are my favourite new band of the year. They play this brooding synth goth music but you can also hear these very tender Fleetwood Mac-esque melodies in it. I’m very excited to hear what they do next.”
Spike Fuck – ‘Guts’
“Every time I’m asked to make one of these lists my first thought goes to this song. It encapsulates everything I love about this city.”
This is our updated weekly playlist of the 40 best new Australian songs released within the past three months. This week’s guide includes new entries from Martin Frawley, Harvey Sutherland, Tiana Khasi, Moonlover, DJ Heure, The Model School, HVNCOQ, The Ocean Party, Hektor, Middle Management, Candy, Obscura Hail, Orlean, Ferla, Jackmann, Black Cab, Fair Maiden, Sunnyside, Purpl, The Attics, Aegean Sun, Monnone Alone, Red Ink and this week’s best new track by Tram Cops.
This is our updated weekly playlist of the 40 best new Australian songs released within the past three months. This week’s guide includes new entries from On Diamond, Julia Jacklin, Cyanide Thornton, Lucy Cliche, Tram Cops, NИLL, Cool Sounds, GERYON, Moses Carr, The Ocean Party, These Guy, A. Swayze and the Ghosts, Vape Dadz, Triangle Head and this week’s best new track by Geo William.
Matt Crowley, Tori Holleman and Marco Vella make up the Sydney soft-thoughts group Retiree. Late last month they released their new album House Or Home via Rhythm Section INT. An album about living in all kinds of conditions all around Australia in 2018. The most common mood is that of somebody waking up to reality and trying to come to terms with it, a lot of ‘morning sun straight in the eyes’ vibes.
Just where and in what condition you experience this process of thoughts is subjective to the listener, as Retiree don’t clarify noticeable specifics. You could be in the hot sandy outback, a tiny apartment in Hobart, or the Alpine Range. We all wake up at some point every day and try to process the all that is prior to it. This is where House Or Home is perfect. Retiree help you zone in on those thoughts. Weather it’s via the soft deep oozing during ‘Magic Eye‘, the slick sliding tones of ‘Another Day‘ or light dabs with blurred audible lyrics like pre-coffee morning confusement on ‘Line In The Dirt‘. The morning is where their minimal arrangements work the best, a time of day when it’s hard to compute too much information. The last track ‘Past Time‘ is a really effective and calming instrumental, that I’d like to hear them dig deeper into on future releases.
Retiree have four shows coming up. The Chippo in Sydney on November 23rd, Northcote Social Club in Melbourne on November 24th, El Grotto in Scarborough on December 21st and Si Paradiso in Perth on December 22nd. Until then they have kindly sent us their choices for Trading Tunes.
Theme: Dub Mixes
“We’re big fans of a well executed dub mix – an alternate mix of a track that takes a few elements or sections of a song & extends them, reimagines & rearranges them, usually with some of the vocals removed, taking it a step out of ‘song’ territory & one towards the club.
When the right elements are reworked it can shed new light on a song, like hearing a version from an alternate dimension.”
House Or Home album tracklist:
02. Pumice Stone
03. Magic Eye ft Sui Zhen
04. Another Day
05. Line In The Dirt
06. Mystery Bay
07. House or Home
08. Past Time
Idjut Boys – ‘Kenny Dub Headband’
“From their LP ‘versions’ which is all remixes they’ve done themselves of songs from their record ‘Cellar Door’. The idjuts take the original slow, disco-y piece, chop it up, stretch it out & soak it in echo.”
Kindness – ‘SEOD (Zdar Dub)’
“Phillipe Zdar strips SEOD down to a deep deep bass and drum machines, then extends the piano outro, bringing the track to over 9 mins. Best listened to riding a bicycle at night or with some large subwoofers.”
Kassiry – ‘N’ne Menika’
“This doesnt divert too much from the original, but the echoey percussion & vocals switch it from the dancefloor to maybe the dinner before the party.”
Imagination – ‘So Good, So Right (Dub Version)’
“Paring a semi-cheesy funk track back & echoing out the vocals. Someone was playing the sends on the mixer here.”
Marvin Gaye – ‘I Want You (John Morales Extended Mix)’
“A classic reworked by a master remixer. Best listened to stretched out on a couch like Marvin singing it in the first part of this clip:”