These Are The Acts That Will Shape Australian Music In 2019
Here are the acts to keep an ear out for.
It feels like there’s almost too much Australian music to get excited about in 2019. Our future ears are truly blessed.
And the world knows it too. Even disregarding superstar success of Troye Sivan and Courtney Barnett, Australian acts are crushing it right now — from G Flip to Gang of Youths and RÜFÜS DU SOL, we’re popping up on airwaves, playlists and festivals across the world.
Last year, we wrote about how we were in a golden age of Australian pop music, as the industry finally seemed to shirk the need to divide things down an arbitrary indie/mainstream line.
Gazing ahead, that binary is only further breaking down, as acts cross-pollinate sounds to create innovative, forward-thinking music — especially in hip-hop.
Here are thirteen acts we reckon you should keep an ear out for in 2019 — after all, you’ll probably be hearing them around.
This effortlessly cool Sydney quartet offer everything we want from indie-rock in 2019: lush guitar melodies, a willingness to mix things up, and a readiness to sing about feelings with feeling. Last year, they released their anticipated debut EP: we called it one of 2018’s best releases.
They’ll be heading to SXSW this March — and if they don’t take over the world from there, something’s gone deeply wrong.
Collarbones have been missing for a little while, as the long-distance electronic duo took a break after their third album, 2014’s Return. Beyond a stand-alone single in 2016, Travis Cook and Marcus Whale have been busy with other creative endeavours — but judging by ‘A.I’, the massive lead single from their impending fourth album, they’ve reunited with a renewed sense of purpose.
Written about Whale’s experiences of being cat-fished as a teen, it’s all-in pop at its most moody melodramatic, where literary lines about being haunted are backed by a wall of heavy-hitting synths. We want more.
Most triple j listeners probably know Cub Sport, but their forthcoming self-titled third album has the potential to take them above and beyond the mid-afternoon festival set slots — especially with their growing stan-like fanbase.
Their last album, 2017’s BATS, was a break-through for the Brisbane band, as a freshly found sense-of-self from lead singer Tim Nelson reflected in their sound — a cleaner, more innovative take of indie-pop which let Nelson’s hymn-ready voice take centre stage.
We named Cub Sport lead single ‘Sometimes’, a brutally honest bop about self-doubt, one of the best tracks of 2018: hopefully the rest of the album follows suit.
Eilish Gilligan’s triple j unearthed profile describes her as a “songwriter and feelings-feeler”, which is apt. While the Melburnian only has a handful of tracks out, she’s established a distinct ability for emotionally-terse electronic pop which trades in restraint and sharp hooks.
Take ‘Patterns’, her most recent single — Gilligan keeps things deceptively simple as she relays a story of heartbreak and self-examination, letting the shimmering synths indulge the pain that her voice betrays, in the vein of ‘feelings-feelers’ Robyn or Lorde.
You wouldn’t have heard of them till last year, but this Sydney four-piece have been making music together for eight years.
Last year, they released their first single, ‘Bridges’. It’s not that they’re perfectionists — though as far as debut singles go, it’s excellent hazy indie-pop. Rather, the band formed back at music school, when they were eight-years old. While some might hold their age against them, Erthling’s sharp songwriting and expert musicianship should silences the skeptics.
Even though they’ve only released two songs, we’re expecting big things: they were recently scooped up and signed by tastemakers Future Classic, after all.
19-year-old Canberran Genesis Owusu (aka Kofi Ansah) has been one of the leading voices in Australia’s new wave of hip-hop of the past two or so years.
Pulling from his dual loves, jazz and hip-hop, Genesis’ most recent releases show how versatile he can be. Early hit ‘Sideways’ found its way onto triple j’s high rotation thanks, in part, to its slick Hiatus Kayote production, but 2018 hits ‘awomen amen’ and ‘Wit’ Da Team’ suggest the heights Genesis can reach. Both tackle ‘big issues’ — toxic masculinity and cultural appropriation, respectively — with a deftness and funk reminiscent of Childish Gambino.
While Australia isn’t too familiar with Teneil Throssell just yet, Europe has completely fallen in love with this WA-born DJ.
After her last band Dark Bells disbanded in 2014, Throssell took those psych-rock leanings into her eclectic DJ sets that soon saw her rise the ranks in Europe’s DJ circuit with coveted radio slots and club residencies.
A series of idiosyncratic singles — like the sprawling, hazy ‘Be Good’ — have proved she’s as just as adept at original productions as she is playing to a rapturous, late-night crowd.
Haiku Hands describe themselves as a ‘artist collective’, rather than a band; if you’ve seen them live, you know this Sydney electro four-piece think out every single moment of a performance, whether it’s their colourful costumes, their in-sync moves or screaming lines into a megaphone.
Collective or not, there’s no art pretension to Haiku Hands. Their genre-clashing electronic pop recalls the fuck-you fun of mid-2000s indie-electro acts CSS or New Young Pony Club — but Haiku Hands do it with a higher BPM, and mix in elements of grime, hip-hop and disco.
Kira Puru had a huge 2018. For starters, she released her debut solo EP, packed with five catchy-as-hell, flirtatious pop-bangers.
Then she released one of the weirdest music videos for the year, and took Like A Version to another level with her fire cover of Katy Perry’s ‘T.G.I.F (Friday Night)’. Add in her explosive sets at pretty much every second Australian festival, and you’ve got one of Australia’s most exciting pop acts. She’s a ‘Molotov’ for sure: we just want her to keep blowing up in 2019.
Rich Kwame Amevor has come a long way since a viral video of him free-styling on-stage with A$AP Ferg went viral back in 2016. The 21-year-old Western Sydney rapper ran with the attention, releasing two fresh, clever mixtapes in two years, Lesson Learned and Endless Conversations..
Last year, the strength of singles ‘WOW’ and ‘NO TIME.’ saw him win an opening slot at Splendour In The Grass thanks to triple j unearthed. Since then, he’s climbed from height to height, debuting the apt-titled ‘CLOUDS.’ on tastemaker Zan Lowe’s beats 1 show, nailing a jazzy Like A Version of Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Alright’ and nabbing the coveted J Award for Unearthed Artist of the Year.
Another young achiever, this producer from Sydney’s Central Coast has been releasing tight, club-ready electronic-pop since she was in high school.
Now, she’s graduated and signed to NLV Records alongside some of Australia’s most inventive electronic acts, like Kota Banks, Strict Face and Air Max ’97. Over the past year, she’s carved out a burgeoning-but-enthusiastic fanbase through live sets on Mallrat’s national tour, as well as popping up at festivals across Australia, playing the likes of Falls and Listen Out.
With a debut EP due this year, we can expect more bubbly tracks and collabs that mix together sugary pop, trap hooks and quirky off-beat samples.
Signed to forward-thinking EMI-imprint Night High Records, this budding pop-star from Melbourne has the potential to become a bloody big deal.
Working with the likes of Tigerlilla and Maribelle, Bluer’s three singles have established his knack for sensual, flirtatious pop with big, ecstatic choruses. Take ‘Shift’, a self-professed fuckboi anthem which is elevated by Bluer’s infectiously cocky-confident presence. It’s a perfect ‘feeling myself’ bop.
Once schoolyard friends, MC Dev and DJ Altro are now Slim Set, a duo equally indebted to UK grime and club culture.
Born and bred in Western Sydney, Dev’s lyrics spit out more local references than we can keep up with, turbo-charged by Altro’s aggressive production — and, if you’re seeing them live, a high-octane stage presence.
From their two EPs, ‘Cooked’ is the best intro to Slim Set. It’s a tongue-in-cheek track brimming with gunshots, sirens and self-deprecating lyrics about getting on it, where Dev trash-talks Flume and name-checks Yu-Gi-Oh! as well as bush doofs.
Music Junkee’s 13 Acts That Will Shape Australian Music In 2019
Jared Richards is a staff writer at Junkee, and co-host of Sleepless In Sydney on FBi Radio. Follow him on Twitter.