Occur Goes Global - The Music of Australia

What’s up Down Under? This island continent of 23 million is a hotbed for creativity. Rock lives on thanks to the continued efforts of AC/DC, and pop music has been transformed by the transfixing Sia. Our five selections for Australian artists to watch come from indigenous populations, jazz traditions and – in King Gizzard’s case – possibly a different planet. Explore the wealth of wonderful music below.


UV boi

You’ll be feeling “LUV” once you open your ears to this weaver of EDM tapestries. Combining Middle Eastern woodwinds with wind-up percussion and bloozy horns, UV boi turns up a party like no other Brisbaner can. Text-message noises add to the frenzy, a sort of Ex Machina for the hip-hop crowd. And older offerings, such as the 8-bit dreamscape “THANK U,” make UV boi a chiptune superhero. (Image above courtesy Mucho Bravado)


Bec Sandridge

If you like your pop music more on the side of Feist and Florence Welch instead of Katy Perry and Ariana Grande, you’ll dig this 24-year-old pixie. Her current single, “In the Fog, In the Flame,” throbs like the Go-Go’s cruising down the freeway in a convertible. Sandridge’s vocals have a mermaid quality to them, bubbly and cavernous, with unexpected undulations and mystery. Sia, watch out. Another Aussie chanteuse might be borrowing your crown for a while.


King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard

These psychedelic dudes are riding the wavelengths of Dick DaleFoxygen and the Flaming Lips— and making it look easy. A notable 2014 track, “Cellophane,” off I’m in Your Mind Fuzz (Flightless), is no joke; it actually sounds as though King Gizzard aka Stu Mackenzie is shouting into a taut square of the plastic sealant. Rubbery riffs, jazzy surf drums and swirling synths are all part of the wizardry behind this seven-piece band. Their newest LP, Quarters, is out now.


Fat Yahoozah

In a country where tradition might discourage women to play instruments that require blowing power – such as the didgeridoo – it’s a blast to see Ellen Kirkwood do her thing. Also a member of the all-female Sirens Big Band, this master trumpeter leads this swell outfit in gypsy jazz celebrations. It’s a warm, energetic shindig whenever this collective is around. Their new album sums up their creative attitude: I Don’t Care. Rules? They were meant to be broken, in Fat Yahoozah’s eyes.


Emma Donovan & the PutBacks

She’s been called the Sharon Jones of Australia by PRI’s The World, and the shoe fits marvelously. Her confident, barreling voice and command of a verse comes from a long line of indigenous music makers. Her grandparents were part of the Aboriginal country group the Donovans, and Emma began singing with them at age 7. Her star has risen over the years, with performances at Olympic torch relays and a documentary series, Emma Donovan: Gumbainggir Lady. Soulful and serene, Donovan is a force to be reckoned with.

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