Music from Around the World – Part One

Music has always been a world commodity. Music reviews/recommendations/comments are a dime a dozen. Unless I’m writing about my neighbor’s kid’s band, anything that has more than 50 views on YouTube already appears in at least 5 music blogs. Trying to find anything new and in-depth is a fruitless exercise. I figured I would try to change it up a bit by just showcasing some music from some obscure places. Enough information is out there about everything, but the goal is not to overwhelm you with needless information and breakdown second of every song, but say ‘hey, there’s this rock band in _____ , they kind of sound like _____’ it’s not too bad. I know, as I am writing this, I already have some new additions to my iPod thanks to this. Music for the casual listener.

We will start our musical journey south of the equator, in the tiny island nation of Australia. This quaint little nook on the corner of the earth, home to 23 million people, has been on the forefront of music pop culture since day one. It would be an understatement to say that bands like AC/DC and INXS have dominated their respective genres for decades. Female pop icons Olivia Newton-John has sold over 100 million copies worldwide (note: I used to think that was impressive until I learned that Black Eyed Peas sold 75 million) and the more contemporary Kylie Minogue has sold some 60 million copies and grace the top 40 stations. Rock and Roll acts such as Jet, Silverchair, and the Vines have had their days on top of the charts. Men at Work taught us what Vegemite was. . . and how can we not forget supermarket/elevator/dental office icons Air Supply’s dulcet tones ?

Right now it can be said that the Aussies are well represented in the current state of music. Three particular bands come to mind immediately, and when I say “come to mind”, I mean “they’re always on the damn radio.” Here is just a quick review of them.

 Sick Puppies

On the alt-rock stations, it seems like I can’t get away from them and their single “there’s no going back” I always found this band to be a tease. Remember in early 2009 when this song came out http://youtu.be/liW-kWFiXtQ , which was the official theme song for Extreme Rules and it led everyone to believe a new hard-rocking band had arrived, and then the rest of the album sounded like this: http://youtu.be/Wgbv3d-k7sA

Good ol’ bait-and-switch. Gotta love it. I took a listen to their latest album, Connect, and it just feels uninspired and washed out…and I have a theory. I was looking them up and I was sort of surprised to learn that the band had formed in high school – in 1997…which puts them in their early 30’s. It’s kind of hard to keep playing that teen angst rock when you get to the point where you could be having teenagers yourselves. But maybe that’s where that sound is going. Just look at POD’s “Beautiful” http://youtu.be/Wquq4DTbC9E or Papa Roach’s “Leader of the Broken Hearts” http://youtu.be/FGaolLbtGPM . Remember when the lead singer of Papa roach was all “I have ADHD. Look at me! I’m Crazy! I live in a Teepee! AH!” Well, he surely slowed down, hasn’t he?

They just released their second single, gunfight http://youtu.be/dZCsU6u74cM, and…singing about the ‘ol west and George Bush…and bringing a knife to a gunfight. . . ok…

On the hard rock stations, we have two bands currently tearing it up.

 Airbourne

Any sports video gamer should be very familiar with this band. Their songs have been in 3 versions of the NHL franchise (09, 11, 14), Madden (08, 09, 10), and WWE Smackdown vs Raw 09 and 10. I can sum up this band with two statements:

1. So this is what happens when a cover band starts to write original songs.
2. I saw them live a couple of months ago on the Rock Allegiance Tour, and there has never been a more “as-advertised” band in the last few years. As Dennis Green said – They are who we thought they were!

Also, another interesting fact – they have a band member with the last name Streets and one with the last name of Roads?

Karnivool

Also on the hard rock stations is this interesting whom I believe is on the verge of making it big (if they aren’t already there). Their latest album, Asymmetry, came out in August and a lot of messages boards are lighting up with accusations of selling out and abandoning their fan base…which, to me can only mean one thing: bigger venues.

I never understood that mentality. That “Hey, I discovered you. I saw you with 20 people in the crowd. How dare you try to make a living doing that! You should be playing for pizza money! I don’t get get.

Anyway, I digress. Kanivool has shifted from an alternative metal sound to more of prog rock/math metal….or in layman’s terms…they listened to a Tool Album and said “we can do that.” Some bands have a desire to evolve and do something different. Other bands just want to plug in and play what they play. Karnivool wants to try something different, so why shouldn’t they? (also something different they should try: a better name change…)

Knife Party

I can’t leave off the current craze that all the youngn’s are into, house/dubstep/EDM…whatever you want to call it. I really have nothing to say about them, as I’ve heard people praise their live performances…but all they do is press play…amazing! But, Breaking Bad fans, you may recognize their song ‘Bonfire” in the scene where Walt buys Flynn a Dodge Dart or a Challenger (all dodge front ends look-alike) and he gets one for himself…that’s it. That’s what the kids love…

Ok, that is what is gracing the mainstream radio, but there is a slew of Aussie bands out there that sound like they’re ready to be big.

 The Avalanches

Ok, this isn’t technically new, but I figured I would mention them as well. When I started out with the idea of writing something like this, the first band I put down for anything was this next musical act. They have only released one album, but I have never heard anything more meticulously put together. Mashups and sampling  has been around for decades now , but there is something that sets apart this electronica act, the sheer amount of samples taken to put this together has to be in the hundreds or thousands. This album has been in all sorts of greatest albums charts that litter the web. However, their lone album Since I Left You is an audio masterpiece that you could compare to some old Daft Punk if you were looking for a comparison. Their second album has allegedly been in the works for like 8 years now. So, who knows.

The Presets

The Presets are, in my mind, unfairly labeled as an electronia act, only because there are two members of this group…but are they really? They have a drummer and a keyboardist/programmer/singer. Back in the day they would have been labeled nu-wave (or just a Depeche mode ripoff). But now, it’s synthpop. Ah, sub-genres. Nevertheless, the Presets have that top-40 sound that is currently popular. Some chants, here, a little Ho! Hey!, some random vocals without music, check. It’s what’s popular. There’s no reason you shouldn’t be hearing this next to the Imagine Dragons, the Black Keys, the Bands of Horses and Fires in Arcades. I think the issue with this band is putting them in the electronica camp with country mates Knife Party…they are again that “Bands who sound like Depeche Mode” dance music with vocal arrangements. . . they almost sound like a dance remix to a different song. Either way, they are kind of a big deal down under and could easily strike it big here.

Hermitude

Yet another “electronica” act from down under. This “Australian hip hop” duo wins my award for “next song to be featured in a Kia Soul commercial.” This is just a straight up throwback to a simpler 80’s boombox era. Some nice background music to give you some ambiance for the day. One thing I must say about these guys, is they sure do know how to make a good video. Very aesthetically pleasing.

San Cisco

Last on our list is indie band San Cisco. Outside of the uber-hipster circles, this band is a relative unknown outside of Australia. 2013 brought along their first US tour and they have just started on their first European tour.

The one thing I can say about this band – I’m going to call it now, they’re going to be one of the next Apple commercials. They have the formula. Simple sound, youthful voices, a super-catchy chorus of “da-da da da da-da da da.” …mark my words !  If I were to make a comparison, I would say they sound like Vampire Weekend.

Of course it only took two times of playing that song for that to be horribly stuck in my head. . then like most music these days, I was like “what does this song sound like?” then it hit me!

Oh Jimmy Fallon, laughing in the background, how we miss you. Ok, quick aside here, did you know that the lead singer of the Strokes did a cover of this song? Like a professional, produced cover? Like, seriously?

Ok, back to San Cisco, the band you will soon hear on apple. Just listen to some of their music and put on a promo for the new girl or just watch anything on the CW on mute, and tell me that the chorus does not sync up with the commercial…I dare you.

Well, that is a little taste of the music coming from down under.  Hopefully with this series, you might come away with a band or two that you are mildly impressed by.  If not, then at least you learned something today. Of course, I did pick an easy English-speaking country, I’m pretty sure we’re going to hit a lot of really strange music coming from some of these places.

Cheers

Author: Adam Murray

Adam Murray is a man of many nations and talents. Knowledgeable in sports, music and movies, Adam delivers a wide swath of information blended with his unique perspective to Place to Be Nation readers on a regular basis. He also enjoys fortune cookies as a snack. Send Adam an email