The Best Of #DebbieUnearthsSeptember
September was an odd month. US Election talk ran wild and free, The Bachelor dominated twitter feeds more than I’d like to admit, Virgos said goodbye to a year-long visit from lucky planet Jupiter, and Triple J Unearthed was ripe with new music from both familiar faces and rising stars. In an attempt to spend every waking moment possible discovering the best of the best in independent Australian artists, I embarked on a little mission called #DebbieUnearthsSeptember. It was a simple task: find a new song on Triple J Unearthed every day of September, review it, share it, and revel in the sheer underrated beauty of local music. Thirty days later, I’m left with a bunch of songs featuring everything from aliens and beer to heartfelt ballads and Japan’s rabbit infested island Okunoshima. Here’s a recap of what unfolded this past month…
I caught you staying at home instead of cool parties, to tell you the truth I wouldn’t change a thing.
Let’s get this out of the way first up, Cousin Tony’s Brand New Firebird are national treasures. I should’ve known that from the first moment I read their beautifully obscure name (a nod to 1999 classic American Beauty) this would be a band that cannot be shoved into any kind of descriptive box. No, CTBNF are much more complex than that. The Melbourne outfit have a healthy discography of folksy releases from the past few years but finally gained the public traction they so rightly deserve earlier in March with Melbourne Bitter. The full-bodied and distinctly Australian single went on to win the hearts of fans and industry professionals alike, and is arguably one of the best songs of 2016 - but more on that in two months. September saw my expectations surpassed once again with Cool Parties, a stripped back song with pronounced guitar lines and a slick nonchalant groove I wasn’t quite sure these guys had. The rare thing about CTBNF is how they continuously surprise everyone by inventing and reinventing their sound, in a really liberating way. I can sleep easy knowing there are bands out there who write music without genre constrictions, simply because they feel it.
She was a flower and an old soul, only trying to find her way back home. It was the afternoon and I was scared as hell, down by the river, where the cool wind blew.
The Hunter Express is an independent project spearheaded by Brad Ellis, AKA creator of all things nostalgic and lovely. The Melbourne singer/songwriter has a really organic talent in the way he meticulously handcrafts songs to perfection. Home was nicely served up to us in January this year as a song dedicated to the foolish, encompassing kind of love that goes as quickly as it comes, and was incredibly easy to hit repeat on. Hoping You Don’t Mind is no different, celebrating the art of raw storytelling in the most sophisticated yet beautiful way possible. A smooth vintage blend of trumpets and honeyed vocals take centre stage in this number, as a bittersweet plot ambles along the 70s roots inspired melody. File this under: Songs To Slow Dance To.
*Something in Japanese* (one two three) I don’t really like you, (you and me) but you got some nice shoes.
Look, this was always destined to be a winner. Combining two of Sydney’s most promising glittery electro-pop producers, Oh Boy and Donatachi, with Brisbane’s young rising rapper Mallrat brings a smile to my face without even hearing the gem of a song. As soon as Bunny Island was released the internet was flooded with comparisons to video games, Mario Kart’s Rainbow Road track, Asian cartoons, snapchat filters… basically anything sugary sweet and somewhat surreal, and it holds up. This track is a three-and-a-half minute blur of Mallrat’s clean Japanese verses (if anyone can explain what these translate to please let me know here) sitting cutely on a bed of teardrop glitches and rising synths. Half way through the song we get a euphoric jolt and all of a sudden I feel like I’m about to vomit rainbows. If Bunny Island is anything like what we can expect from these three blossoming artists in the future, then 2017 is already shaping up to be a golden year in music.
I’m probably just crazy but I think about you all of the time. I want you to sleep over, baby let me hold you one more time, so I know that it was once alright.
Sydney’s Body Type dropped their debut guitar-pop single on us in late August and everyone promptly started freaking out. If there’s one thing that tells you a band is special, it’s when they produce charming, fuzzy little numbers like this while still ‘learning their instruments as they go along’. Ludlow is a universally relatable song centred on lost love and that borderline psychotic moment we all have when reminiscing old flames and trying to come to terms with being a ‘me’ not a ‘we’ again. It’s longing without being desperate, loving without being cheesy, and honest without being overbearing - all cleverly wrapped up in a short lo-fi package. That’s what Body Type does best.
I don’t need to have faith ‘cause I cut out the middle man, I have faith in myself.
Earlier this year I returned to another year of my questionable arts degree after almost six months of holidays. Soon enough this “easy” arts degree sucked away all of my free time and I found myself resonating with Good Boy’s Poverty Line – a short song, which is approximately 75% ‘living below the poverty line, living below the poverty line’ repeated over and over, and 25% about not wanting to work 9-5 days and all those usual early-20s sentiments. Brisbane’s Good Boy do simple but insanely catchy hooks well, and despite the novelty of Poverty Line it’s still easy to see their clever song writing. S.O.G.K is the follow up to that earworm, and highlights the boys’ clean indie pop-rock sensibilities and playful melodies as they sing about ditching strict faiths to explore their own spiritual means. The almost strained vocals carry the number through in a really endearing way, and the relaxed melody is made for summer festival sing-a-longs.
Like what you see? You can keep up with the best of Australian music throughout October with #GeorgieUnearthsOctober by the lovely Georgie Wilkie.
PS. Debbie is not employed or sponsored by Triple J/Unearthed and doesn't necessarily represent their thoughts (although they probably agree all these artists are incredible).