As anyone from the New South Wales capital will tell you, Sydney is more than just the Opera House and some pretty nifty beaches. In fact, it also has a pretty thriving music scene, despite the lockout laws that the city has had to suffer through. Sydney’s music scene is something that the world envies.
Sure, you’ve got your classic bands like AC/DC, INXS, and Midnight Oil, but what about more recent times? What about the bands from the last 20 years that have put this glorious city on the map?
Sydney’s indie-pop innovators Dappled Cities have just released their fifth album ///// (Five), which got us thinking about the impact they’ve had on Australian music in the thirteen years since their debut album, alongside their contemporaries who also sprang out of a verdant Sydney scene.
In celebration of the record’s release, we’re taking a take a look back at the last two decades of Sydney’s best and brightest, and plucking out some of the most important bands to come from the Harbour City.
Forming together in the late ’90s, Dappled Cities really started to make a name for themselves in the early years of the new millennium. Following a few years of playing shows in and around Sydney, the group started to tour interstate, and before long, they were supporting their forward-thinking records with international tours across the U.S. and Europe. With a constant presence on triple j and programs like Rage, Dappled Cities earnt themselves a dedicated fanbase of indie die-hards.
It’s hard to believe that now, 13 years after the release of their debut record A Smile, Dappled Cities are releasing their fifth album, the aptly titled ///// (Five). Still as vital as ever, the group have once again tackled some new territory with their latest, delivering lush harmonies, gorgeous synths, and some brilliant sax and bass work – once again cementing their status as one of the bands that Sydney, and the country as a whole, continue to look towards.
Around 2002, the garage-rock revival movement was in full swing, and groups like The Vines were being named as ‘the next Nirvana’ amongst other things. To be fair, that was a pretty apt assessment at the time. The Vines’ live shows were crazy, high-energy affairs, and Craig Nicholls’ intense vocals were something to behold, proving him to be one of the most high-profile frontmen of the time.
The group were not only doing Australia proud on the world stage, they were doing their hometown of Sydney a service as well, bringing more attention to the music scene that fostered them.
If you were to look at a calendar from the noughties, nestled between 2004 and 2006, it might as well just read ‘Wolfmother’, because let’s face it, 2005 was truly their year. Having released an EP in 2004, the group’s self-titled debut record took the world by storm.
With tracks like ‘Woman’, ‘Joker & The Thief’, ‘Dimension’, and ‘Mind’s Eye’, the record was an international smash. It drew huge attention to the Aussie music scene, saw the Wolfmother lads rack up a record total of six tracks in the 2005 Hottest 100, and has sold over 1 million copies worldwide since its release.
When The Jezabels formed in 2007, no one really knew the level of fame that they would achieve only a few years later. Soon after meeting at the University of Sydney, the group started writing and recording music, slowly releasing a trilogy of EPs to begin with. After the initial success of tracks like ‘Hurt Me’, and ‘Easy To Love’, the group’s third EP Dark Storm featured ‘Mace Spray’, and all of Australia fell in love with them.
Not much time followed between this and their debut album, which just featured more iconic tracks, and saw them tour the world, supporting acts such as Imagine Dragons, and Garbage. The group are thankfully still going, and are still releasing some of the best work that they possibly can with every record.
It’s hard to imagine that DMA’s have only been around for half a decade, especially when you consider the impact that the group have had worldwide already. After winning fans over thanks to their debut single ‘Delete’, the group quickly rose to the top of the blogosphere with with comparisons being made between the group and Oasis.
Soon enough, the group were on festival bills all around the world, and they hadn’t even released a debut album yet. Now that they have, DMA’s are basically unstoppable, and we can only wonder what sort of phenomenal achievements they will attain as they continue along their musical journey.
Angus & Julia Stone
If you’ve ever sat at home on a Sunday morning after a big night out, listening to the delicate harmonies of an Angus & Julia Stone CD, you’re certainly not alone. When the brother and sister duo burst onto the scene in 2006 with their track ‘Paper Aeroplane’, the Australian public knew we were about to witness something pretty amazing.
Not long after, the rest of the world knew too, and the duo were performing shows all over the world, and soon enough, the whole world was looking at us for where the next Aussie indie-folk band might come from. Did they actually kick off the whole indie-folk movement we’ve witnessed take off in the last decade? Maybe not, but they certainly did a fine job at perfecting it.
In case you wanted this article to make you feel old, The Presets’ seminal club track ‘My People’ is ten years old this year. That’s right, it’s getting close to a decade since their second album Apocalypso was everywhere. But in their defense, they deserved all the attention they got.
Having put together their first album without too much focus, their second record saw them put together an absolutely killer album that not only made The Presets a household name both here and abroad, but has since gone on to be considered one of the greatest Aussie albums of all time.
Isabella Manfredi has undoubtedly one of the best voices in Aussie rock right now. When her band The Preatures formed in 2010, it didn’t take them long to start recording music that would get the whole country behind them. After the success of their single ‘Is This How You Feel?’ in 2013, the group won the Vanda & Young prize, and were even nominated for an ARIA for best pop release.
They followed this up with a debut record, Blue Planet Eyes, in 2014, and have been kicking goals ever since. Who knows what the future may hold for them, we can only hope its more of the brilliant music they’ve been making so far.
We’ve got to hand it to Pnau, if it weren’t for them, we probably wouldn’t have some of Australia’s best known dance singles. After their first two albums, Sambanova, and Again went relatively unnoticed by the Aussie music scene, their self-titled third album shot them to success. Soon enough, we were dancing to tracks like ‘Embrace’, ‘Baby’, and the horribly infectious ‘Wild Strawberries’.
Not long after, the band were working with Elton John as one of his favourite new artists, and then… not much, right? Nope, the group then came back in a huge way last year when they released ‘Chameleon’, their biggest hit to date.
Okay, maybe we’re cheating here since Gerling released their first single in the mid ’90s, but it wasn’t until 1998 that they released the phenomenal Children Of Telepathic Experiences. Styled as an experimental rock album, the record switches between almost every genre possible as it goes on a journey through heavy rock, ambient interludes, and experimental soundscapes.
Soon after, Gerling were in high demand, appearing at festivals around the country (all while making the idea of wearing backpacks cool again), and performing sold out shows everywhere. In 2001 they released ‘Dust Me Selecta’, giving them exposure in the world of Aussie dance music, and giving us all an absolute banger of a track that will forever remain in our hearts.