As the Australian music scene continues to suffer through COVID-related lockdowns, community radio Music Directors and presenters from around the country shine a light on the finest local talent doing the rounds today.

While many of us are adjusting to a new sense of normality after 2020, Australian musicians are still facing enormous limitations in working opportunities to support and sustain their careers. Exposure is more important than ever and ironically harder to come by in today’s media landscape.

The Australian Music Radio Airplay Project – best known as Amrap – offers Australian musicians a pathway to airplay to the many community stations who have long championed Australian music of all stripes. Providing exposure often before anyone else, community radio is a strong and unique network immune to passing trends.

In this Tone Deaf series, we’ll turn to the Music Directors and presenters at some of the amazing community stations from around the country and get their latest favourite Australian music discoveries from Amrap.

Steph Liong, Music Director of 2SER-FM in Sydney, continues this series with Australian music available on Amrap to help compile a playlist of the best homegrown tunes doing the rounds on community radio for you to sink your teeth into. As Steph explains:

“As 2SER prepares for our upcoming Radiothon in October, I reflect back on some of the Australian artists that we’ve been early champions of. Like with many other community radio stations, 2SER has some of the most passionate Australian music fans that I’ve ever met.

“We are lucky to have such a unique and vibrant sector and Amrap is invaluable when it comes to getting your music heard on community radio!”

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Check out ‘Security’ by Amyl And The Sniffers:

Amyl And The Sniffers – ‘Security’

It’s clear that the Melbourne garage-punks are raging against a modern apocalypse on their latest album Comfort To Me, but behind the tough exterior is a deep and unapologetic vulnerability that’s often laced with humour.

Led by Amy Taylor’s incomparable and towering vocals, on a backdrop of headbanging rhythms and crackling guitars, the band exude a ferocity and confidence that’s been carried on and distilled from their debut. ‘Security’ is a standout track, and I can’t wait until the pubs open again and this is blasting on the speakers.

Gabriella Cohen – ‘Frangelico Dreams’

While reading Brian Wilson’s memoir, Gabriella Cohen wrote ‘Frangelico Dreams’, and the sun-soaked influence of The Beach Boys has surely rubbed off on the track. Unfurling at a breezy pace with surf-rock guitars and crystalline vintage-pop harmonies, it’s a brilliant first taste of Cohen’s upcoming third album Blue No More, which was mostly recorded in the rainforests of country Queensland.

Check out ‘Milkumana’ by King Stingray:

King Stingray – ‘Milkumana’

In their limited discography, King Stingray has cemented themselves as one of the most exciting and essential Australian bands right now. Hailing from Yirrkala, a community in North-East Arnhem Land, the Yolŋu band infuses a heavy dose of of disco-tinged grooves into their surf-rock sound.

Though some of its members have bloodlines and play with the beloved Yothu Yindi, King Stingray are steadily forging their own path and legacy, not to live in anyone’s shadow.

Lydia Fairhall – ‘Lullaby’

Where True North, her excellent debut album with The She Oaks, dealt heavily in folk and alt-country, Lydia’s latest single explores more contemporary soundscapes – a marker of what’s to come on her upcoming sophomore album, ‘The Narrows’. Singing with an earthy yet dreamy tone, ‘Lullaby’ epitomises the meditative lyricism and melodic strength found in Lydia’s songwriting.

Ngaiire – ‘Shoestring’

Taken off Ngaiire’s third album 3, this track embodies a lot of what I love about her music — lyrically soul-baring and sonically rich. Written as a touching dedication to the matriarch of her family, ‘Shoestring’ brims with joy, and it’s hard to not be swept up in the all encompassing love and gratitude that cuts through from Ngaiire’s vocals.

Check out ‘Shoestring’ by Ngaiire:

Nick Garbett & Mike Majkowski – ‘Mid Mountains’

The Sydney/Berlin duo made up of trumpeter Nick Garbett and bassist Mike Majkowski lay out a colourful and lavish musical landscape as they journey through ambient jazz and Balkan-inspired rhythms on ‘Mid Mountains’.

Introduced as the first single off their debut album The Glider, Garbett and Majkowski experiment with texture and form, and have carved out a truly meditative space that feels oh so warm and inviting.

Toby Martin – ‘Linthwaite Houdini’

The Youth Group frontman and songwriter became heavily inspired by British Isles folk music while living in Northern England with his young family, and you can certainly hear some of it coming through on ‘Linthwaite Houdini’ and the rest of his third solo album I Felt The Valley Lifting. A formidable storyteller, Martin recasts old and modern tales of mayhem and mischief, all written in the perspective of others. 

Check out our playlist of community radio’s Australian music picks: