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.

“Thank you to these seven songs, I found you at the right time and I never grow tired of living alongside the storm.”

Dana Scully, Music Co-Ordinator, of 4ZZZ-FM in Brisbane, 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 Dana explains:

“I don’t believe I want to ‘understand’ music. Similarly, I don’t want to know why it rains every time I get sad. It being there, always at the right time with the right comfort is more than I could ask. And all those moments; when you’re walking home from a bus stop and go at a slower pace because that darn bridge must be mentally screamed – that’s more than I could ever ask.

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“For a while I thought that songs not confined within time were a rare kind – but I’m starting to realise perhaps not. Maybe what is rare is that kindness by strangers permitting other strangers the space to explore what’s been, never got to be, or is living now, through storytelling. When we tripped, fell, submerged ourselves into a hole (Anne Boyer, hello) or got out. For all those selves, reflected into the present to stop and say, yeah, to hear this? In time with the storm inside? It was all worth it.

“Thank you to these seven songs, I found you at the right time and I never grow tired of living alongside the storm.”

Check out ‘Arc’ by Pretty Girl:

Pretty Girl – ‘Arc’

What would a playlist be without a house track you can escape within? Following ‘Sun Phase’, Pretty Girl continues to impress all of us at the station with their new single, out through Gallery Recordings. And we wouldn’t be here without Naarm’s Club scene or the hours PG spent on understanding Ableton/Garageband.

A real time example of process over result in art. If something strikes you maybe you too should learn how to Ableton, etc. There’s a YouTube tutorial for everything!

Ruby Gill – ‘you should do this for a living’

Won’t you listen to me? / I know all the ins and out of this industry / And he takes me by the hand / And he does what he likes, because he can / They don’t teach you this at school / But you don’t have to go back with him to his room“.

I don’t want to say anything because Naarm’s Ruby Gill’s songwriting says everything frankly, “I can’t afford therapy with the money they pay me to sing songs for free / So I let him walk all over me“. I recommend listening to this when you’re doing dishes (flood that sink!), when you’re leaving the date early (cry on that scooter!), hanging freshly washed clothes (re-stain that shirt!) – you understand.

Nerve Damage  – ‘Society Made Me Sick’

Out through Last Ride Records, Yugambeh/Bundjalung hardcore outfit Nerve Damage’s latest EP, Society Made Me Sick, is an excellent triumph. The album closer and title track will no doubt remind you of when a friend asks how you’re doing and all of a sudden the both of you are venting out your troubles.

It’s thanks to ND’s vocalist Shaun Allen and guest vox Chloe Cox (perhaps from Empress) that a song about inner turmoil has turned into a reminder of the purpose of this auditory way of life. A conversation of how we’re all going through it together. After all, that’s how hardcore (and all music) began right?

Check out ‘Hellfire’ by RinRin:

RinRin – ‘Hellfire’

Perth’s RinRin at only 20 years old is fusing metalcore and pop together to quickly craft a discography on par with other industry adored heavy acts. All I ask for is if you could sweep me off the floor as I’ll no doubt be covered in sweat from finger pointing, and exorcising grief.

SO.Crates – ‘Beaut-I-Full World (feat. Kalala & Zima)’

It being 2021 and all, in these times it’s easy to focus on what we can’t change and forget the dishes that need to be done – however, Naarm’s SO.Crates remind you of what matters. Out through Bedroom Suck Records, ‘Beaut-I-Full World’ is the refreshing hip hop track that would be nothing without jazz, and funk.

Cazeaux OSLO says of the single: “We wrote this song before COVID-19, right around the time when the world was already spiralling out of control with so many innocent black folks dying needlessly in America, my homeland. The physical environment was showing more undeniable signs of our planet suffering under the weight of human progress.

“Things felt desperate and for me creating art helps me deal with my personal feelings of helplessness when the problems that challenge life’s existence seem like they are too big to solve. I knew my feelings of anger and sadness could not overshadow my hope for a beautiful world.”  

Sirens – ‘The Valley’

Friends, who doesn’t love a glorious debut! Naarm’s Sirens mix alternative indie rock with layers of shimmering guitar tones to perfect their harmonious sound. If you take this chance you’ll get to experience a song that is most likely to be found on the God Help the Girl Soundtrack, or a B-Side of a psychedelic Julia Jacklin single. 

Check out ‘Narrative’ by Dyan Tai:

Dyan Tai – ‘Narrative’

“‘Narrative’ is a celebration of identity; especially right now where it is even more crucial to take ownership of how our stories are told,” Dyan says. 

‘Narrative’ and Eilish Gilligan’s ‘Someone Else’ are on the same production level, which is phenomenal when you realise this is an entirely DIY project. And with Tai’s inclusion of traditional Asian instrumentation (Guzheng, Gamelan, and Taiko drums), ‘Narrative’ is lifted to a higher level that fits perfectly with his flawless falsettos. If you like synth-pop, hyper-pop this one’s for you! 

Wildheart – ‘Show Me What It’s Like To Be Worthless’

They’re local, phenomenal and after including a content warning for publications who are sharing this song – they’re a reminder of why I fell for music in the first place. And though it’s early-ish, I’m calling it: melodic hardcore outfit Wildheart’s forthcoming LP will be a strong contender for AOTY. ‘Show Me What It’s Like To Be Worthless’ only proves the point.

If you or someone you know is going through tough times, support is available at: Beyond Blue 1300 224 636, Lifeline 13 11 14, Kids helpline 1800 551 800 The Butterfly Foundation 1800 334 673, or in case of emergency call 000 🖤

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