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.

“As I reflect on the inherent monotony of lockdowns, music management at SYN has been my only escape, with the daily exploration of new music keeping my time in isolation exciting.”

Alice Carlton, co-Music Manager at SYN FM in Melbourne, 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 Alice explains:

I had a chuckle when re-reading the last article I wrote for this series, where I was celebrating a return to live music and the rebuilding of arts and culture in Naarm/Melbourne. I can only imagine the range of emotions and difficulties artists are experiencing at present.

“Though despite the temporary closing of rehearsal spaces, studios, and live music venues, many local artists have continued to release brilliant new music. As I reflect on the inherent monotony of lockdowns, music management at SYN has been my only escape, with the daily exploration of new music keeping my time in isolation exciting. The constant discovery of new music through this period has only magnified my appreciation of the arts. In a bid to show my gratitude, I try to use my involvement in community radio to support and champion new local music.

“Each week, my co-Music Manager, Karvesh Pillai, and I select International and Local Feature Albums and curate the ‘Sweet Sixteen’, SYN’s high-rotation playlist. SYN, being a youth community radio station, provides the opportunity for young people to broadcast on FM and digital radio across Naarm/Melbourne. In these times, volunteers at SYN appreciate the importance of amplifying new and local music, especially that of young artists around the country.

“As such, here are some of the fresh tracks found on Amrap that we at SYN have been loving lately.”

Check out ‘Animator’ by Blonde Revolver:

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‘Animator’ – Blonde Revolver

Plucked from their debut self-titled EP put out on Rack Off Records, a brand new label championing female and gender diverse artists, ‘Animator’ is everything a post-punk fiend like myself could ask for. As soon as lead vocalist, Zoe Mulcahy, lets out her first “wah” and the drums pick up and the bass and second guitar chime in with their catchy hooks, I’m transported to a dark, medium-sized bandroom. I have a drink in hand as my toes tap and my head hangs and bops. I shake my head, as if to say ‘this is too good’, and look up through the blue and red lights shining onto us, to see the silhouettes of the six baddest punks in Naarm/Melbourne. This April night at The Curtin rocked me, I was completely bewitched. Maybe I’m a drama queen, or maybe Blonde Revolver is life changing. 

‘Arrows (feat. Allysha Joy)’ – Ajak Kawi

Fellow local community radio broadcaster, Ajak Kwai, teamed up with soul hero, Allysha Joy of 30/70, to create my favourite ‘cooking song’ of this Spring. The track begins ominously. I can feel there is something big just around the corner, and I wait in anticipation. Before too long, the chorus guides me into a festival crowd, conjuring the strong feeling of community, camaraderie and positivity felt at some of my favourite annual events. Kwai vehicles important messages through warm and upbeat songs so perfectly. 

‘The Moment The World Rushed In’ – The Finks

The title track of The Fink’s new EP is an ethereal and calming experience that exhibits Oliver Mestitz’ masterful ability to carefully evoke certain emotions and visions. Mestitz’ barely-there vocals are sincere and intimate. On a fitting day, they could break me.

The crackly DIY sound and the full yet tranquil instrumentation have me believing this song could soundtrack some kind of classic film. You know, the scene that breaks up the otherwise tumultuous plot of a family in desperate circumstances, where the parent soothes their child, gently singing to them sleep with this lullaby. ‘The Moment The World Rushed In’ is simply beautiful. 

Check out ‘Deep Tie’ by Moody Beach:

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‘Deep Tie’ – Moody Beach

Eora/Sydney based artist, Moody Beach, will scratch your ’90s itch with her new EP Assembly Of The Wild. ‘Deep Tie’ can perfectly soundtrack your moody summer evenings when you’re feeling like an empowered bad b*tch. The track perfectly blends elements of grunge, punk and bedroom pop, pulsating and thumping in a heavy and addictive way. No matter how often you listen, ‘Deep Tie’ will keep you wanting more.

‘Body Parts’ – Screensaver

Remember how I said I am a real stickler for post-punk? Well Screensaver’s new record ‘Expression of Interest’ nods to the ’70s and ’80s music that influences it, with all of the components of post-punk and new wave that I love so much. ‘Body Parts’ is my favourite track on the LP. The buzzing and chiming synth pairing, the clappy motorik drumming, the woozy guitar lines, Krystal Maynard’s dark and intense vocals, all make for the perfect homage.

‘Talk (feat. MAY-A)’ – Budjerah

At only 19, Budjerah is one of the country’s greatest young talents. This track is the perfect kind of joyful soul to arrive just in time for this warmer weather. Budjerah and MAY-A focus on the interference of technology and modes of online communication with young people’s ability to openly converse with one another. I can’t get enough of this funky bass!

Check out ‘Dogshot’ by Skydeck:

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‘Dogshot’ – Skydeck

Skydeck is my favourite local discovery of this year. I got the opportunity to pick their brains about the making of Coupon, their synthy post-punk LP put out in August. We spoke about the lyrical inspiration for the track of theirs that I first heard and fell in love with, a gateway of sorts.

‘Dogshot’, a term describing a hit to someone when they are not expecting it, explores the compromise of one’s morals when benefiting from the convenience of the gig economy, and subsequent worker exploitation. The album intelligently delves into many societal and personal issues of morality.

‘Sunlight Feels Like Bee Stings’ – HTRK

The release of HTRK’s latest album Rhinestones aimed to champion the hard work of  local community networks. The LP was announced and given airplay a month before it was available on streaming platforms, with the only way to get your ears on it during this period being to tune into community radio. A very appreciated acknowledgement by local radio!

I love the throbbing and reverberating guitar in ‘Sunlight Feels Like Bee Stings’, with Jonnine Standish’s heartfelt and achy vocals inducing a feeling of hollow vacancy. A stunning title for a stunning track.

‘Boundary Queen’ – Sweetie

Sweetie’s debut single, ‘Boundary Queen’ is one to appeal to the masses. They self-dub their sound as DEVO country punk, which I can totally back. They feel like a dreamy psych bedroom pop B-52s. Being an Eora/Sydney four-piece, I hope they can soon trek to Naarm/Melbourne so we can experience their contagious energy live. 

‘Dribble’ – Sycco

Sycco is another young artist who is wise and talented beyond their years. ‘Dribble’ motivates and empowers, with Sycco’s vocals being soulful and effortless, yet deliberate and forceful. These contrast and complement the psych pop instrumentation so tastefully, making it the perfect pump-up track for this upcoming summer. 

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