As the Australian music scene begins to re-emerge from COVID-related lockdowns, community radio Music Directors and presenters from around the country have shone 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.

“The Tasmanian music scene continues to thrive – pandemic or no pandemic.”

Pete Hampson, presenter of The Ride on Hobart’s Edge Radio 99.3 FM, 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.

Leading the way in presenting fresh new music from Tasmania and beyond, The Ride is inarguably a vital source of musical discovery for music-lovers. As Pete explains:

“We’re a community radio station and we’re proud of the role we play in supporting our local music. While the music industry across the rest of the country has been hit hard by COVID-19, in Tasmania we have somehow been spared the worst of it – so far. The Tasmanian music scene continues to thrive – pandemic or no pandemic.

“Maybe that’s because the local scene has never been reliant on the usual industry supports – in many ways we fly under the radar and a vibrant Tasmanian music scene continues to bubble away. The great thing is you don’t have to look too hard to find it. Listening to Edge Radio – www.edgeradio.org.au  – is a bloody good place to start! 

“Here are a few current faves from Hobart – and beyond!”

Check out ‘Gone Gone Gone’ by Rabbit:

Rabbit – ‘Gone Gone Gone’

A perfect example of the talent spewing forth from Hobart in defiance of the ‘rona. Rabbit are from Hobart on the Rough Skies Records label. If you want to sample some of the best music Hobart has to offer, look no further than Rough Skies.

Straight down the line high energy punk with plenty of attitude. But there’s more to Rabbit than that – there’s vocal harmony, there’s melody, there’s structure and all the songs on their three-track single are just as good. If the opening guitar rifferama doesn’t suck you in straight away, wait 30 seconds for Maggie Edward’s vocals. With production by Zac Blain from Hobart’s A Swayze and the Ghosts, the track sounds crystal clear.

It Thing – ‘Dress Code’

Like stepping from a cosy fireside room into the face of a Hobart sleet storm, ‘Dress Code’ is the confrontational first track from the 9-track debut EP by It Thing, another killer Hobart band. All buzzy jagged guitars and sneery urgent vocals from frontwoman Charlotte Gavan-Glover, ‘Dress Code’ gets where it wants to go fast – clocking in at just under 2 minutes.  

It Thing formed in 2019 in the beer garden of Hobart’s beloved Brisbane Hotel and the new EP shows they haven’t been wasting their time. You could call them power pop, but It Thing are more complex than that. Blending the vocal delivery of Divinyls or The Motels, with the speed and intensity of Ramones and Bad Brains – It Thing are their own thing. 

Scraps – ‘New World’

Of course, there’s a lot more going on in Hobart than punk and power pop – and Scraps is a perfect example of that. Originally from Brisbane, but now based in Hobart, Scraps (aka Laura Hill) is a home-recording artist making exceptional homespun synth pop. 

The new record New World marks a high-water mark for Scraps. The record is a fully formed, sophisticated and complex work that has been on repeat at my place for weeks. The title track has a dreamy, loopy, subdued tone with beautiful layered vocals. And then there’s the production – warm, clean and rich.  

Check out ‘Depends On What I Know’ by Good Morning:

Good Morning – ‘Depends On What I Know’

Good Morning’s Liam Parsons and Stefan Blair have been making beautiful music together since they met in high school in Melbourne. Ten years later they have released their sixth album Barnyard recorded in Chicago at the Loft (the studio famously owned and used by Wilco) and as a result there’s a clarity and directness to the sound. 

The best Good Morning songs feature a delicious push and pull between dissonance and harmony. It’s like they start with a beautiful pop song and twist it until it almost breaks. ‘Depends On What I Know’ is a perfect example of this approach – chunky opening chords, a stumbling bass line and layered guitars that build and build.

Placement – ‘Lost Sun’

If you’ve ever spent any time in Adelaide, you’ll know that it gets hot there, sometimes unbearably so. That blazing heat is the focus for the new single from Adelaide’s Placement. Combining the art guitar attack of Sonic Youth with the icy cool of London’s Dry Cleaning, Placement are post punk, noise rock at its best. 

Their willingness to stretch out and ignore traditional song structures make Placement a far more interesting proposition. There’s some great playing on this track and I suspect it would be a treat to see them live. Placement’s earlier single ‘Harder’ is also well worth your time.  

Hiatus Kaiyote – ‘Red Room’

Easily Hiatus Kaiyote’s most outstanding track so far, ‘Red Room’ comes from their new record Mood Valiant. The band have always been defiantly different – musically, visually and artistically. This is what makes them such a compelling band.

Diverging from their usually dense arrangements, this track has a beautiful spaciousness. Why ‘Red Room’ didn’t go straight to number one on the ARIA charts and stay there all year is completely beyond me. It’s got it all – a lo-fi soul vibe, a super slinky bass line, some exquisitely behind the beat drumming – all topped with Nai Palm’s amazing vocals. And then there’s the lyrics – if you wanna know what it feels like to be inside a flower – listen to ‘Red Room’.

Check out ‘Day In The Tub’ by Muma Ganoush:

Muma Ganoush – ‘Day In The Tub’

Times have been tough and if you’re in need of a little self care, Melbourne’s Muma Ganoush are a pretty good place to start. They released a great debut album last year, but their new single ‘Day In The Tub’ is a standout. Contrasting a dinky drum machine and cheesy keyboards with some fluid driving guitar, ‘Day In The Tub’ is a timely ode to taking it easy on yourself.

They key to the Muma Ganoush sound is their unpredictability. Starting with a standard chord progression, they often veer off into unexpected and sometimes discordant territory. It’s all tied together with lead songwriter Shelby Wilton’s soft vocal style – pop with a twist.

Interiors – ‘Black Fog’

Another quality Hobart band and proof of the interconnectedness of the local scene, Interiors are new, but their members have played in numerous other quality local bands. ‘Black Fog’ is from their debut three-track EP Coloured Houses and it’s a strong opening statement.

Spacious, reverb laden guitar, hushed vocals, like a surf band that’s given up surfing and is sipping whiskey by the fire instead. Dark and romantic in the best sense, this is a luxurious track.

Emma Russack and Lachlan Denton – ‘Oh Alice’

There’s something disarmingly retro about ‘Oh Alice’, the latest collaboration from Emma Russack and Lachlan Denton out of Melbourne. The tone is reassuringly warm – the harmonies are flawless – but it’s all undercut by a lyric about loss and the pain of missing someone who is just out of reach – sweetness and bitterness in perfect balance. 

Part of a prolific collaborative Melbourne based scene that includes Snowy Band, Good Morning, Jade Imagine, Emma and Lachlan each have vibrant careers of their own – but when they collaborate the results are extra special.

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