As the Australian music scene continues to gradually return to its pre-COVID glory, 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.

“[Here are] 6 artists that remind me by existence that it all still matters; not the treacherous ways that reflect on our mental health and life statistics, but the way we care for one another.”

Dana Scully, Music Director of 4ZZZ 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:

“Two years ago I gave up on all things music. Now at 22, as 4ZZZ’s Music Co-ordinator, not an inch taller, I am not surprised to have found out that so many of my peers are, and always will be, at the cliff I was once at (arguably still am).

“Our original music libraries found on iTunes/Limewire, were foraged by community (8 tracks, mixtapes, recommendations from internet led friends) and it’d be oblivious to say with Spotify’s control over the industry, and thus, artist’s finances ~ that we are at the same degree of care.

“I started off young, as I’m sure any one of us does. But this beginning, this collection of art that gifted a gender questioning Persian 17 year old a way out of an area, geographically and artistically, that which never represented myself ~ was overpowered by, respectfully put, the hellfire of the industry.

“And though I gave up, I still to this day am lost at how I returned. However, I wouldn’t be here bathing in optimism – ignoring the spite that leaves my body when headlines of realities, that I don’t believe I need to specify, are worldwide shared – without certain artists.

“These are a fraction of the artists that brought back my starry eyed child. Sitting and staring at an always updated inbox, considering submissions, and then, listening to a particular order of notes and knowing the magic I sought for still exists. 6 artists that remind me by existence that it all still matters; not the treacherous ways that reflect on our mental health and life statistics, but the way we care for one another.”

Check out ‘Naissance’ by Shirin Kalyani:

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Shirin Kalyani – ‘Naissance’

A track born from the era when Massive Attack reigned, blending dark electronica, dream pop, and alt-rock, Sydney’s Shirin Kalyani’s debut is a sign of a future headliner who has officially landed.

Everyone remembers those three minutes, either heard on the radio or in the soundtrack of a movie, that provoked a new appreciation for sound. While Carla dal’s Forno’s ‘DB Rip’ opened my Warped Tour pop-punk brain into an airy desire for alternative production, I am certain that ‘Naissance’ will be someone’s ‘DB Rip’.

I look forward to, with impatience, the submission that lists Shirin Kalyani as an influence from an ‘upcoming’ future artist.

Check out ‘Place In Mind’ by Julia Wallace:

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Julia Wallace – ‘Place In Mind’

It is so rare to hear of an artist who understands the confinements of time, and how to use it to discern what needs to be amplified, and who in our story should be left behind. While they may be from different parts of the world, and currently inhabit different genres, the chorus of piano-led ‘Place In Mind’, specifically 1:15, is proof of Perth’s Julia Wallace being at the same caliber as Susanne Sundfør.

Bring the stubborn nostalgia, of when we look into the memory of what, or who was meant to last. And when our midnight reckless selves ask ‘what did I do’, Wallace kindly surrenders to us what so many struggle to say to themselves, pleading, ‘They forgive, They forgive, I forgive myself’.

Check out ‘Mungo’ by Nooky:

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Nooky – ‘Mungo’

Now signed to Briggs’ Bad Apples Records, Nooky has been bringing ’90s hip-hop with trap-esque moments throughout his career, however, that’s not what bridges his discography from others. While ‘Junction Court’, and ‘Always Was Always Will Be’, skyrocketed his name throughout so-called Australia – Nooky’s ‘Mungo’ showcases a new era for one of the nation’s best.

Continuing on with the ‘Junction Court’-esque layerings, the new release proves that ’90s group The Fugees still have a hold on our souls. Reminiscent of the vocal power Kendrick Lamar holds over the listener on 2015’s To Pimp A Butterfly, Nooky’s current discography is reflective poetry of the systems we survive in, all intertwined into a melody.

Check out ‘White Noise’ by Second Idol:

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Second Idol – ‘White Noise’

Speaking of starry-eyed, Second Idol (formerly Bruise Pristine), brings us back to the ’00s alternative shoegaze-post-punk era of when commercial radio played guitar-heavy political tracks – think Placebo, think The Cranberries.

Fuzz-filled ‘White Noise’ faces bigotry, as lead singer Kate Olivia puts it, “the lyrics are written in a way that I’m having a conversation with someone in a bar, and I’m calling them out on their misinformed views and telling them that ‘we need to take this conversation outside’, then they just get sledgehammered with a barrage of guitars.”

The debut is an auditory script that many of us have experienced either at bars, shows, or any amassed gathering we were supposed to feel safe at. However, by changing the ending Second Idol gifts us autonomy, and it is only through the melodic and captivating lyricism that with every listen we gain practice of what to say next time we have to stand our ground.

Check out ‘Frida’ by NEW TALK:

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NEW TALK – ‘Frida’

“‘Frida’, the final track on our upcoming LP Time & Memory, is our attempt to reflect the song’s namesake, the artist Frida Kahlo,” says guitarist Axel Carrington.

There is no rebirth quite the same as retrospection combined with a sonic whiplash. Perth’s NEW TALK, has taken the country’s post-punk genre into a new direction that we desperately needed. ‘Frida’ announces a quartet joining the nation’s best, Mere Women, Cable Ties, Tropical Fuck Storm.

Experts at understanding how to tease us, when to allow us to run havoc, NEW TALK also leave us in trepidation, “featuring myriad references to both personal and universal themes, the song is our olive branch of hope – that while everything is all at once and can be too much, shouldn’t it be anything but?”

Check out ‘Alas, Alas’ by Matahara:

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Matahara – ‘Alas, Alas’

For the melancholic, Naarm/Melbourne via Jakarta artist Matahara aka Marissa Yudinar will take your sullen bus rides into a sun-filled glossy landscape.

Missify taken from Triple Alliteration, is driven by bubbly guitar pop with intricate details of shoegaze and electronica. The debut EP is built for fans of Cocteau Twins, Mazzy Star, Boards of Canada, and many other artists who know their way around negative space.

As Matahara puts it, “Same theme, same attitude with ‘What A Waste’. Another bubbly, post-breakup tune. Many people said that they can hear ‘What A Waste’ shimmering with the colours of my personality, sunny and wistful at the same time-wait until you hear this one! I believe ‘Missify’ really encapsulates Matahara’s sound.’

Check out ‘Running’ by Val Flynn:

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Val Flynn – ‘Running’

There is no one in Meanjin country (Brisbane), holding down the fort of ’00s production and ’80s pop intuitiveness quite like Val Flynn.

Though Flynn is no one new to the musical landscape, his innovative history and present, ensures that what is left to come is far greater than we can imagine. For fans of Molly Nilsson, Boy Harsher, AG Club; enter into the vulnerable dynamic world of Van Flynn, and leave reinvigorated.

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