I made note recently of the fact that I’m Australian and that I rarely feature Australian music here. It’s something that catches my attention every now and then, and bothered me enough mid-last year to prompt a fairly in-depth hunt for Aussie music; not because I wanted to write about it, more because I wanted to hear it. I thought it surely had to be a case of not making myself aware enough as, either by circumstance, taste in general, the fact that I never listen to the radio (local or otherwise), or some other unknown factor, 99% of recommendations and so forth that I receive are for international arists, which results in a fair bit of my attention being in other places.
What frustrated me the most when I was on this particular scavanger hunt (as it turned out to be – for me anyway), was that almost each and every time I wanted to investigate an artist further than a blog review / preview, there was virtually nothing to be found. Frustrating, yes, but perhaps not wholly surprising. Traditionally and culturally, I think Australia is a nation that favours using the live music scene to create an awareness, but I was left with the impression that a lot of really interesting, perhaps even exciting, music was being missed out on simply because I couldn’t access anything other than someone else raving about how good a band was live, and an occasional boot of a gig – funnily enough, fans seemed to be more interested in bringing the music to a wider audience than the artists themselves.
That’s a massively sweeping generalisation, of course, so certainly doesn’t apply to everyone, and in some ways a bit beside the point as ultimately I like to listen to good music – nationality and so forth has never been a primary or deciding factor in whether or not I actually like something; but I find it strange (to paraphrase myself) that I can scratch the surface of any other country’s music culture and reveal a healthy crop of artists with accessable information and resources, yet in Australia I had to scratch so hard as to draw blood. Maybe I’m just scratching the wrong arm, but for the life of me I can’t seem to find the right one to scratch.
Anyway, I feel a sense of musical patriotism at the moment, and since January 26th is Australia Day – a national holiday that celebrates the arrival of the First Fleet, and as such is steeped in controversy – I thought I’d take a week (and a bit) to delve a little into Australia’s music history. S4E isn’t about politics, it’s really just a convenient prompt, so anyone wishing to learn more about Australia Day and some of the reasons for the controversy can do so here. (Of course, those paying close enough attention will probably notice the ‘subtle’ indicator as to my thoughts on the matter).
While I am going to dedicate the next week and a bit to posts featuring Australian music, it’s not going to be any kind of in-depth analysis or comprehensive study, I don’t really feel I have an extensive enough knowledge for that. That leaves me with the option of talking about what I do know, so I’m just going to highlight some of the artists and songs that meant something to me over the years, and possibly why.
As I was born in ’75, I’m going to start with the 70’s. Obviously, my awareness of music wasn’t properly developed at that stage, at least not outside of my Sesame Street record, but if there’s one thing I believe Aussies are renown for, it’s an almost unhealthy nostalgia for much-loved classics, thus many songs from the 70’s were very much a part of my childhood. (That is, I’ll just point out, one of the reasons I stopped listening to local, commercial radio. Even to this day, the purported contemporary stations still play the same 70’s and 80’s classics on a daily basis, intermingled with nought but the most popular current chart hits, primarily by foreign artists at that – all very well and good for some, but it’s at the expense of new artists that both need and deserve the exposure, and ultimately to the detriment of the industry in general – if I could find that dang arm I need to scratch, I’d bunch the hand into a fist and shake it at them).