Australian Guitar's Fresh Frets: Vol. 2

(Image credit: Teen Jesus And The Jean Teasers)


THEY ARE one of the few reasons worth defending the ACT, and a wickedly fiery throwback to the golden age of ‘90s alt-rock. They formed at a sleepover after watching School Of Rock, and wielding a huge wall of sound with their SG and Tele combo, shredders Scarlett McKahey and Anna Ryan have proved themselves more than worthy to follow in the footsteps of rock’s greatest.

THEY SOUND LIKE something you’d put on when you’re not necessarily feeling angsty, but need to scratch the musical itch that only something that sounds angsty will. They deal in coming-of-age anthems for those who like their distortion heavy and neighbours angry.

YOU'LL DIG THEM IF YOU LIKE Siouxsie And The Banshees, Cherry Glazerr and Sunny Day Real Estate. The core of their sound is undoubtedly nostalgia, but strewn through a filter of youthfulness that adds a whole new dynamic to gristly, grungy might of those above. 

YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT one of their downright eruptive live shows, where Ryan, McKahey, drummer Neve van Boxsel and bassist Jaida Stephenson gel with a creative calamity that few of their peers could match. It’s also only there that you can cop their best song, “Swimming Pool”. One day they’ll drop a studio version of it, and when they do, the Australian rock scene will be forever changed.


(Image credit: Little Quirks)

THEY ARE three inhumanly talented folk-pop firestarters from the NSW Central Coast, dealing in soul-warming indie-pop song structures made all the more beautiful with mandolin riffs, off-kilter percussion and three-part harmonies that constantly threaten to steal the show. All three members share the mic equally, with sisters Abbey and Mia Toole behind the axe and kit, respectively, and cousin Jaymi on mandolin duties.

THEY SOUND LIKE the perfect soundtrack for summer mornings spent road-tripping through the mountains en route to this ‘hidden gem’ beach your sister’s girlfriend swears by – it’s no shock at all Little Quirks are a coastal crew.

YOU'LL DIG THEM IF YOU LIKE Boy & Bear, All My Exes Live In Texas, and the first few Mumford & Sons records. There was a little chunk of time towards the end of the ‘00s where Top 40 pop types went through a big neo‑folk phase – if you found yourself letting your inner yee-haw shine back then, Little Quirks will pull you right back into the thick of it.

YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT their recently released third EP, Cover My Eyes, which across five neat slithers of sharp, twangy guitars, and vocal harmonies that shoot for the heart like bloodthirsty ticks, unfurls everything there is to love about Little Quirks. It’s tight, bright and emphatically emotive, and the production (led by alt-folk luminary Wayne Connolly) is downright flawless.


(Image credit: Walken)

THEY ARE three fun-loving best mates from Brisbane hellbent on brewing up a gut-punching frenzy of pop, rock, punk and grunge. Driven by some beautifully banging beats from drumlord Beej Vaughan, the earsplitting double-axe attack is wrangled by Patrick Shipp and Matt Cochran, the latter of whom also belts his heart and soul out into the mic.

THEY SOUND LIKE the next biggest name in Australia’s burgeoning pop-punk revival scene. They’re derivative of no one, they’re unafraid to take stylistic risks, and although they don’t take themselves too seriously, their jams are all ridiculously tight. And with just a handful of tracks to their name, they’ve explored a stunning expanse of sonic terrain.

YOU'LL DIG THEM IF YOU LIKE Jimmy Eat World, Folie-era Fall Out Boy and WAAX. They’re very much in the same class as other modern Aussie rock bands – if you’re into anything on Poison City or I OH YOU, there’s a good chance you’ll dig Walken – but they revel in a flavour and authenticity entirely of their own. 

YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT the equally fun and feisty new single, “Regular Human Person” – their first release in over two years, and a monolithic comeback to say the least. The lyrics are a tad cheesy (and intentionally so), but somehow, the trio avoid falling into the pit of “wanky ‘90s dork-rock facsimile” that so many bands that try their hand at such a concept do.


(Image credit: Outright)

THEY ARE quite possibly the single most underrated hardcore band in Australia; they’ve been kicking down doors and spurring circle pits en masse since 2010, yet they’re an elusive bunch – the undisputed kings and queen of Melbourne’s underground mosh scene. Driven by frontwoman Jelena Goluza’s brutally badass bellows, the dual shred action from Joel Cairns and Lincoln le Fevre is something you really need to hear to believe.

THEY SOUND LIKE pure, unwavering catharsis. Any shit day can be made immensely better by popping on some headphones, clearing out all your expensive/fragile furniture, and blasting an Outright cut at full volume. 

YOU'LL DIG THEM IF YOU LIKE Knocked Loose, Code Orange, Converge and whatever bloody-nosed up-and-coming hellions are belting their hearts out at the local PCYC this Friday night (don’t forget your tenner for the door charge). They go hard as all sweet hell, they’re unforgivingly loud, and their progressive message is one that everyone should get around. 

YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT the breakneck-paced bangers “No Fear” and “Holler” – two fierce and fiery feminist anthems loaded with crunchy riffs and belting bass. We’ve got our fingers crossed that these two recent singles lead to a full-length album, but for now, they’re absolutely worth jamming on repeat ad nauseam.


(Image credit: Max Quinn)

HE IS a living meme, the unofficial Prime Minister of the online Australian music community, and a singer-songwriter from Ballina with a penchant for viscerally poignant lyrical themes and ballads that’ll still make you want to pump your fists.

HE SOUNDS LIKE the sonic equivalent of slipping into a nice, warm bath with a mug of hot choccy after a tough winter’s day on the clock. No matter your ailments, Quinn’s music is as therapeutic as it is fun (see: very).

YOU'LL DIG HIM IF YOU LIKE Kisschasy, Something For Kate and Courtney Barnett. There’s a hint of folk lingering in the shadows of his punchy pop-rock numbers, but the primary flavours are ripping guitars, walloping drums, and a heavily accented holler that instantly ropes you in and demands your attention – that is, until you’ve learned all the lyrics and you find yourself belting along with Quinn. ‘00s alt-rock fanatics will fall head over heels before the first chorus ends.

YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT last year’s slow-burning soul‑thumper “Live Again” and its raw and enigmatic predecessor “Serotonin”. Both are witty and warbly pop jams about Quinn’s struggles with mental health, made all the more powerful with their riveting choruses and warm, lightly distorted guitar parts. Delicious.


(Image credit: Ben Leece)

HE IS one of the brightest new voices in Australian country, his sharp, Tennessee-inspired drawl and twangy acoustic juts pummelling through the mix with a distinct balance of passion and power. He tugs at the heartstrings with his bluntly emotive passages and biting honesty, and sonically, finds avenues to intensity by way of dry, lowkey strumming over dense, yet beautifully natural soundscapes.

HE SOUNDS LIKE a double shot of your finest aged whisky, neat.

YOU'LL DIG HIM IF YOU LIKE Nick Cave, Tim Rogers and Wilco. There’s a striking Southern punch to Leece’s music, but it never feels like he’s playing musical dress-up. The authenticity at play is nothing short of breathtaking, and it’s without a doubt he’d fit right at home on the Bluesfest and Tamworth Country Music Festival mainstages.

YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT his riveting debut album, No Wonder The World Is Exhausted. It’s a play-by-play through everything that makes country music great, delivered in a bold, acoustic-heavy mix unfettered by any unnecessary bells or whistles. This is Leece as raw as he comes, pouring his heart and soul out onto tape.


(Image credit: Shady Nasty)

THEY ARE a trio of terror from Sydney whose eccentric and experimental fusion of punk, hip-hop, industrial metal, jazz, math-rock, emo and shoegaze makes them impossible to define succinctly. They left us with our jaws properly unhinged at BIGSOUND last year, and with good reason – Shady Nasty are completely one-of-a-kind, and pretty goddamn great at what they do with their combined talents.

THEY SOUND LIKE a total clusterf***, in all the best possible ways. If you’ve ever had to pull an overnight study sesh for a uni exam on a topic you had no bloody clue about, you’ll know that truly unique feeling of existential dread. Shady Nasty take that dread and spin it into musical masochism. Addictive as hell.

YOU'LL DIG THEM IF YOU LIKE Superego, Death Grips and Ministry. If you’re the type to start your day with a can of V or always fantasise about ripping doughnuts at that roundabout down the street, Shady Nasty are the band for you.

YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT the mind-melting new EP Bad Posture, which dropped like an atom bomb on us at the end of February. It’s four tracks long and barely scrapes the 15-minute mark, and yet it’s a powerful platter of everything Shady Nasty have to offer – from the raw, to the melancholic, to the downright intense. Give it a spin, and then catch the band in the flesh. It’s onstage that they truly shine, and there’s a good chance you’ll leave their set a changed person.


(Image credit: Wolfjay)

THEY ARE an idiosyncratic indie-pop powerhouse who’s very quickly gearing up to cannonball into the mainstream. Their lovably lush soundscapes are layered with crunchy percussion, dreamy synths and heady, honeyed guitars. It’s the solo project of Adelaide’s brilliant Jack Alexander, and we honestly have a hard time believing one person alone can create such rich and rousing material.

THEY SOUND LIKE the walk home after a first date where the dinner was scrumptious, conversation bloomed and the two of you got along like a house on fire. Wolfjay has good vibes on tap.

YOU'LL DIG THEM IF YOU LIKE M83, The Midnight and The Cure. You’re reading about them in a guitar mag, of course, but it’s honestly the twinkly, pseudo-melancholic electronica vibes that stand out most in Wolfjay’s discography. If you have a soft spot for synthpop or like to mellow out with a bit of progressive house, you’ll likely find that the drawcard for this mind‑melting multi-instrumentalist.

YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT the kaleidoscopic new single “In Memory Of”, which runs for just shy of three minutes but feels impossibly short. The moody cut canters along with a chill, droning melody that’s far too easy to lose yourself in, bright and buzzy guitar lines keeping the beat afloat until they culminate in a big, beautiful solo.

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Ellie Robinson
Editor-at-Large, Australian Guitar Magazine

Ellie Robinson is an Australian writer, editor and dog enthusiast with a keen ear for pop-rock and a keen tongue for actual Pop Rocks. Her bylines include music rag staples like NME, BLUNT, Mixdown and, of course, Australian Guitar (where she also serves as Editor-at-Large), but also less expected fare like TV Soap and Snowboarding Australia. Her go-to guitar is a Fender Player Tele, which, controversially, she only picked up after she'd joined the team at Australian Guitar. Before then, Ellie was a keyboardist – thankfully, the AG crew helped her see the light…