Despite my lack of interest in theming this column, a theme has bubbled up. Half the acts listed here are living overseas.
It could be because Australia is a tough country to live in as an artist. That notion has floated about for ages and was finally anchored last year when a survey pointed to serious health and wellbeing problems in an entertainment industry in “severe distress”. Living in cheaper cities with less distance between gigs, and a larger audience for niche scenes, is one way to relieve that distress.
Yet there’s another reason why such good Australian music is made from abroad: living away from home is creatively motivating. Especially, perhaps, when that home is Australia.
Of their stunning 2014 album, Passerby, I wrote: “Luluc left Melbourne for Brooklyn four years ago and there succumbed to a productive nostalgia for the ‘shimmering heat of a bold hot sun’. It’s hard to imagine a record marked by such tender regard for Australia could come from any artist actually living here.” Viewed from afar, and removed from our day-to-day political buffoonery, Australia is a far more fruitful muse.
So let’s dive in. I’ve made a playlist for those keen to hear a selection of music discussed in columns in the year so far.
Lindsay Phillips – The Sleep Song
I used to think my obsession with the folk songs of Melbourne’s Lindsay Phillips would wane. And it still might if he quit writing songs of stark potency that seem to slow time itself.
Now living in a farmhouse in rural Sweden, the musician cares for his young son and summons songs from a steel string guitar, the wheezings of an heirloom accordion and a sorrowful baritone distinguished by an abundance of vibrato. Few effects are used and no collaboration sought: this is defiantly…