It’s no question that surf, sunsets and sheep spring to mind when you think of the elusive Oceania. However, Australia and New Zealand have done more than gift us half the male cast of Les Mis and a new meaning for thongs. The wealth of female musicians emerging from their sandy shores are becoming some of the most exciting additions to the music scene right now.
Here are five fiery females to give your playlists a new lease of life:
What happens when Florence Welch meets Jefferson Airplane and Maggie Rogers? I’m glad you asked. Angie McMahon might just be the lovechild of feeling and fear, hailing from inner Melbourne, this singer-songwriter has had a fair run of experience in the past few years after touring with the likes of Bon Jovi, the Pixies and Father John Misty to name a few.
Openly admitting to how she struggles with her new life in the spotlight, Angie’s coming to terms with being “out in the world”, anxieties and all. Her rich, candid chorus is refreshing, it almost feels intrusive to listen to, an echo of her soul etched into blank staves.
Her new album Salt is available to stream and buy now (listen to ‘And I Am A Woman’, and thank me later)
Though a bit of a cheat by being born in Wales before emigrating to Perth, Stella’s new-age sound wouldn’t quite be the same without the delicious Australian twang. As the charmingly nasal tones pierce the airwaves, she recites what Robert Christgau so elegantly calls her “musical encyclopaedia of [male] assholes” in her debut album Beware of the Dog.
Her voice is sweet, yet her witty tone makes each song comedic and comforting, like ‘Mosquito’, where she takes the average “thinking of you” greeting card line and elevates it to “I used my vibrator, wishing it was you”. Shucks.
Her straight across black bangs embody her lyrical directness – choppy, to the point and undeniably brilliant. Stella’s capabilities to craft painful and potent topics into catchy and captivating tracks like ‘Boys Will Be Boys’, an eloquent but heart-wrenching song about her friend’s rape, with poignant lyrics like “would you blame your little sister if she cried to you for help”, commands the attention of all. Similarly, Stella takes her craft and extends it to musical activism, her way of “painting a picture”, with the titular track ‘Beware of the Dogs’ an ardent piece on the issues of institutional racism in Australia’s government and “how fucked” it all is.
Stella is really a mouthpiece for how marginalised women feel in a man’s world, with the standout track on the album “Watching Telly” a very candid and generous piece on her own experience with abortion. As she croons of how “they tape dollar signs to our bodies and tell us not to show our skin / If it’s good enough for the boys it’s good enough for us”, the inclusive pronouns infer who she’s writing her music about, and thus who she’s offering it for. Well we’re listening Stella, and truly, thank you.
Beware of the Dogs is out there in the world waiting for you to listen.
With fans like Stella Donnelly, Aldous Harding (Hannah Harding) is raising the bar for female musicians but taking them by then hand so they can reach it with ease. Her ingenuity and flamboyance exude the same artistic energy of her chaotic lyricism and collaborative sound.
The singer-songwriter sits alongside our one true Lorde on the holy New Zealand throne. Her lyrics cut round corners and weave down spiral country roads, taking us in a direction nobody could predict. Her third album Designer is like a blank canvas she’s sketched on with charcoal words, a permanence that’s still calling for the colour only your listening experience can provide.
The layers and lilts in ‘Barrel’ are built on by it’s charismatic video, whilst ‘Weight of the Planets’ misleads you with its hollow Hawaiian percussive hum alongside Aldous’ almost Gothically romantic vocals. You can’t decide what her songs mean or your place in them, and their inconsistent paradoxical marriage together on one disc is the shiny silver world on which they were only ever meant to make sense.
Already highly praised on Irish Radio by the likes of John Kelly, it’s about time we get a bit of Harding on our stations in the UK. Now based in Wales, luckily for us she has some dates around the UK and Ireland later this year, including Manchester Academy on the 30th of November.
Designer is the kitchen, car and cooking album you never knew you needed, but boy do you need it.
SAMPA THE GREAT
The Zambian born, Botswana raised, Australia based singer and rapper Sampa the Great (Sampa Tembo) is the herculean hero ready to unite gospel, rap, hip-hop, jazz, soul, reggae and R&B whilst keeping our political consciousness in check. However, the latter part of her musical alias is a far cry from the height of one’s ego, instead referenced by her as a physicalised reminder of “something to strive towards: the greatest version of myself”.
As a black female artist, Sampa credits her heritage for keeping her musical vision constant, aiming to use her craft to vocalise the need for black and indigenous visibility within the Australian music scene and beyond. Already having opened for the likes of Kendrick Lamar and released collaborations with Estelle, this rising star is no stranger to the spotlight. However, with more and more releases showcasing her artistic capabilities and bringing her energy to our humble isle at Glastonbury this year, it’s anyone’s guess what she’s got planned next.
Her latest single ‘OMG’ is out now.
Based in Sydney, Julia Jacklin is the epitome of how the female voice’s vitality and variety makes it impossible to decide if she can be pushed toward a genre of indie-pop, indie-folk or new-age country. Maybe this is further proof that sidling women into categories of music only entices them to emerge with a characteristic sound impossible to place.
With already two albums out, if you haven’t heard of Jacklin yet you’re not quite on the ball, but we’ll let you off this time. Think of it as only starting Stranger Things after season 2 already came out; the excitement of catching up before the endless possibilities of what’s coming next. Her rounded tone and seemingly limitless range allow her to bend and break the confinements of a structured song. The storytelling capabilities found in her lyricism are dreamy yet direct – what more could you want?
Her newest album Crushing is out now (playing host to ‘Pressure to Party’, a very VERY relatable ode to us 20 somethings staying in when “nothing good can come from me drinking”)
This is only a taster of what the other side of the world has to offer, but with these ladies in your ears it will be impossible not to have a g’day.
Header image by Pilerats: http://pilerats.com/pile-tv/live-sessions/live-sessions-angie-mcmahon-leif-vollebekk-if-you-call/