It was after longtime friend of the show Dom Alessio took to the airwaves over at East Village Radio on the weekend and I realised on Saturday that more and more of my must-listen playlist was being dominated by homegrown artists that J and I came to tentatively agree that Australian music is totally killing it right now. As I see it, across hip-hop, rock, pop, singer-songwriter, folk, funk and electronic genres, what we’re witnessing now is something like the halcyon days of Australian music where, across a variety of genres that usually peak and plateau at seemingly arbitrary times, we’re witnessing a confluence of excellence as artists across the park hit their stride at the same time. While the scope of this perceived boom might well be mitigated by a total under-appreciation in the rest of the Western world (as so often is the case when we’re sure we rule it but everyone else is painfully oblivious), I only have the option of writing from what I know. And from this vantage point, Australian bands are making serious moves.
Melbourne six piece Alpine, amongst all this self-congratulatory fanfare, back-patting and the like, was fairly far off the radar. As a favourite of local radio station Triple J’s, I’d certainly heard ‘Hands’ before but in the time it took mine to shazam the hell out of it, I was always hearing the last synthetic drumbeat and/or my increasingly fallible Honda had turned itself off in traffic. It took wondering into J’s room and overhearing Dom playing the track of EVRadio over the weekend to realise – ‘hey, this song is wildly addictive AND Australian!’ Whether the homegrown (and independent in the lead-up to their major label debut expected shortly) nature of the band endorsed this track’s aural recommendation, I can’t be sure. What I do know is that, in channeling a rockier Lykke Li with breathy vocals but overwhelmingly defying classification in combining jumpy pop with driving guitars and more whimsical Lisa Mitchell-esque themes, I am utterly hooked.
Recording as we speak with Dann Hume (formerly of Evermore, who was also the production force behind Mitchell’s debut LP), ‘Hands’ was released six months ahead of time in an effort to stir the imagination. The video that accompanied it (which I only had the vaguely awkward pleasure of catching over the weekend) leaves little to the imagination but proves that Alpine, just returned from a stint at SxSW in Texas, have the sort of determination to be different that has so often proved a hurdle for Australian acts hustling for a spot in the increasingly elusive limelight. With an invigorating blend of lights synths, propulsive riffs and vocals (courtesy of front-women Phoebe and Lou) that give new meaning to the word ‘mellifluous’, Alpine have staked their claim to the summit of Australian music for 2012 early. ‘Hands’ is dynamic, surprising and just really well put together, with a distinct hint of the occult. Grown locally and sure to cast a spell over you.
Alpine – Hands