It’s always a struggle down at Tone Deaf HQ to go through all the bands we’ve seen over the past year (between us all we must have seen 1,000+ bands) and try to narrow down a list of those which we think have the look, the sound, the tunes and the ambition to break through in 2011. We’re down there in the trenches, at the bar, in front of the stage and in the mosh pit seeing bands all the time and going deaf for a living. We’ve taken our earplugs out just long enough to finish compiling our 20 hottest artists of 2011 – here’s Part 1.
Bittersweet Kicks A dirty bunch of St Kilda street urchins, these guys get a big thumbs up from us because they’ve been banned from half the venues in Melbourne for their ‘rock n’ roll behaviour’ - so we last saw them pop up playing at the Victorian College of the Arts graduation show. Add to the mix a fine bluesy rock howl reminiscent of The Saints and Radio Birdman and these guys have the swagger and tunes to make them public enemy number one and one of the best live bands in the country. Check them out
Skinwalkers A bunch of punks out of Brisbane with a social conscience, these guys are killing it in the all ages and punk scene and there are a lot of people in the wider music community sitting up and taking interest. Taking the punk thrashing of Suicidal Tendencies and mixing it up with the rock sound of Rose Tattoo, it’s hard to listen to them without wanting to mosh even if you’re by yourself at home. Check them out
Vice Grip Pussies A bunch of dirty leather clad punks rarely seen in daylight, these boys take the LA rock look and set it to a soundtrack of primordial swampy rock n’ roll that recalls The Scientists at their peak. Best enjoyed in the sweaty confines of one of Melbourne’s best rock dives, these boys come with Australian rock n’ roll royalty in their blood, with some of them descended from The Johnnys; but be careful after a show – they’ll most likely try to steal your girlfriend. Check them out
Tessa & The Typecast Originally from Ballarat and now resident in Melbourne, the angelic Tessa on keys and her band mate Natalie on cello with three handsome boys backing them up are a publicist’s dream. The piano driven balladry of Regina Spektor mixed with the pop smarts of Megan Washington, these guys are getting some serious music industry interest. With their recent release ‘Painter’ getting plenty of play on Triple J and Xfm in London the expression ‘they have a big future’ is redundant. Check them out
Kristina Miltiadou Kristina Miltiadou came out of the blocks towards the end of this year and suddenly has the music industry in a tizz. Her Kate Bush meets Amy Winehouse vocal stylings, backed by a bunch of Melbourne’s coolest kids, a stage outfit involving carnations and the use of some traditional Greek instruments thrown in with pop nous means that the only pigeonhole you can put her in is that of ‘star’. Check them out
Money for Rope One of the hardest working bands in Australia, this Melbourne seven piece are increasingly getting the big stages they need to fit their two drum kit outfit on! With keyboard flourishes reminiscent of The Doors and even some wild saxophone action, this band revel in getting sweaty and their shirts off while thumping out garage soul tunes with the volume knob broken off and set on 11. Check them out
Red Berry Plum A band that seems to have between seven and ten members on stage so they look like they’re having a party every time they get up there, this Melbourne outfit ply a trade in winsome folk pop rock, their ethereal vocals and dreamy guitars the soundtrack to a summer of lazy pool parties and trips down to the sea. Check them out
Dirt Farmer A bunch of Melbourne boys that have all the girls swooning at gigs, these guys might sport the odd checked shirt but there’s no straw between their teeth, just a classic fusion of Velvet Underground inspired garage rock with a bluesy twist. Ticking all the current A&R boxes with a knack for short catchy tunes that also owe a debt to The Libertines or even Aussie rock legends such as The Sunnyboys, these boys will be snapped up and headlining some big stages near you soon. Check them out
Bleeding Knees Club Two young blokes out of Brisbane playing some of rawest garage rock n’ roll clatter you’re likely to hear this year. If you thought the White Stripes were overproduced and the Black Keys too polished, then you’ll dig the primal wails of the vocals on their debut EP Virginity which has the music industry all het up and excited. Check them out
Straight Arrows Sydney garage rock replete with band members taking to the stage wearing roller skates while blasting out a Velvet Underground meets The Ramones brand of 60s and 70s style fuzz punk rock. Their recently released album whizzes through 11 tracks in 25 minutes, recreating the feeling that you’re at CBGBs in the mid 70s receiving the aural equivalent of a bikie beating. Check them out
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