Sunday, 22 December 2013

2013 Scene Awards - Australian Artist of the Year

The Orbweavers, JONES Jnr, Thelma Plum + Abbe May.

Australian music, you're so fine. You're so fine... you know the rest. 2013 has been an insanely good year for our homegrown talent, with established acts pushing themselves in exciting new directions and way too many emerging acts staking a claim to greatness. Today, the five of us have each selected an act that makes us proud, little Australian vegemites. Or 'strayan's. Whatevs.


#5. The Stiffys

You know what I love about music? It doesn’t always have to be brooding and intellectual. It can just be fun. Although that’s not to say that The Stiffys don’t cover serious topics in songs such as ‘Champagne’, ‘Ranger Stacey’ and ‘I’m really good at sex because I’m always doing it’. They’ve also got a song about yours truly which is quite thought provoking.

Music today has become about men in suits wearing sunglasses indoors, and women without pants. Although I’m sure The Stiffys would look dashing in suits, and even better without pants, they really do great in their sailor outfits. I do love sea men.

The Stiffys are all about Red Rooster, typing in caps, boogie boarding, and site their influences as ladies, Shaquille O'Neal and kickflips. What’s not to love about that? (Katie Langley)

#4. The Orbweavers

The Orbweavers. Where do I start? This little duo from Melbourne was one of my surprise finds of the year. See I attended Bigsound and had a lot of gaps in the timetable to fill. In order to pick the gap fillers I simply went to see bands/performers that had a name, picture or both I liked (I'm practically a genius), so The Orbweavers were one of those lucky bands.

They were the final act I was seeing for the night so by the time it came to their set I was tired, my feet were sore, I was hungry and a little sick of people. I contemplated not even seeing them but I sucked it up and off I went. Upon arriving at the venue I was greeted with the ghostly vision of a woman dressed top to toe in black with stark red lips and thick black plaited hair, a meek shy man dressed in a simple buttoned shirt and slacks with the same haircut I had as a 12 year old and a large bearded man in sneakers, jeans and a casual looking shirt. An unusual combination of people, I thought, "This should be interesting!" So I found a chair, $10 on the floor, and opened my music mind.

Each song was introduced with a description of its setting, history and how it might relate to Brisbane's own past. I found this both interesting and slightly unusual as I never expected a history lesson, but with the strum of a guitar and the toot of a trumpet the music began. How can I describe it? Folk would be the genre; sentimental would describe the emotional connection, and some tunes offering the most divine macabre tone. I was intrigued and super curious about their other work.

The seed was planted and for the next couple of weeks I kept going back and forth to their Soundcloud page and it snowballed from there. Loom has become one of my favourite albums ever. The stories take me home, like they’ve been extracted directly from my memories and emotions and that is something I dive into whole-heartedly. The Obweavers are a standout folk act whom although have some familiarity to their sound, stand high above their piers and don’t react to pressures of modern life in crafting their profound, idiosyncratic music. (Nayt Housman)

#3. Abbe May

The reinvention of Abbe May in 2013 was nothing short of spectacular. She transitioned seamlessly from the rock goddess on Design Desire to an electro chanteuse lamenting the death of love on Kiss My Apocalypse, instantly proving herself an artist unafraid of a challenge. Her brand of doom pop was dark and sexy, brash and fearless. From ‘Karmageddon’ to ‘T.R.O.U.B.L.E, ‘Perth Girls’ and beyond, May provided music Aussie and international fans fell hard for. She definitely earned her nomination for Best Female Artist at the ARIA Awards, but was missing from about a thousand other categories she deserved to be in. *cough* Album of the Year *cough*.

Kiss My Apocalypse was unashamedly sexy, holding nothing back in the ‘steaming up the room’ department. For me, it was the only release this year that made me feel a little dirty while listening to it. Maybe dirty isn’t the right word. Naughty? Are you picking up what I’m putting down here? I could be grossing you out, so I’ll just say that Abbe May provided us with balls to the wall, unadulterated sexy fun times, while showing just how exciting electronic music from an Australian artist could be. My hat goes off to her. And my pants. What? (Matt Bond)

Runner-Up: JONES jnr.

Here’s what I know about Jones Jnr. They are two people: Morgan Jones and EV Jones. They aren’t related. They’re from just outside Sydney. They make music that’s a little bit soul, a little bit hip hop, a little bit gospel, a little bit old school, a little bit r’n’b. I stumbled across them at BIGSOUND this year, when I made a last minute decision to wander to The Rev instead of somewhere else a block away and I witnessed a performance that has haunted me ever since, in the best way possible. Their albums, The Soultape, released in 2012 and The Soultape 2, released in August this year, are available to download on their Bandcamp page – for free. Read that again – yep. For FREE.

Here’s what I think about Jones Jnr. That night of BIGSOUND, I expected to see some impressive music. What I didn’t expect was to be mesmerised by sounds that floated all around a room and landed on my shoulders, forcing me to stand, to witness, to move, be moved and to know who this duo was. Those powerhouse vocals of E Jones were spine tingling, the beats of M Jones impossible not to be enthralled by. I see a lot of live music and I love a lot of live music, but not every performance I see is as engaging and as captivating as Jones Jnr were that night. They were beyond anything I expected to hear, taking sounds from so many eras of music and making their own take on soul, on hip hop, on music itself. I was so impressed I found their albums online that week, downloaded and those magical sounds I heard that night which I have re-lived over and over again since.

Here’s what I feel about Jones Jnr. and this is the important part. There are a lot of people in the world that make a lot of music. Some of them you know, some of them I know, some will be popular here, some in places other than Australia…others we’ll never know. I don’t know if Jones Jnr will ever be a household name, I don’t know if they’ll even make another album, but I know when I heard Jones Jnr that night in September, they made me feel so lucky to have such a love of all music, to feel so damn good when I heard their sweet soul sounds. Music is connected to every part of my life, but only special artists make me remember just how much I love it. Jones Jnr managed to make me remember that this year and in turn, have made me love them.

WINNER: Thelma Plum

I mentioned in the countdown that I saw Thelma Plum at Woodford Folk Festival over the 2012/2013 season. I made sure to see her perform as I had heard her beautiful song 'Father Said' on the radio and was instantly drawn in by her gentle pop (that was earthed in a modern Australian feel). She was the perfect artist to start my year. The Australian voice, the say-it-like-it-is words and the gorgeous yet simple structure were a refresh of folk music for me. As an indigenous performer Plum could very well be the voice of a new generation of proud Aboriginal women who sing their song to an ever growing audience. No doubt she is an inspiration to many young women – be it indigenous or non indigenous to pick up an instrument and share their own story through music. Plum was awarded (at the end of 2012) a Triple J award for Best New Talent which saw her recording new music this year. Lucky us. With stand out tracks like 'Dollar', 'Breathe In Breathe Out' and my personal favourite, 'Around Here' Thelma keeps us on our toes waiting out for a full length album. I can't wait. (Lou Endicott)

2012 Winner:
Texas Tea
Runner-Up: Sarah Blasko

2011 Winner:
Seeker Lover Keeper
Runner-Up: Gotye

2010 Winner:

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