The land down under is famous for many things – serene vistas, laidback lifestyles and no-nonsense cuisine (for the record, Vegemite is better than Marmite). However, like its predatory wildlife that continues to prompt “WTF?” reactions from international outsiders, Australian music takes no prisoners when it comes to infectious grooves, headbanger anthems, and blistering rap bars. From AC/DC to Sia, ‘Straya has a good thing going – and like the legendary acts to have visited our shores before them, these Aussies are sure to send shockwaves throughout The Meadow at Gardens by the Bay for the Singapore pilgrimage of Laneway 2017.
Gang of Youths
There aren't too many frontmen that can get away with sneaking in Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” dance in an indie rock music video without inviting sneers. Similarly, there aren’t many who can confidently say, “I still align myself with Jesus,” before following it up by admitting, “I’m a fornicating drunkard who swears a lot and listens to a lot of black metal.” Fortunately for Sydney’s Gang of Youths, charismatic vocalist David Le'aupepe brings all the above to the table. And, with nominations for Australia’s ARIA Music Awards 2016 ‘Best Rock Album’ and ‘Best Australian Live Act’, you can bet that you’ll be in for one hell of a show.
Hailing from the isolated island state of Van Diemen’s Land (AKA Tasmania), the four-piece has a sound that’s as large as their namesake mobster and as untamed as the wilderness of their home. Perfecting their anthemic punk rock sound since their 2011 debut, the band’s third LP, If This Is All We’re Going To Be – which was on heavy radio rotation as a triple j feature album earlier this year – expands on raspy, belted vocals and distortion-defined guitars with a swell of melody and crowd chant-conducive composition, bringing a new appreciation to frontman Tyler Richardson’s confessional lyrics.
Having last been on the Singapore Laneway bill in 2014, Jagwar Ma is returning with a bigger sound than ever with a brand new album under their belt. Taking cues from Primal Scream and the “Madchester” sound on the freshly released sophomore LP, Every Now & Then – which was recorded between Sydney and the French countryside (but not before experiencing a hairy near-miss with a shark while searching the wilderness for inspiration – only in Australia, right?), the psych rock trio’s nomadic songwriting process culminates in a focused full-length that vividly recalls the synths and vocal melodies of the past.
While there’s still a bit of residual confusion over Chet Faker’s change of name, the symbolism of the brooding, bearded wunderkind ditching his alias for his real name can certainly be heard in the heart-on-sleeve sounds of his new recording efforts. Taking on a more personal approach since the days of the wildly successful “Talk Is Cheap” and Blackstreet cover “No Diggity”, the music we’ve heard so far from this latest chapter in his career, like the eight-minute opus “Stop Me (Stop You)”, promises an even more concentrated and transportative journey.
Sampa The Great
Adopting the title of a king and conqueror takes guts, but there’s no question that rapper, poet and singer, Sampa The Great, has the chops to back up her moniker. Like many in the rap game, the Zambia-born, Botswana-raised trailblazer found love for hip-hop through 2Pac, before penning her own narrative from the perspective of Africa’s youth. Having released her debut mixtape on the Melbourne-based, Hiatus Kaiyote-affiliated label Wondercore Island just last year, Sampa comes out swinging with an experimental blend of hip-hop and nu jazz, earning herself a support spot for Kendrick Lamar and cementing her name as one to look out for in 2017.
Winner of 2016’s J Awards for triple j’s independent-only category, ‘Unearthed Artist of the Year’, the multi-instrumentalist’s sheer aptitude for tricking listeners into thinking there’s more than one performer in the room is enough to confirm she deserves the praise she’s received. Masterfully crafting a sonic lattice of soulful contemplation, heartache, and creative ingenuity, the self-taught 21-year-old seamlessly weaves guitar tapping, looping and even beat-boxing into a sound that is powerful and vulnerable at the same time, putting listeners in silent awe.
St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival 2017 hits our shores on January 21 at The Meadow, Gardens by the Bay. For tickets and more info, visit singapore.lanewayfestival.com.