KCRW’s Global Beat is a new series highlighting emerging artists from around the world. We’re kicking the series off with our friends in Australia by partnering with The Australian Music Alliance and the Australian Music Radio Airplay Project (Amrap), a uniquely Australian organization designed to support Australian music on public radio. KCRW DJ Raul Campos hosts along with Amrap Manager Andrew Khedoori for weekly Aussie artist spotlights.
This week we’re featuring new work from some familiar names (especially if you’re a fan of Australian legacy artists). Beloved ‘90s pub-rock band Even used the COVID lockdown period to craft a magnum opus, The Church’s Steve Kilbey joined with Underground Lovers’ Glenn Bennie to bring you some noir tinged electro-shoegaze, and Via Tania rebrands as T. Wilds.
Dig into all the tunes we’ve gathered for you so far (plus bonus tracks!) on our Global Beat: Australia playlist.
The following has been edited for length and clarity.
Even - “Six Monkeys”
We've touched upon some of the younger acts in the stream of great power-pop, and rock coming out of Australia. But we can also go a little more old school. When it sounds as good as this, why not? One of the classic bands that cropped up in the 90s, and still have a devoted following to this day — is Even, based out of Melbourne. They've come back recently with a big statement in the form of the double album opus “Reverse Light Years.” They used the long lockdowns in their home state of Victoria to explore, and let loose a little. They were inspired by the Jimi Hendrix double album “Band of Gypsys,” which was a freer and funkier version of Hendrix. So we've got a lot of territory covered here in the name of guitar stylings, rock, and pop. These guys have riffs and melodies for days, and this is one of the tighter nuggets from their sprawling new album.
There’s a good chance that you know the name Steve Kilbey, and there’s an even better chance that you know the name of the band that he's most associated with — The Church. The Church remain one of Australia’s most enduring musical exports, having had some massive hits in the US. And they’ve maintained quite the devoted following. Steve Kilbey has involved himself in a number of side projects over his long career. He's tried his hand at space-rock, electronica, and the experiments just keep coming. This year alone, he formed a band called Steve Kilbey & The Winged Heels. As that band name might suggest, it's a little bit Country, and a little bit Rock ‘n Roll. Now he's pivoted back into this shoegaze, electronic hybrid by teaming up with a fellow called Glen Bennie. Bennie is one of the founders of the great Australian pop act, The Underground Lovers. That’s another band with a storied history, which includes being signed in the U.K. to the short lived Guernica imprint of the famed 4AD record label.
But Bennie also has the semi-solo project GB3, which gives him space to collaborate. So it was only a matter of time before one of the busiest people in Australian music, Mr. Steve Kilbey, joined the ranks. And it really works. Glistening atmospheric textures against that classic croon from Steve Kilbey provides just the perfect combination of light and shade. Of course, Steve Kilbey knows his way around a nice sense of noir. He brings just that to GB3, and the new album “Sakura Flower.”
T. Wilds is the newest nom de plume of Tania Bowers. She began her music career while she was in high school as part of the excellent indie pop band, Spdfgh. They were signed very quickly to Australian indie label, Half a Cow. They scored a few major radio hits before going their separate ways. From there, Bowers briefly released music as Sunday — this project consisted primarily of beautiful acoustic material that she created in a disused nunnery. Perhaps her most consistent, well known persona is Via Tania which she used for many years. Her 2003 album as Via Tania “Under a Different Sky” garnered a degree of critical acclaim, and more followed her through the years. She'd been a bit off the radar since 2015, but recently reemerged using yet another title, T. Wilds.
Vast swaths of love and support to help realize her visions have been the throughline in all of Bowers’ musical endeavors, regardless of what she might be calling herself at the time. She's worked with a considerable range of great artists and producers including Casey Rice, Tortoise, Prefuse 73, Shearwater, and Plaid to name just a few. And yet, one slight drawback to associating with such luminaries is that her incredible voice could occasionally get a little lost in the mix. Her new album as T. Wilds is simply entitled “Ten Songs,” and it seems like she’s really found her sweet spot. She lives in the Blue Mountains now, about two hours outside of Sydney. It's a beautiful part of Australia, full of incredible peaks and valleys. You can feel that landscape in this music.