These Are The 25 Rising Australian Acts You Need To Know About In 2021
Written by Jessica Dale and Sam Wall on February 7, 2021
There’s no shortage of talented acts around the country right now. Here’s 25 of the acts we’re expecting big things from in 2021.
If you’re not already across ASHWARYA’s Psycho Hole, you need to stop reading and immediately rectify that. OK, welcome back. You see what we mean. Citing artists like SZA, Kanye West, Travis Scott and Tyler The Creator, this 21-year-old Melbourne artist flawlessly blends pop, hip hop and at times industrial elements to create her “darkly romantic” and “emotive but icy” tunes. Expect to see big things throughout 2021 too, with a label deal with Jarrad Rogers’ Sony-backed NOiZE Recordings announced in June last year.
Azim Zain & His Lovely Bones
Canberra’s Azim Zain and his rotating cast of His Lovely Bones members delivered a stellar album last year in the form of Be Good. While it’s his debut album, Zain is no stranger to the scene having previously played in groups like Slagatha Christie and Elk Locker. Here’s to hoping he’ll get a big touring year to support its release!
In early 2020, Malyangapa, Barkindji woman Barkaa dropped her powerful first single For My Tittas and it’s just been up and up from there. In July, she collaborated with DOBBY on his track I Can’t Breathe and was a speaker for BIGSOUND 2020. The Bad Apples Music artist has kicked off 2021 announcing a management deal with Vyva Entertainment saying, “I love that I get to be around people who inspire me and push me in the right direction”. Expect to see a lot Barkaa this year.
Campbelltown artist Becca Hatch went into her BIGSOUND 2019 showcasing STRONG (having previously taken out the triple j Unearthed High Indigenous Initiative at the National Indigenous Music Awards two years earlier) and has been on an upwards trajectory ever since. Hatch has since started working with Sony Music Entertainment Australia and is set to share her debut album sometime this year.
Brisbane group Beddy Rays well and truly made themselves known in 2020. Their track SOBERCOASTER very quickly became a favourite of the year for many and they’ve already followed up with new single Better Weather. Given that they’re managed by Artists Only – home to some of the key players responsible for taking Tones & I’sDance Monkey to the world – the chances are pretty high that 2021 will be even bigger for Beddy Rays.
Big Orange have been around for a little while but it’s looking like 2021 is going to be a breakout year for the WA group. They wrapped up 2020 with some hugely positive reviews on new track I Wanna Know and their debut album, An Ode to Odious, is out now. We think it’ll be a big one.
Cat & Calmell
Cat & Calmell have come to the table with a fully realised concept of who they are as artists. The Sydney duo deliver on every part of their artistry and it’s already garnering big attention, having caught the eye of EMI in late 2020. The pair signed a global deal with the label in October and shared their debut single, dumbshit, in the same month. They’ve followed up with dramatic this year, earning them a spot in triple j’s regular rotation. Don’t be surprised if they’re our next big pop export.
Cool Sounds aren’t really a secret, they’ve been great for ages. And busy. They’ve had at least one album or almost album-length EP out every year since 2018. The thing is they get better every time they drop something and when Bystander lands in a week or so it would be very deserving if the dam broke a little. Their jangle-pop is just so smooth. Every song it seems they’ve perfected bottling a bop in sunshine – even if lyrically they’re quietly on the dark and heartbroke side – and then, bam, they hit you with normcore Dire Straits vibes on recent single Crimson Mask and what do you know, they’ve upped their game again.
It’s particularly had to nail down a genre for Melbourne via Perth artist Eli Greeneyes. At times, there’s elements of pop rock, at others there’s rap. Regardless of what it is though it’s already gaining a whole lot of attention with a stack of positive triple j Unearthed reviews and some main station plays. He’s got an album in the works right now so expect more soon.
You’re probably already familiar with George Alice (real name Georgia Mannion), having taken out triple j’s Unearthed High competition back in 2019. In the time since, Mannion has inked a global deal with US label Loma Vista Recordings seeing her join the likes of Denzel Curry, St Vincent, soccer mommy and more on the roster. 2020 wrapped up with George Alice’s first-ever headline show and new music (which premiered on triple j Breakfast no less) so we’ve got a feeling 2021 will deliver.
Girl & Girl
Gold Coast group Girl & Girl have a lot on offer. Leaning in on everything from ‘70s Aus rock to contemporaries like Parquet Courts and A Swayze & The Ghosts, this relatively new group is backed by the powerhouse drumming of ‘Aunty Liss’ – who they describe as the person who drummed your parents “into a dance crazed trance 30 years ago in a Newtown pub” – who joins her nephew and his friends in the group. Solid, solid tunes and we can’t wait to hear more.
Hearts & Rockets
Genres are pretty free and easy in 2021. All rivers flow to the sea and everyone’s drinking from the source these days, no need to get bogged down in something as straight forward as punk or rock or funk or whatever. That said someone’s going to give you a label, so it might as well be you. Maybe the best example we’ve seen in recent memory is bratwave, which Hearts & Rockets have coined and are now carrying all the way to the bank. It’s snarky synths, it’s chunky bass, sometimes it’s Donna Summer disco and it’s always very, very bratty.
Formed by Yirrŋa Yunupiŋu and Roy Kellaway – the nephew and son of Yothu Yindi founders Dr M Yunupiŋu and Stu Kellaway – it’s not surprising that King Stingray have made a powerful impression right from day one. They only released their first single, Hey Wanhaka, last October but their raucous Yolngu surf-rock has already hooked them devoted fans, including pub punks The Chats, who signed the North-East Arnhem Land outfit to their Bargain Bin label. They released their follow-up track, Get Me Out, a couple weeks ago and we’re not the only ones hanging out for more.
Gamilaroi artist might only be in his early 20s but Kobie Dee’s storytelling will make you think he’s twice his age. He’s already garnered a stack of attention from triple j, has grown an impressive fanbase and is already signed with Bad Apples Music. Start with This Life and then just hit repeat on the tracks from there. 2021 will be huge for Kobie Dee.
At 19, MAY-A (real name Maya Cumming) already has nearly a decade of experience behind her. Starting out busking in Byron Bay at 12 and building from there, Cumming closed out 2020 by inking a deal with Sony Music Entertainment Australia. “I can’t wait to build our own mini universe full of wonderful creativity,” she said at the time. We think it might be more maxi than mini for MAY-A and her pop stylings in 2021.
18-year-old Mia Rodriguez represents a new generation of musicians that are coming up and finding success on TikTok. It’s paid off for her, having signed with Chugg Music in late-2019 (at the time she was 17 and had 2 million followers on the platform). Less than 12 months on from its release, her track Psycho has already amassed a whopping 7.4million views on YouTube. Expect her to hit the stratosphere in 2021.
2020 was a hell of a year for Nat Vazer, and not just in the more bleak sense that it was for most of us. When she dropped her debut album Is This Offensive And Loud? at the end of May rave reviews were just the start, Vazer’s unaffected slice-of-life lyricism and deft blend of indie influences turning many heads. The record was an early tip for one of the best of the year and bagged Vazer nominations for the Music Victoria Awards’ Best Breakthrough Act and the Australian Music Prize. Even with gigs all but outlawed Vazer and her band were in high demand, playing Delivered, Live, The State Of Music and Isol-Aid, as well as slipping a ripper in-person show in between lockdowns. That’s a lot of heat out of the gate and we suspect it’s only going to grow.
While The Creases’ may not be active right now, the group’s members are certainly still delivering BIG. There’s Jarrod Mahon’s captivating Emerson Snowe project, the runaway success of Aimon Clark’s isolation trivia series and now comes Joe Agius’ RINSE solo work. If you’re looking for a new favourite shoegaze/dream pop-esque artist, then look no further (start with the stunning Back Into Your Arms featuring the always impressive Hatchie). Agius is set to release the debut RINSE EP, Wherever I Am, on 5 March and we couldn’t be more ready for it.
They’re only three songs deep at the moment but something about Romero grabs you by the throat. Everything they’ve done so far has a husky Is This It-era Strokes strut to it that a thousand-thousand bands have tried on but few have made fit. They aren’t reinventing the wheel, but however fresh they are Romero are no ten-year-old wearing their older brother’s denim – when they release their album later this year we’re going to have a class rock album on our hands.
OK so here’s the thing – there’s not a heap of information that we know about Sydney group stressless but that’s because they’re so damn new there’s not much to be found yet. Here’s what we do know though – their music absolutely slaps and we’re ready for whatever else they want to serve up in 2021.
Maybe it’s all the sun and the free-range shrooms, but goodness does Australia love a bit of psych. Sunfruits are one of the newer groups to sprout in the local scene but they’ve already found a unique space – softer than King Gizz or Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, more retro than Tame Impala, less proggy than Nice Biscuit. They’ve paired 60s colour with disco danceability and we’re keen to hear a lot more of it in 2021.
Another triple j Unearthed High winner makes our 2021 list, this time in the form of Teenage Joans. The work of Adelaide pair Tahlia Borg and Cahli Blakers, the pair not only took out the title with their track Three Leaf Clover but also landed themselves at #87 on the Hottest 100 with it (excuse us while we weep about our own high school achievements which were not even close to this). They’ve started 2021 strong too, with the release of angsty Something About Being Sixteen which we’ve had on loop.
The Lazy Eyes
Sydney’s The Lazy Eyes have been around for a little while – kinda makes sense given that they started playing together at 15 – but it feels like this really could be their year. The group were due to have a huge 2020 with appearances at SXSW and Splendour In The Grass scheduled, and with the release of their excellent Where’s My Brain??? just this week, chances are their 2021 will be explosive.
Hobart artist Zac Henderson isn’t wasting any time in 2021. While we’re only five weeks into the year, Henderson has already dropped his debut album Lay The Stones and we couldn’t be more pleased about it. “Working on Lay The Stones as an album was one of the most exciting and involved musical experiences of my life so far. I managed to assemble a band of terrific musicians to play on the album and a brilliant producer who were all incredibly invested in the music,” said Henderson of the release. If you’re a fan of acts like Jack Davies & The Bush Chooks, this is definitely for you.
Melbourne five-piece Zig Zag describe themselves as “half garage rock extremists, half disco junkie night cats, swinging these contradictions in the air, careless and free and flaming with pride” and that’s alllll right by us. The city has no shortage of excellent garage/punk/post-punk groups and Zig Zag are a shining example of it. Get on board quickly.https://youtube.com/watch?v=QH2CjAHCoZs%3Fwmode%3Dopaque
Article originally appeared on the music web page. https://themusic.com.au/news/artists-acts-to-watch-2021/CukWHB8eAQA/05-02-21/