Pilerats End Of Year Wrap: 18 Artists to Watch in 2018
The next generation of Australian music is brighter than ever before.
We ended our 2016 by highlighting 17 Australian electronic artists to watch in 2017, with names including BATTS, Elkkle, Ninajirachi, Nyxen and Vincent Sole all making the cut. Without tooting our own horn here, a large majority of last year's class all had really big and successful years in 2017, and we have no doubt that those which didn't will continue to grind and get there in 2018. Now we've resurrected our 'who to watch' guide with 18 Australian musicians (electronic or otherwise) bound to be big in 2018.
The 18 musicians following are who we believe to be the next-gen of Australian music, and by opening up the list to those outside of the electronic realm, we can guarantee there's something in here for everyone. There's the subtle, yet beautiful indie-pop sounds of Aeora and Eilish Gilligan, while also a couple of gems who we think will tear up the dancefloors across the next twelve months – Haiku Hands, SHOUSE and SŸDE specifically. There's bold and powerful pop from King IV and Muki, punk-rock in A Swayze & The Ghosts, Good Doogs and STUMPS, plus hip-hop names including Carmouflage Rose, Jesswar and a whole lot more. Dive into the list below, and be sure to keep an eye on Pilerats in the new year as we watch these 18 names tear up the Australian music scene across 2018.
Through a strong showing on her 2016 debut EP Alt. (which included highlights like Afloat and Lights Me Up), Melbourne's Aeora spread her wings and shone brightly in full flight in 2017. From the incredible Boss-y and Fenceline to the co-written Lanks number Need You, it’s a challenge to pick our favourite with each offering up vastly different stories. It’s not just her incredibly unique voice that presents as a huge highlight to the project, it’s the continuous offering of finding something new through each piece of new material she shares. With the project still relatively fresh, it’s Aeora’s want to challenge herself and the project’s direction through experimenting with her sound that presents as an incredibly alluring and exciting feature as an outsider/fan. Each year, Melbourne is bustling with names you should be excited about and Aeora is certainly one you’ll wish you were informed about earlier.
A. Swayze & The Ghosts knocked our socks off in the second half of this year with THIS ripping video clip for their latest single at the time, Smooth Sailing. The relentless two-and-a-half minute slice of punk-rock is a rousing, anthemic belter of a tune that just makes you want to get out to a fucking rock show and rip it up. There's something primal to A. Swayze & The Ghosts that is irresistible, and we're tapping them to become Tassie's biggest rock music export since Luca Brasi won our hearts over a couple of years ago.
While Stella Donnelly (understandably) took much of the spotlight for music in WA this year, there's another name that comes up whenever you talk about "ones to watch", and that's Carla Geneve. She's spent much of 2017 quietly bubbling away just under WA's rich musical surface, bringing her special brand of brutally honest indie-folk to some huge supports and local shows. And it's basically at the point now where the dam has to burst - last month she won the Mojo Rising Band Competition, standing tall amidst some 150-odd other acts, and if you're a betting man you'd put some serious coin on Carla Geneve going nowhere but up next year and beyond.
With artists including Iggy Azalea seen as a 'representation' of Australian hip-hop on an international level, our scene is always dismissed as somewhat corny and uncultured. Brisbane rapper Carmouflage Rose is one of many names attempting to disrupt the negative stereotype held against Australian hip-hop and with singles such as Late Nights – his only release of 2017 – we feel like he's in for a great shot. On Late Nights, Carmouflage Rose brings a sultry, R&B-leaning sound to the table, combining clever songwriting with a snappy production for a track which has lit up radios and stages nationwide across the past six months and will no doubt continue in doing so into 2018. He's got a big year ahead with more music, shows and much more planned, so make sure you jump on the Carmouflage Rose train now before it's too late.
There's no doubting that Sydney's CLYPSO is one of the most exciting names in Australian electro-pop right now. Best exhibited on her energetic April release YOLO, CLYPSO brings an incredibly colourful and dynamic flavour to the Australian electronic scene which we absolutely froth, mashing her tropical electronic sound with nuances of pop and hip-hop in a way that is fresh and exciting to Australia. That said, the single's follow-up Save Me proved that CLYPSO is more than just party-starting electronic anthems, with the singer-songwriter donning a notably darker tone for the stripped-back pop ballad that displays her versatility as a songwriter.
There's something remarkably special about Melbourne's Eilish Gilligan. The emerging indie-pop musician can twist and bend her capturing voice into something incredibly inviting and easily repeatable, something particularly noticeable on her two releases of 2017 in The Feeling and Creature Of Habit (as well as her impressive take on Lorde's Homemade Dynamite, which almost took out the whole competition), bringing something new to the table while also playing with what is known to work through the success of Lorde and others. Her voice is soft and delicate yet also bold and confident, standing strong and cutting through lush productions which suit her style perfectly. Her live show is also meant to be phenomenal too, further shaping her to be one of the excellent success stories of 2018.
It’s not often you dub someone a future star off the back of one single, but Jacks’ bold debut Run N Hide beckoned the call. Bold and bursting with emotion, Run N Hide is shackle-breaking anthem that sheds any negativity felt towards a sense of one’s self-worth. At just 19 years of age, Jacks has the world at her feet and as we said a month ago when we first brought the song your attention, if Run N Hide is anything to go off then you best make a gigantic note to keep watch on the young Sydney-sider as she is going to be a star.
Future Classic was certainly on the money upon signing the electronic project of Kirsty Tickle (also one half of Party Dozen). Tastemakers by right (also take note of their other recent signing of R&B duo Fortunes.), the Sydney-based label continue to prove their dominance upon unearthing some of the countries leading acts, and Exhibitionist could very well be their latest. It’s taken just two singles, but Tickle’s intimate and genre-bending sound has certainly caught our eye this year. From the delicate vocal performance on Motionless to smooth and slow-burning Hands, the project touches a ground of electronica that Australian music lacks. Having followed the project's journey from its commencement, there is still so much growth to come. 2018 is going to be a huge year for Tickle and her new electronic project and we can’t wait to watch it unfold.
While it'd be easy to write off Mandurah trio Good Doogs as just another Dunies clone (and look, in many ways it's fair), they've got that little something extra that has us thinking big things are coming in 2018. For one, their music is a little less abrasive than their forefathers, with a knack for songwriting that is relatable beyond just talkin' about bongs and beers. There's plenty of that to be sure, but their carefree, surf-rock attitude lacks a bit of polish in a way that's charming without being annoying. They're super fresh, so a little bit of time needs to go into tightening up their shambolic live show (though not too much), but with Dunies going off album cycle in 2018, the time is ripe for some good-time surfie rock'n'roll from a little coastal city south of Perth to fill the gap.
There have been little songs as catchy in 2017 as Haiku Hands' Never About You. Off the back of just one single, the enigmatic Australian electronic four-piece – composed of members from Sydney and Melbourne – have toured much of the country and torn up festivals all around the block, drawing comparisons to triple j favourites Confidence Man for their energetic productions and equally large live shows. With its clear vocals and punching ravey beat, Not About You is one of those singles which worm their way into your ear and never leave you alone, but considering the quality of the track and its unstoppable ability at drawing a smile on our face, we're not even complaining.
Australia's hip-hop scene is ripe with upcoming talent and Queensland's Jesswar is another promising to make some moves in 2018. The independent, Fijian rapper instantly draws comparisons to names including 2017 breakout Miss Blanks, with her energetic and carefree vocal flow gliding at ease over warped productions which do their job in highlighting Jesswar's impactful vocals perfectly. On her latest solo single Savage, a hip-hop highlight from 2017, the Gold Coast rapper is relaxed yet confident, with this bold sound appearing once again when linking up with OKENYO and Miss Blanks herself for Woman's World 2.0. 2017 was all about getting the name out there, but 2018 is when I see Jesswar truly stepping up to become an unstoppable leading force in Australia's revived hip-hop scene.
When we first met Melbourne's King IV at the start of the year, her dark and moody sound is what initially drew us in, bringing something unique to the Australian electro-pop world. Since, her captivating take on dark electronica have only made us love her more, with singles such as November's Bump bringing a strong and self-assured King IV into the limelight, punching through the rest of the competition with its confident and empowering feeling. Unlike much of the more sombre electronic coming out of Australia at the moment, King IV's take is notably more fierce and full of attitude, something which we're sure will see the Melbourne musician grow in size across the next twelve months.
On their own, Melbourne's Haxx and Rromarin have become staples in Australian electronica, with the former mixing and co-producing a bunch of 2017's best local releases and the latter jumping up for guest feature spots with LUCIANBLOMKAMP and Benson, among others. Together, however, the two parties form Kult Kyss – one of the best emerging sources of catchy house-pop in Australia and an act we're sure you'll love. From their capturing rework of The Presets' This Boys In Love to their relentless thumper of their latest single in I Am One, the Melbourne pairing bring out the best of each other in the Kult Kyss format, with Rromarin's stormy vocals making the perfect accompaniment against Haxx's persistent house groove.
Unheard of at the start of this year, Sydney's Muki has become one of the country's most-loved underground pop acts, bringing something new, fresh and innovative to the table with singles such as a Sassaparilla and Friends Don't Make Out. The former in particular, a clanging, PC Music-inspired take on bubblegum pop, has been rinsed to death by some of the country's most knowledgeable selectors, shaping the young name up for what is bound to be a stellar 2018. However, as great as her already released tracks are, it's what she has to come that has her on this list. Teased at her recent national support slot for Paces, Muki's yet-to-be-released catalogue of music is some of the most inventive and exciting in the world, let alone just Australia. It's going to be a wild, sass-filled ride.
Paging those big name commercial radio stations and their plugs: your lack of showing Australian pop talent is in need of a serious adjustment and Samsaruh is one your answers. Another artist sitting pretty with just two singles to their name, it’s a flip of the coin as to which you take a liking to more with both Golden To Thrive and the more recent Beautiful Killer proving Samasaruh is a force to be reckoned with. Working with the likes of Peking Duk, Slumberjack and Just A Gent, the 18-year-old looks set for a big 2018 early on with an EP right around the corner and also joining Lanks on his forthcoming tour. A star in the making, the young Melbourne singer/songwriter gave us some insight into her songwriting process as well as the lowdown on her dazzling debut Golden To Thrive earlier this, you can read it here.
There's nothing that makes us quite as happy at Pilerats as good homegrown house music, which is why we're totally on board with whatever SHOUSE is throwing at us in 2018. The Victorian duo are taking us back to the glory days with their trippy, acid-house-leaning productions (on their remix for ALTA's Fix It) and nostalgic anthems (like the star-studded Love Tonight) doing things which barely anyone else in Australia is doing in 2017. Composed of Ed Service of IO and Jack Madin of The Harpoons, the underground duo are delivering a warm take on house music suited to both the dancefloor and easy at-home listening, a perfect combo that ensures that we'll keep rinsing their music in any situation we can get.
Forming midway through this year, New South Wales four-piece STUMPS are one of the most exciting names on our up-and-coming indie-rock lists, with the supergroup of sorts taking the cake with their debut single Piggyback and more recently, its follow-up in This Home Is Mine. Composed of members from Dear Seattle, Perspectives and Space Monk, STUMPS bring a unique take on our classic alt-rock vibe to the table, combining this well-loved, trademark sound with some heavy Brit-rock feels to create something new and exciting, sort of like a mash between Arctic Monkeys, The Strokes, and Smith St Band. They've just inked a booking deal and with a flurry of singles to come in 2018, we have no doubts that it's going to be a big year for the four-piece.
While chilled out acoustic-house may seem like it it's had its day with the likes of Milky Chance coming and going in the past few years, we reckon only-just-turned-18 Melbourne duo SŸDE are gonna bring it back in a big way next year. They've only released a couple of singles, but the maturity that lies deep within the lush productions is what has us excited. This is big, hands-in-the-air, late-arvo-at-a-summer-festival music, and that's surely where it's headed next year. Combined with some excellent top line choices on those releases so far suggest the kids know what they're doing, and it's not gonna be long before they've got the rest of the country eating out of the palm of their sun-soaked hands.