Monday, November 21, 2011

Notes from Down Under: Another Reason to Love Australia (As If I Needed One!)

YesYou: helping to put Aussie indie-pop all over the musical map
Olivia Newton-John. Bee Gees. Air Supply. Helen Reddy.

That's right. Helen Reddy. The woman who made "I Am Woman," "Delta Dawn" and "Angie Baby" No. 1 hits in the 1970s but whom no one ever seems to talk about today.

My love affair with Australian singers goes way back to the '70s and early '80s heyday of acts that, for most people, now would be considered hopelessly uncool. By the mid '80s, I was walking slightly further over on the wild side, regularly popping cassettes by INXS, Midnight Oil and the Church into my boom box, the gigantic one with the bright flashing lights. (Though I've recently become aware of the musical genius that is "Down Under," I was never a particularly big fan of Men At Work back when they were making hits.)

In between albums by my favorites, Eurogliders, Divinyls and Big Pig, held my attention for at least one single apiece. Over on the pop diva side, I'd rather spend a sunny afternoon listening to Kylie Minogue than Madonna, and I probably love her sister Dannii more than I ought to. On a slightly more critically sound note, if I had ruled the world, Tina Arena would have been as big as Celine Dion in the '90s.

Though I lost track of Australian pop and rock for the majority of this century, it crept back onto my radar last year during my first trip down under. (Thank you, Marcus, for introducing me to triple j radio.) Now I'm entering an obsessive phase with indie pop, and no country does the genre better at the moment than Australia. In the last couple of years, I've fallen hard for the Temper Trap, Boy & Bear, Angus & Julia Stone, and now, YesYou, an Aussie indie-pop act from Brisbane that I didn't discover watching an episode of 90210 or listening to triple j. (If only someone would help these great Down Under bands come up with better names!)

I found out about YesYou when a link to their debut video, "Half of It," was included in an email newsletter from Pedestrian.TV, an Australian website that wraps up pop culture and media news. First, it sent me to a website where I could stream Kate Bush's fantastic new album, 50 Words for Snow, an entire weekend before its release, and now this.

I won't waste time comparing YesYou to anything that came before it. Anyone who's into the more danceable side of indie pop, will probably dig "Half of It," one of those rare tracks that's equally suitable for grooving and daydreaming. If you're on a break from Foster the People, and you're looking for more cutting-edge pop to offset Katy Perry/Rihanna/Adele overload, this one's for you.

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