The spirit of punk has awoken.
As history will show, whenever it’s punk’s day, it’s because we as a powerless, penniless cohort need something angular and cutting to hurl. Recent days are long, hot, and thankless, so it makes sense that the cosmic rite of punk has been invoked, and as always, Australia has answered the call. Punk is enjoying a boom here, and how could it not, with some of the most interesting and exciting music to ever fly the flag being locally produced and internationally heard.
As a journalist, I’ll never be able to quantify that punk is experiencing its greatest moments in decades. I’m sure album sales aren’t great. But there are things that add verisimilitude: Shows are selling out, creative merch ideas are rewarded with strong sales and Bikini Kill were just in town! Take it from a lifelong fan – if you were ever considering diving into punk music, now’s the time to take the plunge. You can’t deny being into punk right now and not feeling a certain je ne sais quoi about everything that’s happening. It’s starting to become fun again, and it seems to be directly correlated to the amplification of voices we rarely hear telling stories we’ve never heard at all. Funny that.
How each band interprets punk varies, but the connective tissue between bands in this current wave of Australian punk is the strict adherence to punk ethics. Radicalised empathy is the nutrients for this new wave of punk, and it’s a well that runs deep, allowing for a vibrant array of verticals. Whether DIY, pop punk, beatdown or any of the curiosities in between, concern for others is the string that binds it into a cohesive cause, and it turns out to be a groove an awful lot of people want to get down with.
That’s right – the punk riot rages strong in Australia, just as we sold it, but what we can’t sell is a complete list of who’s behind the rampage. There’s far too much going on, and new things popping up daily, but we’ll do what we can do within a billable word count.
R.U.B are the new kids on the block, and an exciting glimpse into what’s to come from Australia’s DIY punk scene. R.U.B don’t hide away from their influences. There’s hints of Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney and more, but R.U.B round it out with a decidedly modern edge. The lyrics are to the point – jagged, even, with some not so subtle, straight-up rallying word-play. There’s absolute levels to the production behind their demo, which is a more balanced listen than most studio albums. Already we’re struggling to keep up with the band who are quickly working up the stage hours, with a show this Friday at beloved Melbourne Anarchist haunt Cafe Gummo (so you know their politics are sick) and more material is inbound.
The Maggie Pills
There is literally nothing on the face of the earth like The Maggie Pills. Composed of an Argentinian frontwoman Delfi Sorondo and Venezuelan drummer Mario Perez and forged within the fires of the Australian lockdown, The Maggie Pills are testament to the idea that neither the sprawl of oceans nor the solitude of lockdowns aren’t enough to keep the likeminded apart. The band are armed with a learned and nuanced dialogue with which they discuss issues of migration, threats to minorities and global politics. The Maggie Pills’ punk is heavily layered with synth, fuzz, crush and buzz, coupled with their ability to wax philosophical about very grounded issues – this is a band who have mastered the art of making awkward home truths sound rather appealing. It’s a very cool time to be profiling the band too, who announced their debut album Hope is a Risk, out Friday 16 June, and shared the eponymous debut track.
We’ve covered just about everything VOIID have done since day one and will continue to, because they are important. I was fortunate enough to catch the band at a recent headline show in Sydney and can confirm that this band is authentic punk personified. VOIID’s punk is proper and grounded, resulting in a raw and unflinching glimpse into their collective consciousness, and given it’s these dark places that we tend to all share, it only takes a couple of verses, maybe a bridge, before a listener becomes an avid fan. VOIID didn’t just leave it at a sound or a brand, they created an entire world replete with horrifying stuffed toys, huge cats and a healthy dialogue around the use of SSRIs. All of this has been building up to the release of their debut album Watering Dead Flowers, which has a street date of Friday, 28th April.
Three members, big riffs and plenty of snark. I can think of a couple of very big punk bands with the same blueprint as Box Dye – I think they’re onto something with this. While we may not have had a release from them since 2021, Box Dye have been keeping busy on the live front and so we can only optimistically assume there’s a big announcement coming. For now, we can sink our teeth into the three singles they’ve released thus far. Personally, I can’t decide on a favourite between ‘Best Friend’s Kids’ and ‘Julia’, but you better bet they’ll be on repeat until I figure it out.
Teen Jesus And The Jean Teasers
Teen Jesus And The Jean Teasers are on the verge of greatness, in that they’re already great, and the masses are now finding that out for themselves. In terms of numbers alone, if there was a lead of the pack of ravenous punk wolves, it would be Teen Jesus And The Jean Teasers. After all, they are now officially billboard status. But, a rising tide lifts all boats, and a glance at the band’s tour lineup shows this band is deeply concerned with building a strong community. Their EP Pretty Good For A Girl Band dropped in May last year but has copped such a high rotation on headphones and speakers that the dust hasn’t even begun to settle. They’re clever and cutting and not afraid to kneecap shitty behaviour with slick riffage and anthemic choruses.
Some people may say that Jalang aren’t necessarily punk, but those people suck and any list of great Australian punk bands that didn’t feature them would suck also. Jalang are a hulking, heaving beast, but beneath the flesh and sinew exists a firm skeleton of punk rock. With an average song length of around 2 minutes, their art is rapid, relentless and aboslutely not for the faint of heart. Jalang are also high concept and cerebral, attracting support in forward thinking events like Flash Forward in Melbourne. Signing in Bahasa Indonesia and English, Jalang bring worlds together in a way very few have been successful, digging deep into their personal diasporic and queer narratives to unearth urgent and universal truths. Their album Santau has been out since 2021, so really you have no excuse. If you haven’t heard it yet – what are you still doing here?