You need to know about Aldous Harding, Peking Duk and Confidence Man, now
Words Oisin Lunny
For the past few months, we’ve had something of an obsession with Scandinavia’s current musical renaissance. So it seemed only right for October to venture to the other side of the planet and pay tribute to some amazing emerging antipodean acts. While Australia and New Zealand are well known for artists such as Sia, Nick Cave, Kylie, INXS, AC/DC, Ladyhawke and, um, The Wiggles, we decided to unearth three more recent artists delighting our ears. So, throw a stereotype on the barbie, crack open an ice-cold frothie, and transport yourself to the summertime heat of the vibrant music scene down under.
Harding has been on our radar since Horizon, her debut for 4AD, and her subsequent releases Imagining My Man, Blend (as featured on our August playlist), and her stunning new single Elation. Hailing from Lyttelton, New Zealand, Harding accurately describes herself as a “Gothic Folk” singer and comes from a musical family – her mother is folk singer Lorina Harding. Aldous was, incredibly, discovered while busking on a street by fellow musician Anika Moa.
Watch: Aldous Harding – Elation (Live on KEXP)
Harding is the real deal – an artist of rare integrity, calibre and intensity. She does much more than sing. Her body and face are pure theatre, she spins through sinister torch songs, gentle laments and and paints haunting snapshots of her troubled past. Her album Party was produced with the award-winning John Parish, who worked with PJ Harvey and Sparklehorse, and introduces a new pulse to the stark and unpopulated dramatic realm where the likes of Kate Bush and Scott Walker reside.
With this mix of sheer talent, intense honesty and spellbinding theatrics, it’s no surprise that Harding is one of the most rewarding live artists touring today. A glance at the comments on YouTube will confirm the life-changing experiences shared by those lucky enough to catch her live. PHOENIX recommends snagging yourself some tickets for her headline show at the Shepherds Bush on March 28th next year, and you can catch her in the meantime at the following places.
Canberra’s good-time DJ duo Adam Hyde and Reuben Styles – aka Peking Duk – are no strangers to success, having released three triple-platinum singles in the shape of High, Take Me Over, and Stranger, which landed at #1 on the Australian Artist Single Chart. Their recent track Fake Magic, with Aluna George, has already clocked up over 10 million Spotify streams.
The stadium-friendly Australian duo, known for their fizzing EDM sounds, sweeping build-ups and crushing beats, were recently bought in to revamp ‘Perfect Places’, the latest track from their Grammy-winning Kiwi neighbor Lorde. Peking Duk lace the track with a deep bassline that underpins Lorde’s unmistakably smooth vocals perfectly. Sparking an electro fuse with a twist of house and a Moombahton-infused feel, the pair galvanize the release with a slowed beat to create a distinct and unique production.
Watch: Lorde – Perfect Places (Peking Duk Remix)
The pair continue their plans for world domination (wearing matching tracksuits, of course) with dates in Australia, Singapore and New Zealand this winter. But be warned, Adam and Reuben have a reputation for inviting fans backstage to share a beer or several; a Peking Duk live experience may require you to bring a spare liver. Folks in the rest of the world can get their fix of Duk with their forthcoming release ‘Let You Down’, a collaboration with Icona Pop, due to be released on October 13th.
What and who are Confidence Man? From their minimal online presence, it’s hard to tell much about the Australian dance-punk four piece, but reactions to their music are showing loud and clear that people are going crazy for their “confident music for confident people”.
Confidence Man was indeed a project shrouded in mystery when they made their debut live appearance in Australia just over a year ago. Drawing members from several well-known Australian indie acts The Jungle Giants, The Belligerents and Moses Gun Collective, the four members – Janet Planet, Sugar Bones, Reggie Goodchild and Clarence McGuffie – stormed the Big Sound Music conference with a live set, blasting out a collection of songs that had industry insiders buzzing.
Watch: Confidence Man – Better Sit Down Boy
Spending 30 seconds watching the video of their latest track “Better Sit Down Boy” will perhaps explain the band better than any biog. In this surreal workout-tutorial-meets-video-game, the band get pelted with tennis balls, dance and shimmy through hula hoops, and share the stage with a masked bodybuilder who is rumored to be joining the band as a backup dancer. The chorus is huge, the bassline relentless, and they are clearly having way too much fun.
Confidence Man are taking their party riot on the road to Australia, the UK (including XOYO, London) and France, between now and their New Year’s Eve gig in Byron Bay. Book early and enjoy.
Oisin Lunny has been performing, producing and DJing since the early 90s, first with his band Marxman and then with his solo project Firstborn. Today he is a keynote speaker, composes music for film & TV, DJs globally, and sends out mixtapes to 12,000 friends via his website.
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