When the radio station 2JJ launched in 1975, it chose to play, as its first song, Skyhooks’ “You Just Like Me ‘Cos I’m Good In Bed”. It was quite a statement from the get-go: it was banned by most radio stations at the time, due to its controversial lyrics. It was also a statement of support for Australian music, which at the time was woefully underrepresented on the airwaves. Despite musicians following trends in the US and UK, and gaining popularity on the live circuit, it took decades before Aussie pop – in the case of this week’s installment, Aussie rock – could gain critical mass and become the force that it is today.
I’ve been trying to make sense of Australian music for as long as I’ve been a radio geek. It all started, of course, when I first began listening to Triple J – or at least perusing their website, because I only had dial-up and everything would slow down if I attempted to listen to even the lowest quality stream. Of course, I’ve written a lot about Aussie artists throughout this blog’s history, and it’s interesting how we have this country whose music is a bit of a contradiction: it’s always kept an eye on trends elsewhere in the world, but it’s also done its own thing; it tells its own stories and it presents itself as something anybody and everybody can enjoy.
As always, I don’t know how to start this month’s column. I’ve been preoccupied, in case you haven’t noticed it in my entries in the past couple of weeks or so – and then there’s the packed editorial calendar for the last couple of months of the year. So I’ll be upfront and admit, like I always have, that I am writing this the night before publication with no plans – well, a vague idea of who to feature, but not much of an idea of what to expect. And that’s what we all expect from this column, yes? All right, let’s go.
The plan was to write this column way ahead of time. Well, yes, that always was my plan, but this month is a busy month – the biggest event of my calendar year, for the day job, happens next week – so I thought I’ll get some writing done. But, well, I am writing this the night before publication date. Of course I would. I have work flow issues, clearly. Well, I can always say work for the day job took precedence, but I need to discipline myself further. So, here’s this month’s Local Outsider, reliably crammed like most months, if not all months.
Oooh, it’s our thirtieth installment, and on a week when I’m reviewing (tomorrow) four albums from Filipino acts. That’s something I never thought would happen in this blog’s entire history, even if most of that is down to coincidence. When I started earthings! I imagined I’d have a hard time writing about local music, in part because I felt disconnected from it, thanks to shifting tastes and the fact that more credible local acts seem to have crawled back underground. Now, well, I still don’t go to gigs that much – the whole set-up remains prohibitive to me – but it’s interesting that I know a bit more about these things now, and I feel a little more comfortable reviewing them. But, you know, still an outsider. I have to keep that brand going as long as possible.