The 10 best underground Australian artists, according to The Smith Street Band

A collage of Australian bands

Australia is a long way away. As a result, it’s easy to feel a little distant from even the most essential of its underground musical rumblings. Enter The Smith Street Band’s Michael “Fitzy” Fitzgerald, the Australian pop-punk guru who, having been a fundamental part of the country’s underground DIY scene for years, has taken it upon himself to provide a beginner’s guide to the best music coming out of Australia right now. Scroll down, plug in and enjoy.

Jess Locke

“We’ve been friends with Jess and her bandmates for a long time and we’re super proud and excited to be releasing her music on our own label, Pool House Records. Jess has always had a strong DIY aesthetic and a lot of her releases are bedroom recordings which really lets the quality of the song itself shine through. Clever existential lyrics with a catchy pop sensibility has always set Jess apart.”

The Nation Blue

“The Nation Blue moved from Tasmania to Melbourne in the early 2000s and have since been destroying everyone with their sonic wall of sound. I think I’ve still got permanent hearing damage from one particular show where guitarist and vocalist Tom Lyngcoln smashed his guitar into the ceiling of the venue – a trademark move. His other trademark moves include smashing himself in the face with his guitar until his face is covered in blood and using a hunting knife as a slide then stabbing it into his amp. He’s actually a super-nice guy though.”

Dick Diver

“Quintessential Australiana sounds, Dick Diver members seem to all write songs and share main vocals. They all play in a million other bands and all their other bands are great as well. What a talented bunch! Drummer / guitarist / vocalist Steph Hughes’ old band, Boomgates, also released probably one of the best ever Australian albums in Double Natural.”


“Perfect summery synth pop. Flowertruck are from Sydney and this song really reminds me of the good parts of the city, which, in parts, is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, for sure. There’s also parts of it that suck, unlike this song which is 100% awesome. I’m surprised this band isn’t massive by now.”

The Drones

“Maybe not as ‘underground’, they’re pretty well known in Australia. Shark Fin Blues is such a huge riff, from one of their earlier albums Wait Long By The River And The Bodies Of Your Enemies Will Float By. The Drones have consistently pushed their sound into different territories on each subsequent recording, and their latest album Feelin Kinda Free is evidence of this. Its sounds are so unique and interesting.”

Loose Tooth

“Old friends of ours, Loose Tooth keep getting better and better. Nelly and Etta have been playing in bands together for probably close to 20 years now – that’s a long time! It’s cool that they are still friends and still making music together. They play pretty poppy garage, but their pop punk past sometimes shines through. They’re signed to Courtney Barnett’s Milk Records so you know they’re super-cool, too.”


“I first saw Tyrannamen a few years ago playing in someone’s backyard as part of All Good In The Wood, where two or three bands would play in someone’s backyard, then you’d walk around the corner to the next house and watch the next few bands, and so on and so forth. By the end of the day there’d be a couple of hundred people stumbling between houses in the Melbourne suburb of Collingwood, always one house ahead of the Cops responding to noise complaints from boring neighbours. This is band is great live and probably the only band to come anywhere near the amazing Royal Headache in Australian garage-punk.”

Private Function

“I think this song [Heavy Resistance] is about kitchen cleaning products? There’s a great infomercial video to go with it. These guys are a pretty new 70s style punk band from Melbourne and take out the award for the best packaging for their music. Their first cassette tape was wrapped in foil and made to look like a pack of cigarettes, complete with infamously mocked Australian health warnings. Their latest single has been released on a 3.5” floppy disk. The band bought a USB disk drive and actually copied the mp3 onto the disk so it’s legit.”

Pinch Hitter

“The cover for Pinch Hitter’s album When Friends Die In Accidents features a young Chris Cowburn (Smith Street Band’s drummer) looking about as RAD as a kid could get. This sometimes-banjo duo put a lot of effort into recording this album between New York and home town Sydney, and it features more dense instrumentation than their live shows. Singer Nick Van Breda currently resides in New York city and Dave Drayton, the other half of Pinch Hitter is still living in Sydney, so it’s definitely a long distance romance and there haven’t been too many Pinch Hitter gigs lately. I heard this song in the pub the other day and reminded how great they are.”


“Our sound guy, Sean, recently joined this band on guitar and they’re playing our Australian tour for our new album More Scared of You Than You Are Of Me, so he’s gonna be a busy boy! Ceres play cool emo-rock, are nice guys and are recently getting some of the recognition they deserve in Australia.”

More Scared Of You Than You Are Of Me is released on 7th April via Specialist Subject records. The album and UK tour tickets are available here.