Discover more from The Pitch of Discontent
Wayback Machine: Aussie Adolescence
Turning back time to the tumultuous 2000s.
Nostalgia is big business. It’s easy to feel that every form of media we engage with is somehow pushing an anachronistic agenda, whether it’s through the retro style of 80s music, rehashing the coveted 90s grunge ‘slacker’ aesthetic, or constant reboots and remakes of iconic properties from the last four decades.
For me, the 2000s represent my most formative years. From the vantage point of now, aka my early thirties, I can see in this decade the things that have become synonymous with my own fragile sense of self-identity. Musically, this manifests in how my tastes have gradually evolved over time, stretching from early forays into pop-punk and nu-metal, before expanding into the realm of hardcore, metal and their innumerable sub-genre mash-ups.
To that end, here’s a list of pivotal Australian acts and key records from that decade that foregrounded my burgeoning adolescence.
28 Days – Upstyledown (2000)
Fun fact #1: 28 Days were one of the first live bands I ever saw at the young and impressionable age of twelve. I somehow managed to get permission from my parents to catch the bus from my shitty regional mining town and make the four-hour trek to a slightly larger town to watch them play at a local rip-off version of the Livid Festival. Suffice to say, it was sick.
Nu metal was huge in 2000 and 28 Days were like our bogan version of Limp Bizkit, only much more palatable musically and mostly less cringe. (Mostly.) Being an alt-club DJ for much of the 2010s has definitely burnt me out on “Sucker” and “Rip It Up",” but “Goodbye” is still an all-time banger in my book.
Motor Ace – Five Star Laundry (2001)
I first heard “Hey Driver” on a CD compilation I picked up at Sanity in my early high school days, and I thrashed the absolute shit out of it until I got my hands on a copy of Five Star Laundry. And then I thrashed that too.
Motor Ace are mostly forgotten in the annals of Aussie rock. I was a little too young to really soak up the alt-rock/grunge moments of the late 90s, so they became my go-to fix for at-times-uplifting-but-mostly-depressing melodic rock with big grungey power chords. I still adore this record, and I will sing its praises to anyone dumb enough to mention The Secret Life of Us in my earshot.
Bodyjar – Plastic Skies (2002)
Throughout my early teens, listening to Triple J CD samplers was a sure-fire way to find new music. Bodyjar were a band that featured heavily on most of those early volumes, and by the time Plastic Skies rolled around I was fully sold on the band’s distinctly Aussie spin on skate pop-punk.
Of course, the singles were huge—“One In A Million,” “Emmaline” and “Too Drunk to Drive” were all over Channel V at the time. But for me, it’s the back-end deep cuts that stick with me. “Feel Better” has one of the most underrated Bodyjar choruses, with these sick little melodic leads, and the acoustic album closer “Dry Gin” speaks more to me now than it did when I was trying to finish my Grade 9 homework.
Frenzal Rhomb – Sans Souci (2003)
Fun fact #2: The one and only time I attended the Big Day Out Festival in 2005, also happened to feature Australia’s unsung heroes, Frenzal Rhomb, alongside The Hives, Slipknot, System of a Down, and The Beastie Boys. My friend and I were standing in the midday heat, slowly trudging through the sprinkler tent to cool down, when we happened to bump into the band’s drummer, Gordon “Gordy” Forman, who was munching down on a slice of watermelon bigger than his entire head.
It’s a weird moment, sure, but he was super nice and chill about it, taking a photo with us and telling us to make sure we drank plenty of water if we planned to get drunk and/or stoned (of which we did neither). Anyway, their sixth LP, Sans Souci, totally rules and—in my humble opinion—has the best Side A run of the band’s entire back catalogue. Fight me.
Mindsnare – The Death (2004)
Fun fact #3: At the time of meeting Gordy, I had no idea who Mindsnare—his other band—were or that they’d just released The Death the year before. In fact, it would be a few years before I saw Mindsnare live many, many times and their records crystallised in my mind as the holy grail of Australian metallic hardcore.
That said, listening to the opening cymbal crash-guitar lick that kicks off “Bulldozed” still gets my blood pumping in ways that make me feel like a dumb little hardcore kid from the country. Plus, no one can deny just how fucking hard “Cold” is. And if they do, well, they’re wrong. End of story.
Parkway Drive – Killing With A Smile (2005)
I had a friend in my later years of high school who was much cooler than me, but thankfully he was also nice enough to introduce me to lots of new music. So, by the time Parkway Drive appeared on my radar, I had already listened to the likes of Bleeding Through, Killswitch Engage, and Poison The Well.
However, even with this vocabulary in hand, it’s hard to accurately describe just how huge and transformational this album was for the Australian alternative scene at large. Parkway are a bonafide global phenomenon now, responsible for putting Australia on the hardcore/metal map. I went to every show I could possibly attend during the Killing With A Smile-era of the band, and it was a definite ‘you had to be there’ moment for myself and many others.
Her Nightmare – No Heaven, No Hell (2006)
Functioning as Australia’s answer to Hatebreed, Her Nightmare were the ultimate no-frills heavy band: lyrically grounded, musically talented, and with a truly crushing stage presence. I saw the band play several times during the 2000s, and each show was like living in flight-or-fight mode.
I think there’s something about the raw, commanding physicality of vocalist Luke ‘Baina’ Bainbridge that managed to get visceral reactions from punters and pit lords everywhere. They sound absolutely unstoppable on No Heaven, No Hell, a record that ultimately set the stage for their final form evolution on 2008’s stellar follow-up, Come Anarchy, Come Ruin.
The Amity Affliction – High Hopes (2007)
Every kid who discovers hardcore and metal in their youth eventually gravitates to that one hometown band where they can attend every show and invest all of their psychic energy. For me, that was The Amity Affliction.
While they might sound completely different now to this particular era of the band, thanks to numerous member shuffles and label switch-ups, High Hopes remains the one Amity release that lingers in my subconscious. During this time I was mostly poor and perpetually broke, but I probably moshed to “Straight Up” more than any other song in the 2000s, and that’s really saying something.
A Secret Death – S/T (2008)
In 2008, I was working for Skull and Bones Records and getting ready to release the debut album from Brisbane/Gold Coast crew A Secret Death. After pulling some late hours, an email dropped into the inbox at around 1 am, with the finished master for the album. And so, all alone, I sat in silence and listened to a record that few had heard in full, but one that immediately resonated with me.
I honestly think A Secret Death might just be one of the most underrated Australian records ever made. Every element is top-notch, from incredible performances to seamless track sequencing and production. It’s a veritable masterclass in emotive post-metal. I certainly wouldn’t be listening to Isis, Cult of Luna or We Lost The Sea without this album. It’s an absolute game-changer.
Break Even – The Bright Side (2009)
The late 00s were a huge time for melodic hardcore, with the likes of Modern Life Is War, Ruiner, Killing The Dream, and Defeater all championing that iconic Deathwish Records sound. Alongside fellow WA legends Miles Away, Perth melodic hardcore outfit Break Even took that style and made something entirely their own: impassioned, heartfelt and powerfully sincere.
Great things are often born out of tragedy. Such is the case with The Bright Side, the band’s debut album. Written and recorded in the aftermath of guitarist Rowan Willoughby’s 2008 suicide, this album is a stunning and evocative portrayal of love, loss, grief and recovery. Even a decade on, the entire record gives me goosebumps and every single lyric is buried deep in my sad lizard brain.