It’s pretty shocking (and depressing) to realise that the 1990s actually ended 18 years ago. It’s not until you hear a vaguely familiar melody like the fuzzy synth intro to The Mavis’s ‘Cry’, or pointlessly click through a Buzzfeed quiz of ‘How Well Do You Remember The ’90s?’, that you’re hit with a pang of nostalgia and are quickly flooded with memories from what feels like a bygone era.
Thinking about this and thinking about the Aussie bands who unleashed classic and not-so-classic hits that became the soundtrack to our school discos, first loves, favourite films, car trips and other awkward moments we’d probably rather forget. Faded from our memories like an overplayed VHS tape, it’s easy to get nostalgic.
We here at Tone Deaf decided to get a little self indulgent and took some time to reflect and here we pay ode to the fantastic homegrown acts/crop tops/frosted tips who have slipped away from the spotlight but not from our hearts and minds.
Amiel – ‘Lovesong’
Amiel first came to everybody’s attention as the vocalist on Josh G Abrahams’ dance floor hit ‘Addicted to Bass’, but she was also a skilled songsmith in her own right. This sardonic 2003 ballad was nominated for two awards at the 2003 ARIA Awards including Highest Selling Single and Single of the Year.
Leonardo’s Bride – ‘Even When I’m Sleeping’
According to singer Abby Dobson, the band’s biggest hit was penned after she and bandmate and boyfriend at the time Dean Manning had a big fight. She awoke the next morning to find the house peppered with post-it notes, one of which read, “I love you even when I’m sleeping”, which inspired the tune.
End Of Fashion – ‘O Yeah’
The Perth band’s 2005 single brought them to mainstream attention, achieving a top 10 position in that year’s Hottest 100 and peaking just outside the Top 20 on the mainstream singles chart. But the song itself was written to settle a bet, after frontman Justin Burford boasted that he could easily write a hit about anything.
Killing Heidi – ‘Mascara’
Killing Heidi were absolutely inescapable in the early 2000s. Their 2000 debut full-length, Reflector, was in everybody’s stereo or Sony Walkman and the Victorian group absolutely swept that year’s ARIA Awards.
Infusion – ‘Natural’
The story of homegrown electronic trio Infusion is somewhat unfortunate when you really look at it. The band, who despite ARIA nods never gained huge international renown, were way ahead of their time, coming out when the Australian electronic scene was best known for illegal doof parties and Skitz Mixes.
Rhubarb – ‘Exerciser’
The title of this countdown is 16 Aussie Hit Songs You’ve Probably Forgotten But Will Definitely Remember, just where you will remember ‘Exerciser’ from will vary from person to person. For some, it will be its relentless play on triple j, for others, that ad about saving water.
1200 Techniques – ‘Karma’
Much like Infusion, 1200 Techniques were ahead of their time in the grand scheme of things. Australia’s hip-hop scene was largely happening under ground, save for a few outliers, one of the most notable of whom were Nfamas and his crew.
The Mavis’s – ‘Cry’
Formed as “a way to get away from Ballarat” and named after a cat called Mavis they saw while jamming in a friend’s basement, The Mavis’s has their most memorable hit with 1998’s synth-driven ‘Cry’, which they later performed on Hey Hey It’s Saturday, making it the most ’90s thing ever.
Machine Gun Fellatio – ‘Rollercoaster’
Machine Gun Fellatio was the demented brainchild of Pinky Beecroft, one of Australia’s more underrated songwriting talents, who co-wrote The Whitlams’ ARIA Award-winning, Hottest 100-topping hit ‘No Aphrodisiac’. MGF were crude, raunchy, and a whole lot of fun, too.
Gerling – ‘Dust Me Selecta’
Gerling started off as one of Australia’s brightest alternative hopefuls, but became increasingly electronic as time went on. Their 2001 single ‘Dust Me Selecta’ was a soulful, beat-driven house number that soundtracked many a weekend night for young people around Australia.
Custard – ‘Girls Like That (Dont’ Go For Guys Like Us)’
Custard formed in 1990 in Brisbane, which was a hotbed for Australian musical talent at the time, having also birthed likes of Regurgitator. Colloquially known as “Custaro” due to frequent misreadings of their name, the band gained renown for their catchy songs and tongue-in-cheek humour.
Motor Ace – ‘Carry On’
Part of a wave of mostly successful young Australian acts signed to Festival Mushroom Records’ development label Sputnik, which launched back in 1999, Britpop-tinged singles like ‘Carry On’ were proof that not only do we play England’s sports better than they do, but we play their music better too.
Lash – ‘Take Me Away’
Lash were an all-female alternative band from Perth, with a sound akin to a homegrown version of Veruca Salt. This uplifting single saw the band, who got their start competing in Battle of the Bands competitions in Perth, score a Best New Artist nom at the 2001 ARIA Music Awards.
The Androids – ‘Do It With Madonna’
It started off as a jokey single with an awesome music video that got less and less awesome as the joke wore off. It’s been about 16 years since ‘Do It With Madonna’ came out and we’ve gotta say, this is sort of awesome again.
Taxiride – ‘Get Set’
It might surprise you to learn that Taxiride were trying their hands at viral street-marketing before anyone else. Instead of messing with that internet business, however, they decided to give their demo to a friends who was a taxi driver, who tested the songs on passengers.
Lo-Tel – ‘Teenager Of The Year’
After being saturated with US pop culture for much of the ’90s, in 2000 Aussie media finally broke through. The hottest film was the Australian-made Looking for Alibrandi, everybody had to read the book, written by an Australian author, for school, and this cut from the film’s soundtrack was rocking the Top 40.