Happy Australia Day - Good Stuff From Australia

You all know about lamingtons, right? I keep seeing articles on Australia Day: Lamingtons. Fair enough, we haven't produced a whole lot of amazing baked delights since Pavlova was torn from our clutches by New Zealand. Isn't it enough that you have Peter Jackson? No? Fine. Just as long as you keep Russell Crowe. He's all yours.

I decided in honour of Australia Day I'd share some of my favourite Australian films and music. In true Australian fashion, since Australia Day fell on a Sunday, we made Monday the public holiday so we wouldn't miss out on a long weekend. So today is just a continuation. (click film images for more info)

You thought the spiders and snakes were dangerous. How about the rocks?
A group of schoolgirls set out on St. Valentines day, 1900, on a school trip to study the rock formation known as Hanging Rock. From the haunting notes of the opening music, and a quote from Edgar Allen Poe, you know that this movie will carry you away to a strange place. If you want to know how the novel originally ended, read it here. It's amazingly different from how the movie ends.

This is what happens if you try to leave.
The story of an English school teacher who finds himself in the outback mining town of Bandanyabba. Despite his best efforts to return to Sydney, he finds himself trapped amidst the desolation and desperation of the outback, in an alcohol fuelled spiral of self-destruction. Originally thought lost, it has been lovingly restored for your viewing pleasure.

It's a Western, Australian style. Not for the faint-hearted.
Written by Nick Cave (see below) and directed by John Hillcoat (director of Ghosts... of the Civil Dead and The Road), this is an Australian take on the Western genre. Set in 1880's outback Australia, we see the typical Western themes of revenge and justice played out with a shocking brutality, but beautifully written, acted and directed.

The Birthday Party image via: Metrolyrics/LastFM
Back when Nick had tonnes of hair and more yelling inside his lungs.
The Birthday Party are still one of my all-time favourite bands. Raw, unflinching and angry at nothing. While Nick Cave gets all the credit, his co-writers in this era Mick Harvey and Roland Howard deserve equal praise and are sadly often overshadowed by Nick's flamboyance. Regardless, they epitomise the post-punk era.

SPK Performance image via: Douban
Australia's very own industrial band. Noisy. Good.
SPK were born in Sydney in the late 1970's. Our very own post-punk/experimental/electronic pioneers.   Early SPK is discordant and dark, like all of the best Australian art.

Gareth Liddiard (The Drones frontman) image via: C (my fiancé)
Music not from the early 80's. Best Australian accent in modern rock music, great lyrics, energetic live performance.
I've written of my love for The Drones before. The first time I saw them, at the Annandale Hotel, I summed them up as a bunch of rock posers. I hated them. But then I listened to their albums and their lyrics, and I admit I was totally wrong. Maybe I was in a bad mood. Gareth is one of the best songwriters out there today. If you like tantrum-throwing-anger-and-despair, these guys might just be the right band to sing karaoke to. The guitar will make you dance angry dances.

Primitive Calculators image via: Backyard Opera
They didn't make it in the 80's because they were working class, not because they weren't awesome.
It's back to the late 70's/early 80's again. Primitive Calculators were mates with Nick Cave in the Melbourne punk scene, but unfortunately came from a different background to the major players and never quite fit in. I was so excited to be at their revival gig in 2009, they were still as angry as ever. I spotted some vinyl of theirs in San Francisco, so I knew they had a fan base, but I'm so glad they are finally receiving some recognition. More noisy, angry Australian rock, probably most famous for the track "Pumping Ugly Muscle" which was featured in the film "Dogs In Space", starring Michael Hutchence.

So while people around Australia gorge on sausages and beer (seriously, that is all I can smell), join me on thinking back on some of Australia's prouder moments.