Upon attempting to come up with my favorite Australian musical artists of all time (while amusing myself with lists of Aussie actors), I did a Google search for “Australian celebrities.” You can imagine the results. Of course, that phrase popped up a lot, followed by either “nude” or “naked” and warnings that you can’t enter the site unless you are 18 years of age. So I abandoned the porn and settled on a toss-up between AC/DC and The Birthday Party. Yet, it seems like there haven’t been too many recent Australia transports that have caught my ear. I enjoy the Avalanches, even though it’s been four years since they put out a record. And many of the Sabbath and Zeppelin-inspired bands coming out of the region have been okay, if somewhat forgettable.
So leave it to the Canadians to introduce us to a great new Australian talent, New Buffalo. Having established herself in her native land, NB’s Sally Seltmann makes her debut in America this month on hot Canadian label Arts&Crafts. Branching out beyond the Broken Social Scene family, the label has found their most exotic import in Seltmann, a sort of Australian equivalent to the label’s Leslie Feist.
Teaming up with Madonna and Björk super-producer Jake Davies, Seltmann creates a debut that’s quirky and warm, yet timeless and classic. Take a heavy stack of samples, some starkly gorgeous melodies and a subtly alluring diva, and The Last Beautiful Day is the result — a debut with ten great songs and an identity all its own, which will make quite the difference standing alongside the Toronto heavy-hitters on her new label.
The hand-clappy percussion and gentle orchestration of “Recovery” instantly recall a more organic Stereolab, albeit with a more emotional epicenter. The plinky piano samples on “I’ve Got You and You’ve Got Me” lend a fuzzy, slightly trippy vibe to the waltzing ballad. And “Time to Go to Sleep” is a delightfully space-age lullaby, making for an endearingly nostalgic bit of lovely lounge pop.
The Last Beautiful Day on the whole is a pretty, laid back album of pristine balladry, similar to onetime tourmate Ed Harcourt and the aforementioned Feist. It’s a marked difference from the widescreen pop for which the Arts&Crafts imprint has become known. New Buffalo may not have made a name for herself over here quite yet, but in time, there’s a good chance she’ll find a home with singer-songwriter fans alongside the Harcourts, Wainwrights and Brions.
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.