I don’t necessarily know a lot about music, nor about music in Austria specifically – but I sure as hell do know that Mozart is not the only musician this tiny country can be proud of. (Or, if you’ve heard about her, Conchita Wurst). Unfortunately, Austria can’t particularly be considered a role-model in terms of supporting and promoting its local musicians, and it’s certainly not easy to establish yourself as a band there. And correct me if I’m wrong, but I feel like at the moment it’s even harder if you decide not to pursue Austropop and German lyrics, which have recently regained popularity in Austria.
Hence, here’s a quick overview of what the contemporary (non-German-lyric) Austrian music scene has to offer. It’s quite versatile – so whether you’re into alternative, electronic, or metal music: here are a few bands you should check out.
1. Please Madame (alternative rock/pop)
Let’s start with one of my favorite discoveries of the past year: the four guys of Please Madame. I heard Lies on an alternative Austrian radio station this summer, and ended up clicking through their entire YouTube channel. Facebook wasn’t particularly helpful in determining the genre. It says “decide for yourself! preferably live!” Oh well. Haven’t had the chance to see them live yet but I would classify their style as catchy, feel-good alternative rock/pop. I couldn’t decide on a fave song, so here’s Lies from the Young Understanding album, but make sure to also give the Back to the Start EP a listen!
[ Lies - Please Madame, 2018 ]
[ XTC - Please Madame, 2017 ]
2. HVOB (electronic)
Daughter meets deadmau5, I would say. Most of this electronic duo’s tracks are consistently close to six minutes long, but honestly, I wouldn’t mind them being longer. My current favorite is Dogs, but you might also wanna listen to more recent tracks (such as 2nd World) from their upcoming album Rocco, to be released in March.
[ Dogs - HVOB, 2012 ]
[ 2nd World - HVOB, 2018 ]
3. NIHILS (alternative pop)
Probably the best example that (Austrian) casting shows can actually be career kickstarters. Help Our Souls is probs the most popular song by these Tyrolean guys, but my personal favorite is Not a Man of Violence. Some nice alternative pop going on here that just really makes me wanna move.
[ Not a Man of Violence - NIHILS, 2015 ]
[ HELP OUR SOULS - NIHILS, 2014 ]
4. Charlywood (indie rock)
I said indie, instead of alternative, because Charlywood’s frontman, Andy, is originally from the UK (see, I did my portion of research). Their music ranges from rock to heartfelt ballads and kinda reminds me of a Kings of Leon vocals meet Typhoon mix. I might be completely off, though. In any case, I like listening to Make it Stronger (a rocky-ballad). More popular, however, is Alternatives. Plus, what’s pretty cool is that Charlywood is entirely self-produced.
[ Make It Stronger - Charlywood, 2017 ]
[ Alternatives - Charlywood, 2017 ]
5. Sic Semper Tyrannis (metal)
A metal band that certainly deserves more recognition and publicity. I might not be a metalhead per se but I dare say that that’s some pretty neat high-skill and quality stuff. They’re releasing a new CD in April, so stay tuned. Again, I don’t always listen to metal, but when I do, it’s Sic.
[ World Ablaze - Sic Semper Tyrannis, 2016 ]
[ Black Inside - Sic Semper Tyrannis, 2016 ]
6. Soap&Skin (experimental)
Soap&Skin just released her third album From Gas to Solid / you are my friend in fall (which includes Heal). Actually, you might have (unknowingly) heard some of her songs before as they have been featured in international TV show and movie productions. Her newer style is a little less dark than before, but still very experimental. I suggest you give it a listen.
[ Heal - Soap&Skin, 2018 ]
[ Thanatos - Soap&Skin, 2009 ]
7. Parov Stelar (electro-swing)
Parov Stelar is quite a big (and internationally renowned) producer and DJ. His style is pretty versatile, encompassing electronic, pop, jazz, house and a whole lot more. But most classic for him, I guess, is electro swing. Suffice it to say that I feel like his tracks could have easily been featured in the 2013 Gatsby movie. That should give you an idea of what I’m talking about.
[ Catgroove - Parov Stelar, 2014 ]
[ TROUBLE (ft. Nikki Williams) - Parov Stelar, 2018 ]
8. Camo & Krooked (electronic)
Ooh, some good electronic (pop) and drum ’n' bass coming from this duo. I heard they’re actually quite big in the Netherlands, and with good reason. They’ve worked with the NIHILS, whom I’ve mentioned before, as with artists such as James Hersey. So if you’re into that (and haven’t heard of them before), give them a listen. Their vibe is definitely both chill and uplifting, and I particularly like their play with tempo and volume.
[ Good Times Bad Times - Camo & Krooked, 2017 ]
[ Broken Pieces (ft. NIHILS) - Camo & Krooked, 2017 ]
9. Leyya (experimental/electronic-pop)
Leyya released their latest album Sauna just a year ago. I would say they go a bit into the alternative pop direction, though electronic is definitely also included. Soothing voice and lighthearted sounds and beats, probs good to zone out a bit.
[ Wannabe - Leyya, 2018 ]
[ Butter - Leyya, 2016 ]
10. filous (tropical house)
Last but definitely not least I feel like filous deserves to be mentioned. His talent lies in producing and remixing in his idiosyncratic tropical house / pop-ish style. Most famous is probably his collab with James Hersey – How Hard I Try – but I just discovered Bicycle (ft. klei) and can highly recommend. He has remixed songs by artists such as Selena Gomez, Kodaline, James Bay and Troye Sivan, amongst others. Sweet stuff.
[ Bicycle (ft. klei) - filous, 2018 ]
[ How Hard I Try (ft. James Hersey) - filous, 2015 ]
Sooo, you’ve made it to the end of my little line-up. I know that that’s already quite a bit to catch up on, but I’d like to mention that this is by no means an exhaustive list of contemporary Austrian artists. There are so many other good ones out there, so just keep your eyes and ears open and support them if you can. You won't regret it, I promise.