Session musicians form the backbone of the music industry - that's a fact. Whether they're backing your favourite artists on a festival stage or in the studio, they're often the unsung heroes of many of our favourite music moments, and in Australia, there's plenty of premium examples to look at. Although there's plenty of killer tracks we could have included here, we've picked five of our favourite today to see just how much talent lays in the background of some of your favourite Australian bands.
Clio Renner – 'Sleep For Years'
Clio Renner is one of Australia’s most in demand session musicians. She’s played keys for acts like Angus and Julia Stone, Killing Heidi, Tim Rogers and Alex Lahey, but with the amount of talent she's got, there's no denying her own appeal as a solo star. Her 2016 track ‘Sleep For Years’ really shines a light on how seasoned she has become through her session career, with the Missy Higgins inspired lead vocal melody displaying just how good Clio is on lead vocals rather than backing. There's even a live version with rising star Hannah Cameron on backing vocals, which will definitely put a smile on your face.
Connor Black-Harry - 'The Trees and Their Leaves'
Often seen onstage with acts such as Gretta Ray, Connor Black-Harry is also renowned as a fantastic solo musician in his own right. His 2019 track ‘The Trees and Their Leaves’ showcases just how good he is at creating immersive, slow-building textures, with his vocals and guitar ability being put on display to blissful effect. The folk-tinged song will hold you in and take you on an emotional journey: Connor's playing is so soulful here. Check out 'The Trees and Their Leaves' below.
Brett Garsed - 'Got The Horn'
A longstanding member of John Farnham’s backing band since 1989, Brett Gasred is renowned as one of Australia's most technically gifted instrumentalists, and has had a pretty successful solo career when he's not acting as Farnzy's sideman. His 2002 track ‘Got The Horn’ displays his shredding ability, something he doesn’t get to show off that often when playing with Farnham, and his high quality songwriting makes this track as good as any from the solo shredding craze of the '80s. The sick slide solo really tops 'Got The Horn' off: there's no denying this innovative guitarist is one of our finest backing musicians.
GUM - 'Out In The World'
Also known as GUM, multi-instrumentalist Jay Watson has played in both POND and Tame Impala since their inception, and is undoubtedly a hot contender for the title of the 'Best Of The West'. His GUM project has led to the release of four solo albums, each with their own different spin on a noted retro-futurist vibe. His 2020 track ‘Out In The World’ draws influence from a similar palate to that favoured by his Tame Impala bandmate Kevin Parker, but he puts his own distinctive jangly twist on it, making for quite a memorable track. The psychedelic dream-pop hit is about “getting out there and living” according to Jay, and is set to appear on the album of the same name next month.
Joseph "Shiny Joe" Ryan - 'The Old Man And The Sea'
Another contender from the West Coast! Joseph Ryan, or ‘Shiny Joe' as he’s commonly known, has acted as the lead guitarist of POND since their inception in 2008, and is a noted multi-instrumentalist in his own right. Much like GUM, you can hear the influences of POND shining through in this solo track as well, but embellishes it with a classic Australian indie vibe for a glimmering sonic odyssey. Shiny Joe plays also plays the majority of the instruments heard on ‘The Old Man And The Sea’, demonstrating his own talent as a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter - no wonder he's in demand. Check it out below.
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