2016 AU Awards: Your ‘Breakthrough Artist of the Year’ nominees

This week, it’s all about the nominees of this year’s AU Awards and what their 2016’s have been like. We’ve already delved into our nominations for Male and Female Artist of the Year respectively, and now we turn to those bands and soloists who have come out the gates strongly and have backed up the buzz with some high quality releases and shows – the Breakthrough Artists of the Year. From Tash Sultana to Gabriella Cohen and West Thebarton Brothel Party, we’ve seen some incredible moments of live music from all six nominees, while debut releases have indicated a strong 2017 still lay in wait.



What hasn’t Tash accomplished this year? Her recent shows for A Day on The Green saw the Melbourne artist share stages with Garbage, The Preatures and The Temper Trap while more recently, news came through that her US management had welcomed Jaddan Comerford of Unified to the team (responsible for overseas success of artists including The Amity Affliction and Vance Joy, just quietly). Safe to say, the momentum surrounding Tash has well and continued to spur itself on quite nicely.

And yet, to watch Tash perform, we’re still seeing an unaffected, naturally gifted performer just doing her thing. She’s begun making her way into international markets, locking down debut shows in Europe and New Zealand, just as examples, through 2016 before returning home to massive acclaim. Keep an eye out for “Jungle” on the Hottest 100 countdown next month, no doubt it’s going to rank highly.



LANKS’ Viet Rose EP only dropped in September, but the Melbourne musician had wasted no time in the lead up in making sure people not only knew who he was, but remembered. There’s the Just A Gent link up of course, but in the strong single releases (“Bitter Leaf”, “Holla”), there were some incredibly strong foundations laid early on, an indicator of what was to come. Strong moments of arrangement are matched with striking elements of musical fragility on the EP; LANKS’ warmth and charm is undeniable and it translates equally as well on the live front.

LANKS (real name Will Cuming) is to be on the road with another AU fave in Hein Cooper through December, before joining his cousin Ry X for his Falls Festival sideshows, bringing his music to more audiences around the country as 2016 wraps up.



The Adelaide seven piece has grown into a force to be reckoned with this year – not only have they become somewhat of a local juggernaut, but various interstate shows have popped ‘West Theb’ on a national map alongside the likes of Bad//Dreems, The Pretty Littles, Grenadiers and more in a short space of time. Their BIGSOUND appearance this year brought in huge praise, while on the homefront, the group rightfully racked up SA Music Award nominations for their work in 2016.

Coming from a variety of different backgrounds and previous bands, it’s no real surprise that West Theb have the advantage of having a decent melting pot of influences at the ready. It’s how they’ve harnessed the grunge, the grit and the unashamedly sweaty elements of rock and roll and delivered at that same high quality, time and time again, that sets them apart from every other band messing with the same sounds.



Melbourne producer and musician Alexander Biggs is still a relatively new name but make no mistake, 2016 has seen him take strides. Singles “Tidal Wave” and “Out in the Dark” captured us – powerful and gorgeous compositions that made us wonder why we hadn’t heard of Alexander previously. Turns out, he’s only getting started – fine by us.

Self-produced, Alexander channels the evocative and melodic styles of Bon Iver and Angus and Julia Stone, drawing listeners in to ponder and mellow out, but be moved at the same time. For a new kid on the block, Alexander has come through strongly and with a full record of music still to come, we’re excited to see where this breakthrough artist goes next.



Camp Cope’s rise through the year to becoming one of the country’s favourite live bands has been one we’ve loved watching. Early shows proved that the girls weren’t to be messed with live – I mean, just take Georgia Maq‘s powerhouse vocals on their own.

A driving force behind the ‘Girls to the Front’ movement that this year has taken on stronger significant and presence at shows around the country, Camp Cope are not only an extremely talented and fun band, but the confidence and resilience they’ve displayed has been inspirational to watch. Well deserving of all their accolades and praise through the year, Georgia, Kelly and Sarah are only getting started – bring it on.



You may have been familiar with Cohen already if you’re a fan of her other band, The Furrs, but in her solo debut album Full Closure and No Details, Cohen most certainly struck out in offering up something completely her own. Presenting great fuzzed out pop moments, weaving some slacker guitar in with equal amounts of greased up nonchalance and shiny pop, Cohen delivered an album well worthy the momentum it has since generated. A wonderful live musician too, Cohen’s shows supporting Julia Jacklin and at BIGSOUND too brought things home for us – she’s a legend.

The winners of the AU Awards are announced this Friday, December 16th. To find out more about the nominees and to read up on our focus features so far, head here.



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