The Best Sydney Bands of All Time

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Sydney is an iconic city that over the years has produced some of the country’s most successful acts. Let’s take a look back in time at some of the most popular Sydney bands to make a name for themselves.

5 Seconds of Summer

Hailing from Sydney’s western suburbs, this pop-punk quartet took the world by storm with their catchy hooks and relatable lyrics. Forming in 2011, the band quickly rose to fame thanks to YouTube, where they built up a large following by posting cover songs. They released their self-titled debut album in 2014, which topped charts around the world, including in Australia. The album included the hit singles “She Looks So Perfect” and “Amnesia”, both of which received heavy radio airplay.

AC/DC

While AC/DC originally rose to prominence in 1975 with High Voltage, the origins of the band can be traced back to Sydney when the Young brothers formed the group. Known for their high-energy live shows and hits such as “Highway to Hell” and “Back in Black”, the Sydney era of the band was a different beast with a focus on glam rock rather than the Aussie rock they style would come to be known for. AC/DC has sold over 200 million albums worldwide and are widely considered to be one of the greatest rock music groups of all time.

Best Sydney Bands AC/DC
A classic AC/DC photo from back in the day

Bliss n Eso

Originally from Sydney’s inner west, Bliss n Eso has gone on to be one of Australia’s most successful hip hop groups, with their 2010 album Running On Air debuting at number one on the ARIA charts. A three-piece group, they have released seven albums since forming in 2005 and are known for their positive and uplifting lyrics.

The Church

The Church are one of Australia’s most successful and longest-running indie rock bands, having formed in Sydney in 1980. With a career spanning over four decades, the band has released 16 studio albums and toured extensively both domestically and internationally. They are best known for their 1988 single “Under the Milky Way”, which was a top ten hit in several countries.

Divinyls

Divinyls was a rock band that was formed in Sydney in 1980. The band rose to fame in the early ’80s with their hit single “Boys in Town”. Divinyls went on to release five studio albums before disbanding in 1996. The band reformed in 2006 and released a greatest hits album, which included their most well-known song “I Touch Myself”.

DMA’s

DMA’s are one of the new young stars of the Australian music scene and they been making waves in the music scene over the past few years. Often compared to 90s British rockers Oasis and Blur, DMA’s is known for their catchy tunes and high-energy live shows along with their cover of “Believe” by Cher that they performed on Triple J’s Like a Version.

The Easybeats

The Easybeats were an Australian rock band that was formed in Sydney in 1964. The group was composed of immigrants from the Netherlands, United Kingdom, and New Zealand. They are best known for their 1966 hit single “Friday on My Mind “, which was a number one hit in several countries. The Easybeats disbanded in 1969 but were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2005.

Frenzal Rhomb

Synonymous with the Aussie punk rock scene, Frenzal Rhomb were formed in Sydney back in 1992. The band has released nine studio albums, three live albums and is known for their humorous lyrics and high-energy live shows. Their guitarist Lindsay “The Doctor” McDougall is also a well-known radio presenter who has hosted the Triple J breakfast show and the drive show on ABC local radio in the Illawarra region.

Gang of Youths

Gang of Youths is a five-piece indie rock band from Sydney that has taken the world by storm. The band’s debut album Go Farther in Lightness was released in 2017 to critical acclaim and commercial success, reaching number one on the ARIA charts and winning the Australian Music Prize. Gang of Youths have won multiple ARIA awards and they known for their anthemic and emotionally-charged songs.

Hard-Ons

The Hard-Ons are an Australian punk rock band that was formed in Sydney in 1981. The band has released 16 studio albums and is considered one of the most influential punk rock bands to come out of Australia. They have a cult following both domestically and internationally, with fans all over the world.

Hoodoo Gurus

Hoodoo Gurus are an Australian rock band that was formed in Sydney in 1981. The band’s sound has been described as a mix of ’60s garage rock and ’80s punk, with influences from Indian music and culture. Hoodoo Gurus are best known for their hit single “I Want You Back”, which reached number one on the Australian charts in 1987. The band has been inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame and was awarded the Order of Australia in 2017.

Hoodoo Gurus Best Sydney Bands
A classic Hoodoo Gurus press shot

Icehouse

Recognised as one of the first mainstream new-wave and synthpop acts in Australia, Icehouse originally formed in Sydney back in 1977, under the name Flowers. They achieved international success in the 1980s with hits such as “Great Southern Land” and “Hey Little Girl”. The band has released 11 studio albums and ARIA described Icehouse as “one of the most successful Australian bands of the eighties and nineties”.

INXS

Formed in Sydney, back in 1977 , INXS was one of the most successful Australian bands of all time. With hits such as “Need You Tonight” and “Suicide Blonde”, INXS sold over 50 million records worldwide before the tragic death of their lead singer Michael Hutchence in 1997. The band has been inducted into both the ARIA Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The Jezabels

The Jezabels are a four-piece indie rock band from Sydney that formed back in 2007. The band’s music has been described as “cinematic pop”, with their lyrics often addressing social and political issues. The Jezabels have released three studio albums, with their most recent, Synthia, reaching number four on the ARIA charts. The band has won multiple ARIA awards and they have also been nominated for an APRA award.

Lime Cordiale

Formed by brothers Oli and Louis Leimbach in 2009, This indie pop group has been making waves in the music scene over the past few years. Lime Cordiale is known for their catchy tunes and summery vibes, so if you’re a fan of indie pop, then this is definitely a band that you need to check out.

Lime Cordiale Best Sydney Bands
The Leimbach brothers from Lime Cordiale

Mental As Anything

Aussie rock icons Mental As Anything got its start in Sydney in 1976 and is best known for their hits “Psycho Chicken” and “If You Leave Me, Can I Come Too?”, both of which reached number one on the Australian charts. Mental As Anything has released 16 studio albums and they were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2009.

Midnight Oil

Formed in Sydney in 1976, Midnight Oil is one of Australia’s most politically conscious bands ever. The band is best known for their hits “Beds Are Burning” and “The Power and the Passion”, both of which reached number one on the Australian charts. Midnight Oil has released 16 studio albums and they were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2009. The group is going on their final-ever tour in September 2022.

Northlane

If you’re a fan of music on the heavier of things, Northlane has to be a five-piece metalcore band from Sydney that formed back in 2009. The band’s music has been described as “aggressive and anthemic”, with their lyrics often addressing social and political issues. Northlane has released four studio albums, with their most recent, Mesmer, reaching number one on the ARIA charts. The band has won multiple ARIA awards and they have also been nominated for an APRA award. Northlane is currently signed to UNFD.

Ocean Alley

If you’re looking for some Aussie beach vibes, then Ocean Alley is the band for you. This six-piece psychedelic surf rock group from the northern beaches of Sydney has been making waves in the music scene over the past few years. They topped the Triple J Hottest 100 with their song “Confidence” in 2018 and have released three studio albums, with their most recent, Lonley Diamond, reaching number three on the ARIA charts.

Ocean Alley Best Sydney Bands
The Ocean Alley crew

The Presets

Another electro act from Sydney that is one of most in the genre is The Presets. First rising to prominence in the late 2000s, the band is made up of two members: Julian Hamilton and Kim Moyes. The Presets have released four studio albums and are best known for their hit singles “My People” and “Talk Like That”.

Royal Headache

Royal Headache is a Sydney-based punk rock band that formed back in 2009. They have released two studio albums, both of which have been very well-received by critics. Royal Headache is known for their catchy tunes and high-energy live shows. If you’re a fan of punk rock, then this is definitely a band that yo

Rüfüs Du Sol

Three-piece electronic band Rüfüs Du Sol is a member of the current crop of international stars that began their careers in Sydney. The trio has released three studio albums, with their most recent, Solace, reaching number one on the ARIA charts. The band is known for their hit singles “You Were Right” and “Innerbloom”. Rüfüs Du Sol has won multiple ARIA awards and they have also been nominated for a Grammy award.

Sherbet

Sherbet was a hugely popular Aussie band in the 1970s. They were known for their catchy pop tunes and lively stage shows. Sherbet’s most famous song is probably “Howzat”, which was a huge hit in Australia in 1976.

SPEED

One of the fastest-rising acts in Australia, SPEED are a hardcore band that champions equality and the do-it-yourself ethos that the genre is known for. Selling out their first Australian tour on the back of their debut E.P, the group proudly represents their diverse backgrounds and is one to watch over the coming years as they continue to grow.

Speed Best Sydney Bands
Speed by local photographer Jack Rudder

The Wiggles

You might not think of The Wiggles as being a Sydney-based band, but they actually are! This hugely popular children’s band are one of Australia’s most successful cultural exports. The group has been entertaining kids (and adults!) for over 25 years and they even won Triple J’s Hottest 100 in 2022 with their cover of Tame Impala’s worldwide hit “Elephant”.

Sticky Fingers

Known for their catchy tunes and laid-back tunes, Sticky Fingers have attracted a lot of attention in recent years (for all the wrong reasons). Despite their legal troubles, the band is still extremely popular and has deep Sydney roots with songs like “Australia Street” being named after a street in their home of Newtown.

The Vines

The Vines are a rock band from Sydney that formed back in 1994 and rose to popularity during the early 2000s with their platnium-selling album Highly Evolved. Guitar/vocalist Craig Nicholls is the heartbeat of the project and is known for his somewhat out-of-control stage presence as seen during their performance on the David Letterman Show following the release of Highly Evolved.

The Whitlams

Known for their hit singles “No Aphrodisiac” and “Blow Up the Pokies”, indie rock back The Whitlams formed in Sydney in 1992 and have since released seven studio albums. Their most commercially successful effort was 1998’s Eternal Nightcap, which reached number one on the ARIA charts.

You Am I

One of the most iconic Aussie bands of the 1990s, You Am I was formed in 1989 and has released nine studio albums. They are known for their hit singles “Damage”, “Berlin Chair”, and the group has won multiple ARIA awards and were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2010. Fun fact: You Am I Vocalist Tim Rodgers is also now the vocalist for the Hard Ons, another Sydney band to make our list.

You am I Best Sydney Bands
You Am I looking cool as ever

So there you have it, quite a list! Sydney can definitely make a claim to being home to Australia’s most popular bands, but there are some other states that might just have them beat. Stay tuned for more city-based compilations coming soon.

For more music news on artists such as FlumePete Murray and Parcels, features, and information about upcoming Aussie Sounds events, visit our archives.

 

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