Olivia Hally is the Oh. Pepita Emmerichs is Pep. The exclamation mark? That's what you should listen for. These mid-20-somethings met while studying jazz and classical music at a Melbourne arts high school, and learned they were the girls who liked other kinds of music. The favourite others that brought them together were Paul Kelly, Johnny Cash, and bluegrass, influences that speckle their music. But they bring their own touches to their Americana-from-Down-Under (Down-Under-icana?), particularly Emmerichs' bright mandolin and a violin she's more likely to pluck than bow, eliciting a spikiness from the delicate instrument. The songs across their three EPs range seamlessly from emotionally sumptuous to kitchen party, anchored by Hally's candied-ginger voice — sweetness that masks quite a kick — and rhymes to match.
The band's North American invasion began with their first trip to SXSW this spring; supporting tours in Europe and the US with Lake Street Dive, Lord Huron and Nathaniel Rateliff; and their first full-length album recorded in Halifax with East Coast Music Award-winning producer Dan Ledwell on the Dualtone label (home of The Lumineers, Shovels & Rope and Langhorn Slim). Oh Pep! is on track to keep racking up fervent punctuation points across the globe.