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THE WONDERFUL COURTNEY BARNETT

Here's a terrific live version of her fine current single Pedestrian At Best', performed in what a listener to BBC Radio 6 Music called her racing commentator's delivery":



This is the video of the studio-version single:



And she has such a great band. Her CD The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas  -  which combined two earlier EPs, I've Got a Friend Called Emily Ferris  (2012) and How to Carve a Carrot into a Rose  (2013)  -  is often played in our house (and car), even though I can only catch a lot of the words if I listen on headphones. They're always worth catching, but I love it just blazing away in the room, because the band is so tremendous - as good as any grunge band that's ever existed, and the freshest around right now.

The single is from her new album Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

10 comments:

  1. Elmer Gantry15 April, 2015

    Maybe I am missing something, but I do not get the current hype about Barnett.

    To me, her lyrics seem threadbare and cutesy and the guitar riffs derivative and surprisingly lame. There is also little of the genuine passion found in the best 'grunge' music. Indeed, her music could more aptly be described as cringe rather than grunge..

    As a result, the title of this song is only too accurate, for me at least...

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  2. Elmer Gantry17 April, 2015

    And as for this appalling interview, the less said the better:

    http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/courtney-barnetts-depreston-song-strikes-a-chord-with-firsthome-buyers-20150304-13tkap.html

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    1. Elmer, I'm surprised by the vehemence of your dislike of her. I don't blog hype about anyone - or at least, not consciously - and when I first picked up on her, it was hearing her on BBC Radio 6Music (the track Avant Gardener - which you'll surely admit is a savvy title) before I knew her name or anything about her. And now, hyped elsewhere or not, it's that savvy quality, combined with her terrific band and her youthful lyric exuberance, that I find compelling. I think there's plenty of passion there, but mediated by dry wit and a strong sense of irony.

      To take one very small example, from the song Pedestrian At Best itself: "Give me all your money and I'll make some origami, honey". As the young Dylan used to trust the listener to pick up on things, so Courtney Barnett trusts us here to pick up on the wit behind that supposed offer of a random exchange - ie that both banknotes and origami are forms of folded paper. So the exchange still seems an unfair one, which is the point, but it isn't random. She makes it a sharp point.

      And I don't think it a black mark against her that she owes something to Nirvana, any more than it's a black mark against the young Bob Dylan that he owed a large something to Woody Guthrie.

      As for the "appalling" interview, well come on - you seem to have been searching rather hard for ammunition against her. The Melbourne Age? Elmer, this is a sloppy and parochial newspaper and they've taken what might have been a small patch of interview and made it seem that she has no concerns in the world apart from a housing shortage. (That shortage, a serious hardship that applies urgently in London, San Francisco and many other major cities all over the capitalist world, is not the trivial thing you seem to think.) Besides, one good song about being driven further and further out of the city you love is surely better than a ten thousandth song about World Peace.

      I think you should buy her CD The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas , play it loud and enjoy it. It'll make a change from all those ho-hum Steve Earle albums you like so much.

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    2. Isn't Elmer somewhat missing the point of the song Depreston mentioned in the interview. It isn't just a song about housing shortages. The fourth verse with it's references to photographs, shower handrails and Vietnam reference makes her think of what the house meant to the previous owner and she can no longer see it as just bricks and mortar.
      It's probably my favourite track on the album

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    3. Yes: nicely observed. And also, this is a far more observant, felt and alert response to the alienating blankness of suburbs than, say, Little Boxes (which, though written by the wonderful Malvina Reynolds, was preached at us so tiresomely and smugly by Pete Seeger.

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  3. Elmer Gantry17 April, 2015

    I think we will have to agree to disagree on this one, as I just don't get Barnett's appeal...

    I have no problem with anyone being influenced with Nirvana, but, for me, they were genuinely innovative artists in a way that she is not. I was genuinely interested in finding out about Barnetts music (having heard several people whose opinion I respect championing her), but am afraid I have found it self-absorbed and trite.

    I know the difficulties young people have now in buying homes, but this pales for me in the light of the scale of the issues which Dylan and Phil Ochs and others) were writing about in the 1960. She makes this comparison, not I...

    I will have another listen, as I usually respect your musical judgement and think you should do the same with Steve Earle..

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    1. Please see the response from David Everall, above.

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  4. Elmer Gantry29 October, 2015

    In the interests of fairness, think I should admit that I quite like her version of the classic Rowland S. Howard song, 'Shivers"
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkG3TI9W31U
    although I still prefer the original (RSH one of my favourite Australian artists):
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7ChSy6FhxQ

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