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It’s Really Hard Not to Like Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett’s lyrics are smart, self-effacing and ironic. From Will Hermes’ review in Rolling Stone of her latest solo album, “Tell Me How You Really Feel,” which was released last year (click here or on the image for Amazon and here for iTunes): “They’re the most Nirvana-esque moments on this modest masterpiece of an album, made by an avowed fan who shows a kindred underdog solidarity. Kicking against the pricks, including the ones in her own head, Barnett encourages us to do the same, with an impressive generosity of spirit.”
This is the second time The Daily Music Break has featured Courtney Barnett. The first time around we posted a song called “Avant Gardener.”

Barnett, who is from Melbourne, Australia, is very hard to not like. She is a clever songwriter with an extremely identifiable ironic writing style. The same could be said for her singing. Like her or not, she is instantly recognizable. Her videos are fun to watch as well.

Her 2015 debut album, “Sometimes and I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit,” was met with “rave critical acclaim,” according to Wikipedia. Rolling Stone noted that it received “a surprise Grammy nomination.” The album made the list of best albums of the year from Rolling Stone, The Guardian, The Times (UK), Pitchfork and the Chicago Tribune.

courtney barnett
Courtney Barnett

It’s ridiculous, of course, to try to write something about how someone sounds. John Sieger at Urban Milwaukee does a nice job of trying, however. He says that Barnett has an “off balance musical sensibility” and that she “also sing/talks in a truly arresting manner, almost like she’s behind your back muttering about some recent slight.”

The goal, I suppose, of NPR’s Guest DJ feature is to trace the influences on musicians in a manner more interesting than simply asking them. In the case of Barnett, two highest profile (and no doubt oldest) acts she selected at Wilco (“Handshake Drugs”) and Talking Heads (“Once in a Lifetime”).

Barnett’s discography is posted at Discogs. She has most recorded an album with a musician named Kurt Vile. The two are touring together and will hit the states this autumn.

The Guardian’s Dorian Lynskey does a nice profile of Barnett. She comes across exactly as her songs suggest: Quiet, introspective, very intelligent and a keen observer. Gaining a good deal of notoriety – she is a star in Australia — must be a very interesting and somewhat unsettling experience for her.

Above is “Elevator Operator” and below is “How to Boil an Egg.”

Credits: Will Hermes in Rolling Stone in the blue box. Photo: Fred von Lohmann

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