Courtney Barnett is an indie folk singer/songwriter from Melbourne. In 2012, she founded her own label and released her first EP, entitled I’ve Got A Friend Called Emily Ferris. She followed that in January of 2013 with the sophomore EP How To Carve a Carrot Into a Rose. In October of 2013, she rereleased both EPs in one package which she called The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas. Her very eagerly anticipated debut album Sometimes I Sit And Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit will be released on March 23 everywhere except for the United States and Canada. Here, it will release one day later. I know the phrase “highly anticipated debut album” gets thrown around like so many frisbees, but this one really does have a ton of traction behind it.
While it’s still safe to refer to her as an “indie-folk artist”, there are certainly elements of punk, basic “indie rock”, and even classic rock in her music. Her songs are heart-felt and honest, cleverly written, and masterfully composed. In a weird way, everything about that reminds me of a certain band from Chicago who went from being some little band to being one of the biggest bands in the world overnight back in the spring of 2002. I’m not saying that Courtney Barnett is going to have the same explosion of popularity that Wilco had, but I do think that her forthcoming debut will make her an indie queen, and she might even enjoy some mainstream success.
I’ve been really into that double EP for a while now, and it surprised me to find out that I’ve never written a post about her. I’m really excited about the new album, so I naturally want to post the soundcloud and video for the new song “Pedestrian At Best”. It’s much more rock (even punk) oriented than a lot of her songs, and I love it. It’s grungy and rough around the edges while still being beautiful. It’s like some weird mixture of Nirvana, PiL, and Camera Obscura.
Anyway, this is that song:
“Pedestrian at Best” by Courtney Barnett
There’s nothing fancy about this song, but I love it.
I especially love the line in the chorus
Put me on a pedestal and I’ll only disappoint you
Tell me I’m exceptional and I promise to exploit you
Give me all your money and I’ll make some origami, honey
I think you’re a joke, but I don’t find you very funny
I’m also a big fan of her voice. I have a soft spot for vocal fry. I don’t think she speaks with vocal fry, but she definitely sings with it. I find the smokey, gravelly register to be sexy and strong. I realize that there are thousands of people who think exactly the opposite. There are probably dozens of websites devoted to the hatred of vocal fry, but I like it. It’s a little more pronounced in her country/folk-themed songs (see: the brilliant “Avant Gardener”) than it is here, but it’s still worth pointing out.
Also, check out this bizarre video for the song:
And we’re not done yet. When I was doing some research yesterday, I happened upon this magnificent cover of The Lemonheads’ “Being Around”. It’s not on any Courtney Barnett release, but it should be. The original version appeared on The Lemonheads’ 1993 album Come on Feel The Lemonheads. Here’s Courtney using her beautiful Harmony Rocket H59 to cover the song.
I like it way more than I like the original. And I really do like the original.
More importantly, you can pre-order Sometimes I Sit And Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit by visiting the Courtney Barnett official site here Within each global region, there are several options in physical and digital formats. The deluxe “vinyl + CD + tote bag” is pretty cool. I shouldn’t admit to this, but I went the economical route and pre-ordered the CD via Amazon. It’s just $8 USD with free shipping for Amazon Prime subscribers!
Also, you should check out the NPR Tiny Desk concert that she did last April. It’s quite good, and she uses the Rocket the whole time. Here.