Tag Archives: Courtney Barnett

July 24, 2017 — “Forgot Myself” by Jen Cloher

Jen Cloher

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Forgot Myself” by Jen Cloher (2017, from the forthcoming album Jen Cloher).

Jen Cloher is an indie-folk/rock singer/songwriter from Melbourne. She has released three albums and a couple of EPs and singles, but I didn’t know much about her until recently. Actually, I did, but I didn’t. She has been dating indie darling/rising superstar Courtney Barnett for several years, and they’ve collaborated on each other’s records before. On August 11, she’ll release her fourth album —Jen Cloher— via Milk Records, which is the label that Cloher and Barnett run.

I got something in the mailbag about a different song from the new record, and I knew right away that I like this record. Tonight’s song is about “the sacrifices and difficulties of maintaining a long-distance relationship with a high-profile partner”. They live together, but Barnett spent a long time touring with her brilliant debut Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, so I guess they’ve spent a lot of time apart from each other. We’ll get to that later.

The album was recorded in a one-room studio in a rural Australian town, then mixed in Jeff Tweedy’s studio in Chicago. Barnett contributed guitar and vocals to the entire album. Their friend Kurt Vile also played guitar on one track, and Andrew “Bones” Sloane (bass) is a full-time member of the band. Both are also frequent collaborators with Barnett.

Anyway, here’s tonight’s song:
“Forgot Myself” by Jen Cloher

It’s a great song that reminds me of a lot of things. There are bits that remind me of The Breeders and bits that remind me of Bettie Serveert. In a weird way, the bass and drums remind me of Butterglory. There are obviously bits that remind me of Courtney Barnett. Despite how catchy and toe-tap inducing it might be, it’s kind of a downer. The words to the last verse tell the whole story of dealing with being apart from her love:

You’re riding round the world
You’re doing this and you’re signing that
The facts are that you’re there and I’m here
When you’re gone too long I become an idea
I’m driving in my car
Your song comes on the radio
And I remember what I always forget

That’s kind of intense. But it’s about to get better. Jen Cloher will be touring with this record. Courtney Barnett will be on tour with the album she made with Kurt Vile. For a few weeks in the United States this autumn, they’ll all be touring together. I don’t know who headlines those shows, but it sounds like a badass show. If I’m honest, I’m not wild about Kurt Vile, but that would be an amazing show.

The eponymous Jen Cloher album comes out on August 11, and you can pre-order it via Bandcamp here, or via the label here.

Also, there’s a great video for the song. And it’s packed full of people who have something to do with Milk Records or the Melbourne music scene. You’ll easily recognize Courtney Barnett. “Bones” Sloane plays the guy making art with his food. Jen Sholakis, who plays drums in the band (and a couple of other Melbourne bands), is drinking coffee. Tain Stangret, who sings on a couple of songs, is the waitress. You may recognize her from Courtney Barnett’s incredible video for “Elevator Operator”. The dishwasher is played by Anika Ostendorf, who makes dream-pop under the name Hachiku. The cook is played by a guy called Tejo D’Cruz. It took a bit of internet research, but I figured out that he used to be in a Singapore pop-punk band called Aspectrum. Now he lives in Melbourne, and does a decent Elliot Smith cover.

Anyway, now that you’ve got the cast and all their bios, here’s the video:

The video is worth watching multiple times because there are lots of really subtle and cool things going on. It’s weird, but it’s fun.

Our favorite albums of 2015 (part 10)

Last week, I started counting down my favorite albums of 2015. There were a lot of brilliant records. Too many, even, to fit into a top 50. Before I started the countdown, I also named 25 honorable mentions. You can see that list here.

I broke the top 50 into chunks of five, and I encourage you to read what I wrote about all of the albums, but here’s the big list:

50)Lower Dens — Escape From Evil
49)Girl Band — Holding Hands With Jamie
48)Creepoid — Cemetery Highrise Slum
47)Thayer Sarrano — Shaky
46)Rachel Grimes — The Clearing
45)Stolen Jars — Kept
44)Hey Anna — Run Koko
43)Speedy Ortiz — Foil Deer
42)Marriages — Salome
41)Haiku Salut — Etch and Etch Deep
40)The Harrow — Silhouettes
39)Casket Girls — The Piano Album
38)Spectres — Dying
37)Eternal Summers — Gold and Stone
36)Esmerine — Lost Voices
35)Diverting Duo — Desire
34)Viet Cong — Viet Cong
33)astrobrite — Deluxer
32)Noveller — Fantastic Planet
31)Godspeed You! Black Emperor — Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress
30)Long Beard — Sleepwalker
29)Hamsas XIII — Encompass
28)Westkust — Last Forever
27)Hop Along — Painted Shut
26)Lanterns On The Lake — Beings
25)Violent Mae — Kid
24)The Black Ryder — The Door Behind The Door
23)Moon King — Secret Life
22)The Soft Moon — Deeper
21)Trementina — Almost Reach the Sun
20)Beach House — Thank Your Lucky Stars
19)No Joy — More Faithful
18)Torres — Sprinter
17)Mount Eerie — Sauna
16)Shana Falana — Set Your Lightning Fire Free
15)Eskimeaux — O.K.
14)Ringo Deathstarr — Pure Mood
13)Pinkshinyultrablast — Everything Else Matters
12)SOAK — Before We Forgot How To Dream
11)Thrushes — Exposing Seas
10)A Place to Bury Strangers — Transfixiation
9)Briana Marela — All Around Us
8)Beach House — Depression Cherry
7)Bully — Feels Like
6)93MillionMilesFromTheSun — Fall Into Nothing

And now, the final countdown will get us down from 5 to 3. I had planned on doing the entire top 5 this morning, but I’m short on time, so I’ll do the top two later today.

Remember to click on album art to go to where you can buy the album.

Courtney Barnett — Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

5)Courtney Barnett — Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
This is the debut album by the indie-folk/punk/twee singer/songwriter from Melbourne. She self-released a couple of EPs which were compiled and rereleased as the 2013 double EP A Sea of Split Peas. That really put her on the map and had everyone eagerly anticipating the debut album. Everyone hoped that it would arrive in 2014, and it finally came out on March 23 to unanimous accolades. She was nominated for eight ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) awards, and she took home four of those tall, pointy, triangular pyramids. She has also been nominated for a 2016 Grammy award in the “best new artist” category.
Courtney Barnett is known as much for the clever wordplay in her lyrics as she is for her brilliantly crafted songs. She lists Lou Reed, Neil Young, Paul Kelly, and Nirvana among her influences, and you can hear those and many more in her songs.
She’s done a bunch of amazing covers, including a great interpretation of the entire Kick album by INXS (here), and a cover of The Lemonheads’ song “Being Around” (here), but her own songs are absolutely brilliant. Like most of the others in this final countdown, the first time I heard this album, I immediately locked it in as a top five album. Making light of the odd combination of all of these things, all year long, I kept saying “This is my favorite debut record by a left-handed Australian lesbian”.

Wildhoney — Sleep Through It

4)Wildhoney — Sleep Through It
This is the debut album by the shoegaze/noise pop quintet from Baltimore. They released a couple of EPs that set expectations very high for the debut, and I don’t think anybody was disappointed. The album came out in January, and after I had only listened to about five seconds of it, I had it locked in to a top ten position. By the time summer rolled around, I had bumped it into the top five. Definitely among my favorite of the shoegaze revivalists.
I knew nothing at all about the band when I stumbled upon their album way back in January. I still know almost nothing about them. I just know that I love this record, which is a bit reminiscent of a much noisier Velocity Girl.
Wildhoney played at Hopscotch this year, and I was very excited about that. More excited, actually, than I was about any of the headliners. I put their set very high on my “can’t miss” list, and although I ended up being shut out of a couple of those, I did get to see the Wildhoney set. Read about that here
When you play this record, you play it very loud, and you bounce around like a college kid who’s hopped up on adderall and Red Bull.

Waxahatchee — Ivy Tripp

3)Waxahatchee — Ivy Tripp
This is the third full-length album by the indie-folk/rock/punk recording project based in Brooklyn. It’s mostly the work of Katie Crutchfield (vocals/guitar), but on this album and the previous one, she’s had help from Kyle Gilbride (guitar/keys/synth) and Keith Spencer (guitar/bass/keys/drums/), and her twin sister Allison. By the way, the 2013 album Cerulean Salt came in at my #15 album of that year. Waxahatchee played at Hopscotch back in 2013, and I got delayed going to that set. I only saw two songs, but those songs were great. Read about that here.
I have to admit that Ivy Tripp isn’t one of the albums that was immediately locked in to a top five position after first listen. It took a lot of repeat listens to bump it up and up the list. And then, I saw Katie Crutchfield play a solo set that secured this album its top five position. She was actually a last-minute substitution at Hopscotch this year. Owen Pallett was supposed to be there all weekend as the “improviser in residence” and he was supposed to play a show in Fletcher on Saturday night. He had a family emergency and had to cancel his appearance. Greg Fox out of Liturgy took over the role of “improviser in residence”, and Katie Crutchfield took his spot at Fletcher. That wasn’t announced until the festival had already started, and for a lot of people, it might have gone unnoticed. I sure noticed, and I made it a top priority, even while there were a couple of other sets happening at the same time that I’d also like to have seen.
I was absolutely blown away by her set. Just Katie and an acoustic guitar. Included in the set was a spectacular cover of the Lucinda Williams tune “Greenville”. She played songs from all three albums, and made them all sound deeper and more real. I was completely awestruck, and I could have been knocked over with a feather after that. I went in expecting to see a good set, but what I saw was one of the best things I’ve ever seen. Maybe it was exactly the right time and place and maybe things were aligned just right for it to hit me the way it did, but I’ve seriously never been as moved by a show as I was by that. You can read up a bit about that here.

That’s it for now. I should finish the countdown tonight, then do a recap tomorrow.

03.09.2015 — “Pedestrian At Best” (plus) by Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett

If you only listen to one new song today, make it “Pedestrian At Best” by Courtney Barnett (2015, from the forthcoming album Sometimes I Sit And Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit). There’s also a bunch of other Courtney Barnett stuff that I recommend you check out tonight.

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.

You can buy …Emily Ferris here. You can buy …Carrot/Rose here and the Double EP here.

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.

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