With the release of her first two, critically applauded EPs, I’ve Got a Friend Called Emily Farris and How to Carve a Carrot Into a Rose, the Melbourne, Australia-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Courtney Barnett quickly received attention from the North American, British and Australian press witty and rambling, conversational lyrics delivered in an ironic deadpan paired with big, power chord-based indie rock. And although to the casual observer, it may have seemed like overnight success, it actually wasn’t. In fact, Barnett has long been considered one of Melbourne’s best guitarists as once played in Dandy Warhols’ Brent DeBoer’s side project Immigrant Union and had guest spot on Jen Cloher‘s third album, In Blood Memory.
2015’s full-length effort Sometimes I Sit and Think, Sometimes I Just Sit continued a run of critically applauded releases, and the album’s lead single “Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go To The Party” was promoted with a unique promotional campaign that included scores of giant billboards, posters and murals spontaneously posted around the world — and all of them declared the same unattributed statement in the same exact font. As for the song, it found Barnett and her backing band pairing thundering drumming, dense layers of swirling guitar chords and a scorching guitar solo and Barnett’s bemused and ironic deadpan delivery with a rousingly anthemic, arena rock-like hook. “Elevator Operator,” which I also wrote about on this site, was a stomping and shuffling T. Rex-like song that featured twisting and turning organ chords, handclap-led percussion, and a mischievous yet anthemic hook that described incredibly neurotic people, who are beaten down by boring and soulless day jobs, including one character, who escapes to peer over a rooftop for a brief moment of clarity while dreaming he was playing Sim City. (If you’ve worked at a boring and soul crushing day job, that song may well be your anthem during the workweek.)
Last year, saw the release of Lotta Sea Lice, a critically applauded and commercially successful collaborative album with renowned guitarist and vocalist Kurt Vile; in fact, the album landed at #5 on the Australian charts, #11 on the British charts and #51 on the American charts. Building upon an incredible run of critical and commercial success, Barnett’s third full-length album Tell Me How You Really Feel is slated for a May 18, 2018 release through Mom + Pop Records, Marathon Artists, and Barnett’s own label Milk! Records — and the album’s third and latest single “City Looks Pretty” finds Barnett eschewing traditional song structures in order to focus on a motorik-like groove, razor sharp hooks and an expansive psych rock-like vibe that’s roomy enough for what may be some of Barnett’s most inspired and bluesy guitar work she’s recorded to date. The song lyrically is an exploration of friendship, place and home centered around the irony of friends treating you like a stranger and strangers treating you like their best friend.
The recently released video by Courtney Barnett features some appropriately psychedelic imagery shot on what looks like digital cameras and an old Super 8, and in some way it brings to mind 120 Minutes-era MTV.