Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Courtney Barnett and the Courtney Barnetts

I first heard Courtney Barnett on a BBC six music show, Mary Anne Hobbs last October with her current single, Avant Gardener.  Her lo-fi approach is reminiscent of another Melbourne band, Scott and Charlene's Wedding, but they don't seem to be connected at all.  

I immediately looked for her double ep, A Sea of Split Peas, which collects her 2012 release I've got a Friend Called Emily Ferris, with the 2013 How to Carve a Carrot into a Rose.  As it wasn't available in the UK other than download, I ordered directly from her label, Milk records in Australia, and a week or so later the two cds arrived, with a cute handwritten note thanking me for supporting the record.   
The two eps are brilliantly tuneful, songs written of everyday life and things she has written down in her journal.  The first ep is a bit more basic and stripped back, the second recorded with a full band and backing from a local cultural grant.  Influences are Nirvana, Lou Reed, Jonathan Richman.  She also keeps her twitter account very active, replying to lots of fans who say they have enjoyed the shows, without clogging up your timeline with her own tweets.  
After seeing she was listed for the NME awards tour in February 2014, I booked a ticket in December for her first return to the UK.  Previously she has only visited as a solo artist, but this time she brought the band, Dave Mudie on drums, and Bones Sloane on bass.  

I hadn't been to the Sebright Arms before, a small pub and rock venue in Hoxton.  Upstairs it has a bar where they also serve huge burgers and other snacks.  I'd got there far too early, so settled down for a few beers and a burger.  At around six, Courtney herself walked in with black jeans and flowery blouse, sat with her band and friends in the lounge bar, and proceeded to order food and drinks.  
The support band were due on at 8pm, so I went downstairs to the venue, which again had a small bar, and stage at the far end.  I found a decent spot near the front on the left, and then CB herself was also watching the support, chatting to another friend.  This time I finally got the confidence to say hello and ask for a picture, this time she had changed into a battered red and black checked lumberjack shirt, looking a bit like Kurt Cobain with her shaggy hair and loose shirt.  
The crowd was around 100, I think a mix of seasoned music journalists and fans lucky enough to get tickets, so it was a bit quiet, and I doubt many of the audience had heard more than the songs from the radio.  

She rattled through perhaps six or seven of the songs from the eps in around an hour, finishing off with two new songs, Depreston and one other, promised for Record Store Day.
Are you Looking After Yourself?

Lance Jr. Canned Tomatoes (Whole)
Avant Gardener
Out of The Woodwork

So what's her discography like?

I've Got a Friend Called Emily Ferris. (released April 2012)
1. Lance Jr 03:27
2. Are you looking after yourself? 07:42
3. Scotty Says. 03:52

4.  Canned tomatoes (whole) 04:32
5.  Porcelain 07:07
6.  Ode to Odetta 02:46

December 2012
Covered the INXS album kick
July 2013
Everybody Moves - duet with Dave Faulkner of Hoodoo Gurus. cover of Died Pretty song.

How to Carve a Carrot into a Rose (released October 2013)
1.  Out of the woodwork 05:50
2.  Don't apply compression gently 03:35
3. Avant gardener 03:28

4. History Eraser 03:28

5. David 02:53
6. Anonymous Club 05:50

Black Skinhead (Kanye West cover)
Being Around (Lemonheads cover)

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