After previous Sounds From Australia blog posts focusing more on young and emerging talent in Australia, I thought it might be time to address some of the nation’s heavier hitters.
Although Western culture is predominated by English and American music, Australia have always produced their fair share of titans. From the rock and proto-punk of AC/DC to the darkness of Nick Cave and the squeaky clean pop of Kylie Minogue, Australia has been hugely influential in the direction of modern music.
This week’s featured artist is no different. Hailing from one of our favourite cities in the world and our home away from home, Melbourne, she has started nothing short of a meteoric rise to global recognition.
Who: Courtney Barnett
Why: Courtney Barnett is a proper songwriter in every sense of the word. She is a natural-born storyteller. Witty, incisive and cynical. Able to take influence from the city and people around her and find beauty in the utterly mundane.
Her main weapon is her simplicity. A childlike sentiment and outlook on the world around her that cuts straight through the bullshit and reveals things as they are, in all their unembellished, naked glory.
She also completely belongs to the places and spaces in which she resides. Think of any major cultural city in the world and it always has artists heavily connected to it. Artists that perfectly capture the unique experience and character of that particular city. The Velvet Underground to New York, The Clash to London etc. etc.
And Melbourne has its very own modern-day icon in the shape of Barnett. She perfectly captures the city in all its grungy exceptionalism. But beyond this she is also undoubtedly Australian. Her songs are haunted by and reveal the thinly veiled desperation behind Australia’s immense middle class and prosperity. She captures the isolation and emptiness that is so representative of the Australian experience.
And to top it all off she delivers up on the stage too. It’s chaotic and unabashed but also sensitive and perfectly attuned to the experience of young people today, not just in Australia but around the world.
I was turned back onto her music again recently after she released a cover of The Grateful Dead’s New Speedway Boogie. The song sounds like it was written for Barnett and is a real statement of her talent. It might be a bold statement but as far as I’m concerned she’s the best female solo artist around today and if you haven’t already done so, is definitely worth a few hours in your lugholes!
Avant Gardener (A Sea of Split Peas)
History Eraser (A Sea of Split Peas)
Elevator Operator (Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit)
Nobody Cares If You Don’t Go To The Party (Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit)
Depreston (Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit)
New Speedway Boogie (Grateful Dead Cover – Day of the Dead)