Thursday, May 03, 2012

Courtney Barnett - I've Got a Friend Called Emily Ferris (2012), Cool Music From Down Under



Dispatch From Melbourne: Yesterday we were checking out an interesting music site from Australia called The Ripe. After listening to a few things and dipping our toes into the Melbourne music scene, we ran across Courtney Barnett, a songwriter, guitarist, and singer from Melbourne who has just released her debut EP, I've Got a Friend Called Emily Ferris.Courtney would prefer to think of her music as genre free, but when pressed, she'll call it "stoner/slacker/garage-pop".


I've Got a Friend Called Emily Ferris


Listen to "Lance Jr.:


"Stoner/slacker/garage-pop" works for us. The more we listened, the more we liked it and we were about to pick it up at Australian Bandcamp when a quick look at Amazon (U.S.) revealed that they have it on MP3, and moments later it was spinning in iTunes. Courtney sounds a bit like Juliana Hatfield, but maybe a more apt comparison would be to The Grabs, Eleni Mandell's garage band side project.

Like The Grabs, this is highly tuneful music that has the freedom and immediacy of a garage band, with a set of tunes that's been exceptionally well played and recorded. So well recorded in fact, that it sounds like they set up and are playing right in your listening room. In addition to all that, this is a great guitar record. Courtney's website describes how this recording came about.

Courtney Barnett wrote these songs by accident when she was playing with her new loop pedal. After listening to that new Kurt Vile record, seeing Adalita's new solo stuff live, and listening to a lot of BJM, she was working on a theory that you could write a song with pretty much just one progression that is still super cool, catchy and beautiful.

On the 11th of November 2011, Courtney got three of the best musicians she knows; Pete Convery and Alex Hamilton (Merri Creek Pickers) and Brent DeBoer (The Dandy Warhols, Immigrant Union) and without really teaching them the songs they went to a friends lounge room and recorded this six track EP; I've got a friend called Emily Ferris.



Courtney's lyrics are refreshingly open, honest and uncompromising. We're not going to analyze, but if you listen to the first track, "Lance Jr." (above), you'll get the idea. Tom Pitney, writing in The Ripe, sums it up nicely.

I feel like Courtney has managed to bottle up the dreary hamster-wheel of young, suburban Melbourne life and marry it seamlessly with lazy, stoner pop in a way that isn’t wingey or depressing. It’s almost as if she can feel and articulate my own pain better than I could, yet she presents it in a way that’s light hearted and entertaining to listen to.

The bottom line for us is that this music fit our mood at the time we heard it, so well that once again we were seduced, not only by the music, but also by the technology that lets us, with a couple of computer clicks, tap in to a music scene half a world away, find something cool, and have it on your computer in a blink.

Here is a video that lets you see some of the making of I've Got a Friend Called Emily Ferris.



For a bonus track, we've got audio of a b-side demo that we can't get enough of. This joins "Death or Radio" by Zolof the Rock & Roll Destroyer in the distinguished category of adorable songs that rhyme "holding hands" with "shitty bands". Zolof is a band from Philadelphia that also is somewhat comparable to Courtney. If you sign up for Courtney's mailing list on her Facebook page, you'll receive a download of "I moved interstate and now I'm not sure what to do for Christmas".

Listen to "I moved interstate and now I'm not sure what to do for Christmas"



Photos courtesy of Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett's Website
Courtney Barnett's Facebook




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