By John Lentz, Senior Music Director | FirstCom Music
The world of up-and-coming artists stays crowded. Sometimes it is difficult to sort through the talent before a new crop of young musicians and singers replace the old ones. One new artist that is rising to the top is Courtney Barnett. With a new album that is less than one month old, Barnett is gaining critical acclaim from publications like The New York Times and Rolling Stone that should help propel her to become a household name in the world of rock.
Barnett’s lo-fi/indie/alternative style might suggest that she is just another artist trying to find her niche in a bloated field. Nevertheless, when one listens to her, they quickly hear that she has her own style that translates into interesting songs and performances that are not like everyone else. While she does have a low-key delivery at times, she also knows how to ratchet up the guitars, infusing a garage/punk sound that is ideal for her vocals. Her band, The Courtney Barnetts, knows how to push the sound out front without getting in her way with just a guitar, bass, and drums. The result is an intoxicating blend of pop, punk, garage, indie, and sometimes singer/songwriter styles that mix well together.
Her new album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, shows off her diversity. Where Barnett really shines is that she seldom includes all of her styles in every song. That is part of what makes her new album so enjoyable. While she is the sole writer on her new album, Barnett covers a lot of ground. The album includes a stomping pop/rock tune, an all-out garage rocker, a bluesy ditty that could have come from Austin, TX, the obligatory ballad (with killer guitar work), a straight up pop song that would make Elvis Costello (circa 1979) proud, and a couple of others that pay respects to the obvious punk influences that Barnett has.
As with any new artist, there are dues to be paid, and Barnett appears to have paid them. She played guitar in a Melbourne grunge band who released a cassette only album. Then she moved on to a psych/country combo, Immigrant Union, before establishing her own record label and releasing an EP, I’ve Got a Friend Called Emily Ferris, in 2012. Her second EP in 2013, How to Carve a Carrot into a Rose, really started getting her noticed. Barnett then combined her two EPs for more exposure and the accolades began to mount.
If you are looking for something new that has a fresh sound in a familiar style, look no further than Courtney Barnett. There is something for every rocker on her new album and you might end up singing her songs in your head after only a couple of listens. This young star is destined for great success!