Release Date: Mar 24, 2015
Record label: Mom + Pop Music
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Indie Rock
Courtney Barnett’s skill is in making the pedestrian sound poignant. Everyday observations and mundane afterthoughts become focal points. From elevator dings to pressed-metal ceilings, tiny things hog the limelight on debut album ‘Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit’. The real star, however, is the storyteller.
“Put me on a pedestal and I’ll only disappoint you,” she hollers. “Tell me I’m exceptional, I promise to exploit you.” Listening to the highly anticipated debut album from north Melbourne ambassador Courtney Barnett can be a frustrating experience. Some songs sound generic – like early 90s indie-pop (with the emphasis on the “rock”) – the otherwise engaging Aqua Profunda! sounds of second-division Britpop band Sleeper, for example.
‘Then I see the handrail in the shower, a collection of those canisters for coffee, tea and flour / And a photo of a young man in a van in Vietnam’ The above lyric is taken from ‘Depreston’, the fifth song on Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, Australian singer Courtney Barnett’s debut album proper. A reflective strum detailing a house-hunting trip to Melbourne’s outer suburbs, it hinges on these lines, which showcase Barnett’s gift for storytelling - and her inquisitive, wandering mind - perfectly. What started as a series of vague preoccupations and concerns expressed as Barnett and her partner are shown around the deceased estate becomes a rumination on life, death and the stories that surround us in myriad little details.
The term “slacker-rock” pops up a lot in reviews of Courtney Barnett’s music, which is a shame. Not only is it a lazy description (oh, the irony), it’s also wrong: It takes a lot of discipline and effort to write songs that sound as casual and off-the-cuff as hers do. True, “slacker-rock” is less a judgment of character than shorthand for a certain sound.
A convincing argument that rock & roll doesn't need reinvention in order to revive itself, Courtney Barnett's full-length debut Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit. falls into a long, storied rock tradition but never feels beholden to it. By almost any measure, Barnett is a traditionalist -- a singer/songwriter supported by a guitar-bass-drum trio, cranking out ballads and squalls of noise.
Australian indie eccentric Courtney Barnett made a name for herself on her own terms through quirky songwriting that got stuck in your head as she got lost in hers. After all, Barnett’s unlikely rise to prominence began with “Avant Gardener”, a surreal, slice-of-life narrative about going into anaphylactic shock that dictates all the non-sequitur thoughts racing through her mind in the back of an ambulance. But since then, the outsider artist has become a darling of scene insiders, so one big question about her first proper full-length Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit is whether her idiosyncratic songwriting can be something more than a niche novelty.
Courtney Barnett proved herself a charming purveyor of unkempt indie rock with her 2013 EP A Sea of Split Peas. In a tossed-off rock-n'-roll vernacular that shares a chromosome or two with Pavement's Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, she wove stories of drunken revelry and paeans to unlikely masturbation material with a photographer's eye for detail. “I'm not suicidal, just idling insignificantly,” Barnett sings on “Elevator Operator,” the opening track of her full-length debut, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit.
A young man adrift ditches work mid-commute... a swimmer passes out trying to impress the person in the next lane... a couple goes house-hunting and ends up peering into the life of a widow: These are just a few of the ordinary-extraordinary moments captured on Courtney Barnett's Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit. And like all moments, they pass, sometimes with event but usually without.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Courtney Barnett is having one hell of a year, and with the release of her debut album, it's only just beginning. The Melbourne singer-songwriter is in the midst of a slew of UK tour dates after her jam-packed week of South by Southwest performances. Riding on only two EPs, she was one of the most-talked about artists of the fest.
It’s easy to miss how much of a pessimist Courtney Barnett is. Ever since her breakout song Avant-Gardener (which as I’ve told anyone who’ll listen is one of the best songs ever), Barnett has paired breezy, slightly stoned indie-rock jamming with lyrics about intense, overbearing anxiety – the point being that the music masks the feeling. The juxtaposition isn’t as oxymoronic as it sounds; the two moods are entirely compatible, and that’s crucial to the political dimension of her songwriting.
Courtney Barnett’s two stuck-together EPs of 2013 heralded the arrival of a huge, if self-deprecating, talent. Her chosen field may be rambling indie rock, indebted to the Velvet Underground and the slackerish neuroses of Jeffrey Lewis, but the Australian’s scope is nuanced, taking in Vegemite crumbs, house-hunting in the sad part of town (Depreston) and suicidal kids. This debut album proper lacks The Double EP’s shock value – we already know she’s good – but Sometimes… moves Barnett’s own story along with the easy percolation of one of her own songs, better produced and more varied than its predecessor.
Melbourne’s Courtney Barnett first grabbed people’s attention with her 2013 release The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas, which introduced the world to her laconic indie-rock observations. On her first album, she’s developed her shtick further and created a funny, acerbic but staunchly down-to-earth album. Comparisons could be drawn to Parquet Courts or even the early small-town musings of Alex Turner.
“Put me on a pedestal, I’ll only disappoint you”, bristles Courtney Barnett on the pinballing ‘Pedestrian At Best’, the lead single and second track from her debut album ‘Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit’. It could be a warning shot: a way of squashing everyone’s anticipation after 2013 single ‘Avant Gardener’, her hilariously deadpan take on having a panic attack while planting vegetables, turned the 26-year-old Australian into a poster girl for slacker pop. For anyone haplessly trying to make sense of the meaningless din of the 2010s, Barnett’s wry observations and caustic humour made her seem the perfect spokesperson.
Courtney Barnett is only on her first proper album, but she's already setting herself apart as one of the sharpest, most original songwriters around — at any level, in any genre. The Australian singer-guitarist, 27, is a self-strafing humorist à la Lena Dunham who's also a Dylan-style word ninja, spooling out honest, funny, indelible stories wrung from the everyday stuff even a good novelist might overlook. Her loose, conversational lyrics are full of images you can't shake and characters you need to know more about.
“Take what you want from me,” Courtney Barnett repeats near the end of “Kim’s Caravan”, a highlight from her new album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit. That bit of exasperation is surrounded by some clever observational lines and a fiery guitar solo, but it sits at the song’s core, a reminder that Barnett is more than a Seinfeld-ian joker pointing out life’s little quirks. Like Stephen Malkmus or Kurt Vonnegut, Barnett looks at the mundane with a skewed perspective, turning it over in her mind and transmogrifying it into something extraordinary.
Virginia Woolf wrote a story called “The Mark on The Wall,” a perfectly lonely, modernist riff on the mind’s tendency to circle, sway, collapse, and return. The mark, at the story’s end, after much thought and metathought, is identified as a small snail, unmoving, hugging the wall. On “An Illustration of Loneliness (Sleepless in NY),” Australian indie-rock troubadour Courtney Barnett studies the cracks in an apartment’s wall, reads them as Palmistry lines, soon gives up, and lets her mind wander to the ceiling’s color (Is it off-white? Is it cream?).
Over the past three years, the career of Melbourne-based singer/songwriter Courtney Barnett has steadily gathered momentum through a succession of much-lauded singles and EPs. It means there’s a pretty substantial amount of anticipation surrounding her first full-length release, Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit. Barnett has a conversational delivery whose elongated vowels can’t help but evoke her fellow Antipodean performers Pip Brown of Ladyhawke and Allo Darlin’s Elizabeth Morris.
Just where did Courtney Barnett come from? One moment she's an anonymous Australian singer/songwriter with a tangled mop of hair, the next she's at the helm of the new grunge revival. For someone who has released only a few—relatively impressive—EPs, it has been a meteoric rise..
On “Pedestrian At Best,” the lead single to her debut album Sometimes I Sit And Think And Sometimes I Just Sit, Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett snarls, “Give me all your money and I’ll make some origami, honey. ” The song is in part about being a heavily-hyped new artist and all the ambivalence that dredges up in her, so the line contains more than a little sarcasm. Yet there’s something truthful in it about how Barnett, takes the mundane and ordinary within her songs, folds them up about a million different ways, and produces something revealing, not just about herself, but about human nature as a while.
Courtney Barnett — Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit (Mom + Pop)Much has been made of Courtney Barnett’s tendency to belabor the details. Her songs are acid tipped rants, spoke-sung out of the side of her Aussie mouth, flattened vowels wrapped around minute observations of ordinarylife. Place names, brand names, all varieties of domestic objects make their ephemeral appearance, flitting by like film stills.This would all be entertaining enough.
Courtney Barnett has this funny quirk that’s hard to parse on first listen. Her vocal affect is often flat, as if she’s reading you the phone book or ticking off her grocery list to the rhythm of a metronome. Her stories, too, are ordinary, the sort of musings most songwriters would never think to examine in the course of a three-minute pop song.
Courtney Barnett is a bright, boisterous firecracker. On the strength of two EPs and her live show, the Australian musician has had fans buzzing since 2013 over her compelling, wordy songs, enigmatically matter-of-fact singing and hot guitar-playing. As this debut full-length unfolds, it recalls Lou Reed's uncompromising work in the Velvet Underground, Stephen Malkmus's smart-assery in Pavement and Jonathan Richman's tense sweetness in the Modern Lovers.
After releasing a combo platter of her two EP’s last year that included witty indie hits such as “Avant Gardener,” Courtney Barnett’s first proper studio album arrives with expectations to meet. “Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit” (Mom & Pop/Marathon Artists/Milk!) exceeds them. It’s a great record that doesn’t try too hard.
The praise that Australian songwriter Courtney Barnett received for her early EPs—repackaged for American release after resoundingly successful 2013 CMJ performances —tended to settle on her unique portrayals of everyday life. What’s become clear on Barnett’s proper debut album is how her ability to convey those mundane moments, magnifying and stretching them into dense micro-narratives, is just the outer shell of her songwriting skill. Building on the best tendencies of her earlier songs, Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit finds Barnett deftly connecting the foreground to the background, the surface to the undercurrent.
opinion byPETER TABAKIS < @ptabakis > Courtney Barnett approaches words like a showoff with a basketball. Without breaking a sweat, she turns phrases round and round atop her forefinger’s tip, a neat trick that belies a deeper, more masterful talent. Elaborate rhyme schemes come off as deceptively singsong-y. Twisty lyrical structures are jerked tightrope-taut by a flat vocal affect.
I feel like I’ve spent a lot of time with Courtney Barnett lately. Her debut album proper, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, has soundtracked my walks to and from work, cleaning the house, doing the washing up - the kind of mundana that her songs catalogue so well. It’s a one-way conversation – the only verbal contribution I can make is singing along – but if you’re a person of a certain age, it’s hard not to feel like Courtney Barnett Gets You.
Courtney Barnett Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit (Mom + Pop) Behind her first two EPs, Courtney's Barnett's deadpan delivery and verbosely sprawling verses unleashed ennui that hit just the right tone for a bored generation. Yet the Australian songwriter's furious shredding guitar, accentuated by the Drones' Dan Luscombe, pushed the songs beyond mere suburban malaise, with the quartet proving anything but lethargic. Her proper debut full-length follows suit, but honed with more power.
Sometimes you hear something new and you just know. In 2013, Courtney Barnett's "Lance Jr." popped on the radio and stopped me in my tracks. This first full-length studio album from young Australian guitarist, singer and songwriter Barnett lives up to the promise of that deft introduction, which was taken from her debut, "The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas." This is a modal window.