Time for Myf Warhurst to shine a spotlight on another woman who should be peppering your playlist. This week it’s Melbourne indie-rocker Courtney Barnett.
Australia has a new cultural success story who’s far removed from anything you might see on Neighbours or Home and Away. Her name is Courtney Barnett, and while she does write proudly about her everyday suburban Melbourne existence, she is nothing to do with Kylie and the fictional suburb of Erinsborough, and everything to do with excellent indie music made in a faraway place.
To bring you up to speed: Barnett has been hailed by the likes of NME as the new pin-up for slacker indie rock. And though Barnett’s ‘almost singing but really talking’ delivery style and laidback attire certainly fits the traditional slacker-type bill, the term does her a great disservice.
You see, at the ripe old age of 26, Barnett is far from slack. She’s already debuted on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon to more than 4million people earlier this year, won hearts at festivals including Coachella and Glastonbury, and is now on a world tour and conquering the joint in her very understated, unpretentious way. All before her debut album has even been released on her own label, Milk! Records.
Barnett has connected because she has an innate ability to capture the everyday in song; her deadpan delivery reminiscent of the flat and dry suburban streets of Melbourne from where she hails. Yet on further inspection her songs hold so much more promise. Her breakthrough hit, Avant Gardener, is about a gardening-induced anxiety attack, while Dylan-esque BBC 6 music fave History Eraser runs like a fever dream fuelled by infatuation. Her songwriting balances precariously between the mundane and the brilliant and the result is compelling. There’s a reason she’s being hailed as a songwriter for the modern age.
It’s hard not to want to wish Barnett every success. She’s so down to earth she doesn’t give a toss for any talk of image. She wrote most of her recent songs while working behind the bar in a pub in Melbourne, and has openly stated she’d almost prefer to be hanging out at home doing the gardening instead of conquering the world. Her success has shocked her more than anyone. She is one of us.
Single – History Eraser
Courtney Barnett supports Metronomy at Alexandra Palace, London on December 5, and plays the Drill Festival, Brighton, on December 6.
Myfanwy Warhurst is a broadcaster at Double J radio (ABC Australia), TV presenter, Guardian columnist, music nut and general layabout.