New Music 12/6/19: Courtney Barnett

Hot off the presses: new music!  Better said, new music that is worth your time.


Courtney Barnett – MTV Unplugged Live in Melbourne – 8 tracks / 43 minutes

The super-talented and underrated Australian singer-songwriter shines on her homecoming unplugged set, with help from a few friends.


Courtney’s obtuse but powerful songwriting struck me the first time I heard it, and I have been a big fan of hers for the last few years.  As stoked as I am about this terrific recording, I am even more pleased that she is going to perform an acoustic set here in Boise in February.  On this recording, she plays guitar (lefty, which fascinates me every time I see it for some reason), piano, and harmonica.

The first highlight here is the hopeful downer “Charcoal Lane” (on this night a duet with Paul Kelly), a ballad about living in a small town – complete with depression, drunken good times, and surviving.  Oh, and the harmonica is tremendous.  Her classic anxiety track “Avant Gardener” shines here and has some lyrical gems: “the yard is full of hard rubbish, it’s a mess; I guess the neighbors must think we run a meth lab” and “I’m not that good at breathing in”, the latter of which is the basis of the song.

“Nameless Faceless” is my favorite Barnett song, and sounds totally different here as a duet with Evelyn Morris that is centered on creepy, scattered piano playing.  That chorus is so damn good – “I wanna run through the park in the dark, men are scared that women will laugh at them; I wanna walk through the park in the dark, women are scared that men will kill them… I hold my keys between my fingers”.  Her choice of the show closer makes me truly ecstatic, as she nails Mr. Cohen’s “So Long, Marianne” for six beautiful minutes.

Key Tracks: “Nameless Faceless”, “Avant Gardener”, “So Long, Marianne”

Spotify album link:


Also heard:

The Who – WHO

The legendary band’s first studio album since Endless Wire (2006) finds the lads older but unafraid to ruffle feathers.  Leadoff track “All This Music Must Fade” shows that Roger Daltrey still has some solid pipes even in his mid-70s, and his lyrics are far from subtle or friendly here.  “Break the News” is a lovely ballad that is my highlight on this album that has quite a bit of filler.

A friend of mine saw them in Seattle a couple of months back and raved about the quality of their live show, and that more than any new music they’ll produce, is what is important – at this juncture in their impressive career their legacy has been written.

Czarface – The Odd Czar Against Us

Bear’s Den – Only Son of the Falling Snow (EP)

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