Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Courtney Barnett at the Bowery Ballroom

Courtney Barnett grew up in Sydney, Australia, although when she was 16, her family moved to Hobart, the capital city of the Australian island state of Tasmania. Barnett played second guitar in Melbourne-based garage grunge band Rapid Transit in 2010-2011 and sang and played slide guitar in Australian psych/country band Immigrant Union in 2011-2013. Barnett attracted international attention in 2013 with the release of two EPs and well-received performances at the CMJ Music Marathon. Her debut album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, was released on March 23, 2015. Courtney currently lives in Melbourne with her girlfriend, fellow Australian singer-songwriter Jen Cloher, who is featured in some of Barnett's videos.

After working her audience in the past couple of years from the smaller Mercury Lounge and Webster Hall, Barnett headlined the Bowery Ballroom for three sold-out concerts. On her recordings, everything sounds slick and polished; live the same music took on a much scrappier and intense delivery. The guitar-slinging Barnett came in power trio mode with her backing rhythm section (the Courtney Barnetts), Bones Sloane on bass and Dave Mudie on drums. While she sang like a singer-songwriter, she jammed on the guitar like a loud solid rocker -- indie rock, that is, complete with numerous untraditional chord progressions. Singing clever, witty, wordy and rambling lyrics in a plainspoken deadpan manner, Barnett's observations on life and dry sense of humor were set to pleasing rhythms, melodies and well-crafted hooks. For Barnett, some songs were closed-eye sensitive, but other songs were so fierce that her flailing hair prevented a view of her face for minutes at a time. Barnett's flame is burning red-hot; she returns to headline the cavernous Terminal 5 on July 22.

Visit Courtney Barnett at