Courtney Barnett – The Duchess, York, 14th May 2014 1

Courtney Barnett – The Duchess, York, 14th May 2014

To that seemingly ever expanding roll-call of Antipodean artists who have come to these shores, who have been seen and who have duly conquered – from The Triffids and The Birthday Party in the early 1980s right through to the more recent successes of Tame Impala, Chet Faker and Jagwar Ma – we can now safely add the name of Courtney Barnett. For sixty minutes tonight the 25 year old Melbourne-based singer-songwriter, backed most ably by Bones Sloane and Dave Mundie on bass and drums respectively, entrances an enthusiastic York crowd and fully delivers on all of that early promise we have been hearing so much about.

First coming to attention in her homeland in 2012 after the release of I’ve Got A Friend Called Emily Ferris, Barnett followed up this début EP with How To Carve A Carrot Into A Rose. Both recordings showcased her talent for 164amarrying shrewd, rambling observational narratives on life to a sound that merged grunge, garage, punk, country and folk into the most refreshing and exciting of amalgams.

Both records were subsequently conjoined into The Double EP: A Sea Of Split Peas and with an album still lying-in-wait with what she describes as “a bunch of songs half-ready to go”, it is to The Double EP she goes for her source material this evening.

With its lyrical ennui and relentless, chugging ‘The Jean Genie’ riff, the very aptly titled ‘David’ is the most perfect of musical dichotomies. And by saddling the concept of onanism to a faux-Nevermind rhythm, ‘Lance Jr.’ is never going to be some comfortable mainstream ride. Barnett dryly dedicates ‘Are You Looking After Yourself?’ to anyone in the room who has had a parent. Her laconic delivery merely serves to accentuate the song’s unruffled charm.

On The Double EP’s first single ‘Avant Gardener’ Barnett sings-speaks the lines like a young Patti Smith did to such mesmerising effect on Horses. “I’m having trouble breathing in” she says and you know exactly what she means. An exhilarating ‘History Eraser’ concludes the set before Barnett returns alone to perform ‘Depreston’, a new song all about house-hunting in the eponymous suburb of Melbourne. For Courtney Barnett you sense the wider search is now over for she has most surely arrived.

More photos from this show can be found here


God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.