Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile (and The Sea Lice)

Courtney Barnett puts a lot of effort into sounding effortless. Her songs are wild and wooly and wordy, her lyrics plainspoken and delivered like she’s making them up on the spot. In 2012 Courtney started Milk! Records and released her debut EP I've Got A Friend Called Emily Ferris. Her second EP How To Carve A Carrot Into A Rose (2013) received international acclaim, taking her and the band, Dave Mudie (drums), Bones Sloane (bass) and Dan Luscombe (guitar) all around the world. In 2014 her EP’s were re-released as The Double EP: A Sea Of Split Peas.

Barnett has a gift for turning mundane scenarios into gripping stories... brilliant (pre) debut - Pitchfork

Courtney Barnett is a remarkable new talent. - 4/5 TimeOut

Barnett's music builds on the wordy irreverence of mid-'60s Bob Dylan and a Byrds-ian blend of psychedelia, folk and country. - Pitchfork

What sets her apart is she's got a sense of songwriting that hearkens back to the creative burst of the late '60s. Specifically in California -- her melodies and psychedelic harmonies remind me of the work of David Crosby or John Phillips. - Brooklyn Vegan

Having been the subject and willing conspirator of many intentional lies planted in Sonic Youth bios over the years, I know first hand the way album lore can bend reality to its truth. After the infamous Byron Coley originated the SY “Trilogy” myth in the Murray Street bio, we had no choice but to fulfill those expectations with Sonic Nurse. “Why did you decide to make a trilogy?” was always the first question asked in interviews around that time.

But this is Kurt Vile’s bio, and I wont do that to him. Anyway, Kurt does his own myth making; a boy/man with an old soul voice in the age of digital everything becoming something else, which is why this focused, brilliantly clear and seemingly candid record is a breath of fresh air. Recorded and mixed in a number of locations, including Los Angeles and Joshua Tree, b’lieve i’m goin down… is a handshake across the country, east to west coast, thru the dustbowl history (“valley of ashes”) of woody honest strait forward talk guthrie, and a cali canyon dead still nite floating in a nearly waterless landscape. The record is all air, weightless, bodyless, but grounded in convincing authenticity, in the best version of singer songwriter upcycling. In Kurt’s words, “I wanted to get back into the habit of writing a sad song on my couch, with nobody waiting on me. I really wanted it to sound like it’s on my couch — not in a lo-fi way, just more unguarded and vulnerable.”

For a record that plays like a cohesive acoustic experience, its musicality marks Kurt’s departure from an electric guitar experience to include a range of instrumentation with a large group of players. From the banjo he plays on “I’m an Outlaw” to the piano and lapsteel on “Life Like This,” and the myriad other instruments on other songs, including farfisa, resonator, arps, horns and synth, one never thinks about what exactly yr listening to as it all serves the song.

The heart of the record is “Stand Inside.” The music is quiet and the melody, like a hymn, folds in on itself, and embraces full strength in a sexy, floating forcelessness that slowly gathers into a wave that doesn’t go where you think it will or rather gives in to itself and celebrates a man willing to be defined by a woman and his love for her as witness to each other’s lives… Don’t stand by my side, stand inside gives up roleplaying for true exposure and vulnerability.

It’s a weird, accepting, mature record, acknowledging the inherent immaturity of being a person whether father, husband, partner, adult, musician, not perfect, but compelling for its understanding … that’s life though so sad to say… I love this record,

b’lieve i’m goin down.

Kim Gordon

Jen Cloher is a highly respected recording and performing artist and outspoken artist advocate from Melbourne, Australia. Her debut album Dead Wood Falls garnering an ARIA nomination for Best Female Artist. In 2009 she recorded her second album Hidden Hands. In 2013 she released her third album In Blood Memory. Regarded by many as her strongest work to date, it was nominated for the Australian Music Prize in 2013.

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