Songs You May Have Missed #720

Courtney Barnett: “Here’s the Thing” (2021)

Oh, this confounding Courtney!

Her debut was a blast, a gust of fresh air that appeared to augur the arrival of a new rock artist that actually mattered–the way Elvis Costello’s My Aim is True or Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill seemed to do.

And of course, there being a dearth of rock artists that mattered in the 2010’s, it was likely inevitable Barnett’s first album was hailed as an instant classic.

And it probably is.

In fact, that album’s unfettered, shoot-from-the-hip lyrical feel and punkish energy sounds perhaps better with each passing year of what passes for mainstream pop.

But on Barnett’s two most recent releases the energy is muted, the focus doesn’t seem as sharp, and mid-tempo songs dominate–as if Courtney settled a bit prematurely into “long-term artist” status.


The thing is, despite the last couple albums falling short of the standard set by her debut, each of them has produced one extraordinary, idiosyncratic song. A song that doesn’t just feel like it came from some other album, but from some other artist.

In 2018 it was the excellent “Need a Little Time”. And this time it’s the beautiful, reflective, semi-psychedelic-sounding “Here’s the Thing”. It truly takes things to another plane.

Whether she has another album in her that’s as great as her first isn’t at issue. When she can produce songs like this one, you can’t ignore Courtney Barnett.

That’s the thing.

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Songs You May Have Missed #627

Courtney Barnett: “Need a Little Time” (2018)

On her Grammy nominated 2015 debut, Courtney Barnett sliced through the muck largely due to a brilliant off-the-cuff lyric style, a wry, witty sense of detail, and a punk lite, almost Dylanesque delivery.

All good stuff.

But “Need a Little Time”, from the sophomore outing Tell Me How You Really Feel, confounded expectation. Where most of Barnett’s work playfully jabs at your frontal lobe, this one earnestly pulls at your heart. And the melodic hook here is like a fall into a vat of strawberry-flavored taffy.

Also good stuff.

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Songs You May Have Missed #531


Courtney Barnett: “Dead Fox” (2015)

barnettIf we have to be subjected to absurd “new Dylan” comparisons every few years or so, it’s refreshing at least to hear them applied to a female for a change. Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett’s dry, witty, rambling lyrics have called a lot of attention to her debut album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit.

But she rocks too, coming as she does from a grunge/garage band.

“Dead Fox” illustrates the toll exacted on animal and even human life by dangerous highway freight trucking in the name of big business and lower supermarket prices (I know, another song about that).

But Barnett’s sardonic stream of consciousness lyric style makes what should be a pedantic diatribe instead sound like a droll (if pointed) anecdotal musing.

It’s pretty catchy too.

The video, animated and directed by Rory Kerr and Paul Ruttledge, drives home the song’s point in rather grisly fashion.

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