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Mixing witty, often hilarious, occasionally even heartbreaking observations with devastating self-assessment, Courtney Barnett's widely acclaimed 2015 full-length debut album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, cemented her standing as one of the most distinctive and compelling voices in indie rock. These eleven songs reveal not only an assured songwriter and guitar player, but also an artist who in just a few years time has already proved highly influential.
Fueled by the nimble crunch of her guitar and the loose groove of the rhythm section, Barnett's songs are wild and shaggy and wordy, her lyrics plainspoken and delivered like she's making them up on the spot. The music is rooted in the slack jangle of the late-80s and the early-90s, which has prompted the adjective "slacker" from journalists and critics around the world. That word is fitting for tunes that sound like they only just roused themselves out of bed. As a description of Barnett's work ethic and musical influence, however, "slacker" couldn't be further from the truth.
Barnett and her band - which includes Dan Luscombe on guitar and the surprisingly nimble rhythm section of Bones Sloane on bass and Dave Mudie on drums - recorded the album at Head Gap Studio in Melbourne during the fall of 2014. It's a beguiling collection of songs that reveals her as an ambitious songwriter with an ear for clever turns of phrase and an eye for story-song details that are literate without being pretentious. Barnett even did the artwork and hand lettering for the liner notes, showcasing a whimsical style similar to indie comics or the sketches of Eric Chase Anderson.