Friday, May 18, 2018

Courtney Barnett - Tell Me How You Really Feel (Mom + Pop, 2018)

Courtney Barnett
Tell Me How You Really Feel
Mom + Pop

Rating: 7.5 stale chocolate pies out of 10

No jinx here, Courtney Barnett has followed up her excellent solo debut “Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit” with an equally good sophomore response.  This makes me happy for a number of reasons:

1.     It’s nice to finally be high on the new record of an artist I haven’t been listening to for half my life or longer - which has been the case so far in 2018.  Superchunk, Hot Snakes, and the Sea & Cake have made my favorite albums of the year (so far), and all combined I’ve been listening to these three bands for 67 years.  By contrast, I’ve only known Courtney Barnett for 2 or 3 (I got into her first record a little late). 

2.     I’m glad to enjoy music by someone I would call a “popular” artist.  I mean, she’s not Beyonce popular, but she definitely has a certain cache – she’s been on Austin City Limits, Saturday Night Live, and a bunch of late night shows.  I’m often befuddled at what people see in acts that reach this level of cultural relevance, but not so with Barnett – the catchy, effortless songs she writes have a way of worming their way into your head.  There are a few others like Future Islands, War On Drugs, and Wilco that I love that have also reached this same level of success, but just like the bands mentioned in the first bullet point, I’ve been with those groups for a long time. 

3.     It’s always nice to find a new female artist I can really get behind.  I don’t mean that to be as sexist as it sounds, but ratio-wise there are just so many more male bands/performers out there, and I can be rather picky.  I’m more than aware of how much I listen to (mostly straight & white) dudes, but at the same time you can’t just make yourself like something for demographic reasons – you like the music or you don’t at the end of the day.  Luckily, digging Courtney Barnett comes real easy. 
The third through fifth songs (“Charity,” “Need A Little Time,” “Nameless, Faceless”) on this record are the strongest work Barnett has ever achieved IMO, and collectively cover all of the different styles you’d likely run into over the course of one of her records – the pop song, the slow song, and the rocker (in that order).  I keep going back and listening to this section over and over and over, it’s so goddamn good.  “Charity” in particular is a front-runner for one of my top songs of the year.    

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