If 2013 was the year that Kacey Musgraves became a breakout star, then 2014 was when music fans started to see the full effect of her success as the next wave of young, independent, female singer/songwriters followed her arrow and made a name for themselves on the national — and international — level.
The artist who may have benefitted the most from the exposure was Courtney Barnett. The 26-year-old badass from Melbourne, Australia, had been putting out her own music since 2012, but it wasn’t until last year that she finally saw the fruits of her labor.
“Avant Gardener” is the pinnacle track on her pseudo-full-length debut, The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas, which came out in October 2013. It combines a pair of EPs — I’ve Got a Friend Called Emily Ferris and How to Carve a Carrot into a Rose — to give listeners a full picture of what Barnett is trying to convey.
Clever lyrics are the strongest element of her music. Making them all the more decipherable is a slacker vibe throughout, from Barnett’s deadpan delivery to the purposely bumbling mix to the overall lo-fi nature of the recordings.
At times, Barnett’s songs sound like Lily Allen — that is, if the latter were a guitar-playing Aussie instead of a wannabe rapper with an annoying Cockney accent.
The album is ideal for doing chores around the house as the pacing never really ventures from the medium range. The above two tracks are the rowdiest on the disc, while most of the others are coated in a thick haze of apathy.
The tune, “Lance Jr.” is probably the closest thing to middle ground in this collection, with its tongue-in-cheek lyrics and melody that always seems ready to bust out but never quite does.
The darkhorse is “Anonymous Club,” a slow-but-stirring track in the middle of the album that catches you off guard until the end, when you’re suddenly tempted to hit repeat.
Barnett began her career playing in a grunge band, Rapid Transit, in 2010-11. She moved on to the psych/country band, Immigrant Union (2011-13), which was founded by Brent DeBoer of The Dandy Warhols.
During that time, she started her own label, Milk! Records, in 2012 and released her first EP.
By October 2013, after dropping another short disc and the combined double EP, she took things to the next level with a breakout performance at the CMJ Music Marathon in New York.
According to Wikipedia, she recorded a full-length album last April, but a release date is still unknown.