Courtney Barnett: Unguarded ‘Gardener’

Courtney Barnett plays Union Transfer in Philly on  Thursday, Feb. 20, Mercury Lounge in NYC on Friday, Feb. 21 and the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn on Saturday, Feb. 22.
Courtney Barnett plays Union Transfer in Philly on Thursday, Feb. 20, Mercury Lounge in NYC on Friday, Feb. 21 and the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn on Saturday, Feb. 22.

Last year was Courtney Barnett’s first time out of her native Australia besides two trips to New Zealand, and it went exactly the way it was supposed to. At the CMJ music festival in New York, the 24-year-old singer/songwriter’s unapologetic tunes garnered the attention of high-profile media outlets and scores of new followers alike.

“[CMJ] was cool because it’s kind of a mix of industry people, which is always a bit weird, but there’s an awesome off-the-street kind of crowd of music lovers, so it was fun playing to them and just talking to people afterwards,” she says. “Some of them had heard of us and some hadn’t. Well, most hadn’t, so, it’s good.”

Though she claims to have a shy, quiet nature, any and all trace of that melts away on stage, where she performs as though there’s nowhere else she could be more at ease. She’s like Lena Dunham in music-form, but with the short story skills of someone like Miranda July. From under shaggy brunette bangs her lyrics come like a lazy challenge: “I sleep in late / Another day / Oh what a wonder / Oh what a waste. / It’s a Monday / It’s so mundane / What exciting things / Will happen today?” Those are the first lines of her breakout hit, “Avant Gardener,” from “The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas,” set to release in North America April 15 via Mom+Pop.

A few tracks later, on “Are you Looking After Yourself?” she sings, “I don’t know what I was thinking, I should get a job / I don’t know what I was drinking, I should get a dog / Should get married, have some babies, watch the evening news,” and echoes the private, innermost thoughts of her entire generation.

Her maiden voyage now over, Barnett is making her way back through a slew of sold-out shows in the States before a gig supporting Billy Bragg on his Australian tour, which kicks off in March.

“Going from not even having ever traveled and just assuming I would never travel, I just assumed that no one would ever hear my music outside of Melbourne,” she says. “Every time it grows a little bit more, it gets a bit more surreal.”

A self-proclaimed compulsive note-keeper, Barnett draws on real life experiences for inspiration for her music. “Avant Gardener” chronicles a seemingly innocuous attempt at gardening that ends in an ambulance ride: “It was just an anxiety attack or something I think, and we didn’t know if it was like an allergy on top of it because I got this weird rash and then I stopped breathing,” she says. “Just after it happened I went and stayed in the country for two weeks and did heaps of writing and stuff and that’s when I wrote it, but we’d already written the music. It was weird, it was back-to-front. It kind of happened all separately, and then I kind of figured out how the words went with the music.”


Girl, 10, dies after being pulled from water…

A 10-year-old girl died after being pulled from the waters off Coney Island Beach in Brooklyn on Tuesday night, police said.


NY judge throws out lawsuit by Empire State…

A New York state judge has thrown out a lawsuit in which longtime investors in the Empire State Building claimed they were shortchanged out of hundreds of millions of dollars…


Mysterious white flags appear over Brooklyn Bridge

Two white flags mysteriously appeared over the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday in place of the American flags that are a traditional fixture.


Judge sets January start for murder trial of…

By Elizabeth BarberBOSTON (Reuters) - Former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez will be tried in January for the murder of semi-professional football player Odin…


'Pretty Little Liars' recap: Season 5, Episode 7,…

Drunk girls and ghost brownies: here’s your weekly ‘Pretty Little Liars’ recap by way of Q&A. Q: do they really not check for feet under…


Don't miss 'Charles James: Beyond Fashion' at the…

Have you been meaning to see "Charles James: Beyond Fashion"? There are only two weeks left to get to the Met and catch this amazing American fashion designer's collection.


Zac Posen talks 'Project Runway' and what it…

We talked to Zac Posen, judge and designer extraordinaire, about the new season of "Project Runway" and what keeps him coming back after three seasons.


'Face Off' contestant David 'DOC' O'Connell sounds off…

David "DOC" O'Connell tells us about getting cast on Season 7 of Syfy's "Face Off," premiering tonight at 9.


David Tyree hiring has gay rights advocates angry

Former Giants Super Bowl hero David Tyree will re-join the franchise as its new director of player development.


Ben McAdoo's new offense has Giants excited to…

Even Tom Coughlin feels he has a lot to learn about offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s new offense, which makes the veteran coach very excited.


MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead…

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead pack


2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will…

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will win Super Bowl?


Learn Braille with these gloves

U.S. scientists have designed high-tech gloves to help users understand Braille in a matter of minutes.


5 New Ikea products that will change your…

We round-up the latest must-have products.


Recipe: Wolfgang Puck's Buttermilk French Toast

We recently spent some time chatting with restauranteur/celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck at his Wolfgang Puck American Grille in the Borgata in Atlantic City. Puck wanted…


Go retro with your sneakers

The best of wacky new sneakers.