Courtney Barnett, Radar Eyes, Landmarks | Empty Bottle | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
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Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett, Radar Eyes, Landmarks 

When: Tue., Feb. 18, 9 p.m. 2014
Twenty-five-year-old Melbourne singer Courtney Barnett unfurls the lines to her wordy songs with an apathy that belies their sharpness. She propels last year’s impressive The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas (Marathon Artists) with her scrappy, post-Velvet Underground guitar, which alternates between rudimentary rock ’n’ roll riffs (such as the Chicago blues lick in “David”) and hypnotic swirling (“Porcelain”). In a thickly accented voice, Barnett reveals private details of her life like she’s reading a recipe aloud, but her monotone delivery doesn’t take the bite out of her lyrics. In “Scotty Says,” adrift in the world and unsure of where she is, she describes the process of getting rid of everything she owns—though in the first stanza she rips apart a photo of an ex and then glues it back together, betraying her own apparent indifference. In “Avant Gardener” an uplifting morning of gardening goes bad when an anaphylactic attack sends her to the hospital, and she never surrenders her self-consciousness or self-awareness: “Halfway down High Street, Andy looks ambivalent / He’s probably wondering what I’m doing getting in an ambulance / The paramedic thinks I’m clever ’cause I play guitar / I think she’s clever ’cause she stops people dying.” Her lean band arrangements are a bit short on dynamic range, but the hooks in her drawly melodies come through just fine anyway. —Peter Margasak Radar Eyes and Landmarks open.

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