Well, it had to happen in music eventually.
For years we Brits have had to smile through gritted teeth as Australians beat us at everything, especially sports we had taught them to play. Cricket, rugby, tennis (although we have come good on that one recently) – you name it. Even their football team looks like it could give us a run for our money right now. But no matter how much the Pavilion at Lords applauded the antipodian victors, the aged members always had in the back of their minds a comforting mantra. “Yes, you may have just scored a double century and made our bowling attack look as feeble as a day old lamb, but we still haven’t seen a decent Australian act on Top of the Pops since Men At Work” *
But now it seems that Australia is exporting knockout acts as easily as it once exported terrible lager. Tame Impala, Preatures and Pond are three great bands that actually spring to mind right now. And there are probably more. I say probably, there are twenty eight alone playing at Glastonbury this weekend.
To that lengthy list we can include Courtney Barnett, who is a singer songwriter who lives in Melbourne, Australia (where the Minogue sisters also hail from) and who has released two EPs, collected onto the full-length double EP “A Sea of Split Peas”, which is a minor masterpiece.
Barnett has an appealing laconic drawl, an exhausted and world weary singing style capped with her recognisable Australian accent.
Live, Barnett’s three piece band produce a sound that is heavier than her records suggest. There’s a touch of some of Nirvana’s quieter moments (think “All Apologies” or perhaps their cover of Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold The World”) but that’s as far as the comparison goes.
Barnett’s delivery is deadpan rather than pained. It’s all very chilled and relaxed, like The Park Stage itself.
Highlight “Avant Gardener” describes an anaphylactic attack in a resigned manner with a chorus of “I’m not that good at breathing in”. It is in many ways a perfect summer song, if a little dark. The ambulance comes, she gets treatment. There’s a happy ending at least – even if Barnett wishes she “should have stayed in bed today”.
We take off our wellies and dance, badly, in the sun….
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