New music – June 2015

I should have had this blog years ago, when I was buying up to five albums a week sometimes and my CD collection ballooned over 900. Since then, I cut down my collection by about a third, and got much more selective about my purchases. By a coincidence, the last two I got are both by Australian artists.

Chet Faker – Built on Glass

Yeah late to the party with this one, probably because it took me a while to warm up to the songs I heard played on Triple J. When Talk is Cheap was voted top track in the Hottest 100 poll, I went, ok it’s nice and all, but no. 1? Since then though its saxophone and sexy groove really wormed its way into my brain, especially when I decided that I could use it some day to create a neat bellydance routine. This song and Gold are the clear individual standouts and nothing else quite matches them, but still, Chet Faker’s R&B/soul-influenced electronica makes for a great chillout album.

Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

Give me all your money,
And I’ll make some origami honey

Usually I’m very much a music-over-lyrics kinda girl – if the music doesn’t grab me I can’t get into an artist/band no matter how great their lyrics are; and on the other hand, I can put up with any amount of terrible lyrics if I’m really into the music. Sometimes I couldn’t even tell you what the lyrics for my favourite songs actually are. So this album, which I really love by the way, is an odd one out for me. Not to say that it’s poor music-wise, but the music here is more like a bedrock for Barnett to layer her vocals and lyrics over, rather than being remarkable in itself. The real attraction here is a strong sense of a unique personality, charmingly offbeat vocal delivery (deadpan, sorta-singing-sorta-speaking) and truly remarkable lyrics: wordy, witty, sometimes rambling, sometimes with a more clear narrative, always packed with sharply observed everyday details. Actually, though they don’t sound much alike, this album’s appeal to me is probably not too dissimilar to that of Liz Phair’s Exile to Guyville.

Living in Melbourne, it feels even more special to listen to the songs that are based on your home city. My favourite of the lot is probably Depreston, a melancholic and poignant number about house-hunting in Preston and coming across the previous owner’s possessions. Another favourite is Pedestrian at Best, the rockiest track on the album with stream-of-consciousness lyrics and dry humour. It will be interesting to see where she goes from here, once her style doesn’t have the advantage of freshness; sometimes when an artist appears to be so fully formed on their debut album everything else they do afterwards ends up as diminishing returns. Hopefully she avoids it.

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