One week on from the ARIA Awards, Australia is buzzing with some of the live action going on across the country, including tours by A-listers such as Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran — the latter was able to show his face and perform at the ARIAs in Sydney on November 26. One noticeable absentee, however, was leading contender and multiple winner Courtney Barnett. The Melbourne-based singer and songwriter, who picked up best female artist for her album Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, was unable to attend because she is on tour in Britain. Despite not being able to pick up her three ARIAs, she can take some consolation in the reviews she has been earning in Blighty for her performances. On the day of the ARIAs, Barnett got gushing reviews for her show at London’s Kentish Town Forum, including in the national daily newspaper The Independent: “The wonderful stream-of-consciousness lyrics that tumble from her mouth make the 28-year-old as much of a poet as she is a singer: less apathetic slacker and more acute observer as she spits out snapshots of everyday life, making the mundane suddenly sound deeply meaningful.” One notes with interest that her encore for the evening was a cover of the Saints’ Know Your Product, after which “Barnett drops to the ground with her guitar, clambers to her feet again and wanders offstage: leaving her audience panting for more”. Well done her. Scoundrels Dallas Crane Nylon Sounds
A nine-year gap between albums finds Melbourne quartet Dallas Crane in astonishingly strong form. Its 2004 self-titled release is a rock 'n' roll classic that contrasts light and shade; 2006’s Factory Girls was a fine follow-up. The band has been missed on the touring circuit and its fifth album, Scoundrels, re-establishes its grip on the task of making rock songwriting sound fresh and vital. While the rhythm section has changed since the 2006 release, the core songwriting duo — guitarists Dave Larkin and Pete Satchell — has not, and these 10 songs are typically well-written, intelligent contributions. Larkin’s lead vocals are wonderfully gruff and distinct, and when Satchell steps up to the microphone with an acoustic guitar for album centrepiece Lucky Me, the contrast in their voices is stark. That song segues into the Larkinled Disillusioned; when combined, this pairing runs to eight minutes, surpassing the sevenminute-long Come Clean from the 2004 album in energy, emotion and duration. It’s a towering achievement that sees Dallas Crane exhibiting that key-in-lock feel sought by every rock band. These four players are masters of their craft. The band’s time off has been well-spent, as every idea here hits the mark. If anything, it’s an embarrassment of riches: in the final bars of third track So It Goes, the band switches gear and follows a different groove that fades to silence, hinting at the quality of what’s been left on the cutting-room floor.
Courtney Barnett is getting great reviews