Lo-fi Aussie artist Courtney Barnett has enamored the music world with her sardonic lyrics, beautifully deadpan delivery and affinity for garage rock. Her official debut album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit (Mom & Pop), comes out this week and has spawned two celebrated singles: “Pedestrian at Best” and “Depreston,” both clever diatribes from suburban Melbourne.
If you’re digging the moody blues of Barnett, here are five other musicians we know you’ll enjoy:
The unequivocal “blowjob queen” of ’90s alternative rock, this Chicago native came onto the scene in 1993 and destroyed the boys club on MTV. Armed with an acoustic guitar, a potty mouth and a breathy voice, Phair enraptured with choice tracks like “Fuck and Run.” The two essential records, Exile in Guyville and Whip-Smart, are perfect examples of where Barnett got her groove. But don’t ignore Phair’s hidden gem, 1998’s whitechocolatespaceegg, where her pop prowess started to grow.
That woodsy guitar work and smoky drawl accent the art of Jen Cloher. With song titles like “David Bowie Eyes” and “Kamikaze Origami,” it’s evident she’s working on a level most folkies couldn’t comprehend. Reminiscent of an earthier Chrissie Hynde, Cloher has four albums to her name, most recently 2013’s In Blood Memory. She also happens to be Barnett’s girlfriend and business partner, co-owning their Milk! Records.
You’ve probably heard of this fabulous folkie thanks to her work on the Juno soundtrack. She’s quirky, a little child-like and 100 percent unique. Pretense? No such thing in Dawson’s world, where adults have as much fun as kids digging in the mud and finger-painting. She serves as lighthearted relief when the world (and the open-mic circuit) gets too overbearing. Breezy acoustic songs like “So Nice So Smart” challenge your thesaurus and put a spring into your step.
From Massachusetts come these three ladies who sound like they could’ve come from Olympia or Los Angeles. With detuned guitars and punkish snarls Abby (guitar/vox), Ally (bass) and Victoria (drums) blast through timeless tunes. Their 2013 LP, Hell Bent (Old Flame), made them indie blog darlings, with critics swooning over their ’90s-alternative-style song structures and Abby’s ensnaring contralto.
To call Kaki King a guitar virtuoso would be underselling her gift. She’s a game changer, preferring to play the traditional instrument like a drum, a bass, a lute, a xylophone— all with a fire and a tongue in her cheek. She’s taken her predominately wordless oeuvre to new heights with the 2014-2015 multimedia project and tour, The Neck Is a Bridge to the Body.
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