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Courtney Barnett is an Australian musician with a penchant for clever lyrics and a deadpan, Lou Reed like, vocal style. Her song “Avant Gardener” was on my list of top cuts in 2014 and is today’s SotW.
The song actually came out on a 2013 EP called How to Carve a Carrot into a Rose, but I didn’t discover it until last year.
Pitchfork named it the “Best New Track” of 2013 and describes it like this:
“Avant Gardener” tells the story of a girl dragging her underemployed ass out of bed late on a Monday morning to try her hand at gardening– at which point she suffers a panic attack.
The scene unfolds like a dream: “Halfway down High Street, Andy looks ambivalent/ He’s probably wondering what I’m doing getting in an ambulance,” Barnett sings, her voice drifting through the lines in sweet speak-sing. “The paramedic thinks I’m clever ’cause I play guitar/ I think she’s clever ’cause she stops people dying.” They’re both right. Later, the song’s poor narrator struggles to get a good pull on her asthma inhaler. “I was never good at smoking bongs,” she confesses.
I think it was an asthma attack (she’s in a garden!), not a panic attack — thus the need for the inhaler — but close enough.
I’m pretty sure it’s Barnett that plays those angular guitar fills that sound like fingernails on a chalkboard (which is good in this setting). And just to make me like her a little bit extra, she plays left-handed.
Enjoy… until next week.