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Firefly 2019’s lineup led by Panic! At The Disco, Travis Scott, Post Malone, with Courtney Barnett, Vampire Weekend, Hop Along on the undercard

from left, Panic! At The Disco | photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN // Travis Scott | photo by Isaiah Spicer for WXPN // Post Malone | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

While Firefly‘s recently-announced 2019 lineup isn’t doing anything to improve the Dover, Delaware festival’s track record of booking overwelmingly male headliners, seeing psychedelic rap visionary Travis Scott take the big-font Saturday-night prime slot is indeed a silver lining, especially in the wake of his ridiculous ASTROWORLD tour stop at the Wells Fargo Center.

Scott is sandwiched between Friday’s appearance from pop punk dramatists Panic! At the Disco and Sunday’s closing set from hip-hop’s voice of suburban ennui, Post Malone, who admittedly has a few catchy songs in his playbook. But as the case is with most festivals of this scale, the true excitement at Firefly lies in its undercard. Continue reading →

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Need A Little Time: Courtney Barnett slays at The Fillmore

Courtney Barnett | photo by Michelle Montgomery for WXPN

When Courtney Barnett first barged into the scene back in 2013 with The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas, I was floored. I couldn’t get enough. The Modern Lovers-derived, cheeky lyric-infused catchy songs were addictive. Literally. For, like, two years straight I listened to Barnett’s music multiple times a week. It wasn’t healthy. I’d listen to the songs before I’d go to sleep because they were stuck in my head, but the infectious melodies would energize me to the point of not being able to fall asleep. I was not a morning person.

But it was too much. I got burned out. Too much of the same music can do that to you, and if you really overdo it, it will ruin the music for you permanently. This happened to me with Billy Joel. It’s not that Billy Joel writes bad music, it’s just that I heard it too much. Nowadays, whenever the sound of Billy Joel is emitted from the intercom of a CVS I happen to be shopping in, I have to quell my oncoming apoplexy and refocus my attention on which overpriced toothpaste I’ll buy this time.

I started to feel this condition setting in with Courtney Barnett. As a result, I effectively went on a Courtney Barnett hiatus. When she came to Union Transfer last time around, I didn’t even go. I could sense myself getting worn out.

Fast forward to this year’s NonCOMM. Courtney Barnett was on the bill, and I wasn’t even excited about it. I was stoked to see Starcrawler and Jeff Rosenstock, but Courtney Barnett was an afterthought. I went to Barnett’s performance anyway, figuring I had nothing better to do. The energy in her set was palpable. The new songs were still catchy and witty, but a bit more structured that the stuff from the Split Peas era. Instantly, the hiatus had ended. I was re-obsessed and committed myself to seeing her upcoming show at the Fillmore in October. Continue reading →

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Courtney Barnett returns with a chatty single “Small Talk”

Courtney Barnett | photo by Pooneh Ghana | courtesy of the artist
Courtney Barnett | photo by Pooneh Ghana | courtesy of the artist

Courtney Barnett released her latest album Tell Me How You Really Fell just last May, and already she’s back with a new track. “Small Talk” is Barnett’s addition to indie NY label Mom + Pop’s 10th anniversary compilation.

The song is warm with a nuzzling familiarity, the toasty heat of a crowded kitchen, a friend’s arm slung around your shoulders. Barnett captures the strained obligation of small talk at a family gathering, the lengthy gaps of time to fill, the buzz of muddled and meaningless conversation. Continue reading →

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Explore Toronto with Courtney Barnett in the new “Charity” video

still from video

Melbourne rocker Courtney Barnett spent two days in Toronto last month, headlining the Danforth Music Hall both nights, and she totally maximized her time there, as we see in her new music video for “Charity.”

Intercut alongside soundcheck and gig footage, we see Barnett and her band making their way around Toronto. They record an interview on local alternative radio beacon Indie88, then recorded a couple acoustic songs for the station’s Stiegl Hidden Studios Sessions. They also spend some time in Harbour Square Park, with Lake Ontario in the distance, jamming around and inside John Fung and Paul Figueiredo’s Sundial Folly sculpture.

Filmed by Ashley Connor on 16mm Kodak film, it captures the scenes and the city in warm lights and rich color; watch “Charity” below. Continue reading →

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Courtney Barnett debuts her new album, jams with Kurt Vile in epic Union Transfer show

Courtney Barnett | photo by Natalie Piserchio | nataliepiserchio.com

Courtney Barnett played a lively, jam-packed 90-minute set on Wednesday night to a sold out Union Transfer, showcasing her entire new album Tell Me How You Really Feel, as well as older hits like “Avant Gardener” and “Pedestrian at Best,” and a surprise guest performance with Philadelphia native Kurt Vile.

Barnett is on the last leg of their mini US tour with Bones Sloane on bass, Katie Harkin leading on guitar and keys, and drummer Dave Mudie, debuting her new album, out Friday on Barnett’s Milk! Records, Mom + Pop and Marathon Artists.

Barnett started their Philly set with Hopefulessness, and quickly after said, “We’re gonna play our new album. It comes out tomorrow, I think? What day of the week is it?”, with her classic bed-head charm. The band played an energetic “City Looks Pretty,” “Charity,” and “Nameless, Faceless,” along with more subdued songs from the album like “Need A Little Time,” and “Sunday Roast.” Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: Courtney Barnett gives the Free At Noon crowd a taste of what’s to come

Courtney Barnett | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

Australian singer, songwriter and all around force of nature Courtney Barnett will release her highly anticipated new record Tell Me How You Really Feel this Friday, and she’ll headline Union Transfer tonight, but before all that, she stopped by NonCOMM to give us a preview of what’s to come.

Barnett’s appearance this afternoon was a long time coming for many in the audience — she was in Philadelphia last fall touring behind her collaborative project with Kurt Vile, and again to play guitar in her partner Jen Cloher’s band, but this is the first time we’ve seen her play solo material since the last album cycle (which included an appearance at #XPNFest 2015). For both die-hard Barnett fans and those of us who have been waiting for ages to see her (uh, me), today’s incredibly dynamic performance met, exceeded, and blew away any and all expectations.

Performing in trio form, Barnett and band delivered a fast-paced and powerful eight-song set to the midday crowd, alternating between the forthcoming record’s singles, brand new soon-to-be-released songs and some older favorites off 2015’s Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit. Barnett is a musician so essential to XPN listeners that sometimes it’s easy to forget she came from all the way across the world to perform here; when the band opened with Tell Me How You Really Feel track “City Looks Pretty,” it seemed that Barnett could easily have been singing about Philadelphia. Continue reading →

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Courtney Barnett releases instructional video for new single, “Sunday Roast”

Courtney Barnett | still from video

Courtney Barnett’s latest video opens like many YouTube tutorial videos may open. “Hey guys, its me, Courtney Barnett. Today I’m going to show you how to play ‘Sunday Roast,’” Barnett says, greeting the viewers on the other side of the screen. The instructional video doubles as Barnett’s latest single release off her upcoming album, Tell Me How You Really Feel, out May 18.

The video features Barnett sitting on a futon strumming along to the track, flanked by two figures cropped out of the frame. Close-up shots of Barnett playing the guitar float across the screen throughout the 4-minute video, instructing viewers on how to play along at home.  Continue reading →

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Courtney Barnett unpacks ideas of home in her new single “City Looks Pretty”

Courtney Barnett
Courtney Barnett | photo by Pooneh Ghana | courtesy of the artist

The forthcoming Courtney Barnett album (just four weeks away!) is steadily shaping up to be pretty incredible. We’ve heard two singles, “Nameless, Faceless” and “Need A Little Time,” and now Barnett has a third. Called “City Looks Pretty,” it’s a soft and catchy, starting off fast-paced and frantic, and slowing down to a calming lull midway through. It’s also a bracingly honest exploration of how we define home, and how relationships can be strained when you’re not always present in one place. Continue reading →

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Just Announced: Waxahatchee will open for Courtney Barnett this October

Waxahatchee at Union Transfer | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Just announced as opening support for Courtney Barnett’s Fall run of U.S. shows is local-favorite Waxahatchee, which includes a stop at Fishtown’s Fillmore on October 23. The announcement comes the day after Waxahatchee rocked Union Transfer, and we couldn’t be more excited for the pair of rockers’ show in October. Check back in to The Key later this afternoon for our recap of Waxahatchee’s set at last night’s co-headlining gig alongside Hurray For The Riff Raff. Continue reading →