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Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile will lead an all-star band on a once-in-a-lifetime tour of North America this fall. The announcement comes as two of this generation’s most exciting and unique singer-songwriters reveal that they have completed a collaboration album for release later this year.
The inter-continental duo will share the stage, performing songs off their upcoming album as well as delving into their respective back catalogues and covering a bunch of classics, all backed by their band ‘The Sea Lice,’ a revolving cast of musicians including Janet Weiss (Sleater-Kinney, Wild Flag), Stella Mozgawa (Warpaint), Rob Laakso (The Violators, The Swirlies, Mice Parade) and Katie Harkin (Harkin, Sky Larkin and touring member of Sleater-Kinney and Wild Beasts). “A cookin’ band and an intercontinental country duo for the ages—minus the country,” says Vile.
Courtney recalls the seeds of the collaboration:
“In 2014 I scored a support slot opening for Kurt at the Abbotsford Convent [outside Melbourne]. We met briefly after the show but I was a bit nervous and didn’t wanna bother him, just grateful for the gig. Years later we started bumping into each other on the festival circuit all around the wide world and we became friends. He hit me up when he was coming to Melbourne next and said he thought we could work together.”
As Kurt tells it:
“I just love her voice in general… great lyrics of course… I love all her music but the song that really hit me was “Depreston”—I know it’s popular but her voice is so good in that song and it’s so pretty and sincere… I’m a sucker for that kinda song: instant classic. It started out as, maybe we’ll do a split 7″ together but then I figured let’s make it a 12” so it doesn’t get lost in the world, shoot for 5 songs. It wasn’t until I had another KV tour booked for the following summer in Oz that we thought we should record as much as we can, just see what happens, no major goal to make it a full length, but it came together that way ‘cause the vibe was so strong with everyone.”
For Courtney, the admiration is mutual:
“I’m a huge Kurt fan. Smoke Ring was one of my first purchases on vinyl. I was getting over a big break-up, unemployed and drifting and I would just lie on my bed and listen to ‘Peepin’ Tom’ on repeat. One of the most beautiful and luscious albums I ever heard. Me and Jen fell in love to that album.”
Kurt and Courtney have partnered with Plus 1 so that $1 from every ticket goes to support the ACLU and their work defending and protecting our individual rights and liberties.
The album is the result of 8 days in the studio spread over almost 15 months when Courtney and Kurt’s respective touring schedules allowed for them to be in the same place at the same time. It will be released later this year jointly by Matador Records, Marathon Artists and Milk! Records.
Mixing witty, often hilarious, occasionally even heartbreaking observations with devastating self-assessment, Courtney Barnett’s debut album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, cements her standing as one of the most distinctive and compelling voices in indie rock. These songs reveal not only an assured songwriter and guitar player, but also an artist who in just a few years has already proved highly influential.
Fueled by the nimble crunch of her guitar and the loose groove of the rhythm section, Courtney Barnett’s songs are wild and shaggy and wordy, her lyrics plainspoken and delivered like she’s making them up on the spot. The music is rooted in the slack jangle of the late 1980s and the early 1990s, which has prompted the adjective “slacker” from journalists and critics around the world. That word is fitting for tunes that sound like they only just roused themselves out of bed. As a description of Barnett’s work ethic and musical influence, however, “slacker” is all wrong.
Kurt Vile does his own myth making; a boy/man with an old soul voice in the age of digital everything becoming something else, which is why this focused, brilliantly clear and seemingly candid record is a breath of fresh air. Recorded and mixed in a number of locations, including Los Angeles and Joshua Tree, b’lieve i’m goin down… is a handshake across the country, east to west coast, thru the dustbowl history (“valley of ashes”) of woody honest strait forward talk guthrie, and a cali canyon dead still nite floating in a nearly waterless landscape.