Courtney Barnett | Tell Me How You Really Feel


Family Average: 6.3/7

Oh who do we have here? It's Courtney Barnett. We have our dear Kate to thank for this recommendation. Thank you Kate! This is the second album from this Australian rock and roll wizard. Fun Fact: She did the design for the cover art herself. She did not, however, design the art in this article. Sean did that. 

But we're not here to talk about design! We're here to talk about MUSIC! So listen along on Courtney's Spotify as you check out what we had to say:


Hello there Courtney Barnett, this is an album of growth. She begins with “Hopefullessness.” The somewhat unsettling (in a good way though) guitar on this track was reminiscent of some classic Nirvana. Then she’s back to herself with “City Looks Pretty” but it's more refined and put together than her past work.

I like the groove of this album. Her lyrics have moments of profoundness and the rest are comfortably simple in that monotone melancholy voice, I like.

"Nameless, Faceless", oooooo I really like the music itself a lot stylish, she is stylish, this album is too. I approve of the instrumentals on “Help Yourself” también and then “Sunday Roast” closed us off perfectly.

Good work lady, I’ve never listened to an album of hers all the way through and I honestly thought I’d get sick of it. That was not how that went down, she kept me engaged with grooviness, style, and variety.



Ah, home to the familiar winding, plucky guitar that I have come to know and love from this astounding artist. The sounds she is able to generate, catch me in such a state. Dazed and staring at the moving floor, my shoes tapping rhythmically (but sometimes offbeat). Ironically, my favorite song on the album has one of my least favorite titles, “Crippling Self-Doubt And A General Lack of Confidence”.  Eh and I actually think the effect it has on me is hilarious. Here she is writing a song about how she is doing incredible things in the music world while still feeling like the song's title, despite hundreds of people telling her to lighten up and be more happy. As a result I end up wishing I could tell her to lighten up and be effect just playing into the meaning of the song. So yeah I don’t know if that makes sense but I liked how it sounded in my head.



I must admit I have a huge biased writing this review as I fell in love with Courtney’s lyrics in Avant Gardener when my pal Annie introduced me to her a few years back. That and I saw her perform this album in its entirety live at The Music Hall of Williamsburg...amped as a kid on Christmas.

This album was already perfectly described by Meghan as  “an album of growth”. We see Courtney’s lyrics move from Mundane Mondays in 2013, to a mix of emotions but all rather dreamy in 2015, to the artist singing about her mounting success and strained relationships with herself and others as a result. These thoughts are carried along in the 90’s esque guitar styles...sometimes screaming and grungy sometimes more rock sometimes indie. It’s a variety she has only improved upon since her last album of similar nature.  Throughout it all you’re feeling each song along with her; the emotions rapping you up into a tailspin as your hair is bobbing around, covering your eyes in rhythm and distorting the world around you.

For me personally, nobody does it quite like Courtney these days.



What can I say? I really like this type of music. What's more is I especially enjoyed this album.

Ms. Barnett scores big with me on this one. I particularly like “City Looks Pretty” and “Nameless Faceless”. The composition is my favorite mix of punk, indie rock, and garageband banter. I’m a fan of her method of strumming her Fender guitars without a pick; I love the imperfection of it all. This pick-less method is also employed by Lindsey Buckingham, a master of the guitar. Courtney’s most recent work feels nice. Like coming home from an exhausting trip, the tracks flow comfortably, pleasing to the ears and good for the soul. She is like the lady Lou Reed, melodic, lyrical and a bit mystical. It is Rock'n Roll in its simplicity, and finest. Guitars, drums, and piano making music the way it was meant to be.




I have to say, this is my favorite pick from this year's selections. Well written and produced, an all around fun album. "Charity" has gotten a lot of air play, at least on our local college station. It is easy to see why. It's pretty pop and I can see it appealing to a wide audience. Not sure why she started with "Hopelessness". It was my least favorite track, but there must be a reason because the rest of the album flowed like cold beer on a hot day!

Her music is like well written poetry set to the perfect music. I give it:



There is something so great about an artist that can sing-talk. You know what I mean? It's like she's not even trying. Her laid-back, I’m just telling you my thoughts and feelings approach could rub a lot of people the wrong way, but it just works for me. I feel like she is just what the doctor ordered to revive the indie rock scene. The album is candid, kinda offbeat and directly indirect.  Through her lyrics, she processes all of our (my) anxieties, distilling them into quirky word-plays and offers up a bit of optimism. Her lyrics just slash and burn. Then, on “Nameless, Faceless,” she quotes Margaret Atwood: “Men are afraid women will laugh at them; women are afraid men will kill them…” Ooooooof. As far as being an introspective singer-songwriter, there’s no ego on her. She’s pure heart and quirk. I’m into it. Yes. Yes. Yes.



I put this album on to get my lazy ass off my bed and cook some dinner, and it really helped get my mood back up. Courtney Barnett is a lot of the things that I love to see in an artist. Someone who knows their strengths and plays to them but leave enough room to branch out and experiment. She’s just true to who she is.

The songs all had their own mood, shifting from soliloquy in a bar to full out rock. They were arranged perfectly so that they all flowed seamlessly but you could still tell when one song ended and another began. It’s great when an artist makes the most of the album format like that.

The guitar, drums, and medley of accompaniments shifting between songs all had their place and none seemed like they were just tacked on to add substance.  There was a bit of distortion in some songs, but it serves more as an accent than a defining trait.And she’s still got that distinct voice that’s like “look I’m not a practiced vocalist but I’m just here for a fun time” and it works well. Nothing she does feels like it’s put on either, it’s really genuine.

All in all definitely an album I’ll be coming back to. Put it on if you ever feel like you’re not sure where you’re at.



Courtney has managed to do something that not a lot of artists can claim: she has found a style that's recognizable, yet evolving. It's especially remarkable to do that in a genre like rock music. This album is both familiar and different from her previous works. There was a lot of White Stripe, Nirvana influences felt throughout, but it still sounded very much like Courtney. Her singing is not fancy but it works. I prefer that than when people are bad singers and rely heavily on autotune to fabricate a "better" singing voice [take that, Kanye]. 

I particularly liked "City Looks Pretty" and "I'm Not Your Mother, I'm Not Your Bitch". Also, what a guitar solo in "Hopefulessness"! It sounded reminiscent of a man that went by the name of James "Jimi Hendrix" Hendrix. Maybe you've heard of him. Great job, Courtney! My favorite album so far. 


Sean Maldjian