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CD of The Week

Week of 10/23/17

    Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile - Lotta Sea Lice (Matador)

    Lotta Sea Lice is the easy breeze of a record that everyone supposed it would be. Melbourne's Courtney Barnett and Philly's own Kurt Vile join musical forces to create a collection of new originals and covers that hovers in a pragmatic mellow mood. Together they have molded a joint sound that pulls equally from both of their styles and lets them explore new ways of approaching songs already familiar to them.

    Opening the album confidently, "Over Everything" is the ideal marriage of both artists. A 6-minute firework display of searing guitars and anecdotes, the song builds gradually to a sparking frenzy. "Continental Breakfast" could be an ode to the record itself. Swapping stories "in a hotel east bumble wherever," the pair drift into the melody and ride it to the end. Later in the record, "Blue Cheese" (written by Vile) provides a slightly silly, lighthearted charmer that showcases their quirkiness and provides a needed breather in an album majorly comprised of think pieces.

    A perfectly fitting selection for this project was the duo's cover of "Fear is Like a Forest," originally written by Barnett's partner Jen Cloher. Their version adds Vile's twang and shifts the yearning sensibilities of the original into a powerful display of guitar work and a supercharged refrain. Barnett's "Outta the Woodwork" sounds like it got lost in the void of desert highway with Vile assuming the lead and Barnett still echoing on supporting vocals. The surly almost stomp of their combined guitars feels menacing. Making the song her own, Barnett brightens Vile's "Peepin' Tom" as her vocals squirrel away in isolation with guitar plucked fervently.

    Great for a long drive through fall foliage or an existential escape, Lotta Sea Lice feels just right. The project allowed its two members to flex their musical muscles in a way that a new solo release might not have while never straying too far from their wheelhouses.

    You can see Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile join forces in person at the Tower Theater on November 3rd.

    **Donate $20 or more to Y-Not Radio to receive Lotta Sea Lice on CD. Click here for details.
    Review by Shana Hartzel

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