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After years toiling away as a guitarist in other-people’s bands, Courtney Barnett finally gained the courage to step out as a solo artist less than two years ago. Gathering together a bunch of like minded friends, she recorded a debut EP of rambling garage pop and began life as a front-woman.
That EP I’ve Got A Friend Called Emily Ferris received glowing reviews in her home country of Australia but that trickle of critical acclaim turned into a river of praise upon the release of her second EP How To Carve A Carrot Into A Rose.
While the sprawling guitar jams of her band “The Courtney Barnetts” barely hide her remarkable pop sensibility it’s Courtney’s honesty, wit and unique turn of phrase that set her apart from the rest. Reviews range from calling her “The next queen of Australian rock and roll” to just wanting to be mates with her, “I’ve only ever met her once but I can tell she’s a legend.”
2013 has seen Courtney release a bunch of killer singles such as the free associating ‘History Eraser’ (praised by The Guardian as “a perfect summary of the earnest freewheelin’ and rambling wit that makes music from this end of the world just so great.”) and the anaphylactic balladry of ‘Avant Gardener’. With a second EP complete (produced by The Drones’ Dan Luscombe), a debut album around the corner and an increasingly impatient international audience waiting for her to leave her shores, it’s an exciting time to be one of Courtney Barnett’s friends.
The third album from J. Roddy Walston & The Business, Essential Tremors borrows its name from a nervous-system disorder that’s long plagued the band’s frontman. “It’s this condition where my hands shake?sometimes not at all, but sometimes pretty bad,” says singer/pianist/guitarist Walston. “I’ve referenced it throughout all our records in some way, but it made sense to be more open about it on this album, which is partly about owning and embracing your weirdness instead of letting it hold you captive because you don’t even want to talk about it.”
For J. Roddy Walston & The Business?who formed in 2002 in Walston’s hometown of Cleveland, Tennessee?embracing weirdness means a mumble-out-loud celebration of that great and terrible burden of being human. Forcing the oft-clashing worlds of art and rock-and-roll to make nice, the band (including guitarist/vocalist Billy Gordon, bassist/vocalist Logan Davis, and drummer Steve Colmus) deals in a scrappy yet sublime sound that honors both their Southern roots and punk spirit. On Essential Tremors, J. Roddy Walston & The Business builds off that formula with a mix of heavy hooks and elegant melodies revealing their affinity for artists as disparate as Led Zeppelin, pre-disco-era Bee Gees, The Replacements, Randy Newman, and the Southern soul outfits that once populated the Stax Records label. Co-produced by Matt Wignall (Delta Spirit, Cold War Kids) and Grammy-winning producer/engineer Mark Neill (The Black Keys) at Neill’s own Soil of the South Studios (a Valdosta, Georgia-based facility where J. Roddy Walston & The Business were the first to ever record), the follow-up to 2010’s much-acclaimed self-titled sophomore album also finds the band crafting lyrics that ultimately serve as a secret language to the initiated listener.