Courtney Barnett has amassed a huge following over the past year with her heavy handed approach to irony-ridden folk storytelling. Her straightforward manner of songwriting follows her everywhere as she tours with only a three piece band and doodles the designs for all of her merch and album art. This week at Metropolis, Barnett showed just how fun she can be in front of a rowdy crowd with a deep sense of love and admiration. The near 90-minute set served as a perfect rundown of her whole career including her newest single “Three Packs a Day” as well as older hits off of her first EP Sea of Split Peas. Perhaps the most inspiring aspect of the night was just how well received her set was. Having gotten the chance to see her last summer at the Newport Folk Festival, I felt like the massive Metropolis crowd served her music well, with each and every lyric and guitar lick being supported by riveting cheers and rousing sing alongs.
Doldrums has had a presence in the music community for a while and it seems that he has once again struck gold with the release of “The Air Conditioned Nightmare.” With fun jams like “We Awake” and “Loops” and interesting experiments such as “My Friend Simjen,” the album is an especially diverse addition to the CKUT library.
The word that constantly comes to mind when listening to this album is balance. Doldrums displays a mastery of many different musical devices throughout the album, but he never overdoes anything, resulting in an exciting album from start to finish. His infatuating melodies are balanced out by his harsh industrial aesthetic, the droning dance beats are counteracted by experimental sampling, and the eerie electronic sounds are balanced out by the focused acoustic drum kit. It is this ability to create balance that gives Doldrums the ability to have a unique, genre-bending sound without ever becoming overbearing.
Another part of what makes “The Air Conditioned Nightmare” so brilliant is its combination of accessibility and complexity. At first glance, the album is fun and prone to being used as dance music but, with every new listen comes a more focused look at the deeper aspects of the album. The production, for example, is pure genius. Doldrums combines many different electronic sounds into a modern ensemble sound that maintains a sense of humanity. Despite the heavy use of synthesizers, Doldrums never sounds dry or robotic and each part is approached with the same level of intensity, which gives the music a sense of depth and maturity.
All in all, Doldrums is a great piece of music that won’t scare your parents. It’s usually one of the first suggestions I give to anyone just getting into the underground scene and it has captured my attention many times since my first time hearing it.
-Review by Donovan Burtan