Album of the Week: Courtney Barnett + Kurt Vile – Lotta Sea Lice

Lotta Sea Lice by Courtney Barnett + Kurt Vile
Lotta Sea Lice by Courtney Barnett + Kurt Vile

Songwriting collaborations have the ability to meld two distinct styles to create an astounding sound. When everything lines up correctly, there’s an experience of two artists riding on the same wavelength. Lo-fi Americana fuzz master Kurt Vile and garage rock upstart Courtney Barnett got together to put out an album titled Lotta Sea Lice that was released Oct 13 via Matador Records. It’s a great fusion of Vile’s eccentric melodies and Barnett’s deadpan pop sensibilities. Vile’s trademark twang also complements Barnett’s signature wit.

Barnett and Vile initially got together out of mutual admiration and it grew to them putting together an all-star band in Barnett’s home country of Australia that was met with wide acclaim. The music that comes out of both of them writing together is electrified folksy pop that incorporates noticeable characteristics from both musicians. There’s some quirkiness but there’s also a stunning amount of musical brilliance. It sounds like the product of two songwriters playing acoustic guitars while backed with a talented band. Lotta Sea Lice brings a lot to the senses for the listener to enjoy.

There have been countless collaborations in music over the decades, but what makes this one with Barnett and Vile different is how they fuse their weirdness together. Both of their artistic identities are present, but they both take a backs eat to the result. A few songs are low key and relaxed while others are amplified and hard-hitting. The harmony of Barnett and Vile leaves a lasting impression. Examine that impression and more with my top tracks off of the Album of the Week:


An anthem for isolation, “Fear Is Like A Forest” has more of a rock tone than the more stripped-down songs; the track has a blues tinge that throws love out the door and embraces being by yourself. “Continental Breakfast” is an adorable song about crushes and the importance of friendships from afar; there’s an acoustic base present while the steady, soft drums set a relaxing mood. Barnett also does a great version of Vile’s “Peeping Tomboy” and she nails a bit of his drawl.

Barnett and Vile are currently in the midst of a tour supporting Lotta Sea Lice, and New England fans can catch them at the Orpheum Theatre in Boston on Nov 4. It’s bound to be a special experience with different versions of both of their songs being played along with the originals they wrote together. Don’t forget to grab a copy of the album while you’re there. This record is ideal for fans of either musician’s solo material, but it’s also ideal for anyone who likes great music.

“Continental Breakfast” music video:

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