Morning Edition, the singer-songwriter admits that she didn't think people were actually listening to her music." />
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The Quirky Aussie Who Wheezed Life Into 2013

Courtney Barnett performs at the Mercury Lounge in New York City during the CMJ Music Festival in October. (CMJ)

Courtney Barnett, a singer, songwriter and guitarist from Melbourne, Australia, released one of the quirkiest collections of songs this year with The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas.

During a recent conversation on Morning Edition, Barnett says she didn't even notice when people started paying attention to her music — including her breakthrough song, "Avant Gardener," which serves as an unexpectedly amusing first-person account of anaphylactic shock. Click the audio link to hear more of the discussion.

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Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

OK. As this year winds down, we're going to listen to some music from 2013; great stuff that we didn't quite get to earlier in the year. It's an annual series that we call Music We Missed, and we'll kick it off with a new artist from Down Under.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)

COURTNEY BARNETT: (Singing) I got drunk and fell asleep atop the sheets but luckily, I left the heater on...

GREENE: The Australian musician Courtney Barnett sings energetic songs that are packed with word play and charm.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)

BARNETT: (Singing) We drifted to a party, cool. The people went to arty school. They made their paints by mixing acid wash and lemonade...

GREENE: Barnett grew up near the beach, outside Sydney. She liked the band Nirvana and learned to play it on guitar, to impress her older brother. Today, she's impressing a lot of people, but she also hasn't given up her day job. Barnett, who's 26 years old, serves beer at a rock club in Melbourne. That's when she's not playing on stage there. Maybe she's in that classic spot between waiting tables and hitting it big.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)

BARNETT: (Singing) If you see me when I'm feeling down, I don't know if I want you around...

GREENE: Barnett's songs are true stories. Most 20-somethings will relate to them. She sings of parties and romance, and long chats with concerned parents. This one is called "Are You Looking Out For Yourself?"

BARNETT: I remember writing it. It was basically a direct transcription of a phone call. You know, parents always worry.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ARE YOU LOOKING OUT FOR YOURSELF?")

BARNETT: (Singing) Are you working hard, my darling? We're so worried, always thinking of you and...

GREENE: Barnett's quirkiest song has to be "Avant Gardener." It's a five-minute tale about the time she had an asthma attack and had to go to the hospital. Barnett says she was living in a dumpy house with lots of roommates, at the time.

BARNETT: We were on street of families and kids and, you know, everyone would walk past our house and just glare at us; and it was embarrassing.

GREENE: So one day, Barnett decided to get up and do something about it. She headed out to fix up the garden.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AVANT GARDENER")

BARNETT: (Singing) I felt proactive. I pull out weeds. Although the sun - I'm having trouble breathing in. I'm having trouble breathing in...

I really was having a lot of trouble breathing. And I just remember having this moment of going wow, I'm 25 and now, I'm about to die. What a waste of time.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AVANT GARDENER")

BARNETT: (Singing) Oh...

GREENE: It's something that could happen to anyone. What's interesting is that Barnett opted to make it a song.

BARNETT: I don't know how this song came out of it, going from such a kind of stressful and scary thing to kind of seeing the humor afterwards, you know. I thought that was kind of funny.

GREENE: Which goes to show you that you really never know where inspiration might strike. Courtney Barnett's album is called "The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas." Tomorrow, we'll continue Music We Missed with folk rock from the Wisconsin band Blessed Feathers.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AVANT GARDENER") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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