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Annie Barker


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Beautiful & fierce ethereal alternative pop

Status:

Most recent release, ...for a better place (EP, 2011)

See also:

Annie Barker's site

Annie Barker's MySpace Page

Comparisons:

Sarah McLachlan, Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders), Sia, Tori Amos, Cocteau Twins

Covers/own material:

Own

General comments:

Annie Barker's music is singer-songwriter folkpop hiding in dreampop clothing. Producer Robin Guthrie plays most of the instruments and constructs the glimmering/shimmering Cocteau Twins sound around Barker's compositions. She has a rich, brassy voice and enunciates her lyrics with precision, though she can't resist throwing in a few angelic swoops here and there. Her lyrics, however, are straightforward and prose-based observations. "Revolutionary Rock N Roll" is a jeremiad against Coldplay, and name-drops Gwyneth Paltrow. It's a surprisingly—and refreshingly—mean sentiment in the midst of such ethereal music. (The song opens with the aforementioned swoops). "Elliott's Song" could be about the late Elliott Smith, and other subjects explore sexual/romantic politics. Mountains and Tumult sounds like Chrissie Hynde fronting the Cocteau Twins. Like Hynde, her words are frank and have a take-no-prisoners vibe. It doesn't always come together—her forthrightness doesn't quite mesh with the atmospheric wall of sound. But it is intriguing to hear ethereal music with, you know, cojones. Most dreampop is wispy and vague. Barker is a kitten with claws. (ethereal_lad@livejournal.com)

Recommended first album:

Mountains and Tumult is her debut

Recordings:


Mountains and Tumult

Release info:

2007—Beautiful Revolution Records

Availability:

See Annie Barker's site

Ecto priority:

Recommended for fans of dreampop, and literate lyric lovers

Group members:

Annie Barker—vocals, guitars

Guest artists:

Robin Guthrie (Cocteau Twins)—guitars, bass, drums
Jon Kip—clarinet (6)

Produced by:

Robin Guthrie

Comments:

See general comments above.

...for a better place EP

Release info:

2011—Beautiful Revolution

Availability:

See Annie Barker's site

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Produced by:

Robin Guthrie

Comments:

Like Barker's debut, Mountains and Tumult, produced by ex-Cocteau Twins Robin Guthrie, ...for a better place continues the project of melding dreampop and Barker's frank, confessional lyrics. There's lots of glossy, shimmery guitar pedal effects, very reminiscent of late period Cocteaus (courtesy of Guthrie himself) and Barker's rapturous singing. In spite of the hallmarks of etherealwave music, Barker's lyrics are concerned with the minutiae of relationships in way not dissimilar from the work of Kristin Hersh/Throwing Muses. Barker's lyrics don't have the fevered intensity of Hersh's; they are more conversational and sound like snippets of letters to her lovers. That said, she's not above confrontation: in "Ghetto Birds," she sings, "boy if you don't stop talking your slimy advice I'm gonna scrape out my eyes." The sheer beauty of Barker's singing (yes, there's a bit of Liz Fraser in her ornamented style) tends to hide her tough, clear-eyed look at the world. Highlights include "So Refined" and "Ghetto Birds." (ethereal_lad@livejournal.com)


Thanks to Craig Gidney for work on this entry.

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