Laura Barrett

Earth Sciences

by Zach Schonfeld

29 April 2008


If this were a full-length review, I’d have the perfect summary blurb to use: “Finally, an EP for those interested in Joanna Newsom covering “Weird Al” Yankovic parodying Nirvana.” But, this is not a full-length review, and said blurb isn’t entirely fair. Indeed, Toronto-based Laura Barrett’s Earth Sciences includes an oddly passionate take on Weird Al’s classic “Smells Like Nirvana”, hilariously complete with gurgling sounds. The question remains, as my friend eloquently phrased: “WTF? Who covers Weird Al?” Laura Barrett does, duh! While obvious given the fey voice, the Newsom comparison is also slighting, as Barrett’s quirky songs do not approximate Newsom’s sprawling poetic breadth. Plus, Barrett plays the kalimba, not harp! She describes her songs as ditties about “amorphous terror, planned obsolescence, and mind-body dualism.” This is as apt a description you’ll find for tracks like “Robot Ponies”. The title refers to the gift of choice on “Christmas Eve 2053”, and the melody is rather infectious. Perhaps the only misstep is Joshua Van Tessel’s remix of “Stop Giving Your Children Standardized Tests”, with gurgling electronic sounds more fit for Prefuse 73’s wet dreams. Personally, I’m just waiting for her cover of “Amish Paradise”.

Earth Sciences


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