Thursday, November 26, 2020

Albums of The Year # 30 Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever - Sideways to New Italy

 Perhaps not quite as good as their debut. But a pretty worthy follow up:

An act of quiet, but thoughtful consolidation. That's how I'd describe Melbourne band Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever's second album, Sideways to New Italy just out. I've been listening to it fairly consistently since it was released last Friday and find it that rarest of beasts. A record that is at once immediate and one that will surely also reward repeated plays.

This is a band with a fair bit of road behind them in addition to one surely stretching far ahead in front of them too. They've been putting out records since 2016, all of them of consistent merit, some hinting at and touching on greatness. Not sure they've got there yet and I would suggest that their best probably lies ahead.

Still, what we've got here will more than do. If, like me you are versed in R.E.M. and The Go Betweens, then this record will be more than welcome. For Rolling Blackouts unmistakeably mine similar seams to those two great bands while carving out a sound that becomes increasingly distinctive to themselves.

There's is something of a Striped Sunlit Sound going down herethis being the spot on term that Robert Forster and Grant McLennan came up with to describe the vision they were hoping to achieve with The Go Betweens.. Sideways to New Italy adds ten fresh entries to this catalogue of thought, literary and poetic inclination, and song. Not a bad track on here, though some stand out more than others on my first few plays. But it's a record that immediately invites playing on loop to allow things to seep deeper into you and this is something I'll be more than happy to do over the coming weeks.

Another band that Rolling Blackouts perhaps court comparison to are Real Estate. But while Real Estate have increasingly succumbed to blandness, (I had little patience with their last album), these Australians resist such easy criticism despite the saminess of their sound, because there's a constant sense that there's more to discover here than immediately meets the eye and ear, which will offer a great deal more on further immersion.

Sideways to New Italy has less immediately obvious peaks as debut album Hope Downs, but it does have a pleasing, assured consistency. I'm particularly taken by its last two songs. Sunglasses at the Wedding which is the one song which slows down the pace noticeably. Then The Cool Change, which shimmers and crackles like prime time Television, (quite consciously I'm fairly sure). both songs invite you to rewind back to the start and let this excellent record seep further into your bones. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever were clearly already a band to watch. Sideways to New Italy marks them out increasingly as one to follow.

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