Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever Release Sideways to New Italy

By John Saeger

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever have a knack for filling a record with catchy hooks. Early showings from the Melbourne, Australia five-piece reveal a tendency to stick closely to what they do best. This has not yielded a diverse body of work from the young band, making their latest record, Sideways To New Italy, an important opportunity to branch out.

Sideways To New Italy is the band’s second full-length album in a deceptively large discography. Rolling Blackouts CF have released two EPs that have totaled 13 songs, in addition to their 2018 debut, Hope Downs. The combined work of the Post Punk Revivalists have all fit within the same template. Their best songs sound like The Vaccines or a sped up take on Real Estate. Shades of Jangle Pop are also present in their music, allowing for an instant classic sound and easy likeability. The pop potential of their art is already a given, but questions of the quintet’s depth play out over the course of the LP.

Listeners looking for this change of pace from Rolling Blackouts CF will find variance towards the end of Sideways To New Italy. Much of the first part of the record falls in line with the band’s previous work. Just about every track in the beginning of the album has a groove or guitar hook that demonstrates the group’s energy. One early nugget is “Falling Thunder.” The track repeats the question “Is it any wonder?” alongside lyrics that induce an atmosphere of adventure. The jangly arrangement on the LP’s second track is built for radio, mostly in part to Marcel Tussie’s strong drumming. 

Falling Thunder” opens up a sense of excitement that prevails throughout the album. Tracks “She’s There” and “The Only One” explore the twists of young relationships with lyrics like

“I open the letter, but the writing’s wrong. I shoulda done better, but the time rolls on.”

The only track on the record to even approach five minutes, “Cars In Space,” examines those same frustrations with the conflict “You want it simple. How hard you make it.”

Photo by Peter Ryle

The record’s golden moment occurs seven tracks into the album. Perhaps because it deviates from much of the band’s established course, “Cameo” is the most dynamic track on Sideways To New Italy. The song begins with an acoustic guitar and lyrics that ride the emotional highwire act of making a first move. “Cameo” gradually rides an accelerating bassline and tempo before exploding with a knockout rush of chorus and guitar. The anthem is a testament to how the band can grow their sound when they choose to.

Like much of the music world during the COVID-19 pandemic, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever are on pause for the summer. Sideways To New Italy is built for a live audience, but the songs feel restrained without hundreds of heads bobbing in unison to the band’s riffs and rhythm. The Australian group will be able to see these songs reach their full potential in the fall as the band announced a European tour come October, in support of the new album.

About the Author: John Saeger is a music and film writer from Philadelphia.
He has written the pop-culture blog Long After Dark,
a site dedicated to the arts in the City of Brotherly Love and beyond, since 2017.