Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever on “Sideways to New Italy” | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, April 20th, 2021  

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever on “Sideways to New Italy”

Vivid Vignettes

Mar 09, 2021 Photography by Peter Ryle Issue #67 - Phoebe Bridgers and Moses Sumney
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Judging by the big bright hooks, breezy melodies, and guitar riffs that rev like top down, joy riding convertibles, it would be easy to peg a number of the cuts from Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever’s latest album as contenders for “song of the summer.” And yet, a closer listen to the lyrics of the warmly inviting power pop songs on Sideways to New Italy, the Melbourne Australia five-piece’s second full-length album, reveal multitudes that aren’t immediately apparent for anyone wowed by their vibrantly splashy playing upon first listen.

As vocalist/lead guitarist Joe White puts it: “We continue our style of writing vignettes, of focusing on a small part of a character’s life” on Sideways to New Italy. Case in point: closing track “The Cool Change.” White recalls how vocalist/guitarist Tom Russo penned the careening rhythmed, flaring guitar-laden song as a “Bob Dylan-esque takedown of someone” in the vein of the legendary folk vet’s classic kiss-off “Positively 4th Street.” However, between the indignant lyrics about an antagonist “keeping up appearances” by draping himself in “dirty fur,” White notes that, like any account of rivalry, “The Cool Change” has “a bit of love in there as well. It’s a bit of a love song, really.”

In a way, the band’s own story is the stuff ripe for vignettes. It’s a tale that begins by subverting a cliché: midsize city rockers snag the attention of the global press. But this time, they hesitate to be sucked in by Stateside glamour and the undertow of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll.

“We run into a lot of characters like the one depicted in ‘The Cool Change,’” White says. He goes on to describe that type: “It happens quite a bit in Australia, where people get too big for their britches in their hometowns, and start trying to make it overseas. That song’s particularly set between small town Australia and LA.”

Don’t worry—the song is anything but autobiographical, as White is quick to point out. Despite the eager critical acclaim their two albums (including 2018’s debut full-length Hope Downs) have received at home and abroad, White and his bandmates (who along with White and Russo also include singer/guitarist Fran Keaney, bassist Joe Russo, and drummer Marcel Tussie) have no interest in departing for Tinseltown. “When bands move to other places, it’s like they’re trying to let the city they’re moving to do the work for them,” explains White. “Instead, you should be able to make great music wherever you are. And if you really wanted to, you probably would.”

Instead, White says Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever will remain a proudly Melbourne-based band. Relocating somewhere more glamorous would leave them pining for their hometown’s “healthy scene” and “great gig going culture” according to White.

He says the Melbourne scene is so good, in fact, that it makes Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever a better band overall. The quality of those shows makes “you want to make your show as good as it can be. And that’s a healthy place to be, as a musician.”

[Note: This article originally appeared in Issue 67 of Under the Radar’s print magazine, which is out now. This is its debut online.]

www.rollingblackoutsband.com

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