The third album from Australia’s Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever arrives with their familiar three guitar attack. Several of the tracks have an environmental bent including the chiming “Tidal River” that strips everything back in the refrain and the midtempo “Dive Deep”. The crisp drumming of Marcel Tussie stands out on third single “My Echo”.
There is a driving beat on “Blue Eye Lake” with its “you can ride the back of a star and go anywhere” lyric. Likewise, “Saw You at the Eastern Beach” has an atmospheric, celestial effect. As with the first two Rolling Blackouts C.F. albums, there are a few songs that float by without leaving much of a mark. On Endless Rooms, those moments are fewer and the songs that do resonate, really cut through to make a very good guitar rock record.
On a recent episode of The Watch podcast, Tom and Fran of Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever appeared to talk about the new album, Sideways To New Italy, and lament that the COVID pandemic has not let them tour. Nevertheless, the band released their newest album among all the bedlam happening in the world. First single “Cars In Space” is punctuated by horns and a euphoric chorus outro. First track “The Second Of The First” is a punchy opener with terrific harmonies in the chorus before second single “She’s There” comes in with harmonies that appear out of nowhere.
“Sunglasses At The Wedding” has a laid back vibe with a guitar strum here and there with an incessant hi-hat. “Cameo” is a talk/sung track with fine chorus and drums that feel a bit like The Arcade Fire. And that’s where the rub lies with the album, it never really takes off like The Arcade Fire would. Sideways To New Italy has lots of decent songs but there is no true euphoric moment and the all the rough edges have been sanded off.
10. G Flip – About You: One of the earliest songs that caught our ear in 2018, this Australian released “About You” in February. The DIY esthetic was not just in the music but in the music video as well. The beat doesn’t drop until the chorus while a synth makes thunder like noises in the background. Sounding not too dissimilar from Grimes, “About You” announced a brilliant new talent.
9. Cherry Glazerr – Daddi: Recording under the Cherry Glazerr moniker, Los Angelino Clementine Creevy delivers a wallop of defiance in just over three minutes. Asking “Daddi” what she should be doing, where she should be going and who to be f*cking but never wanting to actually hear the answer. The verses are breathless before she shouts the chorus. This fiery track was a late entry into our top ten.
8. U.S. Girls – Rosebud: Meghan Remy put out her second album on 4AD in March of 2018 and found quite a bit of critical acclaim. This single is memorable right from the first-string sounds before it falls into an up tempo lounge track. In typical U.S. Girls fashion, the great sound bed covers up that Remy is digging deep into lyrics about the government while using Citizen Kane as a jumping off point. One of the groovier tracks of the year.
7. Vital Idles – Solid States: This minimal track from Glasgow’s Vital Idles hardly set the world on fire in 2018 but it certainly grabbed our attention. The simple guitar melody and deadpan vocals recall post punk records from the early 80s. “It won’t do, it won’t do” but somehow this track does and does.
6. SL – Genes (Feat. Chip): “I’m flexing in my 20s, I was flexing in my teens” is my most quoted lyric from 2018. With his “Gentleman” track from 2017 having over 23 million views on YouTube, SL was picked by factmag.com to be one of the UK rappers to keep an eye on. While the rest of the lyrics on “Gene” are harder to follow for these 40+ year old ears, the chorus is pure fire.
5. Robyn – Missing U: Released in September, “Missing U” was the lead single from the Honey album and it was a banger. In an interview with Time magazine, Robyn has said this is the track she spent the most time on over than any other, and it shows. Everything fits together perfectly. The cascading synths are propelled forward through the beat of the chorus in this perfect pop song.
4. Playboi Carti – Shoota (Feat. Lil Uzi Vert): I’m not sure what it is about this single from Playboi’s fifth album but the piano at the start sounds like a call to arms for having a great time for two minutes. The music really kicks in just over a minute for the Playboi verse while the beat takes forever to finally drop. The “pecan drop” and “bestie” are ridiculous but add to the infectious fun of this track.
3. Courtney Barnett – Sunday Roast: The melancholy track sounds like Courtney talking to herself. The fourth single from Barnett’s excellent sophomore album, suddenly takes an uplifting turn in the second half of the chorus when she sings “I know you’re doing your best, I think you’re doing just fine” and features a pep talk in the outro. It’s the sound of hanging out with friends, enjoying the quiet times and not just the nights out on the tiles.
2. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Talking Straight: The Melbourne group’s debut LP featured several terrific guitar rock songs, none were better than this. The guitar melodies all meld together while vocalist Joe White nails the kick-ass chorus. This is the kind of thing you want blasting out of the car on road trips to the beach.
1. Otha – One Of The Girls: If you base your track of the year just based on listens, this is the one for me. Otha quietly sings over a bed of electronic beats and synths. It’s a downcast track, sounding both defiant and sad at the same time. I came across it on Pitchfork then never heard or saw it anywhere else. It mysteriously appeared and disappeared that one day but got played endlessly in basement parties at home, by myself.
Following up on two well received EPs, Melbourne rockers Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever have now released their debut LP, Hope Downs. Preceded by dynamite single, “Talking Straight”, the album contains a spry 10 tracks that trend similar indie rock ground to one another. A great bassline propels “An Air Conditioned Man” whereas “Bellarine” ruminates that it “feels like rum is taking all my time…I never did my best”. “How Long” simply repeats the line “what are you running from” while your foot bounces up and down to the beat.
Through the album, there is not a lot to distinguish one track from another other than how much it gets the listener nodding their head. Tracks like “Sister’s Jeans” and “Cappuccino City” are catchy with nice guitar lines but don’t particularly go anywhere. This will certainly appeal to fans of Supergrass, The View and Spoon. Good summer rock record for the beach.