Melbourne-based band Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever release a new single/video, “Falling Thunder,” from their highly-anticipated second album, Sideways to New Italy, out June 5th on Sub Pop. The video premiered earlier today via The Fader. Led by singer-songwriter-guitarists Tom Russo, Joe White and Fran Keaney, and rounded out by bassist Joe Russo and drummer Marcel Tussie, Sideways To New Italy is a stunning return for the five-piece following their internationally acclaimed debut album, Hope Downs (2018).
Following the album’s widely-lauded first two singles “She’s There” and “Cars In Space,” “Falling Thunder” continues to find RBCF at the peak of their powers: a swirling, mesmeric pop song that perfectly evokes the timeless nature of Sideways To New Italy - a record that’s universal yet threaded through with personal histories, born of dislocation but with a distinct geographic identity. Tom Russo explains it’s “about pushing on through the relentless march of time, against the constant cycle of seasons. And the way people change and relationships change. It’s set in that time when autumn is turning into winter and the trees are getting bare.”
The accompanying video was shot by a friend of the band, Jamieson Moore, and is comprised of vacation footage from Sicily, Sardinia and the Aeolian Islands, the ancestral homeland of the Russo Brothers. As Tom elaborates: “Our friend Jamieson Moore shot the footage of Sicily, Sardinia and the Aeolian Islands on her phone while on vacation last year. The Aeolian Islands is also where my and Joe Russo’s ancestors are from. We were also planning to shoot the band playing in Eolian Hall in Melbourne (it’s a community hall founded by Aeolian immigrants). We got some practice footage but by the time it came to shoot the band, we were on lockdown. So it’s turned out as a kind of a love letter to a particular place.”
The eponymous New Italy is a village near New South Wales’s Northern Rivers – the area Tussie is from. A blink-and-you’ll-miss-it pit-stop of a place with fewer than 200 residents, it was founded by Venetian immigrants in the late-1800s and now serves as something of a living monument to Italians’ contribution to Australia, with replica Roman statues dotted like souvenirs on the otherwise rural landscape. The parallel between these remnants of home and the band’s own attempts to maintain connections and create familiarity during their disorienting time on the road were not lost on Russo. “These are the expressions of people trying to find home somewhere alien; trying to create utopia in a turbulent and imperfect world.”
The record’s very present geographic identity emerged from the band losing their grip on their own, whether that was through the pressure of touring, the dissolution of relationships, a frustrating distance from their daily lives – or some combination of all three – which stemmed from having been slingshot all over the world. The past two years have seen Rolling Blackouts C.F. play the world’s biggest music festivals, from Coachella, Governors Ball, Pitchfork Music Festival, Primavera, and Shaky Knees to Lowlands, Pukkelpop, Green Man and Splendour in the Grass, plus sold-out headline shows across London, San Diego, San Francisco, Denver, Chicago, Toronto, Vancouver, Philadelphia, New York City and of course, landing back at home for their sold-out Australian album tour.
In addition to the specific town, the songs on the record exist variably in Darwin (“Cameo”), Melbourne (“Beautiful Steven”), Los Angeles (“The Cool Change”), the tiny town of Rushworth (“Not Tonight”) and the driver’s seat of a car at a drive-in movie (“Cars in Space”). Rolling Blackouts C.F are well-versed in a detailed and cinematic style of songwriting, where landscapes, interactions and memories materialize as characters and stories that reflect the tight, swirling guitars that emote alongside the trio’s voices.
“I felt completely rudderless on tour,” Keaney says. “It’s fun but you get to a point where you’re like, Who am I anymore? You feel like you’re everywhere and nowhere at the same time. And no one in particular.” Russo adds, “We saw a lot of the world, which was such a privilege, but it was kind of like looking through the window at other people’s lives, and then also reflecting on our own.”
Man Man’s Dream Hunting in the Valley of the In-Between is out today worldwide on Sub Pop, and also streaming here. The 17-track effort features “On the Mend,” “Future Peg,” “Cloud Nein,” “Sheela,” and “Animal Attraction,” was produced by Cyrus Ghahremani, mixed by S. Husky Höskulds (Tom Waits, Solomon Burke, Bettye LaVette, Allen Toussaint), and mastered by Dave Cooley (Blood Orange, M83, DIIV, Paramore, Snail Mail, clipping).
Rolling Stone, in its 4-star review, says, “It makes sense that Ryan Kattner of Man Man would release his best album to date during a pandemic. His band persona, Honus Honus, is perpetually down on his luck — bizarre and lovelorn, lonely and insane — haunted. In short, he’s all of us right now…the grotesque and the gorgeous has served Man Man well through the years — and with Dream Hunting, they’ve reached the ideal mix: more gorgeous than grotesque, more raw than ragged.”
The AV Club says, “Honus Honus—a.k.a. Ryan Kattner—is back with his freewheeling off-kilter pop group Man Man, and possibly its most accessible record yet. As eclectic as ever, the sprawling mix of horns, keys, percussion, guitars, and more remains a half-step away from sounding like the most unusual cabaret act in modern times.”
Shindig Magazine noted the album for it’s “touches of Tom Waits-ian squalor, Broadway degradation, and fin de siècle decadence” and its “utterly infectious (pun intended) ‘Cloud Nein’, with its ‘Paul Williams as performed by Captain Beefheart’ sound… it’s just one of 17 sparkling tracks, the album a bold comeback after seven years of silence…”
And Glide Magazine offers this, “Throughout the album, Kattner spins fascinating tales of love, lust, death, the occult, and a goat attack. The piano-based songs carry elements of jazz and rock, with Kattner’s keen ear for sing-along melodies matched only by his desire to attack such melodies with unexpected bursts of bedlam. Those tumultuous bursts, occurring frequently and usually without warning, are part of what makes Dream Hunting in the Valley of the In-Between so exciting, with no dull moments even over 17 tracks of content.”
Dream Hunting… is available from Sub Pop and select independent retailers in North America.LP orders through megamart.subpop.com will be delayed slightly due to a Covid-19 related pressing plant closure. The limited Loser edition on white vinyl with a pinkish swirl is nearly sold out despite these delays and is only available while supplies last. Meanwhile, in the U.K.and Europe, preorders through select independent retailers will receive their own slight variation of the limited Loser edition on pink vinyl that has fortunately not experienced any production delays (also, while supplies last). There is also a new T-shirt design available through megamart.subpop.com.
Man Man will be hosting “The Dream Hunting in the Valley of the In-Between Social-Distancing Telethon”today, Friday, May 1st from 1 pm PST until the wheels drop off. Fans can watch live through Sub Pop’s YouTube Live channel and the band’s Facebook account. The telethon will feature social-distancing style performances from the new album and special guests throughout the simulcast.
Six years ago we opened the Sub Pop Store at Sea-Tac International Airport (this guy right here). In the years since, we’ve had countless bands and music lovers come through our doors. On occasion some of them have even bought stuff! We look forward to opening those doors again one day, once it’s safe to do so. In the meantime, thank you for being a part of our music community, thank you for caring about Sub Pop and our artists, and thank you for sometimes buying the things we used to sell. We miss you!
Even though the Sub Pop Store at SeaTac is currently shuttered, we’re celebrating its 6th birthday from a safe distance with a playlist of songs put together by the people who make the store what it is. Come see us on the other side…
Shannon Lay’s Live At Zebulon, her first-ever live album, was recorded last fall while on tour in support of August, her Sub Pop debut, and is available now at all DSPs. The thirteen track effort features songs from throughout her three album catalog - August, All This Going Down, Living Water - and her covers of Karen Dalton’s “Something On Your Mind” and Black Box’s “Everybody, Everybody.”
Cover photo by: Notes from Vivace
Shannon says of Live at Zebulon, “During November of 2019 I set off on tour with three of my best friends, Shelby Jacobson, Denee Segall and Sofia Arreguin. We played all over the U.S. and then returned home for a December residency at Zebulon in Los Angeles. We were joined on stage by Ben Boye and Mikal Cronin for three nights of celebration and with the help of engineer Elizaveta Boldyreva and the mixing skills of Michael Kriebel these are the recordings that came out of it. I had never toured with a band before and the songs became brand new again. I am so happy to have captured what they were in those moments with those people. To get to play music with the friends I love so much is a very special thing and I want to sincerely thank Shelby, Denee, Sofia, Ben and Mikal for adding their magical touch. In my wildest dreams I never imagined knowing such incredible people and getting to share the stage with them.”
Shannon has also delivered a full album stream for Live At Zebulon featuring footage culled from the tour. Lay offers this on the YouTube document, “To go along with the live record we filmed footage of the U.S. tour in November 2019. Edited by Shelby Jacobson and filmed by Shelby Jacobson, Sofia Arreguin, Denee Segall and Shannon Lay it is a moment in time that we knew would be fleeting so we wanted to preserve it somehow. I hope you enjoy listening to the album while watching this film.”
Shannon Lay’s August, her acclaimed 2019 long-player, is also available from Sub Pop.
Shannon Lay Live At Zebulon Tracklisting:
1. Nowhere 2. November 3. Something On Your Mind 4. Parked 5. Wild 6. The Moon’s Detriment 7. All This Life Goin Down 8. Recording 15 9. Coast 10. Death Up Close 11. August 12. The Dream 13. Everybody, Everybody
Here is a video for my song “Wild Time” that was shot on 16mm pre-Pandemic, then edited together during isolation. Felt like the right time to let this video out into the world, seeing as we’re all getting saddled down by some pretty grim realities. This song is about yearning for wildness and Mother Nature in a time of chaos. It’s for sensitive people who worry about the fate of humanity and feel powerless to do anything about it.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking apocalyptic thoughts and realizing that won’t get you anywhere. What if the world has always been ending? What if the sprawl of our cities are just as wild as the forests? What if climate change and the destruction of our natural habitat is a reflection of the nature within us, however sublimely horrifying and hard to understand? We’re animals, we play out a very precarious drama of life, and we grasp for what’s left of the protective womb - but maybe the notion that we’re somehow separated from her is an illusion. Maybe it is, truly, a wild time to be alive. Maybe getting in touch with that as a culture and society would avert the worst case scenarios of ecological crisis and existential dread.
If you’ve gotten this far, wow, thank you for actually taking the time to read this. In other news, as you may have assumed, I am canceling all of my headline shows for 2020, but I’m beginning to work on my next album that will come out in 2021- a different time, when hopefully we can see each other face to face once again.
Shabazz Palaces has delivered a thoughtful new lyric video for “Thanking The Girls,” a highlight from The Don of Diamond Dreams, his acclaimed new album out now on Sub Pop.
The visual is directed by Josh Sessoms, a contemporary artist focusing on figures that encapsulate the mystery, dynamism and poetic nature of the African and Caribbean diasporas. Exemplification of grace, dignity, love, and power is a starting point from which he begins his artistic musings. Sessoms says of the video, “There is an ongoing spiritual connection among the characters which is being fortified by the full moon. Ishmael’s lyrics and vocal performance inspired a kaleidoscopic explosion of ideas. I immediately heard a palpable sense of compassion and ardor in his voice. I sense that Ishmael wants this song to be an eternal gift and a perpetual gesture of appreciation to loved ones (both near and far); those of the present moment, of yesteryear and of future generations.”
The visual saw its premiere today via Essence Magazine, who offered this, “Brimming bright with a dedication to the women in Ish’s life, ‘Thanking The Girls’ is a wonderful tribute that proves that this slick-talking, experimental rap bohemian is still a real G that should be protected at all costs (see “Playlist” premiere May 8th, 2020).”
Shabazz Palaces was also the subject of a recent interview with Frannie Kelly for NPR’s Morning Edition, where he discussed the new album, and how “musical innovation is a family legacy (see May 5th interview).”
The Don of Diamond Dreams is available worldwide from Sub Pop.
The Don of Diamond Dreams, which includes the aforementioned “Thanking The Girls,” “Fast Learner (ft. Purple Tape Nate),”“Chocolate Souffle,”“Wet,” “Bad Bitch Walking (ft. Stas THEE Boss),” features contributions from singer/keyboardist Darrius Willrich, percussionist Carlos Niño, Knife Knights collaborator OCnotes, saxophonist Carlos Overall, and bassist Evan Flory-Barnes.
The Don of Diamond Dreams was recorded throughout 2019 and produced by Shabazz Palaces at Protect and Exalt: A Black Space in Seattle, mixed and engineered by Erik Blood with mixing assistance from Andy Kravitz at Studio 4 Labs in Venice, California, and mastered by Scott Sedillo at Bernie Grundman Mastering in Los Angeles.