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.”
Sideways To New Italy is now available for preorder from Sub Pop. Preorders of the LP through megamart.subpop.com and select independent retailers in North America, the U.K., and Europe, will receive the limited Loser edition (while supplies last). There will also be a new T-shirt design available.