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.”
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…
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.
Man Man’s “On the Mend” is a new highlight from Dream Hunting in the Valley of the In-Between - A heartbreak-post-breakup pop song with Swordfishtrombones-vibes, that includes backing vocals from Steady Holiday’s Dre Babinski and Rebecca Black. Stream it in all the places, over here.
Honus Honus says of the track, “I wrote this a year or so after a painful break-up and although I was in a better place at the time, I wanted to touch on all of those raw emotions someone has to work through in order to get healthy and able to love themselves again. Musically, the tempo, the push, and pull of the band, the openness of it all just drives this home. So, yes, it’s a bit of a heavy song but I think it’s also one about hope, healing, letting go and moving on. The heart can be cruel but you can’t let it consume you.”
Dream Hunting…will be available on CD/2xLP/CS/DL worldwide on May 1st, 2020 and is available for preorder from Sub Pop. LP preorders through megamart.subpop.com will receive the limited Loser edition on white vinyl with a pinkish swirl (while supplies last).
After street date, a limited supply of the Loser edition LP will be available at select independent retailers in North America and at Man Man’s future live shows. Meanwhile, in the U.K. and Europe, preorders through select independent retailers will receive the limited Loser edition on pink vinyl (also, while supplies last). There is also a new T-shirt design available through megamart.subpop.com.
Ever the character, Honus Honus has also been hosting the delightfully weird “From Honie Pond” shower sessions on Instagram Live. The good, clean fun (head and shoulders ONLY, folx!) features chats with fans and surprise guests, can be seen live Monday through Friday at 1 pm PT -> instagram.com/honushonus.
The “Under Glass” video is directed by Caleb Bardgett and Johnny Dunn, stars Keegan Kruse, with special effects makeup from Cig Neutron (Face-Off All-Stars winner), filmed by Thaddeus Bridwell, and video effects by Bardgett.
Dan Boecker says of the video, “‘Under Glass’ is inspired by Canada’s greatest cultural export: David Cronenberg. The protagonist sits in isolation, their only joy in life is plugging in a bioport and interfacing with a psychedelic PS1 hellscape where they are loved and adored. Their body decays. They’re smiling.”
And co-directors Jonny Dunn and Caleb Bardgett offered this, “We worked with Dan last year on some really cool videos for one of his other projects, and so naturally we jumped at the chance to jam with the Wolf Parade boys on this video for ‘Under Glass.’
“We looked at Brian Yuzna’s SOCIETY and Cronenberg as spiritual references for the visuals, and theme-wise, the band wanted to tap into some end-of-times / isolation / addicted-to-screens stuff… This was mid-2019, preceding our eventual quarantine so it’s all more eerily-relevant now, seeing as how we’re all pretty alone and isolated, becoming very pale and more jacked-in.
“We really wanted to nail the body horror, which meant we needed a practical special FX master…but didn’t know anyone ourselves. We hit up a buddy of ours, Eric Skodis, who knows all about that world, and he referred us to a genius named Cig Neutron, who turned out to be the absolute perfect brain for making the best and grossest oozy stuff we could imagine. We shot the video all in one day at Cig’s studio, with Thaddeus Bridwell as DP.
“Keegan Kruse starred as our logged-on lonely video freak and was such a sport. He had to wear the make up all day, and it took him another half day just to peel all of the latex and make-up off of his face.
“We couldn’t be happier to see the video finally come out in a world where all of us are now trapped inside, living ‘Under Glass.’“
Thin Mind is available worldwide through Sub Pop, with the exception of Canada through Royal Mountain Records.