Ivy League Records is incredibly proud to announce Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever’s highly anticipated second album, Sideways To New Italy – featuring recent single Cars In Space and new single She’s There – will be released on Friday 5 June. Lead 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).
Premiered by Annie Mac on BBC Radio 1 alongside the album announcement, new single She’s There is a cosmic Rolling Blackouts C.F. offering; a wistful love song championed by surging guitar riffs, driving beats and the band’s limitless energy. Forever evolving and reshaping Australian guitar pop into a force of their own, She’s There is a bright and stunning glimpse into a triumphant second record by the Melbourne five-piece.
After enough time away from home, even the familiar starts to feel foreign. For Rolling Blackouts C.F, returning to Melbourne after long stretches looking out at the world through the windows of aeroplanes and tour vans lead to a dislocation, like being the knot in the middle of a game of tug-o-war. Sideways to New Italy sees the band interrogate their individual pasts and the places that inform them. In clicking the scattered pieces back into place, they have crafted for themselves a new totem of home to carry with them no matter where they end up.
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, Pukklepop, 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 materialise 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 the first new music from the band since 2019’s 7”, two-single release of In The Capital and Read My Mind, which followed the band’s 2018 debut album, Hope Downs. Featuring singles Mainland, Talking Straight, An Air Conditioned Man, Time In Common & Sister’s Jeans – Hope Downs was embraced by lovers of their early EPs, Talk Tight and The French Press, and new fans alike. The record quickly became one of the most internationally acclaimed Australian albums of the year, appearing in many sought after Best of 2018 lists, coming in at #5 on Rough Trade’s Albums of the Year list, #3 on MOJO’s Album of the Year List (+ was named MOJO’s Debut Album of the Year), #2 on UNCUT’s Albums of the Year, being shortlisted for the prestigious AMP Award & receiving tremendous support from the likes of FBi Radio, PBS, Triple R, triple j, Double J, Pitchfork, The Guardian, Paste Magazine, NME, Rolling Stone US, BBC 6 Music, Stereogum, DIY Mag, and countless others.
Sideways To New Italy is out on digital, CD and Sub Pop’s limited Loser-edition coloured vinyl on Friday 5 June, available to pre-order now!