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Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

Playing bright, energetic indie rock with sharp hooks, and dry wit, the Australian group Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever turn the clock back to the glory days of 1980s jangle pop while giving it a tough, no-nonsense three-guitar update in the process. After two EPs, the second of which was released by Sub Pop, the band's first two albums -- 2018's Hope Downs and 2020's Sideways to New Italy -- showed they were in firm control of their songcraft and sound. 2022's Endless Room expanded their lyrical purview to include politics while keeping the hook ratio impressively high. Hailing from Melbourne, the group was officially formed in 2013 by guitarist/vocalists Fran Keaney, Tom Russo (guitar and vocals), and Joe White, who had been in bands together since they were in high school and spent years hammering out ideas and working on a sound. When they added Tom's brother Joe on bass and drummer Marcel Tussie, they were ready to start playing low-key gigs around town. Inspired by classic guitar pop bands like the Feelies and the Go-Betweens, the group's triple-guitar attack was also quite unique. After releasing a handful of digital singles in late 2013, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever made their debut on vinyl with the single "Clean Slate" in 2015, which won plenty of praise from the music press. In early 2016, Ivy League Records released RBCF's first EP, Talk Tight, which earned them more positive press and some Australian radio airplay. In November 2016, Sub Pop signed the band up and they immediately released a new single, "Julie's Place," while a six-song EP, The French Press, followed in March 2017. The reception to the record was very positive, and RBCF spent much of the year touring the world before heading back for more recording. They decided to work in Tussie's hometown, located in a remote area in New South Wales. Producer Liam Judson brought his portable studio rig and the band used the relaxed setting to its fullest, recording a focused and tight album. Named after a desolate open-cut mine in Australia, Hope Downs was released by Sub Pop and Ivy League in June 2018, after which the group launched a long worldwide tour. They returned home feeling rootless and looked to reconnect with their real lives and the concepts of home and heritage while writing songs. The results formed a loose concept at the center of their second album, Sideways to New Italy, which was released by Sub Pop in June 2020. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever had been planning to head out of tour after the album's release but instead were stuck at home during Australia's quarantine. The bandmembers traded ideas online, then when the restrictions were lowered a little, dashed to the studio to try and get some tracks recorded. The ability to be out and about didn't last long, and they were soon in their respective homes, finishing overdubs remotely and at their practice space when allowed. The turmoil led RBCF to investigate the political situation in their home country a little more closely with songs commenting on Aboriginal rights and their conservative government. Sonically, the album incorporated field recordings and boosted the guitars, but otherwise stuck to their established template. The group's third album, Endless Rooms, was released by Sub Pop in May 2022.
© Mark Deming & Tim Sendra /TiVo
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Discography

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