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CD of The Week

Week of 6/15/20

    Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever - Sideways to New Italy (Sub Pop)

    A debut full length, a world tour, festival appearances and more touring is what the Melbourne quintet Rolling Blackout Coastal Fever has been up to since 2018. And somehow, amid all that activity, they managed to write their second album, Sideways to New Italy. In the wake of every time-consuming exploit, it is kind of amazing the band members found time to sit down and write new music. The result is an album that at times reaches the guitar pop grandeur of Hope Falls, but doesn't always hit the mark.

    The three-guitar attack gets things started off with a trio of songs that make good on the promise the band showed in their previous releases. "The Second of The First" starts off quiet but soon ups the tempo and the stakes to create some seriously fun interplay between band members. If it sounds like the song meanders in the middle, it's most likely because they're all having so much fun. "Falling Thunder" keeps things interesting and features a great performance from bassist Joe Russo. Then we get to "She's There," one of the album's best. Featuring more great interplay between band members, one can't help but envision the energy the song would command in a live setting.

    From here the album gets a little lost before once again rediscovering its footing. "Beautiful Steven" has some interesting production elements but ultimately comes off as filler. The same can be said for "The Only One," although it once again showcases some seriously impressive bass work from Russo. Which then brings us to another standout, the nearly 5-minute "Cars In Space." It's a song that spotlights the energy and chemistry the band has together. It actually feels like a live performance.

    Unfortunately, from there Sideways to New Italy never really seems hit those highs again. While the songs that come after all have their respective positives, something just seems to be missing. Less can oftentimes be more, and in this case, it most likely would have applied. The strength of the first three songs and others peppered throughout is enough to keep those interested engaged. But it also leaves you wanting more, both from the album and the band.
    Review by Keith Obaza

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