Playing bright, energetic indie rock with lively guitar lines, sharp hooks, and dry wit, the Australian quintet Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever turn the clock back to the glory days of '80s jangle pop, but give the sound a tough, no-nonsense attitude. After two EPs, the second of which was released by Sub Pop, the band's 2018 album Hope Downs was an impressive debut.
Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, the band 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 band's triple-guitar attack was also quite unique. After releasing a handful of digital singles in late 2013, the band 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 the band 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 of 2018, after which the group launched a long worldwide tour. ~ Mark Deming