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MUSIC Album reviews with Ian Sinclair: July 16, 2020

Latest releases from Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Suzanne Vallie and Margo Price

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

THE second album from this Melbourne five-piece is another glorious rush of propulsive indie pop from one of the most exciting guitar bands working today.

With an arduous touring schedule taking its toll, the set seems to ruminate on ideas of home and belonging —the album’s title refers to New Italy in New South Wales, a small village founded by Venetian immigrants in the late 1800s.

Led by the three singer-songwriter-guitarists, Fran Kearney, Tom Russo and Joe White, the quality of songs and sheer pace is consistently high, from the break-up single Cars In Space to the pensive Sunglasses At The Wedding.

Pleasingly, they successfully walk the fine line between openly giving a nod to their influences — fellow Aussies The Go-Betweens most obviously, and ’80s guitar pop like Aztec Camera more generally — and sounding incredibly fresh and relevant.

A class act.

Suzanne Vallie
Love Lives Where Rules Die
(Night Bloom Records)

IN A world of press-hungry musicians, there’s a refreshing lack of information out there about Suzanne Vallie.

This album’s press release says that she is a reclusive songwriter and poet living in Big Sur in rural California and her debut album was made after heartbreak. And that it’s “a driving record.”

The focus, then, is very much on the affecting tracks on the record. The pace and ambience reminds me of Beachwood Sparks’s cover of By Your Side, with Vallie’s exquisite voice curling around her deliciously cryptic words.

An upbeat, Dylany song of solitude, Morro Bay— “I’ve been talking to myself and I think that it shows”—  adds a little energy.

Backed by a sympathetic-sounding band, complete with lonesome baritone guitar, organ and Wurlitzer piano, this is indie-country music for people who think they don’t like country music.


Margo Price
That’s How Rumours Get Started
(Loma Vista Recordings)

US COUNTRY star Margo Price has certainly paid her dues. Dropping out of school and moving to Nashville, she did various odd jobs, slogged away in various bands and was arrested for drink-driving before hitting the big time with her debut album in 2016.

Produced by friend Sturgill Simpson with frequent echoes of legends like Loretta Lynn and Emmylou Harris, her third album shoots for the mainstream.

Yes, some of songs lament the problems of success and touring, but she hasn’t forgotten her difficult origins.

As she sings on the plaintive ballad Stone Me: “I won’t forget what it’s like to be poor/I could be there again baby that’s for sure.”

Backed by an accomplished set of musicians, including Matt Sweeney and Heartbreaker Benmont Tench, it’s a radio-friendly country rock record, with some welcome grit in its grooves.


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