(Tri Angle/Secretly Canadian)
American culture has long seen two notional opposites intimately entwined – the sacred and the profane. The latest chapter in a story that runs through so much US music is the debut album by Josiah “serpentwithfeet” Wise, an artist who fuses avant garde R&B with the devotional beauty of gospel, skirting easy classification. Soil is a beautiful, shape-shifting debut made by a former choirboy who, tangentially, identifies as a pagan.
It is, at its heart, an album about love: the intimacy of it, the rapture of it, the loss of it. Its forthcoming track Cherubim riffs hard on the quasi-religious potential of homoerotic adoration. Wise’s ecstatic voice ranges from falsetto flutter to proclamatory thrum on songs like Invoice – a grandiose, dramatic composition. Equal parts thrilling and wistfully melancholic, Melbourne five-piece Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever are that rare beast: a band capable of breathing excitement back into a too often uninspiring indie scene. While the individual elements of their sound - the melodic nous of their compatriots the Go-Betweens, the dynamism of the Strokes, the jangle of 1980s-vintage Flying Nun – are nothing new, it’s been a long time since they have been whipped up into such a fresh-sounding confection.
Their full-length debut, Hope Downs, is released this week and represents a huge leap forward from last year’s already impressive French Press EP. Guitar lines from their three singer-songwriters, Tom Russo, Joe White and Fran Keaney, interweave