Artist of the Week: New York City DIY Band The Rotaries
It’s not often that we come across a DIY band’s rather small discography that is so full of gems. The Rotaries formed in 2010 and they’ve already put together a stunning collection of 15 terrific songs, including the tracks from their self-titled 2010 debut EP. As already mentioned, we struggled to pick just a few songs to represent the band’s captivating, hook-heavy and lively Caribbean-meets-indie-pop-rock sound. The Rotaries constantly surprise the listener with a consistent song craft that also happens to include a wide range of styles in composition, instrumentation and vocals that it is truly mind-boggling. We, as instant fans, can only hope that they stay together and keep putting out music that can be played over and over again without losing its luster. Our first introduction was via the title track to the album, which was sent over to us by the band only a couple of weeks ago.
“Before Leaving” – The Rotaries from Before Leaving
Just how The Rotaries have largely flown under the radar of indie rock bloggers, never mind the more mainstream music press, is beyond our comprehension. The only explanation can be is that they just haven’t been heard, and it’s a shame that music lovers have so far been mostly deprived of a great talent. For New Yorkers who closely follow local indie pop rock bands, The Rotaries may already be on their radar. In fact, The Rotaries shared the stage with another amazing, under-rated band we featured a couple of years ago, The Dig, during a performance last August at Webster Hall Studio.
Some bloggers have found out about The Rotaries, but they’re still largely under the radar with the larger blogs (in fact, IRC is probably their first big blog exposure, if you will). The blog Brooklyn Daily Eagle, stated: “Upbeat, danceable, and infectious, The Rotaries debut record Before Leaving sustains the indie-rock sound for a new generation.” In a review from the blog, Sweet Nothings, the writer states: “Compared to most indie-rock out there, The Rotaries definitely take the cake. Indie-rock is a genre that has greatly unraveled since its inception, and this band is what it has been missing for years.”
The Sound of Confusion blog recently added: “These guys have been described as a cross between The Strokes and The Killers, although we’re not hearing much Killer’s going on in the new single, ‘Before Leaving’…so maybe they are more Killers-like moments on [the debut album], but we kind of hope not, because [The Rotaries] sound pretty good just as they are.”
Here we have a band that is already established themselves as not only a band to watch, but one of IRC’s favorite DIY band ‘discoveries’ of 2013. Combining pure pop-rock guitar riffs, a perfectly in sync and fine percussion and rhythm section, featuring Bernard Casserly on bass and Danny Nosonowitz on drums, and the remarkable, emotive and versatile vocals of guitarist James Rapp, The Rotaries have an addictive, seducing, catchy and enjoyable style and sound. As already pointed out, it’s incredibly difficult to pick out just a few standout songs from their debut album, because they’re nearly all standout.
Just for starters, the album’s first three tracks, included below sequentially, all sound to us like hit songs. The best that we can tell is that we picked six (about three song over the usual number of songs presented in an Artist of the Week profile) of the best songs from the album, but listeners, especially fans of The Strokes and The Walkmen (two bands The Rotaries state are musical influences) , and even The Kooks and Vampire Weekend, are strongly encouraged to listen to all of the tracks from the album more than a couple of times. Chances are, you’ll be hooked.
There are few albums that we can play back-to-back half a dozen times and still enjoy with each subsequent spin. That is the other litmus test for a truly fantastic band, and if The Rotaries don’t break out and become hugely popular, then there is something really wrong going on that can’t be easily explained. Before Leaving is easily one of the best DIY albums of 2012, albeit, we only got to hear it many months following the original release date. The Rotaries are the perfect example of why it’s so important to highlight talented, under rated bands. They’ve previously opened for artists like Ellis Ashbrook, Two States, Blue Panel, and The Rochambros, among others.
The opening track, “Tomorrow’s Game,” is a rich, mesmerizing song with sweet, melodic guitar riffs and a catchy, rhythmic drum beat that sets the tone for the rest of the album. The second track, “Of Age,” is an especially upbeat song, with hints of Caribbean-like riffs and rhythms, coupled with angling, sharp electric guitar playing and a flourishing chorus. “So To Speak,” the LP’s third track, has an understated, semi-tropical feel, that breaks out at different intervals into a full engagement, driven by heavy doses of melodically inspired instrumentation, bumbling bass notes, forceful drumming and crashing cymbals, and Rapp’s Julian Casablancas-like vocals, in as far as a similar kind of lazy, drawn out delivery that Casablancas is known for.
“Tomorrow’s Game” – The Rotaries from Before Leaving
“Of Age” – The Rotaries from Before Leaving
“So To Speak” – The Rotaries from Before Leaving
We can’t think of a time in recent memory that we’ve heard a vocalist whose singing is so reminiscent to Casablancas, but, at the same time, not exactly – at least not in a cheap, rip-off kind of way that is only truly comprehended by listening to the band’s debut album. In fact, after listening to the album numerous times in the cafe, it’s clear that it’s Rapp’s natural singing voice, but surely there is some influence of Casablancas, since Rapp does cite The Strokes as a musical influence in his submission to IRC. Some die-hard Strokes’ fans may snicker at such a comparison, but it seems fairly unmistakable to everyone here. There is also a likeness to another band we love, The Postelles. As mentioned earlier, we could have featured almost all of the songs from this shockingly-overlooked DIY masterpiece, but that would be a bit overboard. Still, we’ve included six tracks altogether, which is a few more songs than we normally include in most Artist of the Week profiles.
“Red Letter Day” – The Rotaries from Before Leaving
“Temporary End” – The Rotaries from Before Leaving
Listen to the entire LP (and their debut EP) at The Rotaries’ Bandcamp page, and if you enjoy it as much as we do, please show some love and contribute at least a few dollars so that this band can come out of relative obscurity and get the kind of notice they deserve, and that indie pop-rock lovers deserve to hear.