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.
Recent Releases Almost Missed, Vol. XXI – TRMRS, The D.A., Pale Seas, Starlight Girls, Finn Riggins, Buxton, AJ Nutter
The southern California band, TRMRS, which is an abbreviation of “tremors,” released a split 7-inch vinyl, Good Time Blues, on April 7th with Seattle rock band The Night Beats. The title track, “Good Time Blues” is a five-minute guitar jam that switches between ‘trash-pop’ and surf rock. The B-side single, “Enter The Door,” is a crashing psychedelic rock track that also includes elements of space pop and chill wave.
Different people have different ways to describe the same songs. With that caveat, the music blog, The Hollow Eyed, described the B-side single, “Enter the Door,” as “Dream Syndicate-style paisley power pop with reverby , slacker surfy shine,” and continued, “whereas the preview’s title track takes the sun-bleached mentality and, like a rocket into the basement, covered in slime, gives off a much bouncier and squirming blaze.” However, there is confusion, and conflicting accounts, around what The Night Beats contribution was to the double single.
“Something Or Nothing” – Pale Seas from Something Or Nothing – March 6th
“Big Woman” – The D.A. from You Kids! – March 13th
“Nice Fez” – Jen Schande from Songs for and Inspired by Valencia
“When The Sun Sets” – Mouth of Ghosts from When The Sun Sets – May 1st
AJ Nutter Inspired by Hitchcock’s Classic, ‘The Birds’
From Lancaster, Pennsylvania, ambient electronic artist AJ Nutter released a 10-inch vinyl double-sided LP in February via 16 Pound Rabbit, featuring hand-dripped wax on the jacket. Influenced by Alfred Hitchcock‘s film, The Birds, Nutter created a musical composition that reflects his admiration for the horror film classic. He wrote that the 100 limited blue vinyl LPs are likely most interesting to Hitchcock fans and soundtrack enthusiasts. Here are two tracks from the album, including “Bodega Bay,” which is a small seaside town about 35 miles north of San Francisco where Hitchcock filmed many scenes from the movie. In fact, the old school house from the film remains in tact and has been a tourist attraction for more than 60 years.
Recent Releases We Almost Missed, Vol. XXII is in the works and will be published soon
Recent Releases We Almost Missed, Vol. XX – Lantern, Washed Out, The Plastic Trips, Unicycle Loves You, Les Jupes, Cold Cave
For this latest installment of the Recent Releases We Almost Missed series, Vol. 20!, we’ve been building for some time now a collection of notable releases in 2012 that we didn’t initially feature, for one reason or another, in the Best New Releases series (the priority because of its popularity) when the singles and the albums they appear on originally were officially dropped. Read more about the RRWAM series at the end of this post. It’s been a while since a post has been published for the long-running, and quite popular, RRWAM series.
This newest Recent Releases We Almost Missed post is more of a playlist than anything else because we need the time to update the Top 10 Songs of the week page. The RRWAM series, however, is not included on the Top 10 Songs playlists because the songs for the top ten are based on the most current releases for the week in question.
The mix of songs below were released as singles from new albums that were dropped weeks or months ago, covering a wide spectrum of indie music genres. Most of the artists and bands featured in the RRWAM series are not DIY because the aim is to save DIY music (most come via the submission form) that passes our ears for post playlists related to unsigned, do-it-yourself artists. In fact, we’re also working on a series of DIY Artists of 2012 series – and there is some great music that most of you have likely never heard before, and in many cases, will only hear on IRC.
To kick off this playlist, is a new IRC band to watch from Philly called Lantern who are in some ways anti-indie rock, and frankly, that’s fine – despite the name of the site – which we shouldn’t be taken too literally.
“Call It Off” – Washed Out from Femi Fati
“One Solem Oath” – Les Jupes
“Believe in My Blood” (unreleased) – Cold Cave from single – June 8th
Recent Releases We Almost Missed, Vol. XIX – Holiday Shores, Boats, Frisk Viljor, Chris Letcher, Alpine White, BlueJuice, Lightouts
This playlist mix features 50 singles from Recent Releases We Almost Missed. We think you’ll really enjoy this mix, especially if you stream it once all the way through from start to finish – there are some fantastic songs in this mix that are barely known at all. There’s no shortage of wonderful music that we want to share with you that otherwise would have slipped through the cracks created by the constant movement of mountains of music that build up throughout the year.
If you’re not familiar with this particular series, we definitely encourage you to browse the past mixtape playlists for Recent Releases We Almost Missed – a lot of people say they discover some great music that they otherwise would have never heard through this series, and we’re totally down with that because that’s why we carefully pick, and post, the songs we do. In the end, it’s usually a win-win-win, and those are rare in this life; so, we’ll take one of those combos wherever we can get ‘em.
This RRWAM mixtape series was born out of necessity. Last year, we needed a functional way to present standout lead tracks from albums that we did not know about until after they were released, or in some cases, that we just missed posting during the week of their official release. Furthermore, we’re sometimes using the world “recent” pretty loosely – but the one constant is that the songs chosen are good enough to post to 20,000 visitors a day. This is one of our favorite playlist mixes because we get to listen more closely to the tracks featured in each RRWAM special mixtape.
The popular Recent Releases We Almost Missed, or RRWAM (Rah-Wam), series has been chugging along since its debut in 2010, and was one of the most listened to, and downloaded, series of all, along with Top Ten Songs, Best New Releases, Fresh Tracks, In Dee Mail and others.
The fact that we initially missed Holiday Shores‘ newest album when it was released on September 13th is just inexusable, but that’s what this mixtape series is for – to make amends for notable singles and albums that we missed when they were originally released. It’s interesting to us that Holiday Shores did not hit it as big in 2010 as so many other new indie bands did, even though HS was getting plenty of blogger buzz, and even mainstream music press. Somehow, there were just too many other great, emerging bands to compete with in 2010. Oddly, the band have not achieved much more recognition in 2011, especially with the fresh release of New Masses for Squaw Peak. But then again, we didn’t help by missing the original release date. Nonetheless, the two singles featured below are perfect tracks to represent the band’s sophomore album release.
“Spells” – Holiday Shores from New Masses For Squaw Peak – Sept. 13th
“Threepeat Got Old” – Holiday Shores from New Masses For Squaw – Sept. 13th
Indie quirk pop band, Boats, released their latest album, Cannonballs, Cannonballs, in August, and we definitely missed it for that week’s (August 16th) Best New Releases mix. The track “TV Scientist” is one of the best song of the second half of 2011. If you dig the track, then you’ll probably want to get your hands on the album too. Friska Viljor’s rarely heard track, “What You Gonna Do?” is incredibly catchy and upbeat. Plus, check out new singles from recent releases by Chris Letcher, The Asteroid Shop, Alpine White, and the brilliant acoustic guitar instrumental from Glenn Jones.
“T.V. Scientist” – Boats from Cannonballs, Cannonballs – Aug. 16th
“What You Gonna Do?” – Friska Viljor from The Beginning of the Beginning of the End – March 21st
“People Beat” – Dead Western Plains from Compilation for Victims of the Tuscon Tragedy – Oct. 18th
“Twin Finns” – Chris Letcher from Spectroscope – Sept. 20th
“Dandelion” - The Asteroid Shop from The Asteroid Shop – Oct. 4th
“When She Gets Home” – Alpine White from The Hale EP – Nov. 1st
“Of It’s Own Kind” - Glenn Jones from The Wanting – Sept. 13th
Bluejuice is an interesting collaboration among producers, engineers and mix specialists who have worked with bands like Weezer, New Order, The Kooks and Muse. The collaboration, which is officially named The Bluejuice Consortium, asked music lovers want they wanted most from an album. The answers ranged from ‘angst’ to ‘melody’ and ‘dance.’
That was enough for the five R&D guys of Bluejuice to bring together producer Eric J. Dubrowsky (Weezer) and London mixologist, Adrian Bushby (Muse, Kooks, New Order), among others. All of this led to the October 28th release, Company – their third album. Here’s the first single from the album, “Cheap Trix.” Another track that we don’t want you to miss is the new single from Caged Animals, “Teflon Heart.” We really like it because it’s a bit different, with its kind of Cars mixed with the Killers [or insert your own 'sounds like' description here] sound and style. Plus, take a trip back in time with the raw, doo-wop styling of Shimmering Stars’ “I’m Gonna Try” from their recent album Violent Hearts. You can bet that we have put The Daredevil Christopher Wright band on our radar thanks to the brilliant track included below, “The Animal of Choice” from their self-released EP, The Longsuffering Song.
“Cheap Trix” - Bluejuice Consortium from Company – Oct. 28th
“I’m Gonna Try” – Shimmering Stars from Violent Hearts
“The Animal of Choice” – The Daredevil Christopher Wright from The Longsuffering Song
This next band, Bear Lake, we didn’t really miss. In fact, we featured them in this week’s Best New Releases. But since we love their DIY, self-released album, If You Were Me, so much, and just got our hands on a third single, we had to include it. If you like the two tracks published earlier this week, plus the third track below, than you’ll want to get what is becoming one of our favorite DIY albums of 2011. Oh yeah, as if we needed another band with an animal in their name – what is this fascination musicians have with naming themselves as animals? Taking theories, if you have one.
“Breaking Me Down” – Bear Lake from If You Were Me
“Only War” – Bear Lake from If You Were Me
One of the top breakout indie bands of 2010, Best Coast, released a not-so-widely heard single, “Gone Again,” in June. The track was the band’s contributions to this summer’s Adult Swim Singles Series. Also, while we’re on the subject, of Adult Swim, download its free electronica sampler, Unclassified. A perfect follow-up to “Gone Again,” is the latest single from The Morning Clouds, the dreamy “A Walk Home” from their new EP, Wasted Youth Blues.
“Gone Again” – Best Coast, single from Adult Swim Singles Program 2011 – June 14th
“A Walk Home” – The Morning Clouds from Wasted Youth Blues EP – Oct. 11th
“Gravity Will Break Our Bones” - Gentlemen Hall from When We All Disappear – Aug. 23rd
Lightouts has really been gaining a following in the past year and for good reason. We originally featured Lightouts on IRC earlier this year following the release of the band’s latest album, which we like very much, and will definitely be on our Best Debuts of 2011 list. Anyways, the band recently released a new single – a double cover mix of LCD Soundsystem and David Bowie. The rarely heard Way Yes track, “Automail,” is ridiculously upbeat and infectious – is it possible not to want to get up and shake it up listening to this world beat classic (at least as far as the world music we’ve heard in 2011)? Don’t think so. Plus, equally terrific tracks from Best Coast, The Ettes, and Little Gold.
“All I Want/Heroes” (LCD Soundsystem/David Bowie) – Lightouts from The Eloise Suite – Aug. 23rd
“Automail” – Way Yes from Oranjudio – Aug. 9th
“Bodies Coasting” – Chappo from Plastique Universe II: Pisces Princess – Aug. 15th
“My Heart” – The Ettes from Wicked Will – Oct. 26th
“Sisters and Friends” – Little Gold from Weird Freedom – Aug. 23rd
It’s always cool to hear something totally different, daring and just plain ole whacky. Our award for the coolest cinematic music we’ve heard in a while goes to Elephant Goes West, a Woodridge, New Jersey indie rock band that obviously doesn’t take itself too seriously. Plus, Sleeping in the Aviary, Tennis System, The Handcuffs. Also, Ki:Theory (a.k.a. Joel Burleson), recording artist and producer, walks the tightrope between electronic and indie/alternative rock, and is best known for his remixes for Daft Punk, Queens of the Stone Age, Ladytron, and Brazilian Girls.
“Holiday Heart” – Ki:Theory
“Whirling Dervish (Theme from Everytown)” - Elephant Goes West from Elephant Goes West - Sept. 1st
“Talking Out of Turn” – Sleeping in the Aviary from You and Me – Sept. 6th
“Arcane” – Tennis System from Teenagers – Oct. 18th
The following is another release that we didn’t necessarily miss when it came out, but which we have had more time now to listen to. The band Priory released their debut, self-titled album on June 21st, pretty much under the radar, in comparison to their talent. Still, the band has received a healthy dose of blogger buzz in recent months that any aspiring artist would be slap-happy to get in today’s saturated world of music.
“Kings of Troy” – Priory from Priory – June 21st
While all of the singles – and usually the albums they came off of as well – featured in RRWAM mixtapes are carefully picked because they should not be missed, sometimes there are others that should have never been absent from the Best New Releases for the week they were released. Such is the case with the latest release from the band Pomegranates, In Your Face Thieves/Chestnut Attic.
The first track, “Softness,” is somewhat name appropriate – because it’s a soft, sort of dreamy, song with a bit of a tempo, somewhat nasally vocals, and definitely one of the few stand out tracks on the album. The melancholy, “Morrocco Girl,” is a stripped down, no frills folk song with just an acoustic guitar and mellow lead vocals. The song’s central contrast – the semi-50′s style choruses – is what also helps the song sound more full.
“Softness” – Pomegranates from In Your Face Thieves/Chestnut Attic
“Morroco Girl” – Pomegranates from In Your Face Thieves/Chestnut Attic
Steel Phantoms infectiously upbeat “Bedouin” was the obvious lead track from their July EP release, Forer, and Hussy delivers the raw, imperfect contrast to Steel Phantoms with the gritty garage rocker “Sexi Ladi.”
“Bedouin” - Steel Phantoms from Forer EP – July 29th
“Sexi Ladi” – Hussy from Sexi Ladi – May 3rd
Shifting gears once again, listen to The Duke and The King‘s interesting mix of R&B, soul and even alternative country sensibilities on “Shine On You,” from the August release of the band’s self-titled debut LP. Next, Detroit garage rock band Almost Free add even more eclectic flavor to this mix with their alternative, semi-goth rock of “Don’t Bother Me Now,” followed by the thumping bass line and layered harmonies of Hooray For Earth‘s “No Love,” the band’s first single off their newest LP, True Loves. HFE has been on our radar since breaking out with their wonderful 2006 debut; it’s almost hard to believe it took that long to get an LP out.
“Shine on You” – The Duke & The King from The Duke & The King – August 16th
“Don’t Bother Me Now (Adultescent)” – Almost Free from In/Out – June 7th
“Big” – Parentz from Big – Sept. 6th
“No Love” – Hooray For Earth from True Loves – June 17th
“Drip From The Sea” – High Pop from Drip From The Sea – Sept. 20th
“Parking Lot” – Jonny Lives from Revolution For Free – Sept. 27th
Other tracks include the haunting alternative-goes-jazzy-goes-psychedelic from Firs of Prey, followed by the wandering ruminations of “No Worries” by Family Lumber; the semi-road tripping track, “Waiting for Saints to Arrive” by Company; the Prince-sounding, “Swear” by Inc., and other fantastic tracks by Soley, The Trews, Locksley, Metronomy, Mr. Gnome, The Reveling, and The Unsacred Hearts. And, so many other songs that speak for themselves.
“What You Say” – Firs of Prey from Well, I Don’t See Why Not Vol. 3 – May 26th
“No Worries” – Family Lumber from Look to the Sidelines EP – Aug. 9th
“Waiting for Saints to Arrive” – Company from Holy City – May 26th
“Left at Forkright” – The Reveling from Black Numbers – June 21st
“Ideas to Use” – Gardens from Gardens – Aug. 15th
“Swear” – Inc. from 3 EP – July 26th
“I’ll Drown” – Soley from We Sink - Sept. 2nd
“Sometimes” – The Banana Splits from Mr Sam Presents The Bandana Splits – Aug. 16th
“Bit the Tongue” – Mr. Gnome from Madness in Miniature – Oct. 25th
“One By One” – The Trews from Hope & Ruin – April 12th
“Flesh and Bone” – The Unsacred Hearts from The Honor Bar – July 8th
“The Whip” – Locksley from Locksley – July 26th
“The Look” – Metronomy from The English Riviera – July 26th