Rotary Downs are a New Orleans-based indie rock band that formed in 2002. They have recently released their fifth album, Traces, which is their first since 2010’s Cracked Maps And Blue Reports. The group has played worldwide, from festivals like Bonnaroo, to the Marché International Du Disque Et De l’Edition Music Conference in France. In addition, two of the act’s tunes, “Promised Land” and “Bullet On A String,” were featured in the Rock Band video game.
“Orion” opens Traces like a typical rock song, with a drum riff offset by keyboards and low-pitched vocals. The chorus sounds like a party, with endless “bah bahs.” The next track, “Tent City,” is a little less energetic, with its focus more on the lyrics than on the instruments. Deviating more from the others is “Anthony’s Odyssey,” which is reminiscent of Sgt. Pepper-era Beatles. “The Sandwich Islands” is much sweeter and less psychedelic, but sounds like a completely different band. The closer, “AKA Godzilla,” is not as threatening as the name implies, and unsuccessfully attempts to tie the record together with its relaxed, Coldplay-like feel.
Traces is pleasant to listen to, but is not cohesive. Unfortunately, Rotary Downs end up sounding like 10 different groups. Even through they genre-hop from indie rock to psychedelia and back, they don’t keep many elements the same throughout their songs. However, every track taken separately sounds great, and the album will satisfy the ears of people who are not sure to what they want to listen.