Rotifer, Fever Dream, Bo Candy
12th Sept 2013
Willow Colios checks out Rotifer as they ready their new album for release next month plus Austrian band Bo Candy and post-rock 3-piece Fever Dream, in old London town.
A not quite album launch for soon to be released LP, The Cavalry Never Showed Up, Rotifer take the stage and go straight into it’s opener I Just Couldn’t Eat As Much (As I’d Like To Throw Up). A bold move as it is quite a triumphant and powerful pop song, surely encore material or so I imagined. But the power trio led by Austrian music journalist and radio DJ Robert Rotifer tackle the five minute opener with consummate ease before going into another new track New Fares.
As part of a trio you have a couple of options to get a full sound with only one guitarist. You can use some effects to make your sound bigger, or get really good at playing if you are going for a cleaner sound so people don’t notice the gaps and mistakes. Watching Robert Rotifer’s fingers darting across the fretboard of his fender telecaster it’s clear this left-hander can really play. Crunchy and chiming chords are mixed with elegant picking and melodic solos, and with a great rhythm section, he really drives the band without the need of a second guitarist. This, combined with thoughtful lyrics that range from frustrations with politics, childhood holidays, and the lack of technology of eras long past makes for entertaining and moving songs.
There’s The Cosmonaut Who Never Flew, the story of a real Austrian cosmonaut who didn’t make it into space, written as part of the Vostok 5 project, and new track Ms Pedantovic Resigns about how in the dawning of the Microsoft Word era, those who worked as word counters to work how much to pay journalists (yeah, they paid journalists by the word in those days) were forced out by the new software’s word count capabilities.
The new material fits well with the old, the singer announcing, “That was a song about the privatisation of Royal Mail, this ones about Maltesers”, before launching into Canvey Island. The set finishes on the new album’s real star turn, the dark and poignant yet still rocking Black Bag. It builds slowly as the singer contemplates the tidy up of his worldy possessions after his own demise. “It just isn’t comfortable” as the lyrics say but it is nonetheless compelling and a perfectly placed song to end the set. The crowd cheers for more though and is rewarded with a cover of The Times’ Red With Purple Flashes and Rotifer’s own power pop classic The Frankfurt Kitchen, a song about kitchen design and ergonomics. But it’s not just about writing songs that nobody else would have thought of. The execution matters too. Rotifer can really play and they do so gloriously tonight.
You can pre-order new Rotifer LP The Cavalry Never Showed Up here and check out the label launch at Gare du Nord records where you can see Rotifer on 17th October @ The Betsey Trotwood, London. The Facebook event page is here.
Fever dream (Photo right by Pedro Garcia)
Oozing loose distortion this three piece undoubtedly rock pretty hard, but even through the fuzz they manage to come close to the delicate greatness of Yo La Tengo. They have an amazing name too. For me, band names matter (at least before you have heard the music and fallen in love with a band anyway). Fever Dream is a damn fine one and no mistake.
With a white fender jaguar (and it’s a Squire model which surely means not bought with record company dough. Respect due.) and a slab of assorted pedals, lead singer / guitarist Adey Fleet wrestles all kinds of sounds and textures against precise yet equally violent rhythms from Drummer Cat Loye and Bassist Sarah Lippett. “I wanna get so high I can see my body floating away” Adey sings on Suspense with the band channeling Sonic Youth to great effect. Towards the end of the set he leaves the stage then (I think) deliberately falls over a monitor and nosedives back onto it. It must be on purpose as this is a band that take their own own lump of rock on tour with them to keep the bass drum in place. Well prepared, Fever Dream are high energy and formidable.
Bo Candy & His Broken Hearts (Photo right by Pedro Garcia)
Bo Candy & His Broken Hearts have made their first trip to England to play two gigs supporting Rotifer. And I’m glad they have as it’s pretty rare to get bands from Austria coming over here. English bands travel pretty well across Europe it seems but how many Italian, German or Austrian bands have you seen here in the UK? Probably hardly any. But it’s not because there aren’t brilliant bands from these countries. Granted some don’t sing in English but even that shouldn’t be a barrier. And in the case of Bo Candy & His Broken Hearts it isn’t even an issue. They play literate, blues inflected Rock and Roll, sung in English on all their tracks including the excellent Rolling Stones / Primal Scream-esque I Lost My Faith In You.
But they don’t sound retro with the mighty blues stomp of Stare Into Black and the more delicate Until The End with it’s pleading refrain “Don’t waste your time on letters, don’t waste your time friends, I say hold on to your enemies, they’re true until the end.”
They are tight and loose in good measure and deserve checking out on new LP Flowers Must Fade. A must for fans of bands like the Charlatans who will lap up the use of Hammond organ on some of these songs if nothing else. Hopefully they will return to the UK soon but you can sample some tracks on their Soundcloud page.
Follow Willow Colios on twitter https://twitter.com/ShootTheSinger
Fever Dream and Bo Candy photographed by Pedro Garcia. Rotifer photographed by Nic Newman.
All words by Willow Colios. More writing by Willow on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive.