Reviews

Rubblebucket’s jams bring jazz and funk to indie pop

rubblebucket

Omega La La

Rubblebucket

Release Date: Jun 21, 11

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The eight members of Rubblebucket unabashedly prove that instrumentalists – people who know their music and how to play it – can bridge legitimate funk and jazz into the realms of indie pop.

The now Brooklyn-based band has been touring extensively for their second studio album Omega La La. Their gutsy ad campaign allowed downloading the album for free in exchange for a “like” on Facebook and for spreading the word to friends via email. Produced by Eric Broucek (LCD Soundsystem, Love Affair) and mastered by Joe Lambert (Animal Collective, Dirty Projectors), the eleven tracks were officially released June 21st.

Rubblebucket pulls in strengths of each instrument on hand (including vocals) and layers up as they see fit. Punchy rhythm guitar boosts the jam factor of the well laid bass grooves, while creative use of synth and keyboard holds songs together. Even when lead vocalist Kalmia Traver breaks into a sax solo alongside bandleader/vocalist/trumpet Alex Toth, the always balanced horn section adds depth and hooks to an already catchy indie pop sound, never blasting or distracting us away.

The memorable tracks of Omega La La come quickly. “Down in the Yards” starts out the album with a stripped down, syncopated jam, reminding me that I don’t listen to Minus the Bear enough. “Silly Fathers” is another feature track, with great use of echo on the vocal lines and a treble rhythm guitar that isn’t afraid to back off every once in awhile to leave room for build up. “Breatherz (Young as Clouds)” adds gang vocals to a Chicago-esque horn line, with a punch of electronica on the bridge.

“Came Out of a Lady” is arguably the best groove on the album, taking a sunny, forward driving melody and merging it with laid back claps and whistles for the summer drive song you’ve been looking for. Whether you can connect with the somewhat odd lyrics is unimportant after you’ve found yourself dancing in your seat and listening to it three times in a row.

Halfway through the album, the band takes a step back from the driving rhythms and lets Traver lead with her voice. In “Raining”, her casual – yet steady on pitch – tone sounds almost bored in the lower register, but is always clear and enjoyable when she lets it soar.

The weaknesses of the album may relate back to how much Rubblebucket thrives in their live show and the ability to draw in that audience. A few tracks show their tendency to let loops linger on too long, especially “L’Homme”, which I thought might be a good addition to a Katamari Damacy soundtrack, and “Lifted/Weak Arms”, which tries too hard to connect very different sections into one (six minute) undivided song.

While calmer grooves show more of the musical flex and defiance for genre, Rubblebucket shines in their dance tracks, and Omega La La runs out of them by the end. “Pile of Rage” is not what I would have picked for a final track, as the muted horns (muted with a mute, not muted as in turned off or quiet) leave an unfortunate aftertaste of 70’s sitcom themes.

In the end, Rubblebucket is a band you should know – so that you can explain to the flock of people running to their stage just who they’re running to. Although Omega La La has room for improvement in terms of overall strength, the sense of fun, dedication, and artistry is there.

Check out Rubblebucket’s website for streaming tracks, videos, and upcoming tour dates.