with The Dirty Moogs (album release) and Sweet Spirit and Alexander F
RUBBLEBUCKET: A BIOGRAPHICAL SOMETHING Rub-ble-buck-et [ru-bul-buck-it]
1.A vessel in which workers collect waste materials on a construction site; We need a rubblebucket for all this rubble.
2.A wild indie-sweat-pop band from Brooklyn, NY; I’m jonesing for the new Rubblebucket EP ‘If U C My Enemies’.
3. The condition of having hard nipples, or riding a mean yes wave; He has great Rubblebucket. Verb 4.The act of uncrossing one’s arms and letting loose, while strange, new feelings and sounds flood mind and body, leading to uncontrollable dancing, possible injury and definite sweat;
We Rubblebucketed all night long.
My experience with Rubblebucket goes way back – to the summer of 1987, when I was born and first met lead singer and baritone saxist Kalmia Traver, then four. Kalmia was already well on her way to being a multi-instrument prodigy (penny whistle, recorder, alphabet burping), and I was already drowning in the ginormous shadow that she cast just by breathing. When she put our brother in a dress, blonde wig and heels, let me put on his lipstick, then encouraged his elastic micro-limbs into a diva pose, I knew she was a natural performer. Kalmia met Alex Toth (band leader, trumpeter, guy, brother-from-another-mother, Jersey) in a latin jazz combo in Burlington, VT. I’m assuming she also encouraged his limbs into diva poses,because they quickly became cosmic twins, painting the town with their loud horn playing. In 2006, they moved to Boston, where they did respectable things for money.
Kalmia nude modeled for art classes, and Alex was hustling marching band gigs at $50 a pop, for which he was required to wear a black shirt and march around for six hours at a time OR NO PAY NO WATER NO DINNER. It was like that scene in Oliver Twist. Naturally, out of this hot, tarry, magical, broke-ass time, Rubblebucket emerged like a huge, slippery, post-afrobeat baby. The first time I heard Rubblebucket perform live, two things happened: I realized this was the coolest thing on earth, like the lovechild of a unicorn and the Tom Tom Club, and I asked them if I could sell their merchandise at shows. You know what they say – if you can’t do, sell merch. Night after night, standing behind that table of CDs, thongs and beer cozies, while Rubblebucket transformed the crowd from a skeptical wall of people into one big, happy, silly, jiving, open-hearted mass was an unforgettable experience. Their music does that – it just does. You can’t know it until you see it. And everyone who sees it, knows it. Like Paste, who said it best: “music that will make anyone with a pulse dance.”(I’ll annotate this by extending it to you pulse-less readers. You, zombie. I know you’re out there.) The Rubblebucket condition has spread around the country, melting cares in its way. It has warmed up cold northern cities like Toronto and Seattle and Chicago, barging in like an escaped rhino and triggering everyone, everywhere, to let loose and feel. Arm-crossing be damned!
I’ve been to many Rubblebucket shows. But it wasn’t until I was mid-crowd in NYC’s Bowery Ballroom and heard a guy in front of me say to his friend “the singer looks so hot tonight” (but? Gross? That’s my sister?) that I knew Rubblebucket had made it. The experts will tell you that, actually, this was when they released their 2011 album Omega La La, with its headlining tracks “Came Out of Lady” and “Silly Fathers,” and reached a whole new, larger audience. Or, when they flew out to LA to play on Jimmy Kimmel Live, and got free pizza and Alex almost puked backstage. Or, when their song “Came out of a Lady” appeared in the movie Drinking Buddies, and I knew I was suddenly one giant leap closer to meeting Anna Kendrick (that’s when I knew I had made it). Or, when their green rooms started stocking guacamole. Or, when their highly anticipated LP, Survival Sounds (Communion Records, Sep. 2014) introduced fans to the next evolution of Rubblebucket, and more and more people fell in love. Or, when they played a sold out Radio City Music Hall show in October 2016, opening for their acclaimed peers Lake Street Dive. Now, much to my drool and dire impatience, the band is winding up to unleash their follow up EP to Survival Sounds titled, If U C My Enemies, to be released in January 2017 via the band’s own label, So Sensation Records.
Rubblebucket is many things and nothing at all; it’s a mindset, a legend, a feeling, a mystery; a mischievous, playful, boundary-smashing blast of sound that you can sit still and wonder at, or turn off your mind and dance move wildly to. Or both at the same time. As Kalmia said, when she handed me one of her now-famous peanut butter, cheddar cheese, cabbage, honey tacos, “This is the weirdest, most delicious thing you will ever taste.” And if you won’t take it on my authority, take it on the authority of a small, but reputable publication called Rolling Stone, reporting from Bonnaroo: “Rubblebucket revved up like an indie-rock Miami Sound Machine, dancers, horns and all.” And if you won’t take it on Rolling Stone’s authority, cleave to the words of our dad, Tim Traver: (most widely known for his role as Silhouette Man in the “Silly Fathers”music video): “Kids these days.”
Album Release Party!
Boise based synthesizer group. We make music for your dancing. You dance now with us.
Ironically, the nine-piece band Sweet Spirit started as a solo project. Austin singer Sabrina Ellis was going through some distressing times: the band that she fronted for several years, Bobby Jealousy, with her then husband was disintegrating along with their relationship. Everything Ellis was working toward was suddenly in free-fall.
She started Sweet Spirit to hone her ability to write and perform on her own. “It was supposed to be focused on me writing solo, and performing with the guitar,” she says. But it didn’t stay that way for long.
When Ellis started Sweet Spirit, she was still writing and performing with her longstanding garage punk band A Giant Dog. AGD Co-founder Andrew Cashen was intrigued by Ellis’ new emphasis on soul and country and pop music as touchstones for Sweet Spirit and quickly climbed on board the project. “I’m very comfortable doing loud and fast,” Cashen says, “so this is uncharted territory for me.”
Together Ellis and Cashen began turning out songs at a breakneck pace. They assembled a core band of four more members, rehearsed religiously, and started playing gigs around town. Immediately they began turning heads and packing clubs.
Within six months they had gotten noticed by one of Austin’s most famous musical residents, Britt Daniel of Spoon. In October of 2014, Daniel asked the band to perform at Spoon’s “secret” tour kick off show at the cramped rock club Hotel Vegas for their latest record They Want My Soul, and Sweet Spirit was quickly thrown into the local buzzmill.
Ex-Spoon producer and friend Mike McCarthy was also an early devotee. He met with the band and invited them to record demos at his studio to shop around. Those early demos were so strong, that with minimal mixing, they became the band’s eponymous 10″ EP.
As Austin accolades continued to pile up into 2015, the band was asked to perform a cover set of Marvin Gaye songs for a special event. They added two horn players and a backup singer to recreate Gaye’s music – Ellis and Cashen were immediately enchanted. They asked the auxiliary players to stay, making what was once a solo project a full-fledged nine piece band!
Twp months later, Sweet Spirit was added as an official SXSW showcase act without a full-length record or ever having applied. National attention fromEsquire, the L.A. Times and other outlets solidified their status as Austin’s “next great rock band” and earned them a spot as the opener on 12 Midwest and West Coast Spoon tour dates.
Meanwhile, the band released their full-length debut Cokomo, as well as a two song collaboration with Daniel, receiving praise from Stereogum, Consequence Of Sound, SPIN, and other outlets, and leading to two more national tours.
In between shows, the band found time to work with producer Steve Berlin (Los Lobos, Deer Tick) on their sophomore full-length St. Mojo.
The new record comes out on April 7, 2017 on Austin label Nine Mile Records and features a bigger, more dynamic set of songs. Lead single “The Power” has already become a fan favorite at live shows, while the Queen-esque track “The Mighty” and Prince dance funk of “I Wanna Have You” take the band is exciting, unexpected new directions. Guest contributions from members of Grupo Fantasma, Mother Falcon and A Giant Dog help expand the band’s already considerable sound.
Alexander F is an American new age punk band fronted by Alex Toth. While on an eleven-day silent meditation retreat in Quebec, a handful of Buddhist-themed experimental punk songs exploded into Alex’s head. Writing and demoing the record took three weeks post-retreat and involved wearing nicotine patches, meditating daily, reading the Tao Te Ching and listening to Pixies and Fugazi.
The whole project was pretty unexpected as Alex comes from a background of jazz trumpet and leading the large new wave band, Rubblebucket. The need for intense meditation came a year into his recovery as a sober alcoholic after a couple musician acquaintances committed suicide. The aggressive songs that emerged quite surprisingly are about freedom from self and freedom from the illusion that we’re separate entities. Freedom from being so lost in thought and in our egos that we hurt ourselves and those around us.
For four days in August of 2015, Alex and friend Steve Marion (guitar) went into Room 17 in Bushwick, Brooklyn to co-produce the Alexander F record with a bunch of friends including Dandy McDowell, Christian Peslak, and Noah Rubin who now comprise the touring band. Kimbra makes an appearance on the record and has been known to sit in with the band. The album was engineered by Joe Rogers and mostly mixed by John Congleton and Claudius Mittendorfer.
Alexander F has played with the likes of Speedy Ortiz, Perfect Pussy, Downtown Boys, Colin Stetson, Margaret Glaspy, Mac McCaughan, Delicate Steve and Reptar.
Alexander F will be released February 10, 2017 on So Sensation Records.