It’s a surprise that I’ve gone this long without blogging about one of my all-time favorite bands. I’ll try my best not to fan boy out though (pay no attention to the title of this article), and will try to give a solid review of the band, Rubblebucket. This will be my first official review of music or a band, so forgive the amateurish nature of the blog. It’ll be only uphill from here?
So whenever I review anything, I feel like I should give more than just my opinion. I think it’d be unfair and quite cheap for me to limit any review to whether I like it or not and to explain why or why not. Therefore, the over-analytical part of my mind will categorize all of my retrospective examinations of art, including music, into points of reference that apply, in order to provide an accurate and more detailed analysis of the given subject. Said points of references that will be used in this article and for whenever I scrutinize an artist, include:
Type of Music– What’s the genre(s)? What instruments are used? Is the style simple? Complex?
Creativity– Is the music relatively different/creative? Can it be said that the artist is original?
Fan Demographic– What kind of music fans is the artist trying to appeal to?
Talent– Is the artist relatively talented in what they do?
Consistency– Does their style of music change at all? Whether it changes or not, is it for better or for worst, according to fans?
Before all of that though, how about a quick bio just in case Wikipedia’s too mainstream for you. Rubblebucket originates from Brooklyn, NY. It’s primary members are couple Alex Toth (trumpet, band leader) and Annakalmia Traver (vocals, saxophone). A really cool duo who jams in a band with other players who’s names are escaping me. Alex and Kalmia started in a reggae group after college, which if you listen close enough will show a little in a lot of their songs. They started Rubblebucket back in 2007, and their first album was Rose’s Dream which came out in ’08 (great music for a debut). I have mad respect for Kalmia for fighting ovarian cancer during one of their tours back in 2014 during the release of their 2014 album, “Survival Sounds”, which is one of my all-time favorite albums. She underwent and completed treatment on tour, big ups to her for that.
Type of Music
Rubblebucket is definitely a band to dance to, as they implement fast-paced, wistful drumming that sometimes have a jazzy element to them, a very fun, yet deliberate bassline that takes you for a walk, a simple, yet fetching background guitar wadding that often adds a funky element, and the best use of a trumpet outside of it’s traditional use since Al Hurt. I mean the way Alex tickles that trumpet with such forlorn dynamism and elegant soulfulness is truly haunting and uplifting all at once. The type of music you’ll hear from Rubblebucket can be described, genre wise, as indie-dance rock, neo-psychedelia, alternative funk, and decadent beauty, all at the same time. It’s fun, careless, happy music for the most part.
Songs like “November”, “Forlornification”, “Worker”, and “Came Out Of A Lady” have that funky, jazzy, neo-psychedelic feel to them, and truly feel like they were composed with the soul purpose of causing one to dance. Then you have other songs like “My Life”, “Sound of Erasing”, and “On The Ground”, that have more of a more neo-alternative, indie rock kind of feel. However, the consistency of their music is pretty invariable, as their songs carry the same pensive, whimsical, fun vibe throughout.
It’s hard not to say a band is creative whenever they successfully implement the use of such a relatively untraditional instrument, like the trumpet, into modern genres of music. But beyond that, Rubblebucket has stretched their style, their genre of music, their vibe and musical approach, into a decent collection of songs that, while all having their distinctive mark, manages to avoid all sounding alike. They keep their characteristics musically without sounding like many others, and continue to do so. Even within the songs themselves are found variations and a dynamic feel that allows one to experience a different journey with every listen. Their lyrics are also very well written and have a lot of personality and leave plenty of room for analysis.
I have this as a very crucial category to judge musicians by because one needs to know who the artist is trying to get at before providing criticism. If I go to the movies to see Transformers 11 as a fan of dramas expecting a slow-paced contemplative film, I will obviously be disappointed and judge it as “bad”. The same applies with music. This is where relative taste comes into the picture. Because there is no “bad” music. But if I listen exclusively to rap, for example, I would have no interest in a band like Rubblebucket. Fortunately though, in addition to rap music, I also enjoy up-beat, psychedelic, indie alternative music that makes me dance in my car on the way to work. So I’d say Rubblebucket appeals to people who enjoy dancing and whimsical vibes and don’t mind a strong female lead vocalist.
This is kind of a tough one. Because once again, it’s hard to say there’s good and bad art, and talent is relative to culture and to the individual. So in estimating the talent of an artist, I’d have to base such evaluations on popular appeal (amongst fans and non-fans), and on what is commonly and technically acceptable as “talented”. Musically speaking, Rubblebucket is a modern revelation. Their style lends to some complex compositions, and they nail it in every song, and they don’t miss a beat when they perform live. They have a style that they are going for, and they absolutely crush it. Lead vocalist Annakalmia isn’t necessarily one to run with the greatest female vocalists of all time. But she’s not trying to. The way she delivers her lyrics makes it hard for her listeners to imagine them being sung any other way. She’s has a raw, charming, sincere element to her voice that makes you fall in love her. All in all, very talented band.
If you like fun, witty, upbeat music that will make you move your shoulders and hips ungracefully to very creatively composed music, then Rubblebucket is definitely the band for you. They’re charming, sincere, moving, and carelessly powerful. They’re sure to put a smile on your face and a pep in your step. <——– Cliché
Playlist For First Time Listeners
“Came Out of a Lady” (Omega La La Version)
“On The Ground”
“Sound of Erasing”
“If U C My Enemies”
“Down In The Yards”