RubbleBucket – Omega Lala

27 04 2011

In spite of the lack of income for artists, everyone loves free music. For budding stars eager to increase their listenership, releasing music for free download is an excellent way to get their sound out there, but when artists drop an entire album, us poor fans nearly weep with joy. Finally, a chance to get something legally without paying!

Unfortunately, all too often musicians release music for free because, well, the music itself is nothing more than mediocre. So when Brooklyn-based Rubblebucket released their sophomore album Omega La La in just such a fashion a few weeks ago, I was understandably apprehensive at first.

To my great surprise, however, from the very first track, Rubblebucket’s clever rhythms, simple yet catchy hooks, beautifully layered vocals and instrumental harmonics hit my ears causing bubbly audial excitement deep within my inner ear.

An epic, 10 person motley crew headed up by the vocal/saxophonic musings of Kalmia Traver and excited trumpeteer Alex Toth, Rubblebucket brings jiggly, giddy boppiness with every track on this album, whose physical release date is slated for June 7th, yet they still avoid the common pitfall in this genre of sounding just “too cute.”

Omega La La plays like a soundtrack to a warm Spring day in Prospect Park. Listening to “Came Out of a Lady” I can just envision Traver and Toth leading their rag tag marching band through the park, with streamer-girls and tambourine-accompanists following in their wake, lightening the moods of all those Park Slope moms and their unruly kids on a breezy Sunday afternoon.

But then there are the slower songs of the album, however few they are, which come out hit or miss. “Raining” tells a pensive story of distant attraction and curiosity over some very clever instrumentation, complete with arpeggios and melodic breaks. Similarly, “Breatherz (Young as Clouds)” soars through the sonic sky like a digilectric albatross, even despite the nearly nonsensical lyrics.

But then we come to the lengthy “Lifted/Weak Arms,” and Rubblebucket’s heretofore hiptastic groove bottoms out into a cacaphonic disarray of strange, sleepy monotony and uncomfortable dissonance. I’m really not too sure what the purpose of this song is, even the masterful production from Eric Broucek (LCD Soundsystem, !!!, Holy Ghost) can’t seem to save this track from the pit of failed experimentation. It just doesn’t fit right with the theme of the album. Thankfully, it only takes up six minutes of the listening experience, so it could be worse.

Overall, I am thoroughly impressed by this little “pre-“release.  It is fresh, creative, uplifting and just plain fun to listen to.  Great work, Rubblebucket, I hope this album gets you paper, even though you’re giving it away for free. 92%, A-

Download Rubblebucket – Omega La La Here


Gold Panda- Companion (2011)

6 04 2011

A Collection of EPs and singles that were released before his amazing LP, Last Years Lucky Shiner.I admit I’m cheating a bit on this review,  I’ve had the majority of this compilation on their respective EPs Before, Miyamae, etc. for some time as he’s one of my favorite new artists.  But now that it’s combined into one solid package, I have to express its greatness. It displays that Gold Panda had made great techno right from the start. There is a wide range of electronic styles Gold panda dabbled in before settling on his characteristic form of hazy glitch-hop and house.  tracks like Quitter’s raga shows he can dice and warp a sample like a mad scientist.  Back Home – a pulsing four tet-esque track that almost beats him as his own game, The Before EP shows off calm, contemplative, side – bustling with hip hop drum breaks and tranquil grooves.

The only issue I have with Companion is not the songs, but the track order. It’s like the guy at the record label just dragged and dropped all the EPs from iTunes and just pressed “burn”.  The Singles front load this album, with the b sides of these often being a much calmer, ambient sound following after. If this were an LP,  Going back and forth from glitch to calm every track would make for a perplexing listen. My humble suggestion would be to reorder it with Before first and the singles After. that way all the singles are still in order and it has a more balanced flow to the listening experience. But hey, what do I know? I’m no Mastering Engineer. Taking this album for what it is, which is a very convenient collection of Great Singles from Electronic music’s Rising Greats – There is nothing to complain about.


Quitter’s Raga “Experimental” Video. I like this more than the “Official” which was the cliché  slice of life video of people enjoying themselves. yawn… I love this guy’s music but one thing he does NOT have is exciting/ interesting videos.

Fleet Foxes- Helplessness Blues (2011)

5 04 2011

Mountainous Folk Giants Fleet Foxes step up to the plate trying to follow their wildly popular and Album of the year accolades by Pitchfork debut can be a crippling task. so what do they do? from the sound of this album, decided to loosen up and jam more on Helplessness Blues. rather than the carefully sculpted folk hymns of last time, the Foxes bust out the instruments and noodle around – resulting in sounding more far-ranging and livelier than before. Evoking images like a bonfire improv session in the woods and the looming nature. Think less Nick Drake (Bad example, I Know – I don’t know enough folkies) and more Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.

Do the Songs suffer? Good question. while they do have a great sound on this album and some melodies are marvelous, Helplessness Blues suffers from the good-but-not-great feel of some rather stagnant songs and it doesn’t really offer anything too new from the debut album or the Sun giant EP. I guess I was hoping for something to be a little more ambitious – having a Sound to their songs that equals the gorgeous vocals harmonies and really make their songs swell up and for lack of a better term, “Bloom” I’ll have to listen to this more and maybe it’ll warm up to me – since it took me awhile to be sold on Fleet Foxes in the first place.


What do you think? Comments? Am I Frontin’?

The Squeezebox: Bibio- Mind Bokeh (2011)

31 03 2011

Wild, unfocused, and occasionally fascinating – Bibio surely isn’t trying to repeat himself much on the appropriately titled Mind Bokeh. Doing away with some of the sunny, almost tropic folk sounds of his previous LP Ambivalence Avenue and created this chaotic and Soulful slice of pop/electronica. It’s very overwhelming hearing this record the first time -you’re sort of confused and wonder where this album is going. Hazy Atmospherics, murky soul-searching, weaving bubbly Techno melodies, Funky Bass-lines, and stuttering Found-Sounds. While some songs are instantly appealing  and recall his earlier work (K is for Kelson, Anything New) some tracks begin to feel a little cluttered or are just total curve-balls (Take off Your Shirt). The more you listen however, the more the album unravels and the disparate elements seem to really gel. Mind Bokeh might make you scratch your head like I did the first time, or it could reveal itself for the album it is the first listen through – an eclectic showcase for one of electronic music’s most inventive producers.


The Squeezebox: The Pains of being Pure at heart- Belong (2011)

29 03 2011

I admit, I went into listening Belong a little hesitant. It’s not that I didn’t like their 2009 Self titled debut. there were some great  songs on there, but tPoBPaT (what a crappy Acronym to type) was made a little uneven for me by a bit too much sugary preciousness that ran rampant throughout the album: Pretty but a little fluffy, with little strength behind it to cement in my mind or punch that particular chorus home. On their sophomore release Belong, They fix all the complaints I had with their sound and more.

Still mining Nostalgic Indie Pop Nuggets of Yester-Year, This album adds some new-found muscle to their Songs. The guitars are Heavier and more aggressive, the songs structures more creative and accomplished, and the production is boosted to a little higher fidelity  so the album feels less like a wispy 80s demo tape. It sounds like a big shift to avoid the second album curse, but they come out on the other side sounding like an  engaging and confident group. At its heart, it’s still a pop album; no amount of crunchy of guitars can take that away; gorgeous Pop songs about young love and looking back on your high school days. Packed with Melodies so addictive and catchy, you’ll swear you knew the words all along -like a lost song trapped in your memory. This new Punch to their sound has made me really reconsider Pains… They seem to be growing up a bit despite their nostalgic outlook:  from a wide-eyed group of lo-fi revivalists to a great Indie Rock Band that write undeniable pop songs.


Belong is now streaming for free on the band’s website. Neat-o

The Squeezebox: The Strokes- Angles (2011)

25 03 2011

Ten years ago they were the world’s biggest indie band and now this.. The Strokes‘ latest, Angles is a pleasant album, but one that suffers from having too many Cooks in the kitchen. The major complaint back then was that just about every track written by singer Julian Casablancas sounded eerily similar- using late 70s CBGB’s Artists and the Velvet Underground as a template and incorporating Chugging, dual guitar attacks and a free willing garage feel to their songs making them sound like a classic lost band of the era.

Angles is the antithesis of This is it.. sounding Big, Bright, and Glossy and Mining more from an early 80s music base.  A lot of the songs are now mostly penned by Guitarists Albert Hammond Jr. and Nick Valensi or Written with every band member credited on at least one song, and Lead Singer Julian is far away, E-mailing his vocals into the studio- this all comes across as disconnected, and the tracks end up being eclectic to a fault. Certain songs are stellar, but sometimes it doesn’t even sound like the same band from a track to track basis. I understand that they want to branch out and create something new, (it’s a few years too late going back to their early sound) and they are different people than they were a decade ago, but if you’re going to throw us fans a “Come-Back” album of sorts, they should have approached it the right way instead of the struggle Angles sounds like.

73/100 – Armordillo

Under Cover of Darkness. Sorry about the Vevo.

The Squeezebox: Daedelus- Bespoke (2011)

23 03 2011

Hmm.. a rather puzzling album from Bookish Electronic Wizard Daedelus and his latest Bespoke on the stellar Ninja tune Records. Filled with sporadic, strung-out layers meant to whirl and dazzle unfortunately  may leave you confused and a bit unsettled. It just never feels comfortable with itself or to the listener. and more importantly it doesn’t go anywhere. Like chugging a fifth and going on a carnival ride (Something I would never do) – it just makes you dizzy, blurs your vision, and you feel a little woozy; once you think your head is about to stop spinning and a song feels like it’s coming into focus, it veers off  and you’re seeing double again.

There are undoubtably good songs on here; Penny Loafers featuring Inara George uses this woozyness and turns it into a hallucinogenic Nightmare (In a good way)  and Tailor Made featuring Milosh is a bustling techno track that’s just a bit too weird for the dance floor. it hardly makes it worth a purchase though, this ends up being the one Album from Daedelus to put back on the shelf.

54/100 -Armordillo

Tailor Made Featuring Milosh

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