Rubblebucket

Rubblebucket

Cuddle Magic

Sat · December 30, 2017

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

Gateway City Arts

$20/Adv, $25/Door

Rubblebucket
Rubblebucket
RUBBLEBUCKET: A BIOGRAPHICAL SOMETHING

Rub-ble-buck-et [ru-bul-buck-it]
Noun
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.”
Cuddle Magic
Cuddle Magic
Cuddle Magic is Benjamin Lazar Davis, Christopher McDonald, Dave Flaherty, Alec Spiegelman, Kristin Slipp and Cole Kamen-Green–a six-piece avant-pop band located between Brooklyn and Philadelphia. All six musicians are in-demand collaborators in New York’s musical community and work with a wide array of artists, from pop superstars like Beyoncé to critically lauded independent musicians like Will Sheff (Okkervil River) and Amanda Palmer (Dresden Dolls), as well as with respected figures of the avant-garde like Fred Frith and Ran Blake.

It's been a few years since the New Yorker labeled Cuddle Magic’s music "high concept chamber-pop.” At the time, that was a fair statement about a band known to utilize 12-tone rows, odd meters, and extended techniques; a band which had collaborated with new music pianist Phyllis Chen and Third Stream master Ran Blake. But with Ashes/Axis, the band’s forthcoming new full-length record, listeners are less likely to hear echoes of the academy. All sorts of heady compositional devices, both musical and literary, are still present, but the members of Cuddle Magic have learned to bury those influences deeper in the substrate of the music.

Ashes/Axis features songs written by three of Cuddle Magic’s band members–Christopher McDonald, Benjamin Lazar Davis and Alec Spiegelman–all of whom take turns as lead vocalist. In addition, Kristin Slipp, whose voice is prominent from the very start of the album, takes the lead on “Slow Rider,” “The First Hippie on the Moon, Pt. II” and “Voicemail.”

The album also features several co-writes: “The First Hippie on the Moon, Pt. II” was co-written by Lazar Davis and his brother Tim Davis; “The First Hippie on the Moon, Pt. I” was co-written by McDonald and Davis; “Voicemail” was co-written by Lazar Davis and Spiegelman; “Spinning” and “Round And Round” were co-written by Lazar Davis and Sarah K. Pedinotti of Lip Talk, and three of the songs on the album were co-written by Lazar Davis and longtime collaborator Bridget Kearney of Lake Street Dive. Those tracks, “Slow Rider,” “Trojan Horse,” and “Getaway,” are all pop songs hung over the frame of Bawa music from Northwestern Ghana. Parts of these songs were conceived just for the gyl, a type of wooden xylophone, and can be heard translated for this sort-of-rock band.

As with past Cuddle Magic records, the studio process for Ashes/Axis began with live full-band arrangements. Grooves were orchestrated with a set of unusual electro-acoustic timbres including a finger-picked, overdriven acoustic guitar, a bass clarinet with a cheap microphone nested in the bell, junk-shop percussion run through a vocoder, and a slew of Casio keyboards (bought, urgently, from an unnervingly tense family in rural Maine). After tracking the arrangements, several elements were then removed to allow for one final stage of recomposition. With Cuddle Magic’s Benjamin Lazar Davis at the helm, Bryce Goggin (Pavement, Swans, Antony & The Johnsons) and assistant engineer Adam Sachs chopped, distorted, distressed, and delayed elements in each song. The end result is a sound that is warm and precise, raw yet sophisticated–a set of infectious pop songs from either an alternate reality or a paradoxically familiar near-future.
Venue Information:
Gateway City Arts
92-114 Race St.
Holyoke, MA, 01040
http://www.gatewaycityarts.com/