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Hey everyone, it's time for a final February SubModern Report. That's right I said February, even though it feels more like April or May where I'm sitting. I feel guilty enjoying the warm weather since it's actually quite terrifying! But global warming fears aside, I hope you're all having a great week so far. There's certainly a lot of new music pouring in as we gear up for SXSW in a few weeks (well, maybe not me this year).

This week it's Chicago slacker punks The Orwells reigning supreme with the release of their sophomore album Terrible Human Beings, debuting at #1 with two singles charting as well -"Black Francis" at #3 and "They Put A Body In The Bayou" at #17t. But since they didn't pull a double #1, just what topped them on the singles chart? The Black Angels ticked up a spot to claim #1 with "Currency" from their upcoming album Death Song, which will be released on April 21st. Following that is the debut of a new track from Sweden's Little Dragon, "High." We don't have details on a new album yet, but hopefully they'll be coming soon.

The next few spots on the singles chart are occupied by a three-way tie for #4 between last week's #1, "Ballad of The Dying Man" from Father John Misty, "Ran" from Future Islands, and my personal favorite of the week, "Big Beautiful Day" from new Polyvinyl signees PWR BTTM, who just announced their sophomore album Pageant. (I'm proud to have been the first specialty host to spin that track!) Mark Lanegan Band takes the #7 spot with "Nocturne," followed by Hoops' "Rules" and Incubus' "Nimble Bastard" tying for #8, and then a four-way tie for #10.

Back on the album chart, Seattle's Dude York debut at #2 with Sincerely and St. Paul, MN's Hippo Campus show up with their first full length album landmark at #3. Hanni El Khatib and The xx tie for #4 with Savage Times and I See You, respectively. Aussie kids Middle Kids' self-titled EP is #6, followed by Thundercat's guest-filled Drunk at #7, and Ty Richards' Spaceman at #8. The top ten albums then close out with a four-way tie, which you can see on the charts below. You can also catch up down there with last week's awesome SubModern Session from Rubblebucket if you missed it.

I'll meet you back here next week, and hopefully we'll all be a lot colder then.

~ Josh Landow
Twitter: @JoshTLandow

Updated 2/22/17
# Artist Track Label
1 THE BLACK ANGELS CURRENCY PARTISAN
2 LITTLE DRAGON HIGH LOMA VISTA
3 THE ORWELLS BLACK FRANCIS CANVASBACK / ATLANTIC
4t FATHER JOHN MISTY BALLAD OF THE DYING MAN SUB POP
  FUTURE ISLANDS RAN 4AD
  PWR BTTM BIG BEAUTIFUL DAY POLYVINYL
7 MARK LANEGAN BAND NOCTURNE HEAVENLY / PIAS
8t HOOPS RULES FAT POSSUM
  INCUBUS NIMBLE BASTARD ISLAND
10t MAC DEMARCO MY OLD MAN CAPTURED TRACKS
  MAGIC GIANT SET ON FIRE WASHINGTON SQUARE / CONCORD
  PIXIES BEL ESPRIT PIAS
  SPOON HOT THOUGHTS MATADOR
14t MINUS THE BEAR LAST KISS SUICIDE SQUEEZE / ADA
  THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS HIGH TICKET ATTRACTIONS CONCORD
  REAL ESTATE DARLING DOMINO
17t DEPECHE MODE WHERE'S THE REVOLUTION COLUMBIA
  GOLDFRAPP ANYMORE MUTE
  LINKIN PARK HEAVY WARNER BROS.
  MIDDLE KIDS EDGE OF TOWN DOMINO
  THE ORWELLS THEY PUT A BODY IN THE BAYOU CANVASBACK / ATLANTIC
22t CRAIG FINN PRELUDES PARTISAN
  DAY WAVE SOMETHING HERE HARVEST
  THUNDERCAT SHOW YOU THE WAY BRAINFEEDER
  YOUNG FATHERS ONLY GOD KNOWS BIG DADA
 
Updated 2/22/17
# Artist Album Label
1 THE ORWELLS TERRIBLE HUMAN BEINGS CANVASBACK / ATLANTIC
2 DUDE YORK SINCERELY HARDLY ART
3 HIPPO CAMPUS LANDMARK GRAND JURY
4t HANNI EL KHATIB SAVAGE TIMES INNOVATIVE LEISURE
  THE XX I SEE YOU YOUNG TURKS
6 MIDDLE KIDS MIDDLE KIDS EP DOMINO
7 THUNDERCAT DRUNK BRAINFEEDER
8 TY RICHARDS ZILLION TREMOLO
9t DAY WAVE THE DAYS WE HAD HARVEST
  LOS CAMPESINOS! SICK SCENES WICHITA
  STRAND OF OAKS HARD LOVE DEAD OCEANS
  TY SEGALL TY SEGALL DRAG CITY
13t ANIMAL COLLECTIVE PAINTERS EP DOMINO
  CLOUD NOTHINGS LIFE WITHOUT SOUND CARPARK
  THE COMMUTERS BEFORE I WAS BORN SELF-RELEASED
  JESCA HOOP MEMORIES ARE NOW SUB POP
  NINET PAPER PARACHUTE SELF-RELEASED
  RUBBLEBUCKET IF U C MY ENEMIES YEBO
  RYAN ADAMS PRISONER BLUE NOTE
20t JENS LEKMAN LIFE WILL SEE YOU NOW SECRETLY CANADIAN
  JUSTICE WOMAN BECAUSE
  KINGS OF LEON WALLS RCA
  THE REGRETTES FEEL YOUR FEELINGS FOOL! WARNER BROS.
  ROGUE WAVE COVER ME EASY SOUND
  THE SHINS HEARTWORMS COLUMBIA
  ST. TROPEZ ST. TROPEZ SELF-RELEASED
  THIEVERY CORPORATION THE TEMPLE OF I & I ESL

Rubblebucket
If U C My Enemies
(Yebo)

Last month Brooklyn indie Jazz/Afrobeat/Dance outfit Rubblebucket returned from a bit of a hiatus with a new EP called If U C My Enemies.  While on tour shortly after its release, I had the chance to chat with band founders Kalmia Traver and Alex Toth about their unique sound and new songs.  Along with band members Maddie Rice on guitar and Jeremy Phipps on trombone, they played acoustic versions of some songs from the new EP for our latest SubModern Session.

FMQB: Before we talk about the EP specifically, let’s get a little background on the band.  I know you go back almost a decade now?

Kalmia Traver: Yeah.  Alex and I met in Vermont.  That’s where I grew up, and we both went to college there.  We played together in a million different little bands all around Vermont and we became partners.  Then we moved to Boston and then we moved to Brooklyn.  And we kept playing horns that whole time and having fun. 
 
FMQB: So horns were the initial connection there?
 
Alex Toth: Yeah, we met in Latin Jazz combo and then we were in a nineteen piece Parliament Funk cover band, Soulvation Army, and then some Afro-Cuban folk stuff, and we were in the band for a burlesque show, and played in an experimental indie rock band a lot around Burlington, Vermont.  We were really into jazz.

KT: Our favorite thing was to just sit anywhere and play jazz heads comping for each other, but I wasn’t very good at it.  But it was a good learning experience!

FMQB: How did all that lead to Rubblebucket’s beginning?  It sounds like you incorporate a lot of the things that you had done in previous bands into what you’re doing here.

AT: Yeah, we got really into Afrobeat music, which is a Nigerian style started by Fela Kuti.  It’s kind of a cross between   straight up Nigerian spiritual music and then Funk, influenced by James Brown.  We saw this band Antibalas touring.  We got really into that and moved to Boston.  We had the jazz group at the time and I couldn’t get them together for this gig, so I thought, “let’s try starting an Afrobeat band just for this one show.”  And we just kept going with it cause it felt really cool to play.  At that point there were like ten of us with tons of percussion and interlocking polyrhythmic parts.  It was so powerful to be inside that!  So we just kept going and evolving the sound over many years.
 
FMQB: How would you say the sound has evolved from back them to what you’re doing now?

AT: It’s hard to put in in specific genre terms.
 
KT: I had never even heard of The Talking Heads before.  That was like an awakening.  That felt like where my head was at actually, even though I didn’t know it.

AT: I feel like it went into a more New Wave direction.  We really focused on the songwriting craft and wrote tons and tons of songs.  Over time we figured out how to work the groove and horns into those songs and just kind of meld those together in whatever unique ways we wanted.

KT: And Dream Element.  We just made up that word this past year when we were working on this EP.  In all of our new music, it’s like code for describing I guess psychedelia.  Just like big swirling beautiful synths and sounds that you could never really put a finger on.  I think that ties a lot of our music together.

FMQB: The new EP, If U C My Enemies, I think represents the longest gap in releases for you.  It seemed like you were putting out an album or EP every year, but you hadn’t since 2014.

KT: Yeah, that’s interesting.  I didn’t even think of that.
 
FMQB: Was that sort of a factor of touring all the time as you seem to do?

KT: We had a major shift point.  I think it just naturally arose because we had been going non-stop!  We did Omega La La and that was such a grind to get that out and we just love playing live so every chance we have we would go play shows.  Then right before Survival Sounds I got cancer and Alex got sober, so that was a major impactful life experience.  Then after all that, maybe a year into that, we just hit sort of like a burnout, re-gear, rebuild moment.  And that’s what we’ve been in for the past eight to twelve months or something.  So it’s now finally coming to fruition.

AT: Yeah, I feel like it would’ve been cool to do that sooner.  Just to spend more time like breathing and away from the project and writing songs, cause so many good songs have come out this period.  And we’re working on studio versions of songs that’ll be on the full-length.  It’s just nice to really give space to what we’re working on.

FMQB: I just want to rewind for a second because a lot of information just came out.  You’re doing OK now?

KT: I’m doing great now!  I’m doing 500% better than I ever have been!

FMQB: Great!  And you threw out the term “full-length,” so that’s something we can look forward to?  Will that be an expansion of the EP or something totally separate? 

AT: Most likely an expansion of the EP.  We have so many songs that we’ve written that haven’t been released though, so we’ll see.

KT: This will definitely be the most music that we’ve ever gone into a full-length album with and I think we have a lot of directions we can go with it, which is so exciting.  In the past it’s been like, “OK, we have twelve songs, let’s just make an album,” and now we can really pick and choose and craft something that has a character of its own.

AT: We have some stuff that we’re all really excited about that fits nicely with the EP songs, so we’ll see how it happens.  We’re hoping to release something like late summer or early fall.

FMQB: I wanted to ask about the theme of the title track, “If U C My Enemies.”  It seems very appropriate to the times we’re in where there’s a lot of division amongst people, and it sounds like you’re trying to heal that. 

AT: It’s so interesting that we scheduled the release date of the EP for the day of the inauguration.  It was so unintentional.  We started writing these songs a long time ago, like a year and a half ago.

KT: I don’t think it’s unintentional though, because we’ve been on this really focused course for healing ourselves and that song came straight out of that.  I’ve been watching that happen in parallel with our country and the world.  It feels pretty aligned.  Maybe the actual release date wasn’t on purpose [laughs].

AT: It feels so good to play this song in this time.  When we were having all these personal struggles, this Dalai Llama quote became my mantra, which is, “Our enemies are our greatest teachers.”  It’s like if you don’t run away from these bad things that happen…

KT: They can be the best thing that ever happened to you, in that you can learn from them.

AT: Yeah, you grow so much from the obstacles put in front of you.

Find out more about Rubblebucket at Rubblebucket.com and follow them on Facebook and TwitterListen to their SubModern Session performance here. 


 
By Josh T. Landow


 
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