Tag: afro pop

 

 

Last year, I wrote about the acclaimed trio of Toto Bona Lokua, comprised of French-Antillean singer/songwriter Gerald Toto, Cameroonian jazz musician Richard Bona and Congolese singer/songwriter Lokua Kanza, and as you might recall, with the release of  2004’s, critically applauded sophomore effort Totobonalokua, the pan-African act received attention across world music circles for a sound and aesthetic that effortlessly blended several different traditions, cultures and languages; in fact, the album was a commercial success in France, despite very little promotion and no touring.

Since the release of Totobonalokua, the members of the trio have pursued a series of diverse solo projects, which kept them incredibly busy. Of course, because of the success of their sophomore album, the individual members of the trio would frequently be asked by fans and the press if they would be reuniting to write and record new material — or if they had any plans to tentatively do so. Although the individual member of the trio’s paths seldom crossed, they managed to stay in touch, and as the story goes Gerald Toto suggested that it might be time to reconvene the trio and try to write new material. Bona and Kanza quickly agreed and while it took some time to synchronize the schedules of three extremely prolific and busy artists, they found time to write and record their third full-length album Bondeko, which was released earlier this year through French record label Nø Førmat. (By the way, the album’s title is derived from the Lingala word for  “friendship” or “fraternity.”)

Unsurprisingly, this year or so has been a very busy year for Gerald Toto, as he follows the release of Toto Bona Lokua’s third album with his forthcoming new album Sway, which is slated for an October 26, 2018 release, and from the album’s first single “Away Alive,” Toto will further cement his reputation for crafting infectious and breezy pop that’s enigmatic and mischievously difficult to categorize; in fact, “Away Alive” is centered around a languid and tropical groove, featuring gently strummed guitar, brief bursts of arpeggiated synths and an infectious hook paired with Toto’s yearning falsetto. Sonically the song hints at Tropicalia, Bossa nova, 70s soul, Afro pop, French pop and folk in a way that feels both familiar and new, but while encouraging the listen to slow down and to pay attention to the gentle sway of life’s rhythms every now and then.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Led by Makara Bianco and featuring production from prolific French producer débruit, KOKOKO! is a pioneering Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo-based DIY electronic collective inspired by a growing spirit of protest and unrest among Kinshasa’s young people. Unsurprisingly, these young people, much like young people everywhere have begun to openly question centuries-old norms and taboos, and have openly begun to denounce a society that they’ve perceived as being paralyzed by fear — namely, the fear of inclusiveness and change. And they’ve begun to do so with an fearless, in-your-face, almost punk rock-like attitude. In fact, the collective’s name literally means KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK! with the collective viewing themselves as the sound of a new generation boldly, loudly and defiantly banging on the doors and walls, yelling “OUR TIME IS NOW!”

I’ve written quite a bit about the collective, and as you may know, the collective’s members operate in a wildly inventive DIY fashion, creating self-designed and self-made instruments from recycled junk, flotsam and jetsam and claptrap. They even built a recording studio out of old mattresses, found wound and a ping pong table. Fueled by the underlying notion that desperate survival fuels creativity, the collective exploded into the international scene with their debut EP Tokoliana an urgent, forward-thinking, avant-grade-like effort centered around a sound that nods at disco, post-punk, hip-hop, reggae, retro-futuristic funk, Afro-futurism and traditional regional music — from a sweaty and grimy, post-apocalyptic future in which the ghetto and club are one and the same. It was arguably one of the most unique and exciting debuts I’ve come across in some time and unsurprisingly as a result, EP single and title track “Tokoliana” was one of my favorite singles last year.

Building upon a rapidly growing profile, the Congolese collective’s TONGOS’A EP was released last year, and the EP found the members of the collective further exploring themes of survival within the desperate and uneasy sociopolitical climate of their homeland — sometimes being forced to focused on small, deeply human pleasures and concerns. TONGOS’A‘s first single, EP title track “Tongos’a” (which translates roughly into “’til the morning light” in English)” was a sweaty, sultry and raunchy banger, centered around skittering drum programming and African percussion which helped to further cement the song’s overall theme — the necessity of getting good sex.

“Azo Toke,” the Congolese collective’s first single of 2018 features a production consisting of explosive blasts of static and feedback, tribal percussion, thumping and stuttering, tweeter and woofer beats, glitchy bursts of synth, throbbing low end, call and response vocals and subtly shifting moods and tempos — and while seemingly post apocalyptic, the track will further cement the act’s inventive approach to dance music, in which they seamlessly mesh African traditions with forward-thinking, hyper modern production.

 

New Video: Congolese DIY Collective KOKOKO! Returns with a Raunchy Club Banger

Bordered by Central African Republic and South Sudan to its north; Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania to its east; Zambia and Angola to the south; the Republic of the Congo to its west; and the Atlantic Ocean to its southwest, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the second largest country by area in Africa and the eleventh largest by area in the entire world — and by with a population of 78 million people, the most populated officially Francophone country in the entire world, the fourth most populated nation in African and the seventeenth most populated country in the world.

Humans first settled within the expansive territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo roughly 90,000 years ago, although various Bantu speaking tribes began migrating into the region in the 5th century and again in the 10th century. From the 14th to the 19th century, the territory was split into three different territories — to the West, the Kingdom of Kongo ruled for close to 500 years; while the central and Eastern sections were ruled by the Luba and Lunda kingdoms, which ruled from roughly the 16th century to the 19th century.

In the 1870s, European exploration of the Congo region was first carried out and led by Henry Morton Stanley, who was sponsored by King Leopold II of Belgium and by 1885, Leopold had formally acquired the rights to the Congo territory, making the land his private property. Ironically naming the territory the Congo Free State, the colonial military unit the Force Publique forced much of the local population into producing rubber and from 1885-1908 millions of Congolese died from exploitation and disease. Despite initial reluctance, the Belgian government formally annexed the Free State and the territory became the Belgian Congo.

Between the late 1950s and mid 1960s, revolutionary movements swept much of Africa, reshaping the map; in fact, The Democratic Republic of the Congo achieved independence in June 1960 as the Republic of the Congo, with Patrice Lumumba, a Congolese nationalist, becoming the country’s first Prime Minister and Joseph Kasa-Vubu, becoming the country’s first president. Within a few months, the provinces of Katanga, Moise-Tshombe and South Kasai attempted to secede and by September 1960, Lumumba was dismissed from office by Kasa-Vubu with encouragement by the US and Belgium after Lumumba sought assistance from the Soviet Union with what has since been known as the Congo Crisis. By mid September of that year, Lumumba was arrested by forces loyal to Army Chief of Staff Joseph-Desire Mobutu, who gained de facto control of the country through a coup d’etat. By early 1961 Lumumba was executed by Belgian-led Katangese forces.

In 1965 Mobutu, who later renamed himself Mobutu Sese Seko, officially came into power through a second coup d’etat, running the country, which he renamed as Zaire as a one-party state, with his Popular Movement of the Revolution as the country’s sole legal party for more than 30 years. By the early 1990s, Sese Seko’s government had begun to weaken and by the middle of the decade, growing disenfranchisement among the country’s eastern Congolese Tutsi population led to Zaire’s invasion by their Tutsi-ruled neighbor Rwanda, which began the First Congo War and eventually led to the end of Mobutu Sese Seko’s 32 year stranglehold on the country.

In May 1997, Laurent-Desire Kabila, a leader of South Kivu province-based Tutsi forces became President of the country and reverted the nation’s name to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Unfortunately, tensions between Kabila and the Rwandan and Tutsi presence led to the Second Congo War from 1998-2003, which involved nine different African nations and 20 different armed groups and eventually resulted in the deaths of 5.4 million people. Naturally, the decade long period of civil war and instability devastated the country and the larger region. And if you add several centuries of commercial and colonial exploitation, which continues to this very day, extreme poverty, inequality and inequity and a lack of infrastructure, you understandably wind up with a population that’s desperate and struggling to survive.

Led by Makara Bianco and featuring production from prolific French producer débruit, KOKOKO! is a pioneering Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo-based DIY electronic collective inspired by a growing spirit of protest and unrest among Kinshasa’s young people, who have begun to both openly question centuries-old norms and taboos and or openly denounce a society that they perceived as paralyzed by fear. In fact, the collective’s name literally means KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK! with the collective viewing themselves as the sound of a new generation boldly, loudly and defiantly banging on the doors and walls, yelling “OUR TIME IS NOW!” The members of the collective operate in a wildly inventive DIY fashion, creating self-designed and self-made instruments from recycled junk and claptrap — and they built a recording studio out of old mattresses, found wood and a ping pong table. (If that isn’t punk as fuck, I don’t know what is.) Fueled by the underlying notion that desperate survival fuels creativity, the collective received international attention with their Tokoliana EP, an urgent, forward-thinking, way out in left field effort featuring a sound that nodded at disco, post-punk, hip-hop, reggae, retro-futuristic funk, Afro-futurism and traditional regional music — but from a sweaty, grimy, post-apocalyptic future in which the ghetto and club are one and the same. 

ICI released the Congolese collective’s second EP TONGOS’A late last year, and the EP finds the collective further exploring themes of survival in the desperate and uneasy political and social climate of their homeland — sometimes focusing on small, deeply human pleasures and concerns; in fact, the EP’s first track, title track “Tongos’a (which translates roughly into ’til the morning light”) is a sweaty and raunchy club banger on the necessity of getting laid properly, rooted around skittering drum programming, thumping beats and a looped guitar and bass line that’s derived from the Mongo tribe repertoire, making the song a mischievous mix of the old and the new. 

Directed by débruit, Markus Hofko, Renaud Barret, the recently released video for “Tongos’a” stars a local dance act “l’homme capote” comprised of Mbuyi Tickson, Makoka, and Riyana sweaty and grinding seductively to the song, capturing the song’s raunchy, club-friendly vibe. 

New Video: The Classic Sci-Fi and Horror Movie-Inspired Visuals for Rubblebucket’s “If U C My Enemies”

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site throughout the course of its almost seven-year history, you’ve likely come across a number of posts on the Brooklyn-based Afro-pop/dance pop act and JOVM mainstays Rubblebucket. Currently comprised of founding duo and primary songwriters Alex Toth (trumpet, vocals, percussion), Kalmia Traver (lead vocals, tenor sax, baritone sax), Adam Dotson (trombone, vocals and percussion), David Cole (drums) and Ian Hersey (guitar), the Brooklyn-based act can actually trace their origins to when Traver and Toth met while playing in a Burlington, VT-based Latin jazz act. Quickly bonding over being horn players, a love of Afrobeat and Afro pop and an uncannily preternatural connection, the duo relocated to Boston in 2006, where they did fairly respectable things to survive — Traver spent time as a nude model for art classes, while Toth spent time hustling $50 a performance marching band gigs. And while being broke as shit in Boston, the duo began Rubblebucket.

Relocating to Brooklyn some years later, the members of the Afro pop/indie pop/dance pop act emerged into the national scene with the release of their critically applauded 2011 album Omega La La and an established reputation for a rather relentless touring schedule full of ecstatic, energetic and mischievous live sets which at various times included puppets and bandmembers jumping into the crowd and leading dance circles and dance trains with the audience. By early 2012, the band had made their first nationally televised appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live. And over the past few years, the band has been pretty busy as they’ve released a handful of critically applauded EPs and their sophomore full-length Survival Sounds. And while their touring schedule had slowed down a bit, Toth and Traver also a brief period of time touring as backing guests for follow JOVM mainstay act Superhuman Happiness, a collaboration that goes back to when Stuart Bogie, Eric Biondo and company opened for Rubblebucket for a handful of shows up in Burlington, VT. Interestingly, during that time Rubblebucket’s recorded output has revealed a band that has gradually crafted and then cemented a signature sound while also subtly expanding upon it; in fact, on their Save Charlie EP the band retained their genre-blurring sound that possessed elements of funk, pop, psychedelia and Afrobbeat with a populist sensibility but at points you’ll hear elements of boom-bap hip hop and electro pop. But perhaps just as important, in that same period of time, Traver has slowly emerged as a frontperson.

If U C My Enemies, the band’s latest EP was released earlier this year though So Sensation Records, and from the EP’s first single “Donna” the band has further refined their sound — while they retain Traver and Toth’s enormous, swaggering horn lines, the band employed the use of swirling electronics, distorted vocal samples around Traver’s ethereal and coquettish cooing. The EP’s latest single, EP title track “If U C My Enemies” continues along a similar vein as Traver and Toth’s enormous horn lines are paired with sinuous and funky bass and guitar chords, swirling electronics, twinkling synths and a soaring, anthemic hook — and while being a bit more mid-tempo song in comparison to its preceding single, the latest single is arguably the most muscular and forceful song they’ve released to date.

Directed, shot and edited by Ian Perlman, the recently released music video for “If U C My Enemies” draws from classic sci-fi and horror films as it follows a mysterious, faceless, frightening creature of the night, who takes each band member’s soul to an alternate plane because of the time they spent staring at their phones instead of actually interacting with people. And the video ends with the members of the band goofing off, chatting and actually spending time getting to know each other — without their phones. Perhaps it’s a cautionary time for our age, huh?

Thanks to technology, I’m writing this post while on a flight to Amsterdam, The Netherlands with the eventual destination being Dordrecht, The Netherlands for a few days for meetings related to my day job.  JOVM will be continuing as normal or close to normal as possible — although some of my posts will be at unusual times back home in the States thanks in part to the 6 hour time difference. Once I’m done with the business portion of my trip, there will be a few days hanging out in Amsterdam, which I’ll blog about at some point; after all, I wouldn’t be a blogger worth a damn if I didn’t bring my camera with me, right? But on to the business at hand — music, followed by music.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site throughout its almost seven-year history, you’ve come across a number of posts on Brooklyn-based Afro-pop/dance pop act and JOVM mainstays Rubblebucket. Currently comprised of founding duo and primary songwriters Alex Toth (trumpet, vocals, percussion), Kalmia Traver (lead vocals, tenor sax, baritone sax), Adam Dotson (trombone, vocals and percussion), David Cole (drums) and Ian Hersey (guitar), the Brooklyn-based act can trace their origins to when Traver and Toth met while playing in a Burlington, VT-based Latin jazz act. Quickly bonding over being horn players, a love of Afrobeat and Afro pop and an uncannily preternatural connection, the duo relocated to Boston in 2006, where they did fairly respectable things to survive  — Traver spent time as a nude model for art classes, while Toth spent time hustling $50 a performance marching band gigs. And as the story goes, the duo of Toth and Traver began the band while being broke as shit in Boston. (Somehow that sounds like a song title, doesn’t it?)

Relocating to Brooklyn some years later, the members of Afro pop/indie pop act emerged into the national scene with the release of their critically applauded 2011 album Omega La La and an established reputation for a rather relentless touring schedule full of ecstatic, energetic and mischievous live sets. Over the past few years, the band has been pretty busy as they’ve released a handful of critically applauded EPs and their sophomore full-length Survival Sounds.  And in between slower touring periods, both Toth and Traver spent some time touring as special guests with fellow JOVM mainstay act Superhuman Happiness, a collaboration that goes back to when Stuart Bogie, Eric Biondo and company opened for Rubblebucket for a handful of shows in Burlington, VT. Interestingly during the same period of time, Rubblebucket’s recorded output revealed a band that gradually crafted and then cemented their own signature sound — while subtly expanding upon it. Their Save Charlie EP revealed a band that retained their genre-blurring sound but while also possessing elements of boom-bap hip-hop and electro pop. Additionally, as I noticed, Traver began increasingly emerging as a true frontperson.

The band’s soon-to-be released EP If U C My Enemies is slated for a January 20, 2017 release through So Sensation Records and from the EP’s first single ” “Donna” the band has further refined their sound — Traver and Toth’s enormous and swaggering horn lines are still there but they’re paired with swirling electronics, a distorted vocal sample and Traver’s coquettish cooing. “If U C MY Enemies” continues along a similar vein as Traver and Toth’s enormous horn lines are paired with sinuous and funky bass and guitar chords, swirling electronics, twinkling synths and a soaring, anthemic hook. And while being a bit more mid-tempo in comparison to its preceding single, that song may have arguably been the most muscular and forceful song that they had released to date.  Of course, building upon the buzz around the EP, the band recently released If U C My Enemies latest single “Not Cut Out For This,” a single that seems a bit like a return to form as sonically, it’s reminiscent of the material off Omega La La — twinkling and atmospheric synths are paired with propulsive, boom bap-like drums, a sinuous bass line and Traver’s sultry cooing. And while being a party song — sort of — the song reveals a much more deliberate, thoughtful nature.

The band is in the middle of touring to support the new effort. Check out the remaining tour dates below.

TOUR DATES
Jan 19 – Providence, RI @ Fete
Jan 20 – Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club
Jan 21 – Fairfield, CT @ The Warehouse
Jan 26 – Albany, NY @ The Hollow
Jan 27 – Ithaca, NY @ The Haunt
Jan 28 – Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer

Although over the past twenty years or so Cape Verde, the tiny island nation comprised of an archipelago of 10 different, volcanic islands off the Northwestern coast of Africa has been hailed as one of the continent’s most stable democracies, its history suggests that things were very different. With a prime location in the Atlantic Ocean, the island nation was uninhabited until the 15th century, when the Portuguese colonized it, established it was not only the first European settlement in the tropics; but as a major commercial center and stopover point for the Transatlantic Slave Trade during the 16th and 17th centuries. The decline and eventual abolition of the slave trade in the 19th century resulted in a crippling economic crisis; however, because of the island’s location in the middle of major shipping lanes, it quickly became an important commercial center and port. Interestingly, with few natural resources and inadequate sustainable investment from the Portuguese, who had controlled the island nation for the better part of 300 years, Cape Verde’s citizens had become increasingly frustrated with colonial rule.

During the late 1940s and early 1950s, a series of independence and nationalist movements across colonized Africa began sprouting up across Africa –including Cape Verde. In 1951, Portugal changed the island nation’s status from a colony to overseas province in an attempt to blunt Cape Verdeans growing nationalism; however, by 1956 Amilcar Cabral led a group of Cape Verdeans and Guineans, who formed the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC). The group demanded improvement in economic, social and political conditions in Cape Verde and Portuguese Guinea — and interestingly enough, formed the basis of both nations’ independence movement. After moving its headquarters to Conakry, Guinea in 1960, the PAIGC began an armed rebellion the following year, which resulted in a bloody and complicated civil war that had Soviet Bloc-supported PAIGC fighting Portuguese and African troops.

Portuguese Guinea declared independence in 1973 and was granted de jure independence the following year as Guinea-Bissau. Amilcar Cabral led Cape Verde’s burgeoning independence movement until his assassination that same year, then led by Cabral’s half-brother Luis Cabral, who led the archipelago nation to independence in 1975. Much like their counterparts across the continent, the tiny island nation suffered through the similar ills of a society born by and influenced by colonialism, slavery and greed struggling to integrate into a rapidly globalizing world — and not quite knowing how to do so. The sense of detachment from the modern world fostered among Cape Verdeans a yearning to integrate, to connect with the larger world in any way that they could. And those who emigrated to the cosmopolitan European cities didn’t find much respite as Cape Verdeans were viewed as “hot-blooded” “dropouts” and “juvenile delinquents.” However, with the ready availability of electronic instruments, a doorway to a sense of modernity and an perceived anchor in their adopted homes was understandably seductive. As Val Xalino, a Cape Verdean-born, Gothenburg, Sweden-based electronic music artist and pioneer of his birthplace’s electronic sound explains in press notes “Cape Verdeans were celebrating their independence and with that the dancing became even more important.People wanted to hear something different. They wanted the synthesizer!”

Émigré musicians began traveling back and forth between Europe and their island homeland with luggage packed with synthesizers and MIDI instruments. And although many were primarily urban-based, musicians began frequent traveling to the countryside to learn the rhythms and melodies of rural farmers, frequently sampling melodies played off of slightly off-tune and damaged accordions and other field recordings. The result was this weird and compelling sound that drew from folk melodies and rhythms and contemporary electronic production — and from both African and European influences. The hearts and minds of a new nation of passionate, musically-included people were enthralled, including Paulino Viera, who would quickly become the island nation’s most important, beloved and influential musician.

Veira was especially drawn to keyboard-based instruments as he had honed his skills playing organ and piano at a Catholic seminary. His musical career started in earnest as a backing member of the renowned vocalist Cesaria Evora, whose cavaquinho-based folk songs received international attention while being instrumental in establishing the island nation as a music scene worthy of your attention — especially if you were into music across the wildly diverse African Diaspora. Interestingly, an underground electronic music scene had started with Viera leading charge once he relocated to Lisbon, Portugal, where he lead Voz de Cabo Verde, a beloved ensemble that frequently collaborated with other Cape Verdean-born musicians across the Diaspora. As Elisio Gomes, a Cape Verdean-born, Paris-based vocalist, who collaborated with Veira often, explained in press notes ““Paulino was the most visionary. He always had this gift to be 10 years ahead of his time. That’s why our music sounds like it was produced today.”

Now, as I’ve mentioned frequently on this site, the technological advances brought forth by computers and the Internet have made discovering new and extremely rare, lost music from known and little known artists much easier, all while contributing to the proliferation of extremely niche based labels, who are willing to take careful and thoughtful risks based around the tastes and listening habits of their staff and their most fervent followers. Naturally, it meant these smaller, niche labels would frequently spend their time re-introducing artists, whose work was so far ahead of its time that audiences just couldn’t grasp it upon its initial release — and yet fills in an important gap historically speaking; re-introducing regionally favored artists, whose work should have seen a bigger audience but didn’t; releasing music from various locations around the world that Westerners should know and love but was largely ignored; to provide an alternate history of developments across a genre — based on a region or a country that Westerners had long ignored and so on. And adding to a growing list of small labels releasing cool stuff, Ostinato Records will be releasing a cool compilation of electronic music from Cape Verde — a compilation in which the aforementioned Paulino Veira contributes to about half the songs — titled Ostinato Records Presents: Synthesize The Soul: Astro-Atlantic Hypnotica From The Cape Verde Island 1973-1988.

And through 18 extremely diverse tracks, the compilation will reveal how immigration from Cape Verde to Europe and the US created an alternate history of electronic music that had been largely ignored by most Westerners. Manuel Gomes’ “Jelivrà Bo Situaçon” pairs propulsive African percussion, shuffling Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar, twisting and turning keyboard chords played on what sounds like an old Casio keyboard paired with Gomes’ softly yearning, bittersweet vocals and is the compilation’s first single. Sonically speaking while the song clearly has the mark of either decidedly lo-fi production or comes as the result of re-mastering from old analog masters, it possesses a hypnotic, cosmic glow with groove and melody turning into one cohesive unit. And while being a bit bittersweet, the song at its core possesses the sense of unbridled freedom and possibility of the dance floor, and the hopes and dreams of a new nation learning to create its own image and history for itself.

 

 

 

 

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site throughout the course of its almost seven-year history, you’ve likely come across a number of posts on the Brooklyn-based Afro-pop/dance pop act and JOVM mainstays Rubblebucket. Currently comprised of founding duo and primary songwriters Alex Toth (trumpet, vocals, percussion), Kalmia Traver (lead vocals, tenor sax, baritone sax), Adam Dotson (trombone, vocals and percussion), David Cole (drums) and Ian Hersey (guitar), the Brooklyn-based act can actually trace their origins to when Traver and Toth met while playing in a Burlington, VT-based Latin jazz act. Quickly bonding over being horn players, a love of Afrobeat and Afro pop and an uncannily preternatural connection, the duo relocated to Boston in 2006, where they did fairly respectable things to survive  — Traver spent time as a nude model for art classes, while Toth spent time hustling $50 a performance marching band gigs. And while being broke as shit in Boston, the duo began Rubblebucket.

Relocating to Brooklyn some years later, the members of Afro pop/indie pop act emerged into the national scene with the release of their critically applauded 2011 album Omega La La and an established reputation for a rather relentless touring schedule full of ecstatic, energetic and mischievous live sets which at various times had included puppets, bandmembers jumping into the crowd and leading dance circles and dance trains with the audience. By early 2012, the band had made their first nationally televised appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live.  And over the past few years, the band has been pretty busy as they’ve released a handful of critically applauded EPs and their sophomore full-length Survival Sounds. And while their touring schedule had slowed down a bit, Toth and Traver also a brief period of time touring as backing guests for follow JOVM mainstay act  Superhuman Happiness, a collaboration that goes back to when Stuart Bogie, Eric Biondo and company opened for Rubblebucket for a handful of shows up in Burlington, VT. Interestingly, during that time Rubblebucket’s  recorded output has revealed a band that has gradually crafted and then cemented a signature sound while also subtly expanding upon it; in fact, on their Save Charlie EP the band retained their genre-blurring sound that possessed elements of funk, pop, psychedelia and Afrobbeat with a populist sensibility but at points you’ll hear elements of boom-bap hip hop and electro pop. But perhaps just as important, in that same period of time, Traver has slowly emerged as a frontperson.

If U C My Enemies, the band’s forthcoming EP is slated for a January 20, 2017 release through So Sensation Records, and from the EP’s first single “Donna” the band has further refined their sound — while they retain Traver and Toth’s enormous, swaggering horn lines, the band employed the use of swirling electronics, distorted vocal samples around Traver’s ethereal and coquettish cooing. The EP’s latest single, EP title track “If U C My Enemies” continues along a similar vein as Traver and Toth’s enormous horn lines are paired with sinuous and funky bass and guitar chords, swirling electronics, twinkling synths and a soaring, anthemic hook — and while being a bit more mid-tempo song in comparison to its preceding single, the latest single is arguably the most muscular and forceful song they’ve released to date.

The band will be embarking on a late Fall/Winter tour to support the new effort throughout parts of the Midwest, New England and Northeast. If you’re around any of these cities, you should catch them — their sets are fun and you will spend the night dancing and signing along with them. Tour dates below.

TOUR DATES
Dec 01 – Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop
Dec 02 – Chicago, IL @ Chop Shop 1st Ward
Dec 03 – Grand Rapids, MI @ Founders Brewing Co.
Dec 05 – Columbus, OH @ The Basement
Dec 06 – Cincinnati, OH @ The Woodward
Dec 07 – Detroit, MI @ The Shelter
Dec 08 – Buffalo, NY @ Studio at Waiting Room
Dec 09 – Syracuse, NY @ Westcott Theater
Dec 10 – Portland, ME @ Port City Music Hall
Dec 29 – Rochester, NY @ Anthology
Dec 30 – Holyoke, MA @ Gateway Arts
Dec 31 – Holyoke, MA @ Gateway Arts
Jan 19 – Providence, RI @ Fete
Jan 20 – Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club
Jan 21 – Fairfield, CT @ The Warehouse
Jan 26 – Albany, NY @ The Hollow
Jan 27 – Ithaca, NY @ The Haunt
Jan 28 – Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer