Rubblebucket - Save Charlie

Jeanette Wall reflects on the fun Brooklyn band’s playful yet orchestrated EP.


Rubblebucket frontwoman Kalmia Traver has a tattoo of a toilet bowl monster wearing high heels on her bottom; if I remember correctly, it’s the right cheek. She showed it to me one day when I was interviewing her about her band and their latest writing efforts, much of which can be heard on the Save Charlie EP. “It’s the playful spirit!” she proclaimed. This tattoo serves as a reminder to her to never take herself or her music too seriously, and to always have fun with her artwork. The more ridiculous things are, the easier it is to find beauty in life.

And if there ever were a spirit to occupy the whole of Rubblebucket’s catalog, it would unquestionably be a playful spirit. With bounding horn arrangements, spirited guitar riffs, fizzing synths, and Kal’s impishly beautiful vocal melodies, the band’s philosophy speaks louder than ever through Save Charlie. And as fun as Rubblebucket may be having piecing together each of their songs, no note is played in indolence. Equal parts effortless and thoughtful; this release holds their blithe temperament through mindfully crafted pop songs. Kal’s puckishness and absurd sense of humor is matched by her partner and bandleader Alex Toth’s precision, along with the entire band’s easily detailed compositions. From the title track to the inspired Doobie Brothers cover, Rubblebucket takes the standard song structure of the genre and turns it on its head with erratic yet danceable instrumentation. Nothing is purposeless, and nothing is overwrought.

While this energy comes naturally to a band steadfast in fashioning this unique brand of dance music, it undoubtedly hasn’t come without obstacles. “I don’t want to be a downer,” Kal sings on the EP’s standout, “Patriotic,” “I just want to be a lover.” In this track she sings of cannibals, and in “Save Charlie” she sings of unanswered phone calls. Through nightmares and perhaps more commonplace frustrations, the parts of life that make maintaining that playful spirit are ubiquitous. But it is that very nature of the band that reminds them to carry that torch for relieving and revitalizing dance music. Ultimately, you’re left with something carefree, something that will “make your tasters burn with desire.” With this release, Rubblebucket has achieved something that is both calculated yet amused, something polished yet cheerful.

“A watch toilet bowl never shoots up to the sky,” Kal said to me as she showed off her ink. I asked her what she meant, and she shook her head. I still have no idea what she meant, and I’m perfectly satisfied with that. It doesn’t have to mean anything. When it comes to something creative, or anything you face in the journey of life, you might as well just have fun, dance a little, and try not to take it too seriously. Rubblebucket’s latest effort is here to remind you that, life, love, whatever it is that you spend your days on this earth trying to over-analyze is crazy. It’s just like anything else. It’s just one big kiss. It’s just a toilet bowl wearing heels.

The Save Charlie EP is now available via Communion Records.

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