Society is rotting, eaten away by greed, injustice, hypocrisy and conformity. The good news? Earth's demise might be coming sooner than expected.
With songs that have sparked comparisons to Radiohead, Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave, Ian Curtis, Pink Floyd and The Doors, the album takes listeners on a dark, lonely journey, from today's turbulence ("The 99," "Road To Ruin," "Violins Violence Silence," "Corporation Nation") to tomorrow's apocalypse ("Little Ball of Hate," "Sifting Through The Rubble," "Last Man On Earth"). There's plenty of macabre, gallows humour along the way.
Gruff Rhys (Super Furry Animals) adds harmonies to "Invasion of the Pod People," Laetitia Sadier (Stereolab) on "The Day The Clown Cried" and Wendy Flower (of legendary psych-folk duo Wendy & Bonnie) on "Be Seeing You," "Undertow," "Somewhere in the Stars" and the record's sunniest tune, "Contemplating Suicide." Co-producer Adam Rossi (Luce) describes it as music that might have resulted from Sergio Leone commissioning Ennio Morricone, The Flaming Lips and Lou Reed to score his sci-fi epic. It's a musical and emotional roller coaster ride.
Musicians included the project's songwriter/co-producer, Paul Freeman, lead vocals, acoustic guitar (journalist/screenwriter); Gawain Mathews, lead guitar (Mickey Hart Band, Ben Lee, Tim Hockenberry); Ezra Lipp, drums and percussion (Kacey Johansing, Sean Hayes, Huckle, Brett Dennen); Paul Olguin, electric and acoustic bass (Mary Wells, Victor Krummenacher, Bob Weir, Mazzy Star, Maria Muldaur), Savannah Jo Lack, electric and acoustic violin (Alanis Morissette, Rod Stewart, Ruth Gerson) and Joe Cohen, saxophone, clarinet (Thomas Dolby, Jazz Mafia, Pamela Rose).
Perhaps this album can serve as a wake-up call. But it’s not easy to wake the dead. Oh, well. Before we’re reduced to rubble, we can at least enjoy listening to romper. The end of the world has never been so much fun.
Chris Epting, pop culture author/journalist
"“Sifting Through The Rubble” the album debut by Bay Area band, romper, may be moody and melancholy and introspective in parts, but those qualities add layers that seem more beautiful, ethereal and mysterious rather than frightening.
From top to bottom, this 18-song epic runs the sonic gamut from the aforementioned “mood” pieces such as “Be Seeing You” and “The Neighborhood”, to glam-era sparklers like “One of the Wanted” and sinewy roots rockers, i.e. ‘Road to Ruin.’
There is a brooding undercurrent to be sure, but the startling and dynamic range of romper is a testament to what must be very deep pools of influence – psychedelia meets garage meets poetic folk meets metal meets grunge – and the sharp contrast of musical styles coupled with smart, evocative wordplay make for a thoroughly satisfying musical journey.
There is a river’s rush of fresh, cool and strangely engaging music on this record – and I think it is well worth getting lost in its eddies."
""Sifting Through the Rubble - the title gives a clue as to the gravitational pull of the tracks, which focus on social inequalities current and the apocalyptic end of the world. But don’t let the tone of the lyric get you despondent, whilst thematically the music is in tune with the lyric, there is plenty on the 18 track release and just in general to concentrate the mind.
"The musicians are used intelligently as the sounds wanders from space Bowie through Reed alternative to Morricone shoegaze each style subtly daubed in the paints of the instruments as the lyric holds centre stage to the carefully composed and orchestrated pieces. That isn’t to say that this is a major theatrical production, far from it, there is a genuine emotional anxiety which holds the core of the out-fit that is Romper."
babysue.com"Romper - Sifting Through The Rubble (CD, Rompytown, Pop)
We were immediately drawn to this band and album...the image and overall concept caught our attention fast. Apocalyptic pop with various verbal and visual references to kids? Hmmm...interesting. Of course the name Romper is a huge plus as well. To try and describe the basic sound of Sifting Through The Rubble... Imagine mixing some elements from My Dad Is Dead with other elements from The Velvet Underground...then mix them around and add some sedatives...and you might begin to get an idea of what's going on here. This is a true underground album created first and foremost from inspiration. The man behind the music is a fellow in Pacifica, California named Paul Freemanwho is also a music journalist and screenwriter. This man's moody slightly obtuse pop will be embraced by fans of the underground...while probably confusing for folks who exist on a lower level of consciousness. There's a lot to take in here...eighteen tracks that clock in at just over 60 minutes. We can't help but dig peculiar songs like "Road To Ruin," "One of the Wanted," "The Neighborhood," and "Contemplating Suicide." Interesting stuff that offers a uniquelydifferent perspective..."
earbuddy.net" Sifting Through The Rubble is the debut album from Bay Area band Romper. Largely the project of singer/songwriter/screenwriter/music journalist Paul Freeman, the album takes a humorous look at the end of the world while playing hopscotch with genres along the way. Picking up pieces of indie rock, metal, jazz, and electro-pop, there’s enough experimentation to suggest just how capable Romper are as a newly formed band. They even snagged guest spots from Gruff Rhys (Super Furry Animals), Laetitia Sadier (Stereolab), and Wendy Flower (Wendy & Bonnie) to take part in what the band is referring to as an “a-pop-alyptic” debut...
Opening song “Road To Ruin” combines a ghostly organ with a jazz-fusion as Freeman offers up commentary as to what’s driving our society to an impending doomsday. His solution to turn things around? There isn’t one; we’re just doomed.
Sifting Through The Rubble isn’t without some political commentary. On “Corporation Nation”, Freeman points out the greed and despicable nature of corporate industry while lamenting America’s deteriorated morals. The song’s understated metal crunch gives the song a ballsy edge, but a suggestion of revolution would have made it a grander statement. After all, we have to stand up against those other pod people. “By the time you awaken / They would have taken / Your soul”, sings Freeman on “Invasion of the Pod People” that pays homage to the Body Snatcher movies with a grinding guitar riff and some sci-fi spook. While this song could be overlooked for its humor, it’s a political statement... on how we allow ourselves to become easily assimilated to any shitty situation imposed upon us until it’s just deemed normal.
"The band keeps their riffs very understated, even though it sounds as if they could blast out the speakers. Their choice of restraint leads to a more mature sound, recalling the likes of classic rock bands like Bad Company and Blue Oyster Cult. Romper is a bit more experimental than those bands, and their songwriting is very witty at times with Paul Freeman even sounding like Stephin Merritt [Magnetic Fields] occasionally... Sifting Through The Rubble is an entertaining look at the end of the world whereas other bands would just use doom and gloom to depress its listeners."
Mike Wood for Foxy Digitalis:
"Romper’s new record manages to be political without being preachy. Bolstered in its indie-pop style by touches of garage rock and dark, Modern Lovers-esque disjointed melodies, “Sifting Through the Rubble” is a breezy but occasionally chunky tour of cowardice and surrender, personal and political. That isn’t to say that their insights are all that original: evil corporations, pod people, slaves hypnotized by media, etc…Yet the fact that some are willing to keep crying out in the cultural wilderness is comforting.
"Comfort would turn to nausea if the music wasn’t good and the lyrics were preachy. Fortunately, Romper supply plenty of hooks, and lyrics that are jaundiced and darkly humorous rather than self-righteous. Message songs like “The 99,” “Corporation Nation” and “Sifting Through the Rubble” are propelled by tasty guitar lines and subtle but insistent grooves. Songs of a more personal apocalypse, like “Road to Ruin,” Little Ball of Hate” and “In the Neighborhood” are similarly rescued from bathos with humor and a strong rock ethic."
"Bay Area’s Romper (predominately shepherded by guitarist/writer Paul Freeman) debut with a record that tells us that all is lost and most of us are too self-absorbed or stupid to know it. Right On! “Sifting Through the Rubble” is jaded, arch and, given the totality of its sense that we are all fucked, funny. Is it possible to love and hate your own demise? Romper offers clues."