Maybe wide-open prairie breeds hearty indie guitar. Whimsical yet deep frontmen grow from the fields like stalks of corn; quirky and layered guitar work comes from uninterrupted stretches of sky. Perhaps that’s why rural Illinois born Troubled Hubble sounds so much like other semi-rural American acts like Built to Spill, Ben Folds Five, and Modest Mouse — it’s something that stems from a sense of space.
Troubled Hubble lead singer Chris Otepka sounds somewhat like Built to Spill’s Doug Martsch, but also like the Mountain Goat John Darnielle with his sincere and nasal voice. Otepka, along with Andrew Lanthrum on bass, his brother Nate Lanthrum on drums, and Josh Miller on guitar, have a sense of perspective that trumps most navel gazing indie rockers. On “I’m Pretty Sure I Can See Molecules,” the third track off their latest album, Making Beds in a Burning House, Otepka sings about sleeping and waking naturally, and “A funny seeming fuzzy feeling” when he thinks about “birds and fish and all there is.”
Though there is something borderline hippy-dippy about the love for flora and fauna Otepka espouses, the album remains completely endearing. Troubled Hubble gets several non-hippie points for using the phrase, “Friends with benefits,” in a song about playing the field. “To Be Alive and Alone” is an ode to complicated relationships and self-reliance. “Love is happiness and happiness is free…God is love and love is the devil,” Otepka sings. By the law of syllogism, Love is the Devil: a decidedly bitter sentiment for a granola cruncher, showing a surprising thematic depth for a band that prides itself on whimsy.
Troubled Hubble is currently on tour, supporting Scottish upstarts Maximo Park on some dates, and playing some shows with fellow Midwesterners Hockey Night. Some nights, you can catch ‘em solo, too.
Troubled Hubble tour dates: 6/8, Brooklyn, NY (North Six) 6/9, Philadelphia, PA (North Star Bar) * 6/10, New York, NY (Tonic) * 6/11, Washington, DC (Velvet Lounge) * 6/12, Cambridge, MA (Middle East Downstairs) * 6/13, Montreal, QC (Cabaret la Tulipe) * 6/14, Toronto, ON (Lee’s Palace) * 6/15, Cleveland, OH (The Grog Shop) * 6/16, Detroit, MI (Shelter) * 6/17, Iowa City, IA (Gabe’s Oasis) 6/18, Des Moines, IA (The Playground) 6/19, Minneapolis, MN (The Quest Ascot Room) * 6/22, New Orleans, LA (Twi ro Pa) 6/23, Houston, TX (Rhythm Room) 6/24, Austin, TX (Stubbs) 6/25, Dallas, TX (Gypsy Tea Room) 6/26, Lubbock, TX (Jake’s) 6/28, San Diego, CA (The Casbah) * 6/29, Los Angeles, CA (Troubadour) * 6/30, San Francisco, CA (Pop Scene) * 7/2, Portland, OR (Dante’s) * 7/3. Seattle, WA (The Crocodile Cafï¿½) * 7/5, Salt Lake City, UT (Kilby Court) 7/7, Lincoln, NE (Duffy’s) 7/15, Chicago, IL (Metro) # 7/16, Minneapolis, MN (Big V’s) #
* – supporting Maximo Park # – with Hockey Night