Getting On With It
North Carolina indie-rockers the Rosebuds celebrate new album at the Satellite Friday
By Bliss Bowen 08/28/2014
Yes, it really is possible to stay friends with your ex. It isn’t always easy, but there’s no place like your own backyard to start making peace in the world.
For some people, like keyboardist Kelly Crisp and guitarist/songwriter Ivan Howard, aka the Rosebuds, it can also be creatively fruitful.
The indie-pop duo, who will headline at the Satellite Friday night, formed the Rosebuds in 2001, right around the time that they married. They had recently graduated from the University of North Carolina in Wilmington, and, after they moved to Raleigh, the Rosebuds became ensconced in the region’s incredibly fertile music scene. Their demo found receptive ears at venerable indie label Merge, which released their first proper album, “The Rosebuds Make Out,” in 2003. Over the next eight years they released four more albums to consistently respectable notices.
By the time they made 2011’s “Loud Planes Fly Low,” things had changed. The record was informed by Crisp and Howard’s divorce, with weightier, smartly produced pop songs that referenced emotional turmoil and questioned what was “Worthwhile” (“We could go on wishing all our lives/ I would go on wishing we did it right/ And we could tell the truth/ About the fragile me and you/ All I want is to make this all worthwhile”). It also symbolized their commitment to their friendship, which predated their romantic union, and to their musical partnership.
And then they moved on: Howard to Portland, Ore., and Crisp to New York City. He’s been making music with buddy Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) in Gayngs, among others; she’s been studying fiction writing at Columbia University. In 2012 they recorded a holiday album (2012’s sunny “Christmas Tree Island”) and a tribute to band influence Sade (“Love Deluxe”), but they didn’t make another full original album until “Sand +Silence,” which arrived earlier this month from their new label, Western Vinyl.
Howard’s indicated he wrote the songs for “Sand +Silence” on an old piano, but rather than the spacious arrangements he originally envisioned, a la early Rosebuds albums, songs such as the Steely Dan-like “Esse Quam Videri” and “In My Teeth” took on more layers and instrumentation in Vernon’s Wisconsin studio. (Vernon plays some guitar and keyboards and co-produced.) The results formalize Howard’s more central role, with minimal keyboard work from Crisp. “Death of an Old Bike” features swooping harmonies from the duo that sound rather like friendly ghosts; Crisp’s vocal presence warms the engagingly nostalgic song, and makes her vocal absence on most of the other tracks all the more regrettable. It’s another well-crafted, sometimes buoyant pop album that should attract Rosebuds fans, just not quite the return they may expect. n
The Rosebuds headline at the Satellite, 1717 Silver Lake Blvd., Silver Lake, 9 p.m. Friday; $15. El May and Folk Riot also performing. Info: (323) 661-4380. therosebuds.com