BOOT & SADDLE

1131 S. Broad Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19147

The Rosebuds

The Rosebuds

Jesse Marchant

Thu, August 7, 2014

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 8:30 pm

The Boot & Saddle

Philadelphia, PA

$12.00 - $14.00

This event is 21 and over

The Rosebuds
The Rosebuds
After spending two years living on opposite coasts and pursuing their own creative projects, Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp came back together last spring to set to work on the sixth full-length album from the Rosebuds. Joining up with Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon (a friend and former bandmate who, in a 2011 interview, noted that the Rosebuds make “some of the most important music in the world”), the North Carolina-bred duo spent a week in Vernon’s studio teasing out a batch of songs that effortlessly weave the hooky songcraft of classic jangle-pop, the cagey romanticism of new wave, and a refined yet full-hearted sensibility all their own. Featuring Vernon on guitar and synths—as well as Bon Iver drummer Matt McCaughan and Sylvan Esso's Nick Sanborn on bass, both longtime pals and cohorts of the Rosebuds—the resulting Sand + Silence radiates both a graceful intensity and the loose, joyful energy that comes from making music with friends.

Extracting brilliance from easy collaboration is old hat to the Rosebuds, who formed in 2001 and carried out their first live shows as performance-art pieces that turned the stage into a replica of their own living room. “From the beginning we knew we weren’t going to be a regular band, that we wanted to keep it fun and creative, like an ongoing art project,” says Crisp. With their most recent releases including collections of original Christmas and Halloween songs and a record of Sade covers, the Rosebuds catalog reveals the restlessness of their creative appetites by shifting from the acoustic balladry of 2005’s Birds Make Good Neighbors to the dark synth-pop of 2007’s Night of the Furies to the dreamy indie-rock of 2011’s Loud Planes Fly Low. “One of the main things that’s kept this band going is we have no rules about what kind of music we should record or who can help us record it” says Howard. “We’ve always kept it free and open, and never been scared to go in strange directions. The songs themselves, whatever they want to become, are always first.” But despite the anything-goes approach, the Rosebuds invariably stay true to a melody-centric musicality that’s driven by their singular chemistry, delicately crafted songwriting, and untamable excitement about the possibilities in making art.

Co-produced by the Rosebuds, Vernon, and BJ Burton, Sand + Silence began when Howard (who had recently launched a solo project under the name Howard Ivans) came to New York in early 2013 to work with Crisp (who had newly entered Columbia University’s graduate program for fiction writing). While their original intention was to revamp a number of songs cut from Loud Planes Fly Low and turn those tracks into an EP, Howard ended up sitting down at a piano in the studio and sketching out a whole new series of songs. “I decided to quit trying to force the older songs into something that worked for us, and instead write some new ideas and just see what happened without any pretense,” he says. “Right away it just felt really good and sounded like a new Rosebuds record to me—the tone and melodies reminded me of the lightness of the early Rosebuds days, with this feeling of the music being new and inspiring but still so simple that almost anybody could play it.” Once they settled into Vernon’s April Base Studio in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, the Rosebuds devoted a week to bringing those new songs to life by recording live (a previously unexplored tactic for the band). “Everyone in the room we were working with is such a great musician, so we’d hit record and the whole thing would just sail,” says Crisp. “Everything would get done in just one or two takes, and the songs all ended up having this buoyancy to them.”

On Sand + Silence, that buoyancy’s abundant in songs like “In My Teeth” (a darkly charged but groove-laced stunner steeped in bittersweet memory), “Blue Eyes” (a summery-perfect pop powerhouse built on Motown-inspired rhythms), “Mine, Mine, Mine” (an early-Beatles-esque lark of a love song), and “Death of an Old Bike” (a track that wraps its swirling guitars and woozy harmonies around lyrics about finding hope at the most down-and-out times). But even in its moodier moments (such as the high-drama synth and urgent harmonies in the home-state homage of “Esse Quam Videri”), Sand + Silence shimmers with a sense of promise and possibility—a dynamic that the tense but breezy title track twists into lyrics like “Lonely blue above/Give me a cloud or something right here/‘Cause I’m unfolding in the light right now right here.” And in the doo-wop waltz of “Looking For,” the lovesick sway of “Give Me a Reason,” and the stripped-down yet soaring reverie of “Tiny Bones” (whose vocals were recorded in the woods outside Vernon’s studio, serendipitously capturing the start of a rainstorm and which can be heard closing out the album), Sand + Silence’s starry-eyed melancholy takes on a near-transcendent quality.
Jesse Marchant
Jesse Marchant
It could almost be inferred that Jesse Marchant wrote the songs for his new album over a period of months in New York City during which a lot of his world had come out from under him, in what he has described as “a general period of falling outs, absence and abuse, both of self and of what should or could have been surrounding”. But in the process of finding an end to that Marchant feels to have grown. One is not left to wonder why he chose to drop the moniker of his former releases (his initials JBM) for the use of his proper full name, nor why his voice and lyrics, recorded with a mouth-to-ear intimacy, emphasizing his deepening and wearying baritone, sit loud and naked atop the widescreen backdrop of the deep synthesizer and orchestral pads and arrangements, often reminiscent of “I’m on Fire” era Springsteen. There is a sense of wanting to take responsibility and a desire to have things seen and said clearly for what they are, directly.

The production of the record reflects that same growth, balancing a new, vivid sound with matured control and rootedness. The lyrics were written later in that same year, when Marchant toured the country twice alone, on early mornings in motel rooms and for a period that he spent following, in a rented house far into the desert around 29 Palms, CA. The tone and image of this is carried throughout the record – drenched in a blinding white sunlight, in the heat, in a dream.

The songs that make up this eponymous album are menacing, dreamy worlds of their own, each one unique for each listener, instantly relatable and surprisingly therapeutic: Marchant’s revelations are infectious. He is processing internal and external problems that aren’t just personal but feel like signs of our times, and in doing so has created an album that feels particularly important, relevant, and powerful.

Starting with the ambitious 6-minute, lyrically dense album opener “Words Underlined,” Marchant quickly establishes this tone. “Where were you,” he asks, “when all of this was fucked and on it’s side?”

“I am on your side,” he sings in the very next song “All Your Promise”, with a feeling like the dilemma has been resolved. But this is not an album of resolution; it’s an album of disillusion. Even the album’s poppiest song, “The Whip”, contains a biting social commentary: “everybody likes to feel they’re holding the whip.”

But for all its philosophical, world-weary tendencies, the album is really based in themes of lost love and failed relationships. Not in a conventional sense, but in the decidedly 21st century conundrum of looking for love in the age of disconnection. Marchant’s disillusionment is rooted in this disconnection, and ironically, it exists in opposition to his uncanny ability to articulate himself through music and, in turn, connect with listeners. But when focused on an individual, these theoretical ideas become painful realities.

Later in “The Whip” he sings, “I felt the sun…then I lost you…and I never got it back.” In “Every Eye Open,” he continues, “I’ve been living in lies too… and the secret sin that I’ve loved you for more than a little while.” And in “Stay On Your Knees,” “love was real, but the meaning was wrong.”

Whether at odds with the outside world or the world within him, the battles Marchant fights on this record are such that any intuitive, conscientious listener will relate. Perhaps the entire notion is contained in a single couplet from “Snow Chicago,” that feels at once exhausted and revelatory: “I just wanna feel at ease / And that for once I do belong.”
Venue Information:
The Boot & Saddle
1131 S. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19147
http://www.bootandsaddlephilly.com