Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Matt Oliver, Mastered by Sam Patlove
The Rosebuds, the North Carolina band fronted by Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp, have a brilliant way of taking us out into the tobacco fields, feeling the drying of the leaves and the crumbly, dusty as a drought would have them be gravel roads and then get us to hear things, to think that some sneaky evil forces were at work and moving in on us, way out here in the middle of nowhere. It was in a setting like this -- out where the closest neighbors are between a half mile and a full mile away, the postman always knocks twice and where the goings on are oftentimes between the ravens, the grasshoppers and the steamy sun -- where Robert Johnson was said to have sold his soul to the devil and Howard and Crisp make the backdrop of such a transaction seem possible.
Their songs assume eerie skins and Howard points us in the way of such situations that could be taken for that mythical meeting of a man and someone who could give him all that his heart desired, all with a simple scribbling of a signature. Howard gives a warning in "Border Guards," suggesting, "If you dance to the devil's voice, then you're a devil too," and that would make us all one, the fingerprints staining our own hands and lower backs as the dancing or the deals go down. It's as if Ouija boards are used as clocks and as mirrors here, carrying the characters floating through the active parts of the rustic songs to whatever destinations they think they're heading toward regardless of what they do to try and stop them. There's a sense of abduction and that of denial and of regeneration or rebirth that streaks through this sunset fuzzed collection of songs -- the dwindling light offering any possible errors in recognizance. These are the sleepy, but harmless dreams and nightmares of those with a need to believe that these devils and spirits are out there, always scheming and trying to work through the locks on the doors, ready to find an open window.
The Rosebuds Official Site