Acoustic guitars and spare, brushed drums were the hallmarks early in the Rosebuds’ career, but the longtime North Carolina duo has ventured far from those limiting boundaries. There was the band’s surprising synth-led disco album in 2007, and just in the past few years, the Rosebuds have released an album of Christmas originals, a couple of Halloween-themed songs, plus a reinterpretation of Sade’s 1992 album Love Deluxe.
It makes a certain amount of sense then that the Rosebuds share a big connection to Justin Vernon, whose own band Bon Iver has also explored the intersection between folk and R&B. Vernon has shared bands with the Rosebuds’ Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp in the past, but besides that, he’s just a big fan of their songwriting. Teaming up at Vernon’s own recording studio in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, the Rosebuds set out to create their sixth album with an anything-goes mentality. Bon Iver’s drummer Matt McCaughan and Sylvan Esso’s Nick Sanborn also helped out, all old friends committed to putting their creative energy to tape.
Sand + Silence, out August 5, manages to distill the Rosebuds’ career into a single cohesive statement, and what a statement it is. These songs hit harder than any in the band’s big discography, shifting effortlessly from Beatles-esque pop to darker folk-rock. Album standout “Blue Eyes” bops along a jangly melody, sounding immediately classic even on first listen. And if you like what you hear, the Rosebuds will return to Austin in October for both weekends of ACL Fest.