The best albums are unusually tinctured colors and odd scents, or if they have real breadth, perhaps they're a whole season. From the muted earth tones to the bare tree silhouette on the cover, it's apparent that Kelly Crisp and Ivan Howard, aka The Rosebuds, have returned from the summer vacation of their debut, Make Out, with the autumnal sound of Birds Make Good Neighbors, which is funny because it was written in spring.
"We had just come off some pretty heavy touring in support of that first album and we wanted something pretty and something sort of moody," says singer/keyboardist Crisp. "We had been touring so much that being at home was like being on a vacation--except a vacation where there really isn't anything to do, just kind of sitting around the house.
"Our yard is like a sanctuary for birds and for some reason, this year especially we just sort of started watching the birds and started realizing what a huge wonderful ecosystem we had in place," Crisp continues. "So when we did come back we started slowly watching what was going on, and I think that impacted the lyrics pretty heavily. It started becoming a metaphor for our lives."
The avian and woodsy imagery extends from the pretty "Leaves Do Fall," where autumn is equated with salvation (and featuring the ripe, reverb-drenched warmth of a Lee Hazlewood track with Crisp assuming the Sinatra character), to the haunted Northern Soul-inflected "Bluebird," where "nature's radio plays music in our home," through to the Beatles-esque love story "Shake Our Tree," which imagines a finch singing to his mate.
"What we envisioned when we recorded it was a little bit like a rock 'n' roll children's song that describes romantic love," Crisp explains. "We have a little nephew that was just born, and we started thinking about things through his eyes trying to get a handle on the world. Trying to describe something as abstract as love is difficult, and so we thought we'd write a song about it and see if that would make any more sense."
We talk between dropped connections as The Rosebuds make their way down the intercoastal highway from San Francisco (where they had one of their best audiences of the tour at the famous Bottom of the Hill) to Los Angeles, where they're playing in the hip Silver Lake region (where Lou Barlow and Rhett Miller live) at Spaceland.
The highway rolls along the coastal cliffs framed by the ocean as Crisp reflects on the last two years, which have seen her leave her teaching job for good. It was a tough decision because she loved the kids, but she felt the band had to plunge in headfirst. Though the touring's been grueling and--for all the fine notices they've received--there's still plenty of off-nights, Crisp says they can see progress in the growing sizes of audiences. She suggests that while they'll be happy to be home again for their record release party, they may not recognize it.
"Most nights we're in a hotel with those short little double beds, and Ivan's feet hang off the edge of the bed," Crisp explains. "Ivan's so big and I'm little, so I would be sleeping in a hole all night. So we were at home and I sat up in the bed and was like 'This bed sucks! This is the worst bed on tour,' and then I woke up and realized I was in my own bed."
The Rosebuds celebrate the release of their new CD at Kings, Oct. 6. Spader opens. They also play Cat's Cradle Oc.t 22 with Hotel Lights.