When it comes to Christmas albums, I usually stick with the classics—The Beach Boys, Mariah Carey, Celtic Woman. This year, I’ve got a new classic that I can add into my rotation. The Rosebuds’ “Christmas Tree Island” is an awesome take on holiday music. The indie pop duo’s 13 original Christmas songs are festive without being too kitschy, upbeat and fun without feeling frenzied.
The tracks that band members Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp put together have a nostalgic feel to them, fusing their own modern, alternative style with classic holiday song conventions and sounds. The first track, “I Hear (Click Click Click)”, opens with jingling sleigh bells, instantly putting the listener in a particular headspace, full of cozy fireplaces, snow on the ground and a blinding Christmas tree. As the melody introduces an acoustic guitar and Howard’s folky vocals, the song moves in a decidedly more modern direction that manages to retain the spirit, the essence of classic holiday tunes.
“When It’s Cold” is my favorite track on the album, twangy guitar and tinkling bells complementing an absurdly catchy chorus to create an utterly cheerful, entertaining carol. The jazzier tune “Lonely Light” has a deeper, more soulful spirit, with passionate vocals, a slower melody and beautiful saxophone work. The more bubbly, buoyant songs, like “Journey to Christmas Island,” wouldn’t be out of place at a summer barbecue or beach bonfire, but transcend seasonal limits and bring a certain lightness to the holiday season.
“Christmas Tree Island” really has it all. The Rosebuds flawlessly intertwine two totally different aesthetics, modern indie pop and traditional, nostalgic holiday anthems, to create an album that seems both familiar and fresh. It’s a record that I know is going to be on repeat in my house all winter long and, if my past holiday music practices are any indication, probably way into spring as well.