Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Gardens and Villa on Cool Summer Records

There's a new label in town, Cool Summer records and they happened to send me their latest from Gardens & Villa out of Santa Barbara, CA. A 4 piece combining an off kilter mix of soul and new wave in the way the Talking Heads had no clear musical agenda.

The A-Side, 'Black Hills' builds a foundation synth bassline with pop shimmery melodies on top. Chris Lynch has a really unique vocal, high register with a bit of wavering vibratto. This bassline is keeping the track solidly in an indie dance place, but laid back and subtly working this groove, stopping to take a smooth nostalgic turn here and there to the point that this doesn't come off as electronic at all. Every sound is there to support the song. Hints of high electric guitar can weirdly at times remind you of Moon Pix and it's the breathy layered melody and they way they seem drawn to those unusual front and center sounds.

B-Side, Orange Blossom opens with a cheap drum machine rhythm, huge slap bass and bigger handclaps. It's definitely found a soul in the electronics and thanks to the idiosyncratic vocals it's sounding a lot like new wave and that classic early period of minimal experimentation. Gary Numan, Herbie Hancock... Thomas Dolby, with a heavy injection of '70s soul from Sly and the Family Stone or Stevie Wonder.
Completely bizarre, Garden & Villa isn't going for the easy, tight, catchy beats of electronic acts working in similar directions. They sound like their intent on creating experimental ballad pop with unusual rhythms and instrumentation. Exactly like the Talking Heads, it's a clear, unusual vision down completely untread paths.
In an interview for The Santa Barbara Independent they described the spontaneous process of hitting on this bass sound and having a great time with taking the groove really seriously. That's exactly how I imagine both of these tracks came about, you sort of have no choice, when this unconscious rhythm appears, it takes complete control and you really can't escape it.

Heavy on the technical sound but delivered like a Sunday afternoon, the songwriting is the star here and their decisions to keep just the minimal hooks and changes to keep things moving. A seriously unusual single from a group of bearded guys perched on the roof of a shed with stalks of corn coming up to their ankles, but then again maybe not.
It comes out of the sort of world where these sounds aren't a novelty but just the tools that were given. it's separated from the baggage of electronic glitch dance to become rabidly individual.

You can get a copy of your very own from Cool Summer Records.

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