Gardens & Villa – Gardens & Villa

written by: August 12, 2011
Release Date: July 5, 2011


From what can be described as indie pop with an avant-garde, retro-psychedelic feel to it, Gardens & Villa has released their self-titled debut with every bit of spark and energy necessary to cover decent ground as a new band.

The record they’ve put together is a diverse taste of styles and arrangements. Some tracks are more catchy and some are more casual while others may seem more odd and others sound more mainstream.

Even from early on, it’s easy to see that each piece fits without feeling scattered or misplaced. This is simply because of the beauty of avant pop and how it pretty much includes all of the above and allows for free implementation at any point.

A great mediator in the midst of a lot of interesting musicianship starts the record with “Black Hills,” a chiming and pulsing track with steady streamlined vocal work. It’s picturesque both in its words and its tune for an ultimately floaty feel to it. Much of the album in its entirety flows along this path, too.

After listeners get a taste of more solid Gardens & Villa tunes with “Cruise Ship,” which could be seen as more catchy, it becomes much more futuristic and foreign in “Orange Blossom.” It sounds a bit like an electronic concoction derived from DJ Danger Mouse’s hands, and they best resemble experimental rockers Dirty Projectors.

Perhaps the most charming pieces along the audio timeline are “Spacetime” and “Star Fire Power.” Both implement sound effects that are uncommon, like something of a space ship landing or a tribal ritual anthem, and it’s not clear whether they add to or detract from the intention of the song. They’re just odd. Either way, the high energy in both songs is exciting and engaging.

As songs soon become more dark and slow near the end of the record, smaller effects seem to make more of a mark in their songs’ outcome. “Carrizo Plain” contains “woah-ah-oh” sounds with harmonies repeated in a captivating way. These lead up to a great closer to the record, “Neon Dove,” whose acoustic guitar and drum ticks travel into silence following its descriptive storyline.

What’s especially notable about the debut album is its pace. Gardens & Villa really doesn’t get into a very quick motion at any point, but the slow-psychedelic route is a neat one to take. This becomes present gradually past the halfway point on the album and increases steadily toward the finish.

It might be considered a cop out for such a new band to list themselves as avant-pop artists. Gardens & Villa may need this as a kickstand early on, but it can’t work for them forever. In order to mature as a band, they’re going to have to establish themselves as a band that can fit into a real category, and not some makeshift gateway.

Maybe by the end of the recording, listeners can get a true feel for avant-pop as a genre. If they can’t, maybe the deed’s been done. Avant-pop is definitely a fill-in-the-blank term, and Gardens & Villa certainly fit right in.

Gardens & Villa – s/t Tracklist:

  1. “Black Hills”
  2. “Cruise Ship”
  3. “Thorn Castles”
  4. “Orange Blossom”
  5. “Spacetime”
  6. “Chemtrails”
  7. “Star Fire Power”
  8. “Sunday Morning”
  9. “Carrizo Plain”
  10. “Neon Dove”