Gardens & Villa, the self-titled debut LP out of Santa Barbara, CA, has remained a repeated listen since it first dropped July 5th. This dreamy, stoner take on post-punk California rock has proven a tough album to put down.
The disc opens with “Black Hills.” The sound is not dissimilar to their Secretly Canadian label mates Suuns. Though comparisons can be drawn, G & V’s sound is much more organic and accessible. Much of this is due to lead singer Chris Lynch’s soaring vocals.
“Cruise Ship,” the second song on the album brightens things up with a shinier keyboard line than “Black Hills” coupled with big handclaps. Gardens & Villa extend their hand insistent you join their trip:
This is how God made us to live
On California, the cruise ship
Bring your wife and your kids
California the cruise ship
The album hits its stride with “Orange Blossom.” Bouncy keyboards and flute float together above a wah pedal-driven bass line. This song is intoxicating and would work well in any DJ’s late night repertoire. With a track like this, it is hard to imagine how G & V escaped the California labels, landing instead in Bloomington.
G & V risk sending listeners into nap mode on “Chemtrails” heading directly toward sleepy, stoner territory. Bass drum, tambourine, bass, ambient piano riffs and a cello all dance quietly together as if the last song in some kind of opiate-laden high school dance. Heady stuff:
I don’t really want to go home
To places where they keep time
To places where we’d never find
Dandelions fly high
Through the marmalade sky
The last two lines serve as a Beatles reference. This proves apt as the track would feel at home amongst their LSD infused productions like Yellow Submarine. Not to worry, “Star Fire Power” picks the pace back up with a foot tapping, disco feel.
Gardens & Villa has the strange ability to sound similar thoughout without ever feeling redundant. The band hasn’t broken the mould musically, but the bottom line is this is REALLY good shit. Spare yourself the iTunes bonus track—a terrible, synth-heavy remix of “Orange Blossom.” The original does just fine, thank you.
Work proves less daunting with the prospect of a delicious reward at the end of the week. As usual, MOKB Presents is offering a couple of terrific distractions from the grind. In a city known for its naps, Dodge and friends continue to provide its natives with a multitude of reasons to stay awake.
Tomorrow night, Ray LaMontagne and his Pariah Dogs will bring their batch of bluesy foot-stompers from the recent God Willin’ & the Creek Don’t Rise to The Lawn at White River. Reluctantly, I’ll be sitting this one out. Due to a recent robbery, the pocket money ain’t what it used to be.
That being said, God Willin’ & the Creek Don’t Rise is arguably LaMontagne’s strongest work to date. The album marks LaMontagne’s first stint as producer. The Pariah Dogs fill-out his songwriting nicely, without turning it into something different. The album would have worked flawlessly as the soundtrack to the Jeff Bridges film Crazy Heart.
Friday offers a double feature of up-and-coming indie act Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. From 4 until 7 PM, the band will do a free, in-store performance at Luna Music. Later that evening, the duo will take the stage at White Rabbit Cabaret. Phantasmagoria and Hot Fox will be on hand to lend support. Doors open at 8. Tickets are $8 in advance $10 at the door.
It’s A Corporate World is one of my favorite releases from 2011. The Detroit duo is comprised of Daniel Zott and Josh Epstein. Catchy hooks and Beach Boysesque harmonies abound on their addictive debut release. White Rabbit is the place to be this Friday.
Click here for a free download of the single “Morning Thought.”