Saturday 19 Apr

Dustin Prinz - Eleven

Few musicians take the time to master their instrument in the way that Oklahoma City singer-songwriter Dustin Prinz has; he’s a guitar virtuoso in every sense of the word, and Eleven gives him the chance to show just how far he can push that skill.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

Horse Thief – Fear in Bliss

Listening to Horse Thief’s previous release — the haphazardly melodramatic Grow Deep, Grow Wild — felt like a chore. Whatever potential the Oklahoma City folk-pop act demonstrated on the EP was obscured behind a formulaic, contrived and ultimately hollow cloud. But it at least offered a glimmer of promise for a band consisting of, frankly, five pretty talented dudes. Critics saw it; the band’s management saw it; its current label, Bella Union, saw it; and its increasingly fervid fan base saw it.
04/08/2014 | Comments 0

Colourmusic — May You Marry Rich

There’s always a sense of danger when debuting songs in a live setting and playing them well. Without having heard the studio versions, expectations are set according to the live incarnations. But capturing the breadth of free-flowing atmosphere and sheer volume on a disc, vinyl or digital file isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially for a band as vociferous as Colourmusic.
04/01/2014 | Comments 0

Em and the MotherSuperiors — Churches into Theaters

As titles go, Churches into Theaters is an apt descriptor for the debut album from Oklahoma City rockers Em and the MotherSuperiors. It’s a reverential record, one that shares the gospel of classic rock, blues and soul but embraces the need to refashion it for modern times, channeling The Dead Weather, Grace Potter and Cage the Elephant along the way.
03/25/2014 | Comments 0

Rachel Brashear — Revolution

Rachel Brashear’s second EP, Revolution, starts with a kick to the shins.
03/18/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Music · Music · Pity party

Pity party

Why do the songs of Gardens & Villa sound so cheery? Because the band has dealt with death, drug abuse and homelessness, thank you very much

Joshua Boydston April 13th, 2011

Gardens & Villa with O Fidelis and The Antler Thief
8 p.m. Wednesday, April 20
The Conservatory, 8911 N. Western, 607-4805

It’s always sunny in California, but it’s been a while since the guys behind Gardens & Villa have found themselves in a comparably cheery mood.

Deaths, drug abuse and homelessness (three members currently split time living in friends’ houses and their tour van) have plagued the band and its social circle, but the music has reflected that in a manner opposite of what one might expect. Think of it as laughing to keep from crying.

“I feel like when times are really good, people play negative music, and when times get a little harder, they play more happy music,” singer Chris Lynch said. “There’s a release there, and that’s where we are at. It’s been a hard couple of years, but we’ve found a release in this.”

Their sound — ’80s-era David Bowie meets Ariel Pink meets Afrobeat — certainly comes across starkly different than the gloomy circumstances they’ve endured, but playing through the pain has helped. Hailing from Santa Barbara, the beach-party capital of the West Coast certainly hasn’t hurt.

“It’s not known for its music scene; it’s known for the partying and going to the beach. We really aren’t that into partying, but we like to bring that warm, palm-tree vibe, if you will,” Lynch said.

Adopting the “dance it out” policy has worked to the advantage of members and crowds alike, who have come to love the groove-heavy, authentic and sometimes melancholy, lo-fi dance ballads Gardens & Villa churns out, especially in a live setting.

“We want a powerful experience for all the people who are a part of it,” Lynch said. “We feel like it’s a successful show if we can get even one person to start dancing. And we pride ourselves on playing everything live. No backing tracks or people pressing a space bar on the computer.”

The rain cloud over their collective heads seems to be parting; their invigorating sets and a buzzed-about upcoming debut helped Gardens & Villa snag a record deal. The group kept the recording process fresh and loose, believing it would pay dividends in the final product.

“We recorded the whole album live in studio and onto tape, all analog. We’ve tried to capture an older style of recording an album, instead of doing a million takes on Pro Tools. It sort of establishes the vibe of the song,” Lynch said. “Giving everything in a few takes and trying to just nail it ... that’s how the album was done.”

If these harsh times have given them anything, it’s the knowledge that things don’t have to be perfect, and that may be for the better.

“We really tried to focus on the groove and the vibe and overall feel of the song. Soul is the biggest thing we tried to put in the album,” Lynch said. “There are plenty of mistakes on this album, but at least they were done with style.”

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