Gardens and Villa

Cara Robbins/Brooks Institute

Gardens and Villa

Gardens and Villa

Funky bass chords, loads of synth, a handful of flute flourishes, and an anything-goes attitude have situated Gardens and Villa in a somewhat indefinable genre. They’ve got kindred spirits in Bowie and the Moody Blues, thanks to melodies dressed in the fanciful trappings of ’70s psychedelic jams, but unlike their predecessors, these four also weave in lessons from disco and new-wave synth-pop. Growing out of the collapse of an earlier music project, AVE Caesar, which consisted of guitarist/vocalist Chris Lynch, keyboardist Adam Rasmussen, and drummer Levi Hayden, the trio later added bassist Shane McKillop to round out the Gardens and Villa lineup. In turn, the grooving quartet has recorded and finished their debut album (set for a spring 2011 release), and, in the process, fostered the vibes that propel every aspect of their current musical catalogue.

The mastermind at the helm of it all is singer/songwriter/production guru Richard Swift, who guided the quartet through the recording and mixing of their debut at his home-cum-studio in Cottage Grove, Oregon. “We entered the world of Swift,” claims Lynch, who described the space as a “reclusive and isolated place where time stands still.” It was during this time-warped period of no showers and tent dwelling that Gardens and Villa were able to establish the distinct sounds that drive through songs like “Orange Blossom,” a synth-backed, beat-filled, ecstatic collection of grooves.

“That song randomly came up, I put a weird effect on my bass, Adam started playing along, and after Chris started singing, it was just us laughing and grinding on each other,” McKillop half-jokes.

As they worked their way through recording, a process Lynch describes as “feeling like children again,” they also managed to stir up some as-yet-unspecified label interest. Until then, though, the band has scheduled a 12-date tour, which kicks off at Goleta’s Mercury Lounge on Sunday, October 31, before winding its way through a slew of major West Coast cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Cottage Grove.

To check out Gardens and Villa’s funk-infused synth-pop, visit

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