Nov 14

Gardens & Villa

Jammin Java All Ages
Doors 6:30PM | Show 7:30PM

About the event

Some band names take on a talismanic quality, revealing mystical depths the musicians may never have intended. For Gardens & Villa, the name became downright prophetic. The quartet of Chris Lynch, Adam Rasmussen, Shane McKillop, and Dustin Ineman, took their moniker from Villa Avenue, where they first shared a home – and a garden – in Santa Barbara, California. Now, a decade and a half later, the band is set to release their fifth album, Ultra Terrestrial, on [date TK]. The record finds Gardens & Villa returning to the roots of their namesake, highlighting the expansive growth they’ve weathered, and the familial bonds they’ve forged over their 15 years together.

From the start, the California outfit was lauded for their emotionally resonant vocals and clever fusion of dream pop, psychedelia, and funk. Since then they’ve drawn mystic inspiration from experimental and avant pop wells across styles and generations, citing everyone from David Sylvian, Talk Talk, Cleaners from Venus, and Echo and the Bunnymen to close friends and brethren like Foxygen, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, and the late Richard Swift. In fact, it was Swift who helped produce and shepherd Gardens & Villa’s 2011 self-titled debut, a tightly interwoven gem grounded in the band’s commitment to jamming and playing all of their instruments live. 

Following three years of nonstop touring alongside acts like Foster the People, the Shins, and Broken Bells, 2014’s Dunes expanded on Gardens & Villa’s already sky-cracking vision. The equally expressive Music For Dogs followed a year later, simultaneously marking the band’s move from idyllic Santa Barbara to a shared live-work space alongside the Los Angeles River. In LA, they continued building on their expansive sound, pushing further into dream pop territory, exploring chill wave wonderlands, and connecting with fellow musicians like Cornelia Murr, Omar Velasco, and Alex Siegel. But between their rapid growth and the close quarters of the warehouse they called home, the band knew something had to change. “At that point we had done something like 12 US tours,” Lynch says. “We had spent so much time together, and the pressure and schedule pushed us to our limits, so we all went our separate ways.” 

Never content to let their creativity stagnate, Lynch and Rasmussen turned their warehouse into a homebase for producing other artists, while McKillop and Ineman worked on side projects. Time off from Gardens & Villa meant the bandmates could explore other non-musical interests, too. Lynch co-founded an organization dedicated to fruit tree care and regenerative land management, which McKillop eventually joined in on. Ineman took up farming and Rasmussen trained in carpentry. “We were all doing garden stuff or villa stuff,” Lynch laughs. “We’ve never really left that world.” 

Still, the group’s magnetic connection felt too strong to lie dormant for long. And on a 2017 backpacking trip Lynch and McKillop started toying with the idea of making another record. The result, 2020’s Gordon Von Zilla Presents, is a textured, heady, and experimental exploration of the album’s titular character—a Tony Clifton-esque figure first conjured by Swift. Though the pandemic quickly halted any dreams of touring Gordon Von Zilla, the bandmates remained steadfast in their pursuit of new creative soil. “No matter what, every Tuesday night we would get together and play,” Lynch says. “It was therapy—friendship, music, everything.” 

The sounds of Ultra Terrestrial honor those spiritual and regenerative jam sessions. It’s an album brimming with warmth and dazzling instrumentation, as well as a notable return to the core of what made Gardens & Villa’s songs feel so organic from the jump. “The music itself is sort of like a balm or medicine, inspired by the trees and the plants and the soil,” Lynch says. “On our first tour we had vegetables from our garden at our merch booth, and now that energy is literally infused into the album.” 

Fittingly, Ultra Terrestrial opens with the breezy “Back to the Garden,” a track driven by puffs of flute and spritely electronic percussion. Later, lead single “Jewels in the River (feat. Jahsh Banks)” exemplifies the band’s California cool, with fluffy synth tones and a bouncy rhythm section pinging between glittering surf and the darkness that lies beneath. “Stars reflected in the bottom of the water,” Lynch sings in luminous falsetto that’s matched by Banks’ deep, mellow harmonies: “It don’t feel good/ Does it, no baby/ It don’t feel good knowing that you’re gonna crash.”

The propulsive “Bodies” conjures hints of Broken Social Scene with its headrush harmonies and choppy strumming. On “Angel Alien,” the band indulges its spacier leanings via flickering instrumentation and intergalactic imagery. Elsewhere, Ultra Terrestrial reflects Lynch’s experiences as a new father. The deliriously sweet “Chi Chu” details the chaos of parenthood (“When you feel emo, scream it out/ If you feel low, you can crawl around”) over a new wave-y indie pop sway. “The first half is a love song for my boy,” Lynch explains, “and the second half is apologizing to him that it’s up to his generation to save the world.”

At its core, Ultra Terrestrial is a fascinating document of just how much has changed for Gardens & Villa. But it’s also a testament to the heart that has always driven their music. Fifteen years in, they’re still focused on the earth and the renewal it can offer, and on the homes that we make with each other. “We’re brothers. We’ve been through a lot together, and now we accept each other in the fullest,” Lynch says. “This music is our life. It’s who we are. And we’re going to keep doing it.”

This show is at Jammin Java

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227 Maple Ave East
Vienna, VA 22180
(703) 255-1566