Gardens & Villa is the project of five college friends from Santa Barbara, formed following the collapse of a noisier post-punk band and a hitch-hiking journey up the west coast. Members Chris Lynch, Adam Rasmussen, Levi Hayden, Shane McKillop began playing in earnest as Gardens & Villa in 2008. The name is pulled from the location of their house on Villa Street, and the property’s lovely garden t…to which they tend. The music they make is very much connected to coastal city they call home — the stoney bike rides, dance parties, a scene free of judgment. The band refers to this Santa Barbara feeling as “coco vibes.” For two weeks in the summer of 2010, the band camped behind visionary and now-labelmate Richard Swift’s Oregon studio. No shower, no kitchen, but all the magic you could ask for. After taking a band oath to always play all parts live — a la Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense — the band added member Dusty Ineman to supremely execute the live incarnation of the band. Gardens & Villa play a refreshing brand of quirky pop along with the requisite drums, guitars and bass but also with some well-placed synths and percussion. What is so intriguing about these guys is their creative sense they bring to arranging songs and the appeal of their high-register vocals. Think of a stripped down XTC with some nods to some of the new wave/synth pop bands of the late 80’s (Human League, anyone?) but there’s nothing dated or throwback about their music. It’s certainly not what you get a lot of these days stylistically, but that just makes it all the more daring and attractive.