Garden Centre, from Brighton, have been on the Beats To The Bar radar for a while. Having released their new ‘Strap’ EP this month, we have finally a good excuse to write about them.
A lo-fi and playful group, this type of thing is in abundance on bandcamp. However none of it is really as interesting or worthwhile as this. These songs do not sound like sketches or demos, despite their lo-fi nature. They sound like they are supposed to be as they are.
Singer Max Levy has what can only be described as a unique voice.
Now, this might be the deciding factor for some as to whether they like this music. For me, it gives it a point of interest; it’s high pitched, cartoonish, warped by what we are assuming is a tape four track and some fairly budget equipment. This works well, although sometimes makes the lyrics a little difficult to make out.
Similar in some ways to Daniel Johnston, Jad Fair, Joanna Newsom or Avi Buffalo or a helium filled Avey Tare, Levy’s vocals are constantly on the verge of cracking. There is a reasonably sophisticated folksiness and a group dynamic that perhaps pushes this in the direction of the Danielson Family, without the religious edge.
Folds in the Washing begins sounding like an ode to the washing basket but becomes lyrically darker, suggesting a toxic relationship, with casio keyboard solos intersecting.
Clean is a one minute interlude of weird keyboard and recorder chirps, pinging from left to right.
A Fan of the Body is an upbeat catchy number, documenting the experience of playing a gig, fans quickly becoming disinterested, clocking in at under 2 minutes. It’s good fun. Westland then interjects with more keyboard noodling.
They bring the tempo down again on Long Grass, backed by strange phasing percussion, distorted keys and fluttering recorders.
There are some nice ideas packed into the six tracks, although they average at an easily consumable 9 minutes.
Well thumbed, the title track, lyrically focussed on a belt (as far as we can tell), is quite beautiful. Limited to just 10 copies on tape, this is already sold out in physical format, but is digitally available.
You may enjoy this if you like: Daniel Johnston, Half Japanese, Joanna Newsom, Danielson Family