Written by Nini Nassenstein
If you think about the leading musical genre in 2016, punk is not the first thing that comes to mind. But the twins Fletcher and Wyatt Shears of the band The Garden have somehow managed to make the genre popular again and are quite successful with playing their Californian neo-punk rock all around the US. The Orange County based punk duo has started performing and recording music as The Garden in 2011. Two years later it was when they released their first LP ‘The Life And Times Of A Paperclip’ via Burger Records. A couple of EP’s followed and it was just last year when they released their new album haha which has gained a lot of positive response from music blogs and magazines. While both of the Shears twins have their own musical side projects called Puzzle and Enjoy, they seem to be most successful when they come together as The Garden.
What makes this band standing out from all the other underground punk bands in the US is not only their electronic infused sound but also the whole image they have created around themselves. Rather than describing their own music as punk, they like to call it ‘vada vada’ and with that they have also created their own world. As Wyatt Shears describes ‘vada vada’ in an interview with Poncho: ‘It’s our own form of expression without using anything else that has already been made.’ Moreover, we get a visual insight into the vada vada universe through music videos like ’All Smiles Over Here’ and ‘Crystal Clear’. The striking imagery of the videos and the way the twins appear and act in them is what makes them different.
Besides their music videos, The Garden twins have also accomplished to create interesting concepts sonically. Especially songs like ‘All Smiles Over Here’, ‘We Be Grindin’ as well as the title track ‘haha’ are a good example for the unique but contemporary sound and with this they shift between avant-garde rock and catchy post-punk. Lyrically the songs on the album show something very humorous and we, as listeners, can never be completely sure what story The Garden intends to tell us. It feels like only the brothers themselves know what they are singing about and as if the true meaning behind those lyrics is a secret that needs to be unfolded by the listeners. The whole album is filled with surrealist lyrics and abstract descriptions. This is particularly fascinating on the song ‘Everything Has A Face’ where lyrics like ‘my milk has a face, my life has a face’ are open to interpretation. But through the repetitiveness of basic lyrics in combination with an alternative sound, the album exhibits expressiveness and non-conformity just like the band itself.
With chanting vocals, intriguing bass lines and the inclusion of electronic soundscapes, Wyatt and Fletcher Shears of The Garden have done something which seemed impossible for a long time: Besides having created a world of mystery around themselves, they have created a new musical direction that sounds exactly what a new wave of punk should sound like.