In summer 2010, Gardens & Villa released their self-titled debut album on Secretly Canadian. Full of youthful imagery and metaphysical ideas, the record reflected the band's perspective of the world through musings on life, love, nostalgia, and nature, presented in ways that only the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed can. It was the work of a younger Gardens & Villa, relatively naïve and overly optimistic about the realities of being a musician in the modern age. "We'd never been on the road; we'd never really gone anywhere to make a record before. We'd never heard of Pitchfork or any blogs," explains vocalist and guitarist Chris Lynch. "Our vision of making music was, 'You make a record, and then it blows up, and then you're on the radio, and then you're huge!' And the reality of it was: some people like you, some people don't like you, and you have to tour for two years. There's no really 'making it' anymore, unless you're part of 1% of 1%." Gardens & Villa are playing REDEFINE's SXSW 2014 Unofficial House Party. Click here for details. Photo by Neil Favila 2014 has seen the release of Gardens & Villa's second full-length record, Dunes -- and while these same themes of life, love, nostalgia, and nature still resonate heavily with the band of brothers, months of relentless touring and eye-opening experiences have brought them to this current point, which is philosophically and musically evolved from where they were three years ago. They have matured -- and this maturation can be found in the change from the barebones simplicity of the first to the layered complexities of the second, as well as in the lyrical content, which is now far more difficult to decrypt. Both records still contain much that is celebratory and have a similar thread of emotional honesty -- but the difference is that on Dunes, what is honest, and what is real, feels less dedicated to enclosed emotions and memories, but more to how one interfaces with the multi-colored pastiche of interconnected human experience, on a larger scale. "The second record is a lot more realistic, I guess, and there's a little bit of melancholy in the record that kind of came out of so much time on the road and missing home. But there's also some beautiful elements on both the records that also came out of that time," explains Lynch. "Basically, I'm trying to say that getting older and touring a bunch wasn't all a bad thing; it was actually a good thing. It's kind of us discovering how we're going to do this and survive." "The time on the road [was us] realizing our dream," Lynch continues, "but at the same time, seeing our dream as this long, arduous journey that's not what we thought it was."
In this first installment of Music Art Trends, a column detailing stylistic commonalities across music media, we highlight electronic musicians Oneohtrix Point Never and Jimmy Edgar's respective collaborations with artists Takeshi Murata and Brez. In the music videos for "Problem Areas" and "Hot Inside", animated three-dimensional objects are the main focus (and in the case of Jimmy Edgar's "Hot Inside", one can also find another popular sub-theme often found in music art these days: that of finely-manicured female hands).

 

The dream-like figure paintings of Norwegian artist Henrik Aarrestad Uldalen have been so striking to me that the above image has been my Facebook profile picture for the past half year, at least. Uldalen's blue-tinged characters may be shaded like ghostly apparitions or bloodlet cadavers, but the weightlessness and lightness of spirit they possess seem to define serenity, even as they are being whisked off of buildings and freefalling in impossible positions. As Uldalen was born only in 1986, it seems fair to say that these oil paintings are only the beginnings of a whimsical artistic career.

 

Often by way of the unrefined medium of ballpoint pen, UK artist Mark Powell turns vintage envelopes into portraits of the elderly. His high-contrast black-and-white images find their strength in wrinkles, as though making some sort of meta-commentary about aging faces upon aging trees. Creases separate mouths from noses and stamps and seals make fanciful bindis, stressing that there is a story to be found in every one of these century-old envelopes, whether infused with Powell's artistic intentions of not.

 

When looking at the work of South Korea's 최수앙 (Choi Xoo-Ang -- or Choi Soo-Ang, if you are to use a more typical romanization), one might envision creepily realistic human forms life-sized enough to hug and share sympathies with. It turns out that Choi's figures are actually tiny resin sculptures...

LUCY YIM AND JIN CAMOU If your name is Jeff Diteman, you might be a Portland artist that has spent two years secretly crafting a series of oil paintings, waiting patiently until the opportune time and place to debut the complete collection of works. Now ready to be unveiled is Diteman's...

Our third-annual album cover art feature uses interviews with artists and musicians to highlight the philosophical, thematic, and conceptual significance of great album cover artwork. THE BREAKDOWN    12 Collage + 14 Digital Illustration, Drawing, Design + 19 Illustration, Painting, Drawing + 8 Black And White Photography + 22 Color Photography + 6 Deluxe Packaging + 10 Fashion,...

Australian artist Rena Littleson's latest self-portrait series puts her in situations and postures occupied by the self-conscious, the martyred, the shamed, the belligerent, and the confused. It's not stated overtly whether these images are actually a reflection of her mind-state at any given time or not, but the drawings, though...