Gardeners are a young band from the Rock Hill area that just released their debut EP, Along the Heather. I found out about them after hearing “Cuts”, which was the lead single from the album that Charleston Scene later named track of the week. This band is really onto something with their sound, and I think we’ll be hearing from them for quite some time. They’ve found an aesthetic that works, and Along the Heather is, in short, a very satisfying listen.
From the upbeat, bustling instrumental opener of “Hot Car”, you can tell that Along the Heather is going to take you for a ride, which might be unexpected if you followed Gardeners from their early days back in 2015. At that time, Gardeners was a folk duo consisting of Brandon Byron on guitar/vocals, and Leah Smith on cello. Gardeners in that form fizzled out, and was revived in its full band form around the time of the 2017 Don’t Sweat It Fest in downtown Rock Hill, when festival organizers reached out to Brandon about putting together a lineup to play the event.
The punk influence you’ll hear on Along the Heather comes from a “shitty garage rock” band called HEY BUDDY that Brandon played in with Gardeners drummer Ali Kaveh. The fact that Gardeners is able to keep a little bit of a folk in their hard-hitting indie rock sound is part of what makes them such an exciting new band. Along the Heather has just the right amount of bite at just the right times, mixing in some more chilled-out, catchy hooks to keep you engaged throughout.
Another interesting thing to note about Gardeners is that several band members have a background in theatre, and that background manifests itself in both the recorded sound and the band’s live show. Gardeners enjoys adding a visual element to their music, which is somewhat apparent in the vibrant nature of the songs themselves, but really shines when they get up on stage to play. Often times Gardeners will wear costumes, and at the very least they sport multicolored glitter around their eyes. According to the band, this flowery aesthetic is done not to play a character, but to become more exaggerated versions of themselves, allowing them to more easily let go of any inhibitions or nerves that might be holding them back from bringing the energy that they strive to bring to the audience.
Overall, Along the Heather is an impressive debut, and should give Gardeners the boost they need to start booking tour dates around the Southeast. They are planning to book some dates this fall, and are taking time in both the fall and spring to work on what will be the songs on their next project, which according to the band will hopefully be a full-length album.
Listen to Along the Heather by Gardeners below, and watch out for them making a run through the Southeast later this year.