The Santiago Steps are a band that really don’t portray a specific style in their music. Starting off “Points & Corners” with tracks that draw together indie-rock with America-era 70s rock, the band will please fans of all style. The incorporation of a synthesizer along with the straight-forward delivery of the vocals on “Meant 4 U” makes the track come forth with a bizarre style of dancability. What is perhaps the most interesting fact about “Meant 4 U” is that The Santiago Steps bring themselves perilously close to Dave Matthews at time, and yet still come forth on the track with a mishmash of genres and sounds that impress at all turns.
“The World’s A Go” experiments with time signatures to succeed; while straight-forward guitars dominate the track, the dual-harmonies bring the track a little more finesse than the imprecise axe could ever bear. While “Cold Canyon” brings The Santiago Steps into the realm of retro-rock (like Jet, The Strokes, and even The Darkness), the fresh sound of this track (bolstered by the different sound of the cowbell) really maintains the enjoyment factor on this disc. The depressing (not in a bad way) tone of “The First Kiss Isn’t Best” shows a band in The Santiago Steps that are masters at the creation and maintenance of a specific emotion. This tone stays on at the beginning of “Come On”, but is dismissed at the much more happy and upbeat style that dominates this almost jam-band sounding track. As the tracks spin on, the band continually changes up their style without any negative ramifications; “Del Arroyo” is a perfect example of this, with an Amy Lee-styled vocals.
The Santiago Steps are also one of the only bands (during their “At The Ring Toss” to actually use an extended spoken section in their track successfully; there is nothing in the way of diversion created by this spoken section, and just sitting it there without acknowledging it as such is the best lesson that all other bands that wish to use this technique must learn. The Santiago Steps come out with a brand of music that is purely their own; they may be influenced by other bands but never allow those influences to dominate their sound. “Points & Corners” is an album that should be lauded as one of the perfect pieces of pop to come out in the last few years; here’s to hoping more people will be introduced to this music.
Top Tracks: Del Arroyo, Cold Canyon
The Santiago Steps – Points & Corners / 2005 Dorcal-Monster / 13 Tracks / http://www.thesantiagosteps.com / Reviewed 20 June 2005