Los Angeles – “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Why am I quoting the unequivocal statement from Socrates? Well, the Chicago band Santah has this new record called Chico (out on Nov. 6th via Yes Club Records). It’s a record of that explores the dichotomy between finding yourself and escaping from yourself. To do so, you’ll have to examine your past in order not to be condemned to making the same mistakes. (I digress.) The second full-length from the quintet is a divine record that offers a wide range of dreamy, synth-pop laden tracks. Led by brother/sister duo, Stanton and Vivian McConnell, the band also includes Steve Plock on drums, Mike Winegardner on bass and Tommy Trafton on keys/synths. This is a proper (and overdue) follow-up to their 2011 debut, White Noise Bed. Santah has developed a rich sound brimming with emotional potency. The band has taken a significant leap forward. Chico is wonderfully executed on all accounts.
On “Did We Sing?” the plush vocal harmonies of the brother/sister combo bring in wistful touchstones without drifting too far from more conventional pop-rock concepts. “Sunkeeper” is a highlight here as guitars and honeyed harmonies blend into something magical. The propulsive drums, dark synth tones and airy guitars drive McConnell’s tuneful vocals. Chico moves the listener as it lifts spirits and triggers deep contemplation. One of the band’s singles is “Here Are My Shells,” and to put it simply, it is beautiful. The sprawling arrangements, immersive synths, fast drums, and pop melodies form a sound that is absolutely amazing. I think their sound falls somewhere between Delta Spirit and Snowmine. But Santah has creative originality to spare. “Once More Gone” is a dynamic piece of work with a memorable vocal performance by McConnell. As you make your way to the latter half of Chico, you realize that something unbelievably special is on the horizon.
“Sun On Ice” is striking. The impassioned vocals and hooky synths once again illustrate the range of the bands’ talents, with some great guitar work going on. “Taking In The Mist” is a short closing track that comes off a bit more barebones than the other ten tracks. Yet, it is equally if not more absorbing.
You’ll be significantly rewarded by the experience Chico delivers. There is no doubt that Santah has grown as a band and as individuals. Their words are wiser, their music more complex, and their efforts more grand than ever before. It’s a beautiful sight to see (and hear), as listeners are able to share the experience while forging their own individual path along the way.
Check out Santah on Facebook for more info.