Once is not enough to know.
"I know it's not cool to like your hometown, but..." Santah singer/guitarist Stan McConnell offered last night at Vaudeville Mews, then asked people to cheer for Des Moines. Ladd, Devin and I wooed. Santah are a uniquely monikered five-piece band-- "Stan ... likes to say he was trying to challenge the creative conventions and concepts for the name Santa," keyboard player Tommy Trafton tells Paste-- formed at the University of Illinois. McConnell has a "soaring" voice, as Ladd pointed out during the set, and he does some nice harmonies with sister Vivian. The basic sound is arty, folk-tinged rock, with pealing organ sounds from the keyboard and dramatic, almost wrenching guitar stabs, where those pretty vocals are at the center of things but not necessarily always comprehensible, though it's all highly proficient, carefully constructed stuff. I guess this puts them somewhere along a continuum from, like, Brooklyn chamber-pop heavyweights Grizzly Bear to L.A.'s Cold War Kids-- you can decide where, but I thought they were pretty solid and I'll be curious to hear how Santah sound after more time on the road. The band recorded self-released debut White Noise Bed at late Wilco member Jay Bennett's Pieholden Studios, just weeks after Bennett's death, which sounds like it was a sad, weird experience, and also suggests that if you're a Wilco fan you might like these dudes. My favorite song of Santah's, "Neighbors & Cousins (Are We Lovers)," has more of a rickety garage-rock quality to it, and chord changes that might put you in mind of David Bowie's "Heroes" or LCD Soundsystem's "All I Want," plus a bit of a "Moulty"-ish spoken-word interlude: "Is anybody out there confused? Oh, me too." Though it's been said, many times, by many bloggers: Happy holidays, Santah.

The future isn't far away.
The big thrill for me was seeing local high school dudes the Seed of Something again last night. They've been playing around town a bunch now, but the last time I saw them was months and months ago, even before the Poison Control Center's show with them at Des Moines Social Club in August. I had gone to, like, three shows in a row before that, so I figured I would sit back for a while and let them progress, and man, it's not that I was surprised last night or anything, but it was just great to see how much they really have come into their own since then. One of the singers, Stone, is Ladd's brother, so I've always been rooting for these guys, but they put on a super rocking set this time, above and beyond what I remember, starting with a raucous like two-chord wonder that could hold its own against a lot of the current garage-rock/lo-fi scene, probably-- it was really loud, too! Also there was a PCC cover and a Guided By Voices cover. It was fun watching a bunch of teenagers freaking out to that stuff. I guess the '90s really are back? Oh and I heard the Chatty Cathys and new band Pocket Aristotle were good earlier in the night. Nice to hear some local talent coming up. The Seed of Something had a new demo CD to give away, but I got to the merch table too late to score one-- next time.

Speaking of what's coming up, I'm not gonna do a whole concert listing right now, though there's an interesting-sounding covers show later this week and CD release party for local band Parlours next month, but here's one event I won't be missing: Asklandaganza, at Vaudeville Mews, January 15, featuring Wolves in the Attic, Canyons, the Seed of Something, the Poison Control Center, Land Of Blood And Sunshine, Derek Lambert & the Prairie Fires.


  1. Wonderful review of an incredibly fun show! SOS rocked sooooo hard!
    I don't mean to be a nitpick, but it's actually "The Chatty Cathys," not "The Chatty Cathies." I wouldn't be concerned, except that it links to a pop-punk band that's pretty disparate from our own sound.

    This is our website: thechattycathys.bandcamp.com
    Myspace: myspace.com/chattycathysband

    Great work again, Marc!

  2. Haha, sorry about that! Fixed. And thanks!