Sons of Santos
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Sons of Santos

Austin, Texas, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | SELF

Austin, Texas, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2012
Band Folk Americana

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"Ear to the Ground – EP Review: Wounded Healer by Sons of Santos"

As younglings growing up in Beaumont, Texas, brothers Luis and Nick Soberon learned their musical trade by (as Luis says) “sitting front row for the Santos-show.” So when they named their guitar/cello act, it only made sense that they pay homage to their father, Santos Soberon, who plays the guitar and piano by ear, and taught his sons their first guitar chords.

After officially playing together for a year, Sons of Santos have whittled down their writing efforts to produce Wounded Healer, their first, five-track EP. Wounded Healer drops on October 23rd, and it’s a damn good translation and expansion of their live performance. The EP was recorded at Sewell Studios over the course of the summer of 2013 with input from a whole range of musicians on upright bass, drums, grand piano, fiddle, and saxophone, to name a few. Fortunately, even with such a large amount of collaboration, Luis and Nick retain their sound with ease. Let’s call it “alternative folk Americana”… it’s as close to the Sons-of-Santos-grab-bag style as anything. Wounded Healer’s complex sound supports the heart of each song. We hear the classical Spanish that Santos Soberon favors, combined with the vast and diverse taste in jazz, folk, rock, and beyond that Luis and Nick share and translate into their musicianship. The result is an EP with a deep focus and a lot to say.

Wounded Healer’s eponymous first track opens with a full two-minute showcase of strings–but don’t let this deter you from the rest. It’s a brilliant set-up for a layered progression into a song that is both deeply percussive and melodic, ringing and rhythmic, with vocals that are as strong as, though more sparse than, the instrumentation. “Nobody’s Watching” takes a turn from the expressive to the introspective, questioning the choices you make when nobody’s watching: “Two half truths are still a lie, but you keep your head held high like you kept your pride.” A love for lyricism manifests in “Strong Enough,” with a hint of Austin thrown in : “I opened my heart / under the stars / down by Barton Springs.” “How ‘Bout It” is an upbeat radio-friendly jam that verges on folk-pop, while “Take Me By Surprise” is a seductive, swaying growl about love in the language of war. Spanish influence runs heavily through the composition as Luis sings, “She was smart and did not strike until she saw, until she saw the whites of my eyes.” Overall, the EP rises and falls respectably, culminating in an exhibition of styles and a strong voice.

But just who are the sons of Santos? Older brother Luis is in year three out of four on his way to a law degree and a masters in global policy studies at UT. At the time of this article’s completion he had to email in to contribute, being as he was in freaking Argentina working with people in its northernmost province, Jujuy, on behalf of the UT Human Rights Clinic. No big deal. Though he can rock a mandolin, the drums, and a saxophone, he primarily plays (and prefers) two guitars: a six-string named Sophia and a twelve-string named Maria. Younger brother Nick is at UT Austin studying biomedical engineering. (When I met up with him, he had the whiteboard full of intimidating equations in his kitchen to prove it.) He permanently graced Austin with his presence last August. Nick and his current cello, Luna, have been going strong for about two and a half years now, but he can also play the guitar, mandolin, keys, and the glockenspiel. Renaissance men, the Soberon sons are.

So what’s next for Sons of Santos? In addition to promoting the EP and kicking academic ass, Sons of Santos are hoping to sit down and hash out some new material soon. Meanwhile, the Sons of Santos EP release party is at the Spiderhouse Ballroom on October 23. Doors at 9, Sons at 12. (They play after Chris Strand and The Parish Festival.) Cover is $3; $5 for under-21.

To listen to them on the regular, catch the Sons of Santos on Sundays at the Firehouse Lounge, and stay tuned to Bandcamp, SoundCloud, and iTunes for the eventual appearance of Wounded Healer for your digital listening pleasure.

UPDATE: The album is up on Bandcamp! Check out our review. - shortsleeve buttondown


"Grab some Kleenex before streaming Sons of Santos’ new EP"

The two members of Sons of Santos are, quite literally, sons of Santos — Santos Soberon, a Beaumont doctor who clearly raised his sons in a musical home.

Nick and Luis Soberon go to school in Austin but return to Southeast Texas every couple months to play to packed venues. They’ve developed quite the following around here, and for good reason.

With Nick on cello and Luis on guitar, this duo creates a rich, emotional sound so much bigger than the sum of its parts. It is not uncommon at a Sons of Santos show to look around the room and see nary a dry eye in the place.

Their sound is forceful, delicate, beautiful, raw. Melding influences of jazz, folk, chamber pop, blues and indie rock, Sons of Santos is a breath of fresh sonic air for those who need a respite from fuzzy reverb and ear-splitting guitar solos.

Their new EP Wounded Healer, released Oct. 23, is filled with sweetness and nuance. It begins with the delicate wail of Nick’s cello on the opening title track and opens itself up slowly, layer by layer, with a gentle pulse supplied by Jake Hollier (Hello Chief, Octopoodle) on percussion.

“It was initially inspired by a rough time in my life where I desperately wanted to help someone very special to me,” Luis said of the opening track. “At the same time, I knew that I was a mess myself and that I wasn’t in any position to help anyone.”

“Wounded Healer” leads into “Nobody’s Watching,” a foot-stomping chamber pop romp that really lets Luis cut loose vocally. Whether he’s whispering into the mic or wailing at the top of his lungs, his emotions are palpable, visceral. His heart is not on his sleeve — it’s bouncing around in your head, ricocheting off your own hidden emotional turmoil.Over the course of the five songs in this EP — the duo’s first release — the brothers dive a little into every genre that has influenced them since birth. The EP crescendos with “Take me by Surprise,” the final cut on the album and the one most likely to send chills down your spine.

In this track, we really hear Nick cut loose on the cello, at times playing long sweet notes in the background and, at other times, ripping into the foreground with beautiful, crunchy shrieks. It is a perfectly magical end to an all-too-short release.

Fans of artists like Ben Sollee, Fiona Apple or Fleet Foxes should definitely add this EP to their music library. It’s an easy album to pick up, too — the brothers released it on Bandcamp last week, where you can download it for $5.

Sons of Santos, Wounded Healer
Rating: 4.5 cats (out of 5)
Genre: Alt-folk/chamber pop/Americana
Buy it: $5 digital download — SonsofSantos.Bandcamp.com - Beaumont Enterprise


Discography

Wounded Healer EP (October 23rd, 2013)

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Bio

Luis and Nick Soberon are literally the sons of Santos. As children, their father played Latin/Spanish-inspired guitar and piano, all the while being surrounded by the country/zydeco mix of Southeast Texas. This continues to inform the band's songwriting. Luis' guitar and Nick's cello effectively blur genre lines, creating a uniquely authentic sound.

In the Fall of 2012, the brothers started playing around Austin under the name "Sons of Santos" as a dedication to their father, without whom their music wouldn't be possible. Since then, the band grew. It's now a quartet. Sons of Santos is a collection of friends and family who love to make music together.

Band Members