Santoros is the unlikely outcome at the intersection of influence and execution. The Los Angeles quintet begs the unasked (and largely unanswerable) question, “What would happen if five Mexican Latinos merged a love of the Velvet Underground, The Moody Blues and The Ventures into their songcraft and then shoved that mash through a Farfisa-drenched psychedelic Garage Rock filter and distilled it into a wicked brew in the radiator of a ’59 Cadillac?” An educated guess might not even come close to the quietly scintillating sound that defines Santoros.
Santoros assembled for the first time in the late ’00s and has had a fluid lineup since then. The quintet — now comprised of lead vocalist Jossef Virgen, guitarist/vocalist Adolfo Canales, drummer Marco Rocha, keyboardist/vocalist Diego Pietro and guitarist/bassist/vocalist Carlos Precichi — self-released its debut album Ancestros in 2012. The band’s trashcan-party-in-a-basement vibe attracted a steady following and they reissued Ancestros on Butterlicious in 2013, which was followed by 2014’s Animal, a self-released four-song cassette that quickly sold out. In 2016, Santoros dropped El Perdedor, their sophomore full-length. Earlier this year, the group teased a potential new album with another four-song release, the blistering Bad Habits. Its first single, “Turn Your Back on Me,” is a pounding blend of “Sweet Jane” and early Strokes demos.
This latest iteration of Santoros may be the one that breaks through to a broader national audience, assisted by their new association with Burger Records and their latest coast-to-coast tour in the wake of the release of the all-too-brief Bad Habits. The band’s localized success to this point is evidence of how hard they worked Los Angeles and the drivable surroundings, and once the rest of the country gets wind of their south-of-the-border Surf/Garage stylings, broader love can’t be too far behind. There is a raw simplicity and a raucous elegance to Santoros that is irresistible and undeniable, and Bad Habits could be the first volley in a full-fledged SoCal Surf takeover.