Fine Steps

Posted on January 8, 2012 – 12:24 AM | by Admin
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By Dennis Yudt  Photo by Scott Duncan

While walking up a flight of stairs to a quiet room to talk about his band, Fine Steps guitarist/singer/songwriter Julian Elorduy expresses that he wishes he could start a few other groups. When pressed what direction he would want to go, Elorduy mentions Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye and other soul singers.

”I want something that people would dance to. Something with that kind of energy. I still know what I want…an alcoholic sort of music that is just debased and has this free-for-all element. Not necessarily even pissed-off.”   

Feet stomping, crotch-grabbing, nasty-ass grooves?    

“Yes,” he replies, a hint of a smile betraying the seriousness of his tone and up-right demeanor. The man sitting at arm’s length, dressed like the 6th grade teacher he is, could not look less funky. But this same gentleman doesn’t seem like he was once drummer for the best Sacramento band of the past 10 years either – the flesh rendering shit-storm that was Mayyors.  

Fine Steps – the name chosen for the non-imagery it conjures – started out as Elorduy’s four-track chamber-pop bedroom project several years ago, overdubbing all the instruments himself. Then, as college and later his stint in Mayyors took precedence, Fine Steps took a place on the back burner. Fast forward a few years and Elorduy started to hear those songs in his head being played by a full band, so he solicited a few friends from Ganglians and G. Green to flesh out the tracks. Those practices went so swell that plans were made to record them for posterity and after a recent spell at San Francisco’s indie/undie-pop studio of choice, Tiny Telephone, Fine Steps have their debut, Boy’s Co., finished and ready for release in February. Live shows have been infrequent – just five to date – but that number is sure to increase when the album drops.

Boy’s Co., had it been released this year, would squat firmly in my top 10 records of 2011. While perfection is not something I nominally look for in music, the nine songs are a unified whole and the attention to the details – harmonies, bridges, choice of instruments, the mood of each piece, etc, etc – kinda staggers. Take the opener, “Dig Me In,” for example. A snippet of Julian la-la-ing the guitar hook for 10 seconds, then, you are suddenly thrust into sounds that could be anywhere from a ’60s Nuggets comp to today. Hard, chopped, down-stroked guitar, Brit-Invasion styled till it comes to the chorus when it transforms into a Chills song and then back again. Fan-flipping-tastic.

The influence of the Ganglian guys (Kyle Hoover and Alex Sowles) is apparent on Boy’s Co.’s with their “retro-is-now” sound a key part of why this record works so well – there is a familiarity (comfortable  instead of nagging), more of an homage to an era than a blatant hipster rip. These guys know the history. Listen to “Lady Hume” and tell me it couldn’t have been the next Jesus & Mary Chain 45 after “Never Understand.”  “Orestes” is what I picture if the Clientele ever covered the Feelies.     “Pardon Me” sounds like if Pavement were Jonathan Richman’s backing band. And ‘hello’ to Dylan Craver (formerly of G. Green).  Excellent bass, dude.

All these song were written by Elorduy and when I mentioned that on first listening that Boy’s Co. sounded timeless – decades of influences collide with each other seamlessly – he replied, “I’m so glad that you say that. That’s exactly what I wanted.”  That says it all better than I can. And does.

Fine Steps are onto something, uh, fine. 


Fine Steps – Let Him In (Practice Recording) from Julian Elorduy on Vimeo.


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