Philadelphia’s Steep Leans is one of those music projects that surprises you when you hear it, not because of anything bizarre in the content or tone or anything, but rather because the rather large, well-orchestrated sound, pretty much all comes from one human. Jeffrey Gray Somers writes and records all matter on the “four piece’s” debut record a couple of years ago, and continues to do so, on record, in anticipation of their forthcoming sophomore LP, to be released this summer via Ghost Ramp. However, in a live setting, and in the video for the track, “Colombia,” a full band indeed does exist, and very much for the benefit of the song’s effectiveness. Three chords come through in hazy yet powerful force, incorporating effected twang and tremolo that make the slowed-down, melody seem even more like molasses. It’s just three notes, but their intensity is where the instrumental variation lies. Full-fledged strumming ebbs into flighty picking, which ebbs to just bass, and then everything rushes back, all taking its time in a dreamy, surf-induced coma.
The video itself, created by Fitz Ross Productions, consists of the full band set up in a motel room, playing simply to no one in particular, but Gray/Somers’ lyrics clearly directed at someone. A snowy television blares in the background and the cigarette smoke from just outside the window seems to permeate the entire scene and coat everything in a foggy daze. It’s too cramped to be comfortable, but the explosion of sound frees up plenty of space. The chords change rather calmly in a bridge that serves also to close the song, offering a more pensive clarity as it leaves the whimsical repetition of the past.