Silver Lakes' debut album, The Great Pretenders, has a classic sound. Steven Satterfield's lyrics, sung in a yearning midrange voice, are simple and direct, striking at the human condition and our quest for personal improvement in the midst of diversity. His melancholy guitar pop evokes the clouded daydreams of '80s acts such as Crowded House, Michael Penn and John Wesley Harding – a sound that feels timeless by virtue of how emotionally immediate it still sounds.
"I was trying to recapture that feeling of listening to something that, at the time, was new and different and is now nostalgic for me," Satterfield says. Even the name Silver Lakes (which is not a reference to the trendy Los Angeles enclave) evokes a certain kind of wistful dreaminess. "I like the way the words fit together, and the imagery that you think of when you hear those words together," he says.
Satterfield is best known for his work with the '90s dream-pop group Seely. He began his Silver Lakes project five years ago and landed a few tracks on local label International Hits' Don't Doubt Rock compilations. Though Satterfield remains its focal point, he's nurtured Silver Lakes into a full-fledged band that also features guitarist Marc Tompkins, bassist Jim Prible, keyboardist Todd Lindell and drummer Eric Taylor. Satterfield released The Great Pretenders himself late last year. "We were ready to record, and we didn't have anyone to back us. So we said, 'Screw it, let's do it ourselves,'" he says.
As an unsigned act, Silver Lakes has slowly built momentum. "We've been lucky on certain levels," he explains, adding that several Silver Lakes tracks have been licensed to TV shows such as "Room Raiders" and "Degrassi: The Next Generation." The group also played a Paste magazine showcase during South by Southwest this year.
"We've had some label interest, but nothing that was the right fit," Satterfield says. "I'm willing to wait for the right thing – or just do it all myself, which is a lot harder. But I think it's important to work with the right people."
Silver Lakes performs w/ Wax Fang and Slushco at the Earl Fri., June 1. 9:30 p.m. 488 Flat Shoals Ave. 404-522-3950. www.badearl.com.