Copper Sails have come a long way over the past decade. Their 1998 self-titled debut was amateurish and lacked focus, but it showed a certain measure of promise; amidst the album’s jumble of roots rock, post-grunge, and folk lay the groundwork for a cohesive musical unit, but only if you listened closely. By the time of their fourth release, 2004’s Silhouette, they had matured considerably as musicians and songwriters, settling into a comfortable, earnest mainstream rock sound that won them a smattering of notice. Silhouette was not without its bumps and occasional lyrical hiccups, but it was proof positive that the group deserved more than mere bar-band status.
Silhouette’s follow-up, Hiding Places, follows more or less in its footsteps, but adds to the mix a more expansive sound that marries the melancholy piano rock of The Fray with the hazy atmospherics of British groups like Doves and Snow Patrol. The group has made still more strides in fashioning coherent song structures, and lead singer Boomer Muth’s vocals have improved dramatically since their debut. Among the standouts is the title track, which could easily hold its own on Top 40 radio alongside “Chasing Cars” and “How to Save a Life”, if anyone shelled out enough payola to get them the airplay. They’ve still yet to iron out all the kinks, and, to be sure, there are better bands doing more or less the same thing that still languish in obscurity (e.g. Northern Room, New Invisible Joy, Polydream), but Hiding Places is their best yet, and a worthy investment on a band that, sadly, will probably never broker a decent record deal.
// Notes from the Road
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