Hank Close, aka Hank!, introduces his new album, Guilty Pleasures (Are the Best Ones).
Hank explains, “The singles are more or less about relationships,” Hank explains. “Even though the lyrics focus on specific situations, they can reference any number of events I’ve experienced throughout my life. That’s part of the beauty of songwriting as far as I’m concerned. You can write a song describing one particular set of circumstances, but oftentimes they find connections to similar emotions and events that transpire later on. Eventually, over time, the songs find a common thread.”
He goes on to add, “I write about emotions and sensation. My songs often refer to the coping strategies that I use to deal with certain anxieties. Of course, none of this strikes me as particularly unique, but I do think I’m able to bring a distinct perspective to each situation.”
Hank grew up in the Hudson Valley of New York, and later, Massachusetts and then North Carolina. Initially, he immersed himself in ‘90s punk, followed by developing a taste for country music and then the alternative music of The Killers, the Strokes, and the White Stripes. Attending college in South Carolina, he studied jazz, played classical guitar, and took a degree in history.
From 2013 to 2016, he played with prog-rock outfit Absent Boundaries, as well as the folk-rock duo Hank & Brendan, from 2015 to 2020. He also traveled, writing two songs on the album while in Greece and Spain.
Encompassing 11-tracks, highlights on Guilty Pleasures (Are the Best Ones) include “Twitch,” featuring dirty, fuzzed-out guitars riding a loose, potent rhythm. Vague hints of country-rock blend with alt-rock to form a raw tune, surprisingly alluring.
A personal favorite, “Lady St.” blends heady jangly guitars with shoegaze and alt-rock savors reminiscent of The Killers. Hank’s voice imbues the lyrics with tasty timbres, giving the tune retro aromas. “Alchemy” opens on dark guitars oozing bluesy aromas, recalling Eric Burdon and the Animals, only grimier and more visceral.
“Stupid Teens” rolls out on retro flavors of ‘60s rock merged with modern elements. Talking about the track, a breakup song, Hank says, “I’d say it’s more about me than anyone else. It’s a song about the mistakes we make early on and what it takes to move forward.”
The last track, “Mood Swings,” conjures up memories of the Killers because of its flow and Hank’s inflections. Jangly guitars inject the tune with tints of dream-pop melded with alt-rock.
“I make music to help me move on,” Hank shares. “I’ve heard others say the same thing. This particular album refers mostly to the last four or five years of my life and speaks from a very personal point of view. However, it also shares some thoughts about the state of the world today in a somewhat abstract way. I’ve found more inspiration from the perceived terror I experienced in some decidedly more mundane situations than I ever did from major events.”