Kestrels – Kestrels
Halifax, Nova Scotia-located, noise-rock/pop trio Kestrels has released a string of singles, EPs, and albums since its inception in 2009, landing on the Hamilton, Ontario-based Sonic Unyon record label for its 2nd LP, A Ghost History, in 2012 and The Moon Is Shining Our Way EP in 2014. Kestrels is readying to take flight on September 30th with its 3rd studio album, simply titled Kestrels, also to be released on Sonic Unyon.
Chad Peck (guitar, vocals), Devin Peck (bass), and Paul Brown (drums, percussion) recorded their forthcoming album at Toronto’s Dream House Studio with Alex Bonenfant (METZ, Crystal Castles) and at Chad Peck’s home studio in rural Nova Scotia. Producer Brad Wood (Smashing Pumpkins, Sunny Day Real Estate) mixed the record at his Seagrass Studio in LA. Elliott Frazier and Alex Gehring of Ringo Deathstarr contribute guitar and vocal cameos, respectively, to the album.
From mid-August through mid-September Kestrels was on a North American tour that hit venues in Massachusetts, New York, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and the band’s hometown of Nova Scotia.
Kestrels is an exhilarating to abrasive blast of melodic noise-rock from start to end, roughly luxuriating in sonic propulsion and expansiveness and taking its cues from the dream-rock, psych-rock, and shoegaze styles.
Chad Peck’s sweet vocal melodies nestle in the crannies of the otherwise rocky terrain of warped guitar distortion, bass line churn, and pounding drum beats on lead single “No Alternative”. The album-opening tune harks back to the early-to-mid-‘90s glory days of oceanic and careening shoegaze-tagged bands like My Bloody Valentine and Swervedriver and is a fitting introduction for the rest of the record.
“Descent of Their Last End” adds an upbeat power pop tempo and electronic, quasi-robotic vocal cycle to the distorted guitars, lurking bass line, and pummeled drums mix before shooting to the sky with Chad Peck’s lightly arcing vocals and thickly fuzzed-up guitar loops. Next number “Are You Alone?” burns with a My Bloody Valentine-like scintillation while androgynous vocal fragments from Chad Peck and guest vocalist Alex Gehring of Ringo Deathstarr float at its surface. Circles of driving, grainy guitar lines pierce the ears as the bass line insistently tugs and the drums keep a steady, but lively beat.
“Lying Down” crests and ebbs with vivid washes of sharp reverb guitar distortion, deep bass groove, wending synths sounds, and a restless drum beat. Towards its end, the tune kicks into a higher gear, pressing with aggressive guitar overdrive and buoyed by airily sighing vocals. Virtuoso metal guitar lines streak through the peppily-paced “Suspect”. Quick drum hits move the song along as different guitar riffs weave in and out of each other’s lanes.
The shadowy and smoldering “Neko” commences with a tribal, smacked drum beat, guitar afterburn, and hushed dual vocals from Chad Peck and Gehring, but eventually builds up into a bonfire of guitar conflagration (with additional guitar spark courtesy of Ringo Deathstarr’s Elliott Frazier), tapped cymbals, and Chad Peck murmuring the words, “Run with me.” amid the turmoil.
The noise-rock swoon flows continually through “Ace” as the distorted guitar riffs spiral out against the running bass line and cantering drum pace. Chad Peck’s submerged vocal phrases gush in a softly illuminated diffusion while the zig-zagging guitar lines unreel around him.
Album-ender “Temples” grinds away with incendiary guitar lines and a steadily pressing drum beat as Chad Peck, examining the “emptiness inside”, exclaims more clearly on the chorus, “Lie awake at night / It’s too late.” His bleak realizations are surrounded by a windswept sonic landscape of scouring and stormy guitar whirls, engulfing bass line, and emphatic drum strikes.