Best of 2016: Chad Peck of Kestrels

Halifax noise-pop power trio Kestrels returned with their new self-titled LP on September 30, 2016 on Hamilton, Ontario’s fabled Sonic Unyon label. Regrouping following a devastating van and gear theft that saw the band lose key boutique, modded, and vintage equipment, the record sees the band with a renewed focus on combining a frenzied union of striking melody and sonic bliss.
Two years in the making, the full length was teased with 2014’s The Moon is Shining Our Way EP, a collection of four songs from the album sessions. Having toured the EP internationally and shared stages with the likes of Speedy Ortiz, Ringo Deathstarr, Beliefs, Greys, and Ash, the EP’s title track was mainstay on college radio and CBC Radio 3, laying the groundwork for their defining third record.
Recording the rhythm tracks in downtown Toronto’s Dream House Studio by Alex Bonenfant (METZ, Crystal Castles), with vocal sessions and guitar tracking taking place in vocalist/guitarist Chad Peck’s gear sanctuary/home studio in rural Nova Scotia, the band tapped lauded producer Brad Wood (Smashing Pumpkins, Sunny Day Real Estate) to mix the record in his LA based Seagrass Studio in the spring of 2015. Ringo Deathstarr’s Elliott Frazier and Alex Gehring also make cameo guitar and vocal appearances, solidifying a friendship that began with a Canadian tour in 2012.
The end result is by far their most accomplished recording to date. Drummer Paul Brown provides rhythm dynamics that can turn from tightly wound to borderline unhinged on a dime, Devin Peck covers unprecedented sonic ground with his bass, and Peck provides soft focus vocals backed by alternately tuned Fender Jazzmasters pushed through all manner of obscure Japanese fuzz pedals and coveted ’80s rackmount processors.
The sum total is a nod to the past, a response to the present, and a warm invitation into tomorrow.
Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Chad Peck to discuss some records that brought him bliss in 2016. This is what he told us.
Weezer – The White Album – I have long been a Weezer apologist. This has put me in some tough situations based on some of Rivers Cuomo’s artistic directions. The White Album, though, is remarkably solid from beginning to end. I listened to “LA Girlz” about 10000 times this year.
Kindling – Everywhere Else – I met Stephen from Kindling on the internet in 2014. We stayed in touch and then this year they finally released this amazing LP. Amazing band, amazing people, amazing songs. We were lucky enough to play some shows with them and there are plans for more in 2017.
Dinosaur Jr. – Give a Glimpse of What You’re Not – Yet another solid Dinosaur record. I like the slower songs on this record. We played with them in a bike shop in Amherst this summer and they played most of the record for the first time. Very surreal.
Mass Gothic – Mass Gothic – I can’t remember how I found out about this record. It’s got such a great vibe from start to finish. I love “Nice Night” the most.
Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Denial – I was a little nervous after hearing “Vincent,” but this record is amazing. “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales” kills me every time. My favorite song of the year.
Beach Boys – Pet Sounds reissue – There’s nothing really new here relative to the other anniversary reissues of Pet Sounds, but this record was and is in my brain incessantly. I saw Brian Wilson perform it three times this year.
Cornelius – Fantasma reissue – I missed this on its initial release but I am thankful that Lefse reissued it. It’s such a beautiful mix of sounds and approaches to recording music. Very good.
American Football – LP2 – I love Mike Kinsella’s solo work as Owen and I admit that I assumed this reunion record would be underwhelming. I was wrong. Excellent production and lyrics that speak to 30 somethings.
Hayden – Everything I Long For reissue – Hayden was one of the first big acts on Sonic Unyon, our record label. I had the original release back in 1995 but it was great to see this get the reissue treatment. This songs are crushingly sad which soundtracked 2016 nicely.
Tony Molina – Confront the Truth – Tony Molina is God. Enough said.
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