Kestrels Share New Single “Vanishing Point“
New Album Dream or Don’t Dream Out On July 10th via
Today, Kestrels are sharing their second single from their upcoming album Dream or Don’t Dream, out on Darla Records on July 10th. The explosive and captivating opening track to Kestrels’ supercharged fourth album, “Vanishing Point” follows the J Mascis collaboration “Grey and Blue“, which was named one of Guitar World‘s “essential guitar tracks“.
WATCH: Kestrels’ feline-filled “Vanishing Point” video on YouTube
Guitarist and vocalist Chad Peck explained, “I liked the idea of the record opening with the band kicking in with this intense and hypnotic riff as opposed to a synth overture or a bunch of sound effects. This is a song where John Agnello took out some of the layered rhythm guitars to open the song up, and as a result it really jumps out of the speakers. He also ran the vocals through a Leslie which is a cool effect. Lyrically, it’s about recognizing a relationship is ending and the unease that comes with the undeniable, inevitable feeling of collapse, and recognizing distortions in your thinking. It careens between “wanting to hide” and “I don’t want to lie”, reflecting the oscillating feelings involved in letting go. The title comes from the David Markson book of the same name, one of the best I’ve read in the past few years.”
Living out a guitar freak’s wildest fantasies and featuring spellbinding mixing from John Agnello (Sonic Youth, Alvvays, Kurt Vile, Cyndi Lauper) and mastering engineer Greg Calbi (David Bowie, Lou Reed, Television, Blondie), Dream or Don’t Dream is a towering devotional to tone with blazing riffs, powerhouse drums, and swooning hooks emerging from an enveloping haze.
Since 2008, Kestrels has been the primary project of singer/guitarist Chad Peck, who spends his time offstage as a high school English teacher. For this album he is joined by livewire drummer Michael Catano, the driving force between Maritime math-rock bands North of America, The Plan, and The Holy Shroud, whose credits also include an early stint with Len. Peck’s lulling vocals flash back to influences from My Bloody Valentine, Swervedriver, or Built to Spill, while Norma MacDonald’s spectral harmonies conjure the sound of a Cocteau Twins/Beach Boys fantasy jam.
Peck began writing Dream or Don’t Dream while staying on the couch of his friend, Ash frontman Tim Wheeler. From here, the album’s instrumental scaffolding was laid down throughout a series of studio sessions at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio in Chicago, Sonelab in Massachusetts, and Sonic Temple in Halifax. He connected with his guitar hero J Mascis after Kestrels played at a bike shop with Dinosaur Jr. The white-haired wizard of riffs recorded seven different takes for album standout “Grey and Blue”, leaving Peck in the surreal position of compiling a Mascis guitar solo.
The guitarist’s bond with Agnello came even more naturally. These fellow gear heads ran wild, drenching Kestrels’ recordings in phasers, flangers, spring reverb, and the pitch-shifting sounds of a Rainbow Machine. “It’s A Secret” bounces between passages of yearning indie-rock and ambient drift, while “A Way Out” slips downstream from shoegaze into shredding Crazy Horse leads. “Everything Is New” tweaks an octave fuzz effect into disintegrating tones, before the afterburners are truly unleashed on the six-string pyrotechnics of “Feels Like The End.” While utilizing sonic experiments to push these songs into alien territory, one of Peck’s ultimate goals for the album was to keep it sounding “human”, “honest” or in Agnello’s words, “vibey.”
“I heard some of Kestrels’ influences early on, and they were bands that I really loved too,” says Agnello. “The obvious one was Dinosaur Jr, who I’ve been working with since 1993, so I tried to apply some of the mixing techniques I use on J’s guitar sound. I use a lot of analog pedals and tape delays on all the instruments to give them more warmth and depth than you get with some plug-ins. The idea was to have the guitars jumping out of the speakers without being harsh.”
Dream or Don’t Dream traces a transition in Peck’s life from a low period to one of excitement. Kestrels’ previous 2016 self-titled album was by all means a success, earning critical acclaim from The Fader, Noise, and BrooklynVegan, charting airplay from CBC Radio 3, KEXP, and the BBC, plus nominations for the ECMA and Music Nova Scotia rock album of the year. However, behind the scenes, Peck’s longtime backing band dissolved, leading to a creative hiatus.
Focusing on the completion of his Masters degree while scoring podcasts inspired him to turn introspective. Returning to what he does best, Peck began writing lyrics about taking charge of his life, who he wants to be, and facing the reality of those choices and directions. For anyone paying close attention, he also slips in sly references to novelist David Markson, Virginia Woolf, and the time-traveling finale of Twin Peaks: The Return. Rendering this reflective song-suite with world-class collaborators, Kestrels have returned with a recharged conviction.
“Making records is a fundamental part of my life, so I knew I was going to keep going,” Peck concludes. “I’ve learned a lot about writing and recording so I was confident I could make something great. I sort of relished the challenge of being on my own in a lot of ways because I know how I want things to sound. It did make for some long nights in the studio, but felt like a good and important hurdle to cross. I’m ready for the next one.”
Dream Or Don’t Dream is out on July 10th on Darla Records. It is available for pre-order here.
1. Vanishing Point
2. Grey and Blue (feat. J Mascis)
3. It’s a Secret
4. Don’t Dream
5. A Way Out
6. Everything is New
8. Keep it Close
9. Feels Like the End
10. Say Less