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Canadian band Kestrels play a brand of guitar rock that mixes together strains of heavy shoegaze, soaring dream rock, and clean-cut power pop. Releasing records over a decade's time, the band built a solid CV of bright pop songs, grungy guitar solos, and the kind of music that any fan of Dinosaur Jr. or Ash could stand behind, especially 2020's Dream or Don't Dream. The band formed in 2008 and initially consisted of guitarist/vocalist Chad Peck and bassist/drummer Adam Hartling (both of the Medium Mood) along with drummer/bassist/vocalist Marcus Fiddes. This lineup recorded the band's debut 7" single "Seaside," which was released by Peck's label Noyes Records. In 2009, Kestrels contributed a cover of "I Am the Cancer" to Sloan tribute album Take It In, and the band released their debut full-length, Primary Colours. The 7" EP The Solipsist appeared at the end of 2010, at which point Peck was accompanied by bassist Kirstan Moore and drummer Paul Brown. In 2011, Peck began releasing material with his new project, We Need Secrets. Kestrels still remained active, and with the addition of bassist Devin Peck, second album A Ghost History appeared in 2012. The record was Kestrels' first to be co-released by Sonic Unyon, and it featured a guest appearance from Ash's Tim Wheeler. The 12" EP The Moon Is Shining Our Way appeared in 2014. Kestrels' self-titled third album was released in 2016, and featured guests Elliott Frazier and Alex Gehring of Ringo Deathstarr. The album was successful, getting worldwide airplay and garnering a nomination for rock album of the year from Music Nova Scotia, but behind the scenes the group crumbled, leaving Chad Peck as the lone member. He turned to finishing his master's degree and working on music for podcasts, but he eventually decided to keep the band going. Peck wrote a batch of songs while staying with Tim Wheeler, then turned to longtime Dinosaur Jr. producer John Angello to help him craft an album. They recorded at studios in Chicago, Massachusetts, and Halifax; at the last studio, drummer Michael Catano added his parts. Along the way, Dinosaur Jr.'s J Mascis graced the record with a guitar solo as well. The finished product was a streamlined slice of '90s-influenced guitar rock that downplayed the shoegaze influences of previous records. Dream or Don't Dream was issued by Darla Records in mid-2020.
© Paul Simpson & Tim Sendra /TiVo
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