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Kestrels – A Ghost History
Indie rock has become a very broad term in the last decade or so, with it encompassing a wide gamut of ever-evolving sounds. In the 90’s it was Pavement, Guided By Voices, Sebadoh or their contemporaries. Then along came artists such as Death Cab For Cutie, who showed the more sensitive and delicate side of the genre. The last several years have seen more and more dance and electronic influences permeate the indie-rock spectrum and one thing’s for sure; the kids today probably aren’t listening to the same “indie” as their older brother or his friends.
When someone proclaims that there is a band that almost any fan of modern independent rock will enjoy, it’s an almost preposterous claim at this point. However, Kestrels from Halifax, Nova Scotia may come very close to being one of those bands that will please multiple palates without being a watered down retread.
The band’s influences are pretty obvious right out of the gate: There’s a lot of My Bloody Valentine and The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, but then you throw in some atmosphere from The Appleseed Cast, some blazing guitar work a la Dinosaur Jr. and some slight jangle-pop influences like Pep Squad and you have a great template to draw from.
While opening tracks “Drowning Girl,” “Dumb Angel” and “The Field Where I Died” are all enjoyable slabs of fuzzed out bliss, the album doesn’t truly give something to sink your teeth into until the slow-burning fourth track “Islands.” The sixth track “There All The Time Without You” is one of the album’s highlights with its searing and soaring guitar work in the latter half, along with the melody hovering over the stand-alone drum beats in the chorus with massive, ringing chords.
The punkier songs in the latter half help to keep it from bogging down towards the end, especially the rip-roaring “In The Silence.” The band is at its best when it allows its songwriting to be pushed to the forefront, as is evident on the somber and slow “Lose,” which may remind some listeners off the You’d Prefer An Astronaut album by 90’s alternative rockers Hum.
Despite some stellar songs throughout the album, the band can get a bit mired in production with some songs all sounding the same after a while. Lead singer Chad Peck has a pleasant voice, but the band opts to sometimes push it to the background for no real reason except for the aesthetic, which while understood, is not always to the listener’s advantage as much as it is the band’s.
While not breaking much new sonic territory in the indie rock world, Kestrels do an admirable job of borrowing from the past while still forging a sound that is current and relevant. Despite some minor production tweaks, it is a solid album overall and one that should satiate those Big Muff enthusiasts in the crowd without a doubt.
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Album Name: A Ghost History
Date Released: July, 2012
Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia (Canada)
Members: Chad Peck, Devin Peck, Chad Brown
Record Label: Sonic Unyon Records
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