It’s possible that a new term needs to be invented for Kestrels and their compatriots. “Surfgaze” seems appropriate, especially in light of the Halifax, Nova Scotia group’s third album. The self-titled work released last week on September 30 on Sonic Unyon Records, and is largely a cross-section of shoegaze and surf punk.
For the uninitiated Kestrels listener, this combo should be quick enough to recognize with the album’s opener, “No Alternative”. In this uber-moody opening track, Paul Brown’s drums bring the rolling surf style right away. Chad Peck’s guitars, however, weave in and out of this beat with atmospheric shoegazey tones. At times the guitar contrasts the drums, and at others it meets up with them and Peck’s vocals to create a super-surfy, super-shoegazey harmony.
This surf-shoegaze combo is a theme which continues throughout the album in different measures, picking up other influences and styles along the way. “Descent of Their Last End”, for example, highlights the group’s Silversun Pickups-esque vocal and composition style while also making a generous nod to feedback-driven noise punk like Sonic Youth. “Lying Down”, on the other hand, has a definite My Bloody Valentine-and-other-early-shoegaze twinge. “Suspect” also has this early shoegaze vein, but with a more obviously punk bent.
The upshot here is that a lot can go on in a Kestrels album, but it always centers around the core of shoegaze, punk and a bit of surf punk. Brown’s drums seem to be the driver of where each track will go, but each time the Peck brothers maneuver around the drums to create a sound which has become Kestrels’s signature. It seems that with this third album, the band have really settled into this sound and can now focus on their powerful mix of emotive yet fun “surfgaze”.
Descent of Their Last End
Are You Alone?
Written by Layla Marino
Blog: (Dropping) Weird Science