Returning to his bread and butter, the songs on Kestrels’ Dream or Don’t Dream are Chad Peck’s most personal yet and reflective of his renewed energy.
I’ve heard it said that you should never meet your heroes in real life. Apparently, no one ever said that to Chad Peck, singer/guitarist and principal member of Halifax-based band Kestrels. For Dream or Don’t Dream, the band’s fourth long-player and first since their 2016 self-titled album, Peck landed none other than guitar hero J. Mascis from Dinosaur Jr. to lend a heavy hand on “Grey and Blue”, the album’s blisteringly poppy first single. “It’s strange,” Peck sings, “I can feel the change / It’s all I want,” echoing in a sense the transformation Kestrels has undergone in the years between records.
When not making super-fuzzy shoegaze flavoured pop, Peck is a high school English teacher who recently completed a Master’s degree while scoring podcasts. Though all that’s kept him busy, the real reason for an extended hiatus was the dissolution of Peck’s previous backing band. Returning to his bread and butter, the songs on Dream or Don’t Dream are Peck’s most personal yet and reflective of his renewed energy. It’s not only evident in song titles like “Everything is New” and lyrics about the past not being done (“It’s a Secret”) but in the music’s precision and pristine sound.
Peck credits the work of mixer John Agnello and mastering engineer Greg Calbi (whose combined credits include working with David Bowie, Lou Reed, Sonic Youth, Alvvays, and Cyndi Lauper), but he doesn’t give his songwriting skills enough credit for how well Dream or Don’t Dream turned out; you can’t have heroic-sounding music without great songwriting at its core.