Earlier this year, I was in a lull with material to write about and I put a call out for new and exciting stuff to not only write about, but just digest and bring me out of a funk. Our friend Cat hit me up with some gems that I put into my rotation to ponder and delve into deeper. One of those recommendations was a new track from Brooklyn based band PEAK called Imaginary Lines. It was good. It was really good and something fresh but it was the only track that had yet been released so I just devoured it for a while. It was on my Spotify playlists that I used when driving myself and clients. It was in my ears when I started commuting to the city over the summer on those long ass bus rides. It became part of my background soundtrack for months. This last week, I found myself on assignment from The Jamwich to do a review of PEAK’s show at Arlene’s Grocery and all of a sudden I was reminded there is a whole album I need to devour and review from this band who did this song I have been in love with for months! So here I am.
This is PEAK’s new album Electric Bouquet.
PEAK’s founder, Jeremy Hilliard, was in a band called Turbine. They had four releases over about a decade and played a ton of great shows with great bands. Now has created a whole new era of awesome with PEAK. When I went to see them last week, I got the opportunity to sit down with Jeremy at a nearby pizza spot and pick his brain a bit before they took the stage at Lower East Side institution, Arlene’s Grocery. I was immediately impressed by how chill of a dude he is. A humble but energetic and kind presence, he has a genuine appreciation for the music and the scene.
We chatted a bit about the scene and I was impressed that he actually had read my Jam Scene piece and knew my views on it (after 8 years, I'm still surprised anyone reads anything I write). I find it interesting to discuss with a band where they see their sound within the scene. Jeremy calmly explained that PEAK is still finding their sound, as is evidenced by their very multifaceted new album. It goes from smooth trippy jams like Ride Through the Night to smooth 70’s AM infused grooves like Idyllwild Flower before heading over to upbeat and funky tunes like Funk and Tonic. They have a little bit of everything on this record, and I love that. They are not a band you can put in a box. They are not a band you can slap a jam scene label on and call it a day. Yes, they do reside within the scene and they have some sick jams, but their sound remains nameless and free. I like that.
Arlene's Grocery - November 2, 2018
As a live band, PEAK is stellar. Their sound is perfectly clean on stage. It’s not often that you can go see a band who you only know from their recorded material and actually have it sound as good as their recorded material, but that is PEAK. There was not a lot of fuss. While there were jams, the show was fluid and didn’t stop or lose energy. I had a laugh that they did have a moment to mention their new and especially soft new shirts (which I did not grab on my way out as I bolted to catch my train and bus) and thank the audience and support acts. Other than that though, there was a constant stream of well executed live music on that stage that had the same energy and genuine feel as their album. I was very impressed and I think PEAK just found a devout new fan in this writer. They even dropped in a Mac DeMarco cover and also included new songs in the set. After that, I was really excited to get a review out for this album because if you have not heard it yet, you need to.
So let’s get down to it, shall we?
There is a lot of love about this album. We can start with Imaginary Lines because this song was my crack all summer. I love the keys. The bass line is steady groove that doesn’t let up. The vocals are catchy as hell. The drums are perfectly placed to keep that upbeat but still light pace. I love this song and While yes, Imaginary Lines is the first song to pull me in, there is so much going on that its impossible to even pick a favorite track on this album. I know because I tried. On the Grind is a great straight rock track that anyone would dig. It’s got a great chugging groove with guitar and vocal that pair really well together and work steady with the bass, key, and drums. It’s a completely different sound that the song prior to it and you could probably pass it off as another band. I love that about this record. You cannot get bored of the sound. It’s impossible. The sound itself is fluid.
Barometric Pressure (Here Comes The Rain) actually kicks off the record with it’s cool vocal effects, spacey synth sounds and really funky bass. The thing I like about this song the most are the vocals. They are sing-along-able (is that a thing? It is now) and cool, and lace through those funky bass grooves so that they still stand out prominent. I like those use of layers in PEAK’s sound on this album. Moving on to Win Some, Lose Some and there is that completely different sound again! While there is still that funky groove, this song is in another, different direction. It has a bluesy feel interwoven with a really tight guitar solo, steady keys, and really smoky backup vocals to balance it all out.
Feel Like Moving is pure dance energy with funk flavor and a decades old formula of synth and guitar to get the body moving, and it works perfectly. Listen to this song and see if your feet stay still because mine don’t - this song is fun as hell! It takes an occasional slow groove break before it picks back up and even though it’s ten thirty in the morning right now, I want a cocktail and a dance floor. This one might actually be my favorite. Falling Backwards Through Time is a slower, sweeter track. I love the pace change with this song and the 90’s alt-rock flavor. It reminds me of something between The Church and Mazzy Star. I’m a total nerd for music of that era so I pick it out of everything. Jeremy Hilliard also let me in on Falling Backwards Through Time also being set to become the band’s first music video very soon, so keep your eyeballs peeled for that.
|Jeremy Hilliard, Arlene's Grocery - November 2, 2018|
All in all, you have a bit of anything and everything on Electric Bouquet, and that is fantastic and incredibly refreshing. PEAK is not a band you are going to be able to pin down with a bunch of descriptives about sound and genre. It’s an ever-changing mastery of ideas that keep you interested from song to song. Nothing drones, nothing gets sleepy or too far into trippy territory for the sake of being in trippy territory. This is a very stimulated and creatively wide open record and I love it from start to finish. To see that PEAK gives as good of a performance of this ability live as they do in a studio is just all the more respect from me to them. It’s really easy for a band to fall into a dull and lifeless rut and I think some do it and don’t even realize it. That sound gets tired. I love the fact that PEAK never gets tired. It keeps you on your toes waiting to hear what the next song will sound like.
These guys have some shows coming up in the Northeast this month and and you can keep tabs on that tour page HERE. They have shows coming up in Philadelphia, Manchester, CT and New Paltz, NY. I suggest highly that you get yourself out to see PEAK and shake what you're working with because it's a fantastic live show. I see a lot happening for PEAK in 2019. Honestly if the festival scene is not peppered with their name come spring time, I will be really disappointed in every promoter out there...but I know better. You can expect to see a lot more of PEAK.
Get yourself a copy of Electric Bouquet, and I'll see you on the floor!