I first met Jeremy Hilliard and Johnny Young from PEAK four years ago in New York City. I was working for a music publisher in midtown at the time and writing here and there for this blog as well as The Jamwich – who asked me to cover an album release show. My job was boring as all get out (how many times can I type the name of that song into the computer in 8 hours…) but this was the reason I wanted to work in the city in the first place – to experience live music as much as possible, even if it was not necessarily job related. Our corner of New Jersey is lovely, but live music venues are not exactly dotting the map there. Naturally, I was delighted. Of course I would cover this show for this Psychedelic Indie Funk band called PEAK and their record Electric Bouquet.
I got the opportunity to meet Jeremy, Johnny, and his wife Michelle that night and formulate a wonderful fanship/friendship that has followed PEAK over the last few years. Since that night, the band has added bassist Josh Carter, formerly of Haley Jane and the Primates, and Kito Bovenschulte, formerly and sometimes presently of Particle. The combination of these two gents and the already catchy and addictive songwriting that existed in PEAK has been nothing short of explosive. The live shows over the last several years have become a haven of joy for my husband and I and we have traveled all over just to have our own private dance parties with the crowd at a PEAK show. That profile picture of mine on the APM page on FB? That’s me dancing like a crazy thing at a PEAK show. We have come to know and love the songs they wrote as they played them live and were honestly chomping at the bit for this new album to drop. And drop it did, like a big, fat piñata of awesome.
The record, Choppy Water, is a deliciously danceable journey through thoughtful inner monologues, set to jamming and often rocking music. It was recorded deep within the pandemic at Horizon Sound Studios in Brooklyn and engineered by Johnny and Michelle Young. The finished product was mixed by Jason “Jocko” Randall (Turkuaz/Jimkata/Dopapod) at Moresound Studios in Syracuse, NY. It’s such a different album than the last record and brings forth so much flavor from the depths of what could have been a depletion of creativity, Instead, this masterpiece is here to bring us back the hope that comes from a packed dance floor, enormous smiles, and incredible players.
The band quite smartly kicks the doors open with their song When The Night Comes Calling You. It has a deep groove that is more than a foot tapping sensation. It’s a climbing, hip shaking, why-would-you-possibly-stand-still kind of groove. Kito’s stellar drumming is all over this track, dragging it around the floor with every shaking body in the crown. Layered through those beats is Josh’s bass lines which are deep and heavy and just add to that hip shake. Johnny has an expertly light touch to his keys sound in this song but it carried through the entire tune in a dance with Jeremy’s guitar work that creates a vocal all its own. Add that to the actual vocal which is catchy as hell and helps to build with everyone through to the top of the chorus. It’s a masterpiece, this song.
The immediate next track, Path Paved with Roses, has been a favorite of mine through many, many live shows. I was so excited to hear it as a studio track and PEAK didn’t disappoint me in the least. A fun, foot-tapping vibe through from start to finish colored with Johnny’s throwback key sound and singable vocals by he and Jeremy create another really fun experience for your ears. This song makes you want to dance. I have literally hurt myself dancing to this song! The guitar solo three quarters through, playing over the stomping drums and steady bass takes the song to the end, and then I get sad that it’s over.
The title track, Choppy Water, has become my favorite driving song. It has a vibe somewhere between the bass groove and fills that just kill, steady, precise drumming, and those lovely vocals that kind takes the mind off somewhere else. It’s a mellower feel after the first two tracks, but it’s welcome, dreamy, and comforting especially carried by the keys and in its layout and overall feel. Your foot is still tapping though. PEAK puts together a really great song every time they sit down to do it and if you think you like it in the studio, just wait until you hear them live. The fourth track, It Ain’t Over til the Credits Roll, is a fantastic uptick in temo, spirit, and overall feel. Johnny takes lead vocals here, absolutely destroys on keys, and there is a killer guitar solo by Jeremy as well. Another great mention is the last track, Day the World Was Born. It has a great Americana feel and different kind of vibe from much of the rest of the album, but that versatility as players and writers is what separates the guys in PEAK from other musicians in this scene.
Every member of this band is a powerhouse of ability in their own right. They are sincerely four of the most talented players I have ever had the opportunity to see play live and that is not me blowing smoke at anyone. I genuinely think they are some of the most purely talented people out there now, in addition to being some of the hardest working. They are also a collection of wonderful human beings, truly appreciative of a crowd having a great time. I have seen PEAK everywhere from a tiny bar in Sparta, NJ to the hugeness of Brooklyn Bowl to freezing and pouring down rain in a field at Yasgurs Farm. No matter where it is, they are giving spectators a fantastic show full of energy, sincerity, insane ability, and a metric shit ton of fun.
Don’t take my word for it – come out Friday October 22 to the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn and see for yourself when the band has their official album release show for Choppy Water. They will be supported by friends in Waiting on Mongo from Asbury Park and Trailheads all the way from Pittsburgh. PEAK should hit the stage by 9pm. You can head over to bit.ly/peakkfbk to get your tickets ($15) and I cannot recommend highly enough that you do. It’s a fantastic live show that is not to be missed. I’ll be there, and surprise! It’s my birthday! Come out and hang out and shake what you were given with some great people and amazing music. In the meantime, PEAK’s album Choppy Water is streaming everywhere and you should be devouring it! You can also buy CD’s at the show and a limited amount of posters NYC-based Artist Conor Brewster, seen below.
Check out the FB invite for more info:
See you there!