Peek-A-Boo Records

PEEL

What struck me most upon first hearing Peel was an innate, unpretentious wisdom beyond the band's years. I happened upon Peel in a crappy downtown Austin bar one Fall night in 2005. The singer, visibly uncomfortable being the focus of attention, appeared happiest making noise into his amp while the other guitarist blistered out an effortless lead. The bassist nervously covered her face with her hair and stared at her flip-flops. The exuberant keyboard player joked between songs to fill the silence when her bandmates didn't have their shit together, and the drummer anxiously yelled out the next song. This was a young band. But when they played...

"If I had my way, I'd demolish every building of rock polished to shine so bright, like headlights in the day time." This semi-nihilistic line opens Peel's debut album and leads into a concise, two-minute pop song that climaxes and ends almost as soon as it begins. The opener "Oxford" is not a mission statement but simply a starting point for intellectual exploration and is quickly replaced by the meandering introspection of "Bells" ("24, 36, I'm getting old / I'm falling down like snow") and the fist-pumping rejection of pastoral pining, "In the City" ("So long to those dusty roads and windy sheets in the summer").

Peel's music is bursting with the kind of loose energy only young bands exude, yet the songs belie a cerebral approach to songwriting and lyrical maturity that usually takes a band years to discover. These songs are immediate and timeless, nostalgic yet hopeful, teeming with sunny regret. And they f'n rock.

The boozey frustration of "Sliding Doors" gives way to a hopeful resolution that could be everyman's Monday morning mantra, "I'm going start living the right way / and setting my mind on someday," while "Workers, Wake Up!" reinforces this self-affirmation with the double-meaning of "This blue collar won't fall easily," chanted over a pulsating Krautrock fanfare. "1949" is a thinly-veiled nod to Pynchon over a bouncy Rhodes melody, and "Moxy Blues" is a noisy pop jam that brings to mind the best Eno & Ferry collaborations.

Peel's origins are by the books, beginning as a three-piece in late 2004. Josh Permenter, a lefty who plays right-handed guitar, had a written bunch of quirky pop songs with book-smart lyrics and whimsical melodies. Allison Moore, a classically trained pianist, added vocal harmonies and keyboard flourishes. Raised in Texas honky tonks since the day he was born, Dakota was weaned on country music from an early age and lends Peel a rootsy twang. Early audiences were limited to friends and the occasional cop.

The sum of these parts is a group in pursuit of the perfect three-minute pop song yet handicapped by their own youthful enthusiasm, hot-tempered bickering and ADD. Like a bad child, Peel can't write a beautiful song without also giving in to the irresistable compulsion to destroy it with unhinged noise. It's that tension that makes this record so interesting and compelling. It grabs you upon first listen and never lets go, long after the surges and swells of "Navy Waves" have subsided and the final echoes drift listlessly toward the horizon.

Reviews
 
»  Peel in Austin Sound (05/16/2008)
 
»  "Peel" in The Red Alert (09/04/2007)
 
»  Peel in Punkcast (live video) (08/10/2007)
 
»  "Peel" in NPR's All Songs Considered (07/26/2007)
 
»  "Peel" in Urb (07/23/2007)
 
»  "Peel" in The Oklahoman (07/06/2007)
 
»  "Peel" in The Black & White (06/29/2007)
 
»  "Peel" in The Washington Post (06/19/2007)
 
»  Peel in Gothamist (06/14/2007)
 
»  Peel in The Shreveport Times (06/08/2007)
 
»  "Peel" in The Dallas Observer (06/08/2007)
 
»  "Peel" in Pop Matters (05/17/2007)
 
»  "Peel" in Pop Matters (Short Takes) (05/15/2007)
 
»  "Peel" in KEXP 90.3 FM (Song of the Day) (05/15/2007)
 
»  "Peel" in The Onion (05/11/2007)
 
»  "Peel" in Urban Pollution (04/27/2007)
 
»  "Peel" in I Rock Cleveland (04/25/2007)
 
»  "Peel" in All Music Guide (04/19/2007)
 
»  Peel in Sonic Itch (04/18/2007)
 
»  "Peel" in Lost At Sea (04/12/2007)
 
»  "Peel" in Austin Sound (04/11/2007)
 
»  "Peel" in Side One Track One (04/04/2007)
 
»  "Peel" in Louisville Eccentric Observer (03/30/2007)
 
»  "Peel" in Power of Pop (03/29/2007)
 
»  "Peel" in KEXP 90.3 FM (03/23/2007)
 
»  "Peel" in 17 Dots (03/20/2007)
 
»  "Peel" in ItsTooLong (DE) (03/14/2007)
 
»  "Peel" in Jive Magazine (03/13/2007)
 
»  "Peel" in 101X FM Austin Homegrown Heroes (03/13/2007)
 
»  "Peel" in The Austin Chronicle (03/08/2007)
 
»  "Peel" in Austin Sound (02/20/2007)
 
»  Peel in Austin Sound (02/20/2007)
 
»  "Peel" in Gorilla vs. Bear (02/19/2007)
 
»  "Peel" in Santa Barbara Independent (02/16/2007)
 
»  "Peel" in Idolator (02/08/2007)
 
»  "Peel" in Austinist (02/08/2007)
 
»  Peel in Austinist (02/06/2007)
 
»  "Peel" in The Eagle (01/22/2007)
 
»  Peel in KUT's Before the Break (audio) (11/09/2006)
 
»  Peel in The Austin Independent (09/08/2006)
 
»  Peel in Urban Pollution (05/30/2006)
 
»  Peel in Austinist (04/13/2006)
 
»  Peel in Evil Sponge (03/18/2006)
 
»  Peel in Austinist (03/10/2005)

Peel
(L-R) Allison Moore, Dakota Smith, Josh Permenter, Anthony Castañeda

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Peel CD
"Peel" CD

(Peek-A-Boo Records, 2007)

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