Peel Dream Magazine

Published on March 3rd, 2022

Peel Dream_Magazine by Andrew Schilling

A benefit of LPs and the like making comebacks is the commitment to presentation — creating a visual anchor to the music that can make the whole listening experience feel heightened. Pour a scotch, crack open the gatefold, and you’re bound to learn something. Which leads us to Peel Dream Magazine. Launched in Brooklyn in 2018 by Los Angeles transplant Joe Stevens, Peel Dream Magazine pays homage in name to the late John Peel, LP-era British DJ and champion of youth culture. The music is primarily a product of Stevens’ very wide-ranging tastes — so much so that it’s not out of bounds to ask how deep, really, does his musical knowledge run beyond hip citations.

Pretty deep, it turns out, based on two full-lengths and a solid EP. These ornate, lush pop concoctions satisfy saccharine needs and, at the same time, amplify the underlying rock ’n’ roll darkness propelling the music. Picture the outward bliss of ’60s psych and the lo-fi rumblings of ’80s punk rendered with an exaltation of smoky, small-venue glory.

Stevens’ most recent Peel effort, the EP “Moral Panics,” landed almost on top of the sophomore LP “Agitprop Alterna,“ both early 2020 releases. Here’s hoping for more, because Stevens is starting to build an enviable catalog. With Peel Dream Magazine’s critically acclaimed 2018 debut, “Modern Meta Physic,” he elevated bedroom tinkering through savvy studio manipulation to create an instantly recognizable sound.

One might think “shoegaze” on first hearing, and one wouldn’t be wrong. The antecedents like My Bloody Valentine are there. But one wouldn’t be right, either. Bands like Mission of Burma that are less attached to immersive audio also register as influences. The groovy, electronic avant-pop of Stereolab can also be heard.

Peel Dream Magazine records demand multiple, consecutive spins and possibly a notepad next to the aforementioned cocktail so you can follow Stevens to the bottom of the well. And even if you’re not sitting with an illustrated sleeve or printed liner notes, it might feel like you are.

Peel Dream Magazine with Soccer Mommy perform 8pm Wednesday, March 16 at Gramps in Miami, $23-$25.  ~ Abel Folgar