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‘Mellow, Innovative and Complex’ Peel Dream Magazine Channels Vintage Sounds

The debut from Joe Stevens’ project is both vintage and modern.



Peel Dream Magazine

Modern Meta Physic 


Peel Dream Magazine’s debut album “Modern Meta Physic” is the creation by New York musician Joe Stevens. The 13-track album, fused with elements of pop and experimental rock, is a psychedelic blend of vintage, ambient sounds. It’s mellow, innovative and complex. And it takes listeners back to the era of The Velvet Underground, while simultaneously paying homage to radio icon and underground expert, John Peel of BBC 1 Radio

The album, created entirely by Stevens, was recorded before the formation of his band. Stevens says, “I recorded ‘Modern Meta Physic’ before I even had a band, let alone was playing shows.” The album opens with the single “Qi Velocity”— a soft rock track blended with elements of French pop.  “Shenandoah” follows, it’s a warm, acoustic guitar track fused with Stevens’ soft vocals. Distorted audio is the highlight of the hazy “Art Today.” It’s relaxed and classic with a sound reminiscent of The Who during the Woodstock era.

“Modern Meta Physic” is not just a tribute to Peel, it’s also a tribute to English indie rock. In an interview, Stevens said, “I’ve always loved straight-ahead pop music like The Beatles and The Beach Boys. I listen to a lot of UK stuff, post-punk, dream pop, shoegaze, twee, indie pop etc. When I was writing ‘Modern Meta Physic,’ I was in a very earthy phase.”

The album’s fourth track, “Wood Paneling,” is a song that takes listeners into the living rooms of American households with sounds of vintage television programming floating through the track. The song then fades into the up-tempo “Anorak.” “Living Room” is more on the mellow side, while the organ-infused “Levitating Between Two Chords” could be described as the album’s interlude.

The groove of “Deetjen’s” is classic rock in its purest form — a guitar backed by a steady drum beat, while the tranquil guitar of “Fires,” floats hazily. “Due to Advances in Modern Tourism” is slightly up-tempo, while the highlight of the “Interiors” is a classic electric guitar riff.

On “Upper Body Calaesthetics,” listeners are introduced to a meditative fusion of percussion. The album’s final track, “Don’t Pick Up Slackers,” includes a narrative of the upstate New York lifestyle told from the perspective of a privileged NYC expat as he adjusts to life in the bucolic Catskills.

Despite the fact that some tracks on the album contain vocals that are barely audible, making the instrumentation stand out more, “Modern Meta Physic” is a great tribute to vintage rock and roll. The album seems to be intended for an audience knowledgeable on the subject of the upstate New York lifestyle.

Regardless, the album is altogether vintage, modern and experimental. “Modern Meta Physic will be released via Slumberland records on Oct. 5.

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

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