As a rule, left-leaning hippies and bohemians in the United States are known for living in large cities rather than rural areas. But there are exceptions to that rule. Oregon, for example, has long been known for its rural counterculture and its abundance of small-town bohemians; 3000 miles away in New England, the same goes for Vermont (a state where it isn't hard to find people who grew up on a farm but enthusiastically voted for self-proclaimed "democratic socialist" Bernie Sanders). And that blend of counterculture ideology and small-town America is alive and well on this self-titled debut album by the Peace, who favor a hip-hop-drenched style of alternative pop/rock that sometimes ventures into folk-rock territory; G. Love & Special Sauce, Dave Matthews, and Beck are prominent influences, and Kendes obviously appreciates a lot of folk-rock and soul from the ‘60s and ‘70s. This late 2008/early 2009 recording has some of De la Soul's quirkiness as well as some of KRS-One's spiritual/political leanings, but minus KRS' anger. The end result is an album that is contemplative, funny, intellectual, good-natured, and eccentric all at the same time -- and anyone who thinks that bohemians with left-leaning politics have to live in a major urban center such as New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, or Boston should pay close attention to tracks like "Heaven," "Goin' to Yoga," "Rookie and the Vets," and "Vermont" (Kendes' shoutout to the state he calls home). These tunes are very much a product of the tradition of rural bohemia that thrives not only in Vermont and Oregon, but also, in certain parts of the Midwest (including Wisconsin). The Peace's 59-minute CD is slightly uneven, but the more memorable tunes easily outnumber the ones that aren't. Kendes and his colleagues are well-worth keeping an eye on.
Review by Alex Henderson