Release Date: May 13, 2016
Record label: Grand Jury
Few young bands have a hold on their city like Twin Peaks does with Chicago. Two summers ago, I watched them turn a local record store into an underground punk club during an in-store performance, with stacks of vinyl shaking and people of all ages screaming the words to their sophomore LP Wild Onion. But the leap from local legend to universal success requires music that transcends provincialism, and the group’s third record, Down in Heaven, is so stellar you could probably drop it in the Amazon rainforest and make a host of new Twin Peaks fans.
There’s a type of rock music perfectly keyed into helping you chill out, and Twin Peaks sure knows how to play it. Their new offering, Down in Heaven, suggests moshing at their shows would make you the asshole in the crowd rather than part of the punk rock masses. This is the sort of indie rock where you listen with your arms folded, your head moving to the laid-back beats, feeling way happier about it than you may visibly show.
In his 2011 novel, 1Q84, Japanese author Haruki Murakami attributes the line “I’m all alone, but I’m not lonely” to his female protagonist Aomame. Running with this notion, Chicago quintet Twin Peaks live out such solitude and solipsism on Down in Heaven. For all the love that hovers around Down in Heaven, as on the myopic “You Don’t” and “Stain”, a waltzing paean to following one’s muse, it’s most often out of reach.
On their 2012 debut album Sunken, Chicago’s Twin Peaks set out their stall as lo-fi DIY rockers with a knack for crafting hard and fast riffs. Follow-up Wild Onion (2014) saw the band weaving classic rock’n’roll and dreamy, dazed slow cuts into their sound. Two years on, Down In Heaven finds them shifting stylistically again, this time sounding more like Black Lips doing The Band.
On their third LP, Down in Heaven, Twin Peaks hang on to their rough-and-raw disposition while drawing sonic inspiration from favorite albums of 1968, including, per press materials, works by the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, and the Beatles. Bolstered throughout the album by the addition of Wild Onion co-producer Colin Croom to the lineup on keyboards (notably organ), the era, if not a specific year, is resurrected from the moment the needle hits vinyl with the sassy, T. Rex-grooving opener "Walk to the One You Love.
American rock quintet Twin Peaks' third album, Down in Heaven, is a 13-song rock record that bleeds influences from throughout rock history; anyone who loves the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street will instantly detect the legendary band's influence on these boys from Chicago. On this latest work, the band seem to have largely shed their party-rock attitude, opting for a more refined songwriting process that yields sharp results throughout. Luckily for fans, tracks such as "Butterfly" or "Have You Ever?" still find the band digging back to their garage roots.
Have you ever walked into a record store, picked a random old record out of a bargain bin just because something about it grips you and are then later shocked to find that you've stumbled on some forgotten gem? This type of sensation is at the core of Down In Heaven, the third LP from the Chicago quintet Twin Peaks. A lot of contemporary bands are inspired by the sounds of the '60s, but few bands can immerse themselves in it as convincingly as Twin Peaks have here. Down In Heaven certainly feels like a natural evolution for a band that, somewhat amazingly for a group of 23-year-olds, is on their third full-length record.
Twin Peaks don’t seem like the sort of guys who would fork out $1,599 for tickets to the Desert Trip festival. But, given the chance, they’d surely hop the fence. Make all the “Oldchella” cracks you want—there are still a whole lot of young folk who bow before rock ‘n’ roll’s few remaining golden gods, and in three short years, Twin Peaks have proven themselves quick studies in the ways of tradition.
As rewarding as it is to discover young artists that bring fresh ideas to new music, it’s still immensely satisfying to hear young rock bands with rich knowledge of the genre’s history, trying their damnedest to capture the energy of old records from a bygone era. Barely out of their teens, Chicago band Twin Peaks burst onto the scene in the early ’10s with garage rock so energetic and earnest that critics carted out obvious comparisons to the Kinks, the Stones, and even the Replacements. At their best, which was often on 2014’s alternately raucous and wistful breakthrough Wild Onion, Twin Peaks’ music came across as crudely recorded, imperfectly performed, and impeccably written.
Garage rock has long been affixed to adolescence. Not only was its raucous sound supposedly hammered out in the outbuildings of parental residences, but it was also founded during pop’s own coming of age. This third album by Chicago band Twin Peaks shows it’s a genre that continues to bristle with frustrated feeling and arrested development. On Cold Lips, childishly cruel character assassinations (“All there is in you is an absence of space”) are croaked over sharp, bright guitars, while Wanted You steals a refrain from John Lennon’s Mother and puts it to less Freudian, more moany ends.
Twin Peaks are the kind of band everyone wishes they started in high school. The group spent their teen years channeling all that energy and angst into a rowdy debut, and soon caught the attention of critics and punk peers. As a live act, they were equally spirited, and soon tours with major groups and high-profile festival dates followed — all before the memories of lockers and geometry homework even had time to fade.
Long gone are the days when Twin Peaks would spend their time frantically churning out riotous garage pop in frontman Cadien Lake James' basement, when they would be championed only by a close-knit collective of DIY promoters and bands in their native Chicago. 2014's Wild Onion fell on the perked ears of global stalwarts, perhaps forcing the band to begin to take themselves much more seriously—something that they never intended on doing. On Down in Heaven, they ditch their loose-ended approach to songwriting and make a flinchingly poor attempt at channelling the kind of intimate commentaries that The Kinks' Village Green Preservation Society does so well.
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“It’s good for you. It’s like cleaning your throat in reverse.” That was Twin Peaks drummer Connor Brodner, talking to American website Spin seconds after throwing up at this year’s SXSW festival. He does the same in the trailer for the Chicago rock ‘n’ rollers filmed for third album ‘Down In Heaven’, which also features canoeing, a rubber pigeon mask and a shitload of weed and booze.
More than any of the aural devotees of the late Sixties and early Seventies, Chicago fivepiece Twin Peaks travels all paths of the overlapping decades. Third album Down in Heaven moves through Monkees-level cheese with the walking bassline and soaring "ba-ba-bahs" of "My Boys," while "Holding Roses" swings Rolling Stones, guitarist Clay Frankel mastering both Mick Jagger's vocal swag and Keith Richards' guitar privateering. Glammed-up earworm "Keep It Together" raises a lighter to Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie.
Twin Peaks’ 2014 sophomore effort, Wild Onion, was well received. Praised as an overall improvement over Sunken, their lauded, lo-fi debut, Wild Onion seemed to capture the Chicago four-piece making good on their early promise. With production that captured the band’s best qualities, not the least of which was its enthusiasm, the songs of Wild Onion vacillated along a spectrum, with frantic, garage-rock murk and a pleasantly electric power-pop jangle on either end.
by Raj Dayal About five years ago, the Manchester band WU LYF (World Unite Lucifer Youth Foundation) set the music world ablaze with overwhelming hype and unbridled arrogance. They mostly delivered on the promise with Go Tell Fire to the Mountain. Frontman Ellery Roberts howled angrily announcing a band positioned for a movement. Sadly, that movement began and ended with the band’s only album.
The Upshot: It sounds like the process of growing into their own sound is still underway—which is pretty much what you’d expect from a bunch of young rock ‘n’ rollers. Despite their meager years, Chicago’s Twin Peaks—a quintet of 20 year olds releasing their third LP in four years—have shown from the get-go a firm grasp on, and thorough fondness for, rock ‘n’ roll’s back-story. Both the band’s 2013 debut, Sunken, and 2014’s break-out Wild Onion, were rife with Nuggets-friendly bits of garage grit, Chuck Berry riffage, Kinks’ power chords and Rolling Stones’ swagger.