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“Challengers” releases in theaters on April 26.
Review: “Challengers”
Published April 13, 2024

Ain’t no mountain high enough

Twin Peaks rising in the indie music world
Twin Peaks guitarist Clay Frankel plays Saturday, the second day of Pitchfork Music Festival at Union Park in Chicago.
Image by Bridget Bennett
Twin Peaks guitarist Clay Frankel plays Saturday, the second day of Pitchfork Music Festival at Union Park in Chicago.

Jack Dolan lit a joint outside the media tent at Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago last weekend.

Blessed with a devil-may-care attitude, the Twin Peaks bassist gets away with such shenanigans.

Dolan shared the joint with wheelchair-bound vocalist Cadien Lake James, who broke his leg and suffered two seizures in the past week. The pot may have helped ease his pain.

James is a long-time aficionado of the herb and once served a 10-day suspension for the habit with high school classmate Chance the Rapper.

Regardless, he hit the stage Saturday afternoon and rocked out as if nothing was holding him back.

A trooper mentality, gritty workmanship and raucous antics make the Chicago-based Twin Peaks poised to break out. Their guitar riffs evoke Thin Lizzy, and they have the punk sneer of Willy DeVille.

But those descriptions compartmentalize the band, and Twin Peaks loathes that.

“If people are lazy, they don’t want to hear what you’re all about,” guitarist Clay Frankel said. “They want to hear name-dropping and shit — lots of vague, arbitrary [labels].”

“Some people think reviewing music is naming other bands that exist,” Dolan said.

“Usually it’s so off base,” Frankel interjected.

Twin Peaks formed when members attended high school in Chicago. James, Dolan and drummer Connor Brodner later attended Evergreen State College for a semester, while guitarist Frankel made his way to the University of Southern California.

When the band inked a sudden record deal with Los Angeles’ Autumn Tone Records last year thanks to their comrades the Orwells, Twin Peaks ditched their collegiate paths and returned home to the musical incubator that is Chicago.

But Twin Peaks isn’t riding on the coattails of the Orwells’ success. The bands have a symbiotic relationship outside shared gigs. Orwells drummer Henry Brinner found Twin Peaks on Bandcamp, and the groups are now partners in crime and each other’s strongest critics.

“A lot of people will tell you, no matter what you do, [your music] sounds great,” Dolan said. “We’re going to be honest with each other. It’s nice to have a beef bud.”

Honest feedback and distinct lo-fi production propelled Twin Peaks to instantaneous indie success. Strong off their EP “Sunken,” Twin Peaks is releasing their debut album, “Wild Onion,” on Aug. 5.

“It’s a pizza pie of rock ‘n’ roll,” Frankel said.

“Wild Onion” continues Twin Peaks’ exploration of brash territory, according to the band. But their production is cleaner while retaining the raw edge that makes them compelling.

“’Sunken’ had a fork in the road where it could be more rock ‘n’ roll or more indie,” James said. “I think [‘Wild Onion’] still has both of those lanes, but we definitely tried to side on being a rock band.”

The fab four grew up listening to rock and roll, and they all cited the Beatles as a formative influence. Twin Peaks doesn’t mimic their style or stage presence — the group is whimsical and turned up when performing, while the Beatles just minimally bobbed their heads — but they possess the same pioneering rock spirit.

“One of my earliest memories of loving music was having the Beatles’ greatest hits [album] and pacing around in my living room listening to it,” James said.

But while Twin Peaks play party hearty rock, they keep their ears open to everything, making them a well-rounded band even if they don’t include the influences in their music.

“There are a lot of times where I listen to more rap than anything else,” Dolan said.

“That’s why he’s leaving Twin Peaks to start his new rap group,” Brodner joked.

“Now, I’m announcing my departure,” Dolan said.


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