Who are they: Twin Peaks is a Chicago-based garage rock band signed to Grand Jury Records. The five-piece recently released a follow-up to 2013’s much-buzzed-about sophomore album, Wild Onion. The third effort, 2016’s Down in Heaven, achieves the rare feat of displaying maturity without eschewing the raw, youthful urgency that made Wild Onion such a rousing listen. The new record scraps the lo-fi production for a more pristine sheen—the album was self-recorded and later mixed by esteemed producer John Agnello— but the band still leaves a few buttons unbuttoned on the tattered collared shirts that haven’t seen the washer for months.
Most of the bandmates have known each other since elementary school. Frontman Cadien Lake James goes by the nickname Big Tuna. He and singer/bassist Jack Dolan went to high school with Chance the Rapper and were once suspended for smoking weed together—although, Dolan got off with a softer suspension for holding just a cigarette. The band moniker, of course, comes from the acclaimed TV series of the same name (which coincidentally returns to Showtime on May 21 after its cancellation on ABC more than 25 years ago).
What do they sound like: While the band lays the early-period Rolling Stones influences on thick during the sleazy, blues-guitar-driven “Wanted You,” Twin Peaks recalls the snotty garage-punk of Black Lips and the snarling rock of T-Rex elsewhere throughout Down in Heaven.
What the critics are saying: Pitchfork’s Stuart Berman writes that the band’s latest album, Down in Heaven “is a casual, charmingly low-key set of kitchen-table blues, slow-dance serenades, and unplugged power pop.”
What we think: It’s a little more up-tempo than all that. Twin Peaks sounds like a band constantly on the move—quite literally on “My Boys,” a spirited jaunt that chronicles the band’s propensity for speeding on the highway, but throughout the album, the group never settles into one style for long. The freewheeling attitude helps keep the free-love-era sounds feeling fresh and innovative.
Greatest lyric: “Spending time together/Watch out, don’t let it get you down/Nothing is forever/That’s right, but don’t let it get you down” (from Wild Onion track “Making Breakfast”)
Best song: “Holding Roses” (from Down in Heaven)
Most essential album: The latest, Down in Heaven, absolutely rules, but there’s no reason not to listen to the previous two records since neither takes up too much time at all.