Chasing Fridays: Twikipedia, Candy Apple, Horse Jumper of Love

A full-length review of one of 2024's best albums, my take on some great hardcore, and a futile attempt to finally enjoy that slowcore band.

Chasing Fridays: Twikipedia, Candy Apple, Horse Jumper of Love

Heyo, it's another edition of Chasing Fridays  — a weekly roundup of music I consumed and shows I attended over the last seven days. I saw a couple great shows this week, but sometimes I just feel like letting those experiences live as memories in my head. Not every musical event I witness needs to be logged in this blog.

So even though I saw Ethel Cain join 9Million onstage in front of 40 people in a record store, and then took my younger brother to his first proper hardcore show, I decided to eschew those gig writeups and stick to reviewing some new music this week. And review, I did. I went long on one of the best albums I've heard this year, dished out some thoughts on a great new slab of hardcore, and tried to like a new song by a slowcore band I've never enjoyed.

If you like what I wrote down below, or anything else I've ever published on Chasing Sundays, then I'd appreciate it if you subscribed at the $5/month tier. You can subscribe for free, too, and that's also much appreciated. But my paid members (thanks to all of you!) help me dedicate time to bigger stories like the huge Q&A with Spiritbox's Courtney LaPlante that I published earlier this week.

Thanks for supporting the type of independent music criticism that's getting harder to find on the rapidly deteriorating internet. Ight, now get readin'.

Twikipedia - for the rest of your life

I have a confession to make: I don't really like Parannoul that much. I recognize that the Korean artist, who makes panoramic shoegaze entirely out of VST's (virtual instruments, as in not real guitars, drums, etc.), is one of the most innovative rock musicians of this era. His 2021 album, To See the Next Part of the Dream, already feels like a before-and-after landmark in shoegaze's lineage, and I think it'll likely go down as one of the most influential records in the genre's history. I have immense respect for Parannoul, but I rarely ever find myself in the mood to listen to his music. Something about the pitch of his vocals and where they sit in the mix, as well as the abrasively scratchy guitars and blown-out drums, just wear my ear down after a song or two. And Parannoul's songs are upwards of 10 minutes in length.

So I don't really consider myself a Parannoul fan, but I fucking love this new Twikipedia album. Which is funny, because the 20-year-old Brazilian artist is clearly infatuated with Parannoul's sound, and expressly credits Parannoul with inspiring their use of VST's on for the rest of your life. So why do I love Twikipedia so much if I don't really click with their primary influence? Because Twikipedia found a way to make the Parannoul lane of shoegaze sound fun and catchy and sweet, while still retaining its brittle textures, wistful emotions, and above-the-clouds atmosphere.

I think Twikipedia has such a strong foundation in melody because they used to make digicore, the emo-rap/hyperpop offshoot that already feels dated to the early 2020s. I remember listening to older Twikipedia earworms like "born to pwn" in 2020, back when they were collabing with midwxst and existing in the same Soundcloud spaces as d0llywood and ericdoa. The very scene that spawned Jane Remover and quannnic, who then evolved from rap-based digicore into shoegazey post-rock and grungey shoegaze, respectively. Twikipedia is now the third major figure from that COVID lockdown-era cluster of teenage internet musicians who've made the jump to shoegaze, and their incorporation of emo and pop-punk is what distinguishes their new record in that milieu.

for the rest of your life is tonally brighter than the Deftones-meets-Elliot Smith sound of quannnic's Stepdream, and considerably less fussy than the wide-screen noise-pop balladry that permeates Jane Remover's Census Designated. Opener "room for one" almost sounds like Origami Angel with its perky chorus and fluttering math-rock licks, and I sometimes catch glimpses of Oso Oso in the "oo-oo" background harmonies and semi-acoustic verse strums. But if the whole record was just fifth-wave emo with computerized drums and auto-tuned vocals, it wouldn't hold my attention for very long.

Above the pop-punk foundations of these tracks, contrails of shoegaze guitar are blended with bleepy synth noises that sound like a character losing health in a Miniclip game. The songs are shimmering but also hazy, like staring out at a picture-perfect lake through sunscreen-smeared sunglasses. In the exquisitely balmy "garden," Twikipedia sings with a hopeful mew that wouldn't sound out of place on a Florist album. In the next track, "Cardboard Boxes," they're unloading a buzzy, emo quiver from the back of their throat, the vocal melody rippling like water skis catching and then losing the aquatic surface. "So what if I don't wanna change?/What's wrong with staying the same?", they snip, sounding like a cross between Hey, ILY, Motion City Soundtrack, and Candy Claws.

Something I like about this record is that I'm not sure how fluent Twikipedia is in any of the genres they're sewing together. There's definitely a chiptune-y pop-punk thread in here, but is this 20-year-old schooled in Karate High School like that? "Windchimes" has woozy throbs of shoegaze fuzz that fade in and out like a bad cell phone signal. It sounds like someone heard MBV's "To Here Knows When" once and was like, "Word, lemme try something real quick," while pulling up Pro-Tools.

A lack of shoegaze fluency is currently pumping a lot of shallow drivel out of the genre's mill. But for someone as creative as Twikipedia, their surface-level commitment to Parannoul's domain gives them the freedom to coast from sound to sound without getting tangled up in any of the norms and traditions that make so many shoegaze records sound like stilted genre exercises.

for the rest of your life has plenty of moments that don't really make any logical sense, and the album's flow is better off for it. Three quarters of the way into "seams," the weary ballad song is chopped in half by a grungey guitar strum (one of two analog guitar tracks on the whole record) and some Cobain-ish grr's, transforming the tune into a jump-on-the-bleachers pop-punk send-up. Two songs later, the album ends with "final feliz," a breezy, Portuguese-language indie-pop tune that's so beautifully hooky I checked to see if it was a cover when I first heard it (It's not, so bra-vo, Twikipedia).

Back in 2021, I first observed the nexus of digicore and emo in the first Jane Remover album. Since then, I haven't heard anyone fuse those sounds as tactfully and inspirationally as Twikipedia does on for the rest of your life. An album that picks up shoegaze, emo, and digicore and shapes them into something that genuinely feels like uncharted territory. The takeaway? Stop searching for the next generation of shoegaze greats on Spotify's shoegaze playlists. You're better off scanning the Novagang Soundcloud feed.

Candy Apple - Comatose

Candy Apple's 2021 LP, Sweet Dreams of Violence, is easily one of my favorite Convulse Records releases (I like it more than GEL's Only Constant, if that's enough to push you to check it out), and Comatose is the Denver hardcore band's full-length follow-up. On the Axe to Grind podcast back in 2021, Patrick Kindlon described their first album as sounding like putting your ear to a spinning vinyl record without the stereo on and just listening to the analog whisper of noise reverberating off the disc itself. I can't think of a better way to explain the record's uniquely sand-blasted sound, but the thin sonic quality didn't take away from the songs' switchblade-on-flesh impact and their surprisingly sticky hooks.

On Comatose, Candy Apple are still making raw and nasty hardcore punk, but it doesn't sound like the vocal mic is being smothered by a pillow, and the guitars aren't quite as noxiously distorted. For some similar-ish bands where the noisiness and the vibe is the whole deal, an elevation in clarity might throw the baby out with the bath water. But Candy Apple aren't a vibes hardcore band. They're a songs hardcore band who also happen to have impeccable vibes. "Heaven's Gate" is as good as any of the sauntering rippers on the new Gouge Away album. A hardcore band who know how to properly tease out their love of the Pixies without going full alt-rock is almost always OK in my book.

There's plenty of thrash-and-burn madness on here, but there's also more mid-tempo and more sections where the riffs pull back and let un-screamed vocals take the lead. The guitar scrapes in a song like "Amputated" are so fuckin' cool, and then the next track, "Fractured," sounds like Ian MacKaye fronting a GEL song. I'm a big fan of Candy Apple. I think they're super overrated on the East Coast, and I think anyone sleeping on this new record is a damn fool.

Horse Jumper of Love - "Wink"

Horse Jumper of Love are one of the most important slowcore bands for people in my age range, but I've never been able to find a way into this band's output. I thought their 2017 debut was incredibly boring when it dropped, even if it felt of a piece with what Spirit of the Beehive were doing at the time (SOTB were, and still are, better). I can't say I actually listened to anything HJOL put out since their 2019 album Divine, but I figured I'd give this new track a go since it has a guest spot from Wednesday's Karly Hartzman.

I think it's fine. I don't think Hartzman's singular voice is really used to its full potential here, and I think HJOL singer Dimitri Giannopoulos has an especially snoozy delivery, even for a slowcore artist. But I do like the interweaving guitar licks during its breakdown, and I think the bassline during that part sounds cool. But my issue with this band remains: There's no feeling in this song. Slowcore is either supposed to be extremely depressive and/or rhythmically trance-like in its loping lethargy. And I never get burdened with a sense of melancholy from HJOL, just listlessness. There's not enough smothering fuzz nor enough intricate guitarwork to justify the lack of fuzz. There's not enough instrumental grooves. There's no awe-inspiring dynamic builds. It's also not catchy at all whatsoever.

What am I missing with this band? Because I just don't hear what their fans do.