Chicago Artist Spotlight: Twin Peaks

The Chicago DIY scene had produced a great number of new popular indie and rock artists. Artists like Lala Lala, Smith Westerns, and Whitney have gained a large fanbase. Not only in Chicago and the Midwest, but around the country and the world. The best Chicago indie artist today, in my opinion, though, is definitely Twin Peaks. With over 470,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, and millions of streams, Twin Peaks’ fanbase is continually growing.


Twin Peaks is the work of Cadien Lake James , who formed the band in 2010. Him and two childhood friends, Jack Dolan and Connor Brodner created the band in high school. Clay Frankel, who was in a different Chicago DIY scene band as well, and Colin Croom later joined the band. All five members went to Chicago area high schools when the band joined. Cadien and Jack both went to Jones College Prep, where Chance the Rapper attended, and all three were friends. 


Twin Peaks at Pitchfork Music Festival 2014

Twin Peaks released their first album Sunken in 2013. The album, only 20 minutes long, is named after a park in Chicago the teens went to in high school. Only a year later, their second album Wild Onion  was released in 2014. This album is slightly more refined, yet has some punk themes and more angst than any work they’d release today. By now Twin Peaks had risen out of just the Chicago DIY and house show scene. In 2014 they performed at Pitchfork music festival, and in 2015 toured Europe and played at Lollapalooza. In 2016 Down In Heaven, their third studio album, was released. The band had a big name and was no longer just a Chicago local artist. The same year, Twin Peaks toured with artists such as Portugal, The Man. and Cage the Elephant. They even played Bonnaroo and starred on Conan. In 2017, the Twin Peaks discography only grew more. They released 2 singles a month, from July to December to finally create one project Sweet ‘17 Singles. 

Cover of Twin Peaks’ 2019 album, Lookout Low

Twin Peaks latest album, Lookout Low, is what Cadien describes as the sound the band always wanted. Longtime DIY fans will always appreciate Wild Onion and their old punk style, but Lookout Low  is the project young Cadien aspired to create. Earlier work, like Sunken, they recorded on old software and was the best they could do as young musicians. Each vocalist of the band wrote different personal songs for the album. They differ in vocals and vibes, but mesh perfectly together as an album. Songs like “Unfamiliar Sun” have a true folk vibe. Yet songs like “Oh Mama” have sounds similar to their more punky Wild Onion. Twin Peaks toured in 2019 all the way through until the pandemic began. In 2020, Twin Peaks was supposed to tour in the spring and summer, and play at Pitchfork for a third time.

Why They’re So Special

Twin Peaks live at WXRT, December 17, 2019.

Personally, I have been a huge fan of Twin Peaks since my freshman year of high school. Seeing their growth in the production value and meaning of their work is really amazing to see. It shows that DIY scenes can create amazing artists. I even got to interview Cadien last year for my high school station. We discussed Lookout Low in detail and all of their associated acts, like Column, Calpurnia, and Grapetooth. Later that year, I saw their acoustic set at WXRT. It was thrilling to hear songs they never perform in concert usually. Twin Peaks is the classic story of rising from fame as a DIY band. They started playing at Beat Kitchen in Chicago with 300 capacity, to selling out Chicago venues like Thalia Hall and Metro. If you are at all a fan of Chicago local artists, Twin Peaks has a long discography that covers every vibe of music from punk to folk to classic rock. Every listener of any age or taste can enjoy an era of Twin Peaks’ artistry evolution.

About Moira Sommerfeld

Moira is a freshman who grew up in the southern suburbs of Chicago listening to The Cure, The Smiths, and Cocteau Twins. As a self proclaimed radio and indie kid, she can be seen walking on campus sipping coffee and listening to Mitski on the way to class.

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