Horse Jumper of Love, Strange Ranger, Justus Proffit

Horse Jumper of Love

Strange Ranger

Justus Proffit

Ages 18+
Horse Jumper of Love and Strange Ranger at the Hi Hat!

Horse Jumper of Love

Memory looms large on Horse Jumper of Love’s hypnotic sophomore album, ‘So Divine,’ but it remains elusive. Throughout the record, tiny snapshots from the past float to the surface, baring themselves for brief moments before diving back into the ether. Like abstract collages, the Boston-based three-piece’s songs jumble richly detailed scenes and vivid imagery, papering over one moment with the next until each string of seemingly unrelated thoughts coalesces into a breathtaking work of art, one that reveals deep truths about ourselves and our psyches.

“A lot of these songs are about making small things into huge deals,” says guitarist/singer Dimitri Giannopoulos. “They all start with these very specific little memories that, for some reason or another, have stuck in my mind. Memories morph and change over time, though, and they become freighted with all these different meanings. We’re constantly adding to them.”

The same could be said of Horse Jumper of Love’s music. Praised by Stereogum as a “delightfully distorted mess of energy,” the band’s sound is absorbing and urgently hypnotic, with songs that develop at a glacial pace, progressing forward with almost imperceptible momentum to carve deep canyons and valleys through walls of solid rock. Giannopoulos officially launched the group with bassist John Margaris and drummer Jamie Vadala-Doran in 2013, taking their moniker from a Latin phrase that had gotten more than a little lost in translation. The band would spend the next three years refining their studio craft and live show, garnering a devoted following playing DIY gigs around New England as they climbed their way into what Pitchfork described as “the top tier of the Boston house show scene.” In 2016, they released their self-titled debut to rave reviews, with NPR praising the band’s “slow, syrupy rock songs” as “cautiously measured and patiently curious” and Audiotree hailing the “soft spoken, contemplative trio” for their “unique sonic palette and precise compositions.” In 2017, the group released a vinyl and digital re-issue of the album along with a limited edition demo anthology.

‘So Divine’ will mark the band’s first release for Run For Cover Records.

Facebook | Instagram | Spotify | Bandcamp

Strange Ranger

On their third full-length ​Remembering The Rockets ​(out 7/26 via Tiny Engines)​, Strange Ranger continue to excel at translating the way intimacy can feel so overwhelmingly gigantic. With a dozen releases across their 10 years as a band, the Philly-via-Portland-via-Montana group, currently featuring Isaac Eiger (guitars, vocals), Fred Nixon (bass, piano, vocals), Nathan Tucker (drums), and Fiona Woodman (vocals), have traversed genres, moods, and textures while maintaining one important throughline: an exploration of closeness.

“Trying to close the distance between yourself and another person and wondering how much can really be done about that gap,” Eiger says. “​Sometimes you don't want to be close with others but you feel guilty, and sometimes you do but you can't.”

Their 2016 double-LP ​Rot Forever​ (which they released under the name Sioux Falls)​ ​was a 72-minute freakout that paired Built To Spill grandiosity with early Modest Mouse intensity. Many of the songs were six-minute treks that pushed guitar/bass/drum indie-rock to its breaking point, but the band was singing about crawling into bed and running back a lifetime’s worth of minor interactions.

After putting that into the world, Eiger and Nixon (the primary songwriters) felt they had gotten a rip-roaring rock record out of their systems, so they hung up their distortion pedals and traded caustic yelps for Alex G-esque croons on 2017’s ​Daymoon​ (Tiny Engines). It was a synth-adorned, insular bedroom-pop record that floated rather than soared, and they opted for lyrical impressionism over the hyper-specific outbursts of ​Rot Forever​.

On both albums, Eiger’s writing style reads like a loose assembly of quotes from conversations he’s had with others (some trivial, some extremely confessional) spliced with his own, private introspections. He asks a lot of questions in his music, often with no traditional context or exposition, which forces the listener to fill in the blanks between the visual details (“I thought you talked to the reporter / she had a polka dot recorder”) and the dialogue (“how was work, are you okay? / how’s your mom, is she the same?”) to either understand his story, or project your own encounters onto his.

Eiger, who writes the bulk of Strange Ranger’s lyrics, is a modern master of conveying the anxiety and uncertainty of growing older through a mixture of childhood nostalgia and interpersonal tidbits. There’s plenty of that on ​Remembering The Rockets​, but after all of these years of singing about his own coming-of-age story, the album approaches the quandary of whether he’ll ever be able to impart that process—through which he’s reaped so much artistic joy and curiosity—onto someone else.

For a topic as severe as ecological collapse affecting his own parental aspirations—as well as other melancholy ruminations on loneliness, the passing of time, and the complications of emotional intimacy—Strange Ranger still ended up making the lushest, smoothest, and most pleasingly hypnotic album of their careers.

Opener “Leona” is a celestial pop song with a springy bassline and a shimmering, magical synth effect that dusts over its punchy outro groove. “Nothing Else To Think About” is a bobbing sunset soundtrack with a drum sample that puffs and clacks behind its ASMR-inducing bassline. For “Beneath The Lights,” Eiger pulls out the drawly, prickly croon of a ​Daymoon ​ballad like “Most Perfect Gold of the Century” and then contorts it with warbling, Justin Vernon-esque auto-tune. Ambient interludes like “athens, ga” and “‘02” are void of vocals and “traditional” rock elements altogether.

“​The image of a rocket in the sky just feels very beautiful to me and full of possibility,” Eiger says. “If you're someone who wants to have kids and you decide not to, that kinda feels like folding and just saying, "yeah everything is fucked, there is no future." And why even live at that point? It sucks that ‘hope’ has—for good reason—become this cheesy, lame idea. But if you've got no hope, you're completely fucked in a situation like this one.”

Facebook | Instagram | Spotify | Bandcamp

Justus Proffit

By now everyone knows about the bleakness lurking next to the glamour of Los Angeles, where the space between abject poverty and untold wealth can be inches.

Justus Proffit knows that world better than most, having grown up in the city’s underground punk scene. A lifer at 25, Proffit started playing in bands at 13, touring at 16, and running his own DIY space by 22. Living and creating on the fringe has deeply informed his work as an artist: two self-released EPs (2016’s Magic & 2017’s UPS/DOWNS), his acclaimed 2018 collaboration with breakout Jay Som, Nothing’s Changed, and never more powerfully than on his debut full-length and label debut, the tellingly titled L.A.’s Got Me Down.

A mixture of new material and songs he’s written over the past few years, L.A.’s Got Me Down explores a tumultuous time in Proffit’s life, one punctuated by the loss of close friends to drug overdoses, a war with personal demons, and the more mundane aspects of being an artist in a city as notoriously standoffish as Los Angeles.

A certain darkness permeates much of L.A.’s Got Me Down, but the album doesn’t wallow. Anything that can be described as “my ‘Back in Black’”—as Proffit calls “Shadow of the Cross”—won’t be a slog. After his more subdued EPs, he had no intention of keeping the intensity down. “I wanted to come out with a rock record this time,” Proffit says. “I’m happy to start playing loud music again.” “Shadow of the Cross” boasts the biggest, catchiest chorus of Proffit’s career, and the sunny guitars of “Painted in the Sound” reflect the lovelorn lyrics at its center. Listeners will undoubtedly hear echoes of Heatmiser-era Elliott Smith, and “Hole” recalls Nirvana’s “Dumb” in sound and theme. But the vision is singularly Proffit’s; he played every instrument as he and producer/engineer Alex Resoagli recorded during off-hours at various LA studios over the course of six months.

“The whole record, the dynamic was just me and him—no one else came in,” Proffit says. “We would start recording sessions at midnight because that’s when Alex would be available, so it was a really long process. We would work on it like four hours at a time,” Profit says. “I’m so stoked that it’s finished, but yeah, I wouldn’t do that again. It was definitely stressful at the end.”

Also stressful: two different calamities that followed the album’s completion. First, Proffit nearly died last spring when he tore his esophagus, a dire but ultimately treatable result of his excessive drinking and partying. The second speaks more to the themes of L.A.’s Got Me Down—it’s right on the cover. The two neighborhood kids silhouetted on it robbed Proffit’s home/DIY performance space just weeks after taking the photo. Worse, after he confronted them, they smashed his car so bad it was totaled.

“Those photos, I just liked that it was us as homies kicking it,” Proffit says. “It ended up working out in a way because I ended up cutting them out of the picture and giving the album more of a theme. There’s a theme around it where you get in that negative circle and it spirals.”

Proffit credits cutting other toxic people out of his life for keeping him happy and healthy these days. “I’ve gone through a lot of things in my life, more than some. I don’t dwell on it. But that’s what happened. It is what it is,” he says. “L.A.’s Got Me Down focuses on that so much. Maybe the next one won’t—maybe the next one will be chill!”

Facebook | Instagram | Spotify | Bandcamp

Venue Information:
The Hi Hat
5043 York Blvd
Los Angeles, CA, 90042