Meet the NxNU Lineup: Horse Jumper of Love

by Caroline Smith

Meet the NxNU Lineup: Horse Jumper of Love

NxNU, WRBB’s annual Spring Concert, is this Friday, April 13th! Take a minute to get introduced to Horse Jumper of Love, and we’ll see you at the show.

Horse Jumper of Love is a Boston-area trio, making music that has been often compared to various Phil Elverum projects (The Microphones, Mt. Eerie) for their self-described “slow rock” sound and minimalist approach to songwriting. The band— comprised of Dimitri Giannopoulos on vocals and guitar, John Margaris on bass, and Jamie Vadala-Doran on drums—met at a Battle of the Bands, with Vadala-Doran and Giannopoulos playing against Margaris in a different band. Later, Margaris reached out to Giannaopoulos on Facebook, and from there the three members formed a friendship that culminated in what is now Horse Jumper. Giannopoulos, Margaris, and Vadala-Doran all grew up in the Boston area between Dorchester and Jamaica Plain, religiously attending the same house shows that they would later gain popularity at themselves. Their music draws on conventions from varying genres, including what sounds like some 90s noise, as well as shoegaze, lo-fi, and general indie rock. As for their influences, the band has cited Silver Jews’ American Water as something of a jumping off point – which they have certainly jumped off from, since American Water falls into pretty standard indie rock territory. Horse Jumper, on the other hand, has managed to create something a bit more complicated out of the slow indie rock sound of Silver Jews, creating an album that fades in and out of the classifications of ambient and indie and beyond. Their songs are occasionally fuzzy and drowning in reverb, or sometimes clearer and more along the lines of traditional guitar-driven indie rock; unwilling to be forced into any one style.

Their first and only album, released in 2016, is short and sweet – at barely 30 minutes long, self-titled Horse Jumper of Love is a poignant exploration of relationships, love, childhood, and the confusion of growing up, all told through varying images of life both alone and with someone else. Some of the moments Giannopoulos describes are incredibly ordinary and some more poetic, but each paints an honest and starkly precise picture. Although sparse – or maybe because they’re sparse – the album’s lyrics create a feeling of someone simultaneously oversharing and shutting you out, as if lyricist Giannopoulos is both baring his soul to you and reminding you that there’s so much more you can’t know. It’s a delicate balance for a listener as well, the fascinating rock-and-hard-place sensation between feeling like you’re intruding on something private and wanting to hear more. Giannopoulos has a talent for choosing specifically evocative moments to write on, like “Sitting on an America towel” next to the “soft smell of trash” on song ‘July 5th,’ or the gross levels of intimacy implicated by the speaker asking a lover to “borrow [his] toothbrush” on ‘Bagel Breath.’ It is an album that is complex in its simplicity, choosing to say less to say more. But Giannopoulos’ voice and lyrics are not the only reason for Horse Jumper’s success by far: to create Horse Jumper’s full sound, Giannopoulos’ voice melds with the lethargic pace of Margaris’ bass and Vadala-Doran’s simplistic yet essential drumming. The result is relaxed, dreamlike music, marked by distortion and slow-build instrumentation. It feels contemplative, a persuasive attempt to convince the listener to tune out the rest of the world and just focus in.

Their rise in the Boston-area house show scene, mostly concentrated in Jamaica Plain and Allston, has gained them considerable popularity in the area over the past few years, as well as the interest of Allston recording label Joy Void. We’re so excited to have some fellow Boston natives here with us at NxNU!

Want to learn more about Palm? Check out their bandcamp and make sure to get to the gig this Friday, April 13th at 7pm in Afterhours. (NU Only)