PLAYLIST: Horse Jumper of Love’s Songs That Inspired Them to Do Something with Their Lives

The Boston slowcore three-piece list their go-to drinking songs, doom-not-black metal tracks, and more.

“A lot of these songs are about making small things into huge deals,” Dimitri Giannopoulos has said about the songs he’s written for his band Horse Jumper of Love’s latest album, So Divine. Whether intentional or not, this statement also describes the form many of Divine’s eleven tracks take on, opening with Giannopoulos’ hushed vocals reverently heeding the slowcore canon before the band gradually turns his balladry into a full-blown, twenty-miles-per-hour-below-the-speed-limit hardcore affair. Openers “Airport” and “Volcano,” most notably, both conclude with deafening riffs as patient as the acoustic noodling that opens the former and the nearly whispered lyrics of the latter.

Meanwhile, “Poison” and “John Song” maintain the composure of forebears like Duster and Red House Painters, matching the delicate balance of reverb-swallowed cuts and acoustic numbers of HJOL’s self-titled debut, saving their ambient proclivities for the outro. It’s no wonder their tours are soundtracked by slowcore staples and Thou, not to mention their experimental New England brethren Spirit of the Beehive.

Rather than serving up a simple playlist of songs that inspired their new album, Giannopoulos cites the following track list as “songs that more or less have inspired us to do something with our lives.” Also, he admits, considering the fact that these tracks tend to soundtrack the “stupid driving decisions” he makes on tour with his bandmates—bassist John Margaris and drummer Jamie Vadala-Doran—“songs that are like the glue to our relationships with each other.”

So Divine is out today on Run for Cover. You can order it here.

Big Star, “Big Black Car”

First time I heard this song Jamie played it for me while we were driving home late after a show. Don’t remember why John wasn’t in the car, but we were the only car on this stretch of highway. Think it’s my all-time most played song on Spotify. I love how vulnerable Alex Chilton makes himself, but he still is acting super macho, ’cause he’s talking about his car.

Duster, “Cooking”

First Duster song I ever heard. My friend Dan who plays in one of my favorite bands ever, Strange Mangers, showed me this song and I immediately fell in love. Unlike anything I’ve ever heard. I remember I went to dinner at a friends house back in 2014 and they were playing this entire album on repeat and it was pouring out and I felt so upset afterwards on my way home.

Silver Jews, “Horseleg Swastika”

Silver Jews are my favorite band of all time. I think David Berman has the most influence on my lyrics. I have a Silver Jews tattoo on my arm that says “random rules.” “Every single thought is like a punch in the face / I’m like a rabbit freezing on a star.”

The Spirit of the Beehive, “Snow on the Moon”

Love them. Thanks Pat for mailing John back his coat from Philly.

Thou, “Skinwalker”

I don’t know much about metal but I love Thou. On our Audiotree session I mentioned them as a band I had been listening to and I think I called them black metal instead of doom metal and a bunch of people got mad at me.

Gas, “Pop 1”

I read somewhere this guy wrote all these songs about being in the woods in Germany on acid when he was a teenager. I think Pop is probably one of my favorite albums.

Morphine, “Cure for Pain”

Hometown heroes. I met some guy when I was working one time who said he drove cabs with Mark Sandman. It’s cool that I was able to have that experience and learn some stuff about a musician I admire because we’re from the same place.

Judee Sill, “Waterfall”

We listen to a lot of Judee Sill on the road. 

Spencer Radcliffe & Everyone Else, “Long Con”

I think this is the one song that would make every member of HJOL cry.

Chris Weisman, “Backpack People”

Not a lot of Chris Weisman’s music is on Spotify. On top of this, I would recommend listening to Transparency and Monet in the 90s

Ted Hawkins, “Sorry You’re Sick”

We all yell this song in the car together. We have a few drinking songs…this is one, The Conway Twitty version of “There Stands the Glass,” and “Fifteen Beers” by Johnny Paycheck, etc.

Low, “Venus”

I got into Low’s B-sides before anything else. This one’s a fav.

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