Local CD: Waking Jordan, “Here or There”

936715_493560884043818_16654761_n

It’s hard to imagine any Boise band putting more time, effort and possibly money into building an online following than Waking Jordan. Formed in 2011, the ambitious, web-savvy group has uploaded dozens of well-crafted videos to YouTube, displaying an unwavering commitment to sophisticated music-video production and major-label-style audio sheen.

The band’s fun, eight-plus-minute zombie vid for catchy modern-rock track “The Cure” — from the 2012 debut album “Good Enough” — has been viewed more than 107,000 times since its release. Still, some YouTube commenters can’t figure out why Waking Jordan isn’t, like, BIGGER.

You get a sense that the musicians are starting to wonder the same thing on “Here or There.” They have a melodic, cathartic new breakup anthem and stylish video, “Bury Me” — all hand claps and flaming-piano catharsis — currently at the 90,000-view mark. The song showcases what Waking Jordan does best: Let frontman Kelly Potter sing dramatically about relationship dynamics, then uncork a stratosphere-scraping, singalong chorus. But mostly on this 14-song, over-produced sophomore album, Waking Jordan sounds like it’s searching for answers.

From the automobile sounds and geeky keyboard tone on upbeat opening track “Nobody’s Gotta Know” to the Lumineers-swiping chant during “On the Run” — and synthetic vocal and instrumental effects EVERYWHERE — gimmicks permeate these big-sounding songs. Credit Waking Jordan for not settling for simplicity, but at some point, bells and whistles feel less like progressive songwriting and more like a wall splattered with studio-generated spaghetti. It’s as if the band constantly had epiphanies like, “Hey, OneRepublic tried this trick. Let’s do it, too — and five times more often.”

That’s not to say “Here or There” doesn’t contain a song or two that could blow up on a larger scale. Waking Jordan is an obviously talented band pushing what it thinks are all the right buttons — repeatedly. Pull the arm on the slot machine enough times, and who knows? Perhaps that’s what Potter means on the album closer, “Something to Believe.”

Michael Deeds is the Idaho Statesman’s entertainment columnist and Scene magazine editor. His column runs Fridays and Sundays. He appears on the 6 p.m. broadcast of "Today's 6 News" on Thursdays and hosts a music show, "The Other Studio," from 9-10 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM The River.

Tagged with:
Posted in Words & Deeds