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.”