Album review: "Standing on the White Line"
These days, you don't often hear the term "big break" among the area's DIY indie set. But local pop-rock group Juniper Lane has made a big deal of having opened for Coldplay at Verizon Center recently, mostly because the gig led to working with Grammy-winning mixer Michael Brauer on new release "Standing on the White Line."
So, how much does a mixer actually matter? Quite a bit, as it turns out. On an album full of catchy but often formulaic songs, the mixing (several tracks were also mixed by Paul David Hager) and general production value help bring to the fore dynamics that could easily have been buried under muddied rhythm guitar.
As a result, the songs become fresh. The bouncy vibes on "Rise" bop like so many heads crammed into a convertible. The slow angst of "How Long" and the mounting crescendo of vocal harmonies on "Let Me Sleep" add a dash of darkness. Over the top rings the smooth yet powerful soprano of Vivion Smith.
There are some things production can't improve upon. The lyrics, for example, are unimaginative and lack sticking power. One is left to hum the melodies, wondering, "Was that 'Oh, can you hear me calling out' or 'Oh, can you feel me falling down'?"
All in all, it's not hard to see why Coldplay digs Juniper Lane's energy. But what does the band actually have to say? After several times through, this listener still hasn't quite figured that out.
--Jess Righthand, Oct. 7, 2011