The long awaited review of local band Juniper Lane’s review is now up on DOA. Remember when I said that I would review it like…4 months ago? Well, I’m glad I waited, because now the review is up on a more visible site, so I can hook up a local band with some exposure. It was sort of hard to keep from praising them too much, but, the truth is, I really enjoyed the CD, and I definitely would’ve said something if I thought something sucked. So, enough with the story behind the review, here it is:
Chances are that many of you have never heard of Juniper Lane. The unsigned band from the DC area has been on the verge for the past few years and has gained quite a loyal fan base by playing in both big-name venues (9:30 Club & HFStival) and smaller music clubs. Its third album in five years, Sirens from a Mile Back consists of 12 well-crafted songs that range from dark and gloomy to upbeat and energized.
One thing that really bothers me when I hear a band is when there is too much noise or filler, just for the sake of playing noise and fillers. Don’t be alarmed. This is not one of those bands; actually, this is quite the opposite. The drummer and bassist (Eddie Pasa and Brian Frederick) do a great job of keeping the rhythms simple, which leaves a lot of room for the vocals and guitar to have their own space. The backbone and driving force is lead-singer/keyboardist Vivion Smith. She has an extremely versatile voice that can range from a whisper to a wall of sound. Guitarist Chris Bonavia adds a guitar that is typically drenched in healthy mixture of chorus and reverb that gives each song thickness and depth. He compliments and strengthens the melodies that are carried in the vocals.
I thought that every song had potential for being representative of the band’s “sound” except for one. The shortest song on the album, “Soon I’ll Be Away” weighs in at just under one and a half minutes, and while it’s a fun happy rock song, it doesn’t show the band’s strength. I found that Juniper Lane excels when there is a change in dynamics. Pretty much every other song uses that to its advantage, especially “Stabilize,” “Love Letters,” and “Cracks in the Pavement.”
One of my favorite tracks is “Without Consequence.” It begins with a dark and mysterious guitar arpeggio. With lyrics like “I want to love without fearing consequence,” Smith pours her heart out while the song slowly and steadily crescendos. At 3:25, everything stops and there is silence for a few seconds, only to be broken by an epic two-minute pulsing piano section with an eerie repeating guitar lick outro to end the album that sent shivers down my spine.
Consistent from start to finish, Sirens from a Mile Back is an album that I liked the first time I heard it. Although this album is self-released and not found in every CD store across the country, it’s worth checking out so that you can say you heard about Juniper Lane before the band got big.