Juniper Continue to Redefine Indie In New Single “Daydream (brake lights)”
If you were to ask ten different people what the term “indie music” means, I guarantee you would receive 10 different answers. Not only that but if you go to your streaming service of choice and type in “indie” no two playlists will look remotely the same. The fact of the matter is, the term “indie” is as nebulous as the term “genre” or even the term “music.”
This reality isn’t necessarily bad, as more and more artists are producing innovative and forward-thinking music under the label of Indie. Indie labels are blowing up, adding more artists to their rosters, and connecting with more fans than ever before. Perhaps the ill-defined nature of indie music is responsible for the biggest boom the indie industry has ever seen.
That being said the grammar snob in me is crying out for a definition of the words “indie music.” Luckily, I don’t have to look very hard.
If you are like me, floating hopelessly in the vast enigmatic space of ill-defined musical genres, then look no further than the musical stylings of Scott Johnson, Ahren Shreeve, and Aléjandro Marín, better known as Boston indie-rock trio, Juniper. From their sepia-toned vintage aesthetics to their blissfully simple guitar riffs to their ethereal yet soulful vocals, everything about this band screams indie.
And guess what! they’re back! With a new effortlessly brilliant single, “Daydream (brake lights).”
Juniper established a clear identity as masters of soulful, intimate, and chill indie rock music, and Daydream is no different, continuing to push boundaries while still feeling classic.
The opening guitar riff answers every question you will ever have about the future of indie rock. Intricate and delicate, melodic and emotional, the riff feels like the best teaser ever, mimicking the upcoming vocal melody and immediately making it impossible to pause this track even for a second. The drums are so nostalgic it’s unfair, reminiscent of the simple brilliance of Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane, while still feeling current.
The vocals enter as effortlessly as the guitars, telling the story of a guy on the wrong end of a one-night stand, a perspective I didn’t know I needed to hear, but am now so glad I did. Scott’s tone never fails to deliver, embodying the soul of R&B, combined with the angelic timbre of modern indie pop, like a combination of Lauv, Clario, and John Mayer.
The pre-chorus picks up the energy, without hitting you over the head, as the production becomes just slightly more dynamic, all leading up to the chorus. And then the chorus! What doesn’t this chorus have! All of sudden my ears were hit with a tapestry of vocal harmonies and intricate guitar chords. The lyrics are simply genius, with lines like “Strung out on the hope that you would wanna see me again. I didn’t think I need an exit plan.” The arrangement in the chorus is lively yet relaxed, perfectly mimicking the story being told.
The second verse is similar to the first, just with even more creative lyrics. The meaning of the song is revealed, with the poetic line of “Cruisin through a daydream nevеr saw you putting on your brake lights.” How can you not fall in love with that?
Just when I thought this song couldn’t get any better, Juniper delivered my favorite part of this masterpiece, the bridge. Purely instrumental in nature, this bridge reveals that Scott, Shreeve, and Alé are not afraid to push the boundaries of indie rock. The first part is a simple guitar solo, that reminds me of smooth jazz in the best way possible. This bluesy solo sounds almost improvised, transporting me to musical cloud-9. The second part of the bridge is characterized by a pulsating synth that sounds like everyone’s favorite song from the ’80s. The production mellows out at this point, preparing the ears of the listeners for an emphatic final chorus, credit to Phillip Ethrtington here, and for the mix as a whole.
Then just like that the final chorus comes out of nowhere, identical to the first chorus, just a bit more intense it is the perfect conclusion to this work of art. In classic fashion, the track fades to silence, leaving everyone wanting more.
My only critique is that this song is gone too soon. All I want to do is play “Daydream” over and over again until the day I die, it’s just that amazing. This track is an 11/10, a 15/10, a 100/10, and I can’t wait for the next release from Juniper. I firmly believe that everything about Juniper is reminiscent of the greatest bands of all time, from Fleetwood Mac to the Beatles, yes, the Beatles, and I am more than confident in that comparison, and you will be too. All I can say is that if “Daydream (brake lights)” and Juniper aren’t on your radar, then you don’t know what indie truly means.
Arie Likhtman is a double major in music industry studies and Critical Communication and Media Studies with a minor in philosophy at Butler University. Originally from St.Louis Missouri, he has played music since the age of 4, studying everything from classical piano to ballroom dance to saxophone. He is deeply passionate about all aspects of music from the hot 100 charts to underground indie rock. He hopes to use his voice as a writer to bring new artists to the forefront of the conversation, and to offer new perspectives on music, culture, and society as a whole