Music Musings

Switchfoot: Looking Back

Switchfoot - Oh! Gravity.This January I was lucky enough to acquire a copy of Switchfoot’s new album, Oh! Gravity. I’ve given it a few spins, and it’s not bad. With that being said, I find myself missing their old stuff. New Way to Be Human, Learning to Breathe, even The Beautiful Letdown all have a markedly different sound and feel to them in comparison to Nothing is Sound or Oh! Gravity.

You won’t find the guitar distortion typical of Switchfoot’s current sound in these previous albums, but you will find beautifully crafted rock with inventive, quirky instrumentation and catchy hooks. I recently grabbed New Way to Be Human off of, rediscovering an album that is solid from cover to cover. It’s interesting to see a band meld music that’s fun to listen to with lyrics that make your head spin. “Amy’s Song,” “Only Hope,” Let That Be Enough,” even “Something More (Augustine’s Confession)” — there’s a depth to the words Jon Foreman pens that leaves you breathless. Off of Learning to Breathe, check out these lyrics from “Economy of Mercy”:

These carbon shells / These fragile dusty frames / House canvases of souls / We are bruised and broken masterpieces / But we did not paint ourselves / And where will I find You?

That’s one of my favorite lyrics out of any song I’ve heard, and I bought this album back in high school; it’s poignant and paints a vivid picture of the human condition. Words like that don’t just fall out of the sky. The Beautiful Letdown also doesn’t disappoint with its content, though there are a few songs I feel were hit-and-miss. That album was Switchfoot’s first taste at mainstream success, and the world hadn’t heard anything quite like them before.

Personally, I think Switchfoot deserves all of the acclaim it’s received thus far – there are few songwriters today that can craft songs the way that Jon Foreman can, especially in the arena of rock and roll. I do feel, however, that Switchfoot has lost sight of their roots, lost sight of part of what made them such a wonderful band – the accessible …. you see it in “Dare You to Move,” you see it in “24,” you see it in “Beautiful Letdown,” and you see it in their live shows. But, to a degree, on the last few albums their poignant art has found itself somewhat obscured by the overpowering nature of the rock and roll sound they seem to be developing. The words are still there; they’re just harder to see through the noise.

I still have high hopes for Switchfoot and their messages of hope and redemption in a world found lacking. I’m sure Oh! Gravity. will grow on me, but if you’ve never heard Switchfoot’s older fare, you’ll be doing yourself a huge service by grabbing a copy of Switchfoot’s retrospective The Early Years: 1997-2000 over at You won’t be disappointed.

Art Music

David Crowder Band – B Collision

David Crowder Band - B Collision, or (...the Eschatology of Bluegrass)I received the David Crowder Band’s latest release B Collision, or (…the Eschatology of Bluegrass) in the mail earlier this week, and man, has it been a treat to listen to. B Collision provides a stripped-down, acoustic treatment to some of the songs from DCB’s previous full length, A Collision, along with a few live cuts from their 2006 tour with Robbie Seay and Shane & Shane. David Crowder’s offerings have been strong in the past, often very creative while remaining catchy; he won’t be shoehorned into a hole. A Collision featured genres ranging from rock to folk to bluegrass, to, well, jsut plain weird (in a cool way). Following in the footsteps of this tradition, B Collision does not disappoint.

The track listing is as follows:

1.) Intro (I’ve Had Enough)
2.) A Beautiful Collision
3.) Wholly Yours
4.) Everybody Wants to go to Heaven (LP)
5.) I Can Hear the Angels Singing / (…andeverandeverand…)
6.) Be Lifted (live with Robbie Seay and Shane & Shane)
7 .) I Saw the Light (live with Robbie Seay and Shane & Shane)

The first song on the album, “Intro (I’ve Had Enough)”, starts off very lo-fi, with Crowder sitting down and getting ready before he begins playing. A quiet banjo enters midway through the intro, sounding as if it’s in the back of the room away from the microphone for a nice effect.

Track two is my favorite currently, with a glitchy-electronic feel behind Crowders voice that builds until beautiful banjo-picking takes the limelight at the chorus.  Magnetic tape whirrs and clicks encapsulate much of the track, but the feel remains organic throughout.

Track three, “Wholly Yours,” is a different treatment of a song off of A Collision, remixed with slight electronic flourishes and featuring subtle banjo on the latter half of the song.

The LP version of “Everybody Wants to go to Heaven” gracefully follows, clocking in at a generous 4:56, an expansion of the 1:04 version found on A Collision.

Track five, “I Can Hear the Angels Singing” fades into a interlude of crowd noise under the moniker “(…andeverandeverand…),” initiating the live portion of the album. “Be Lifted” and “I Saw the Light” were recorded on the road in Kansas, and they capture the live feel of Crowder’s shows rather well.

Anyway, I was very happy with this purchase; David Crowder continues to push the boundaries of his music in the pursuit of good art, and it’s a gamble that has continued to pay off with each new album. B Collision is highly recommended, in my book.


Copeland @ Alley Katz, Richmond, VA, 8.19.2006

On Saturday I drove down to Richmond with a friend to catch Copeland play with Lovedrug at Alley Katz. Besides the fact that it was an early show (5 to 9 PM) and inundated with tons of Emo kids that all looked the same (“I need some Pumas and a lip ring, STAT!”), Copeland was AMAZING.


Due to Lovedrug and a couple of the other openers running over, Copeland only got to play for about 35 minutes, but it was still totally worth, it, a sonic feast for the ears. They led off with “When Paula Sparks” off of Beneath Medicine Tree then continuted with a number of their songs off of In Motion.

To top it off, my friend and I stopped by Chick-Fil-A on the way back for dinner and a chocolate milkshake. Mmmmm.

To sum up, Copeland is one of my favorite bands, and for good reason. They sound as awesome live as they do on their LPs, so if you get a chance to watch them play somewhere, it will behoove you to do so.

Copeland’s new album, Eat, Sleep, Repeat is set to be released on Halloween of this year (10.30.2006). I can’t wait; from what I’ve heard, it’s shaping up to be another solid album. Copeland makes the cut when it comes to bands whose albums I’ll always buy.

Life Music

Thursday Night with Dreaming Isabelle

Well, I’m still in the process of moving all of my stuff into the townhouse. The developers of the neighborhood have been paving the entire circle the past couple of days, so all of the owners and tenants have had to find other places to park, which has been somewhat of a pain. Luckily, the First Patriot Bank and the Food Lion parking lot are both just across the street, heh.

Dreaming IsabelleLast night Jon’s band Dreaming Isabelle played a set at the Outback Lodge. It was a good show; not a ton of people came out, but, hey, it was a Thursday night show at the beginning of the summer. They played a number of songs from their self-titled debut, as well as a few covers. They finished off the show with a lot of energy, playing their own version of Michael Jackson’s “Black and White.” It was a rather enjoyable evening, although I think I like the venue at the Gravity Lounge better. It’s really nice to be living on this side of town; work and a lot of the entertainment options that encircle the Downtown Mall are much more accessable. I’m going to save a fortune on gas (no more driving in from Crozet every day).

Well, I’ll probably finish moving stuff in with Mika this afternoon, then I have 2 weddings this weekend (one of which I’m in), and Mika’s leaving for a month starting Monday. There’s much to do, and not a lot of time to do it. You probably won’t see me again until monday. Who ever thought that Charlottesville in the summer would be so hectic? 😉


Sleeping at Last – Keep No Score

Sleeping at Last :: Keep No ScoreSleeping at Last recently released their new album, Keep No Score, the follow-up to their critically acclaimed debut, Ghosts. I’ve been following their progress in the studio through their MySpace page, and I can’t wait to get my hands on my copy (which is currently in the mail). Buzzgrinder’s review states:

This is a beautiful album, perhaps one of the best of 2006. If you’re a fan of the bands previous work, Radiohead, This Beautiful Mess or lushly orchestrated rock in general you should defiantly check this one out.

I’ve been highly impressed with Sleeping at Last in the past, and I’m sure I will only continue to do so. Go check them out.