Showing posts with label switchfoot. Show all posts
Showing posts with label switchfoot. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

video review: 'fading west' by switchfoot

Well, glad this is out of my system. Next up should be a few country albums and then I think I'll tackle Little Mix's Salute, just to finally get it out of my system. Stay tuned!

album review: 'fading west' by switchfoot

The worst thing you could ever say to a rock band is that they're boring.

I'm serious here. Think about it from a larger historical context - there have been plenty of bad rock bands throughout the years, especially whenever certain 'movements' of rock have gotten any sort of prominence in the mainstream. But there's a place in conversation about aggressively bad rock bands, because they're at least interesting to talk about even if it is to viciously slag them over and over again. The name remains embedded in the cultural conversation, and ten years later when we're talking about bad bands, we'll remember them for being awful. As much as so many people hate Nickelback or Linkin Park (and really, there are so many worse bands than either of these two - trust somebody who knows), all the hatred they've received hasn't exactly stopped them and won't wipe from the history books when musical scholars have the misfortune to examine the first decade of the 21st century.

But calling a rock band boring is so much worse - because they might not be bad, per se, but being 'acceptable' or 'passable' often translates in a few years outside of a hardcore fanbase into 'forgettable'. And really, the more I look back on the post-grunge scene of the late-90s and 2000s, the more I see bands in this vein completely disappearing from the cultural memory within a few more years. And you want your music to last... well, I can't think of a worse fate.

And now we come to Switchfoot, one of the most strikingly anonymous rock bands to which I've ever listened - mostly because they sound very much like the watered-down versions of whatever style of music was big at the time. Of course, that didn't exactly surprise me given that they started in the Christian rock scene in the late 90s, and they haven't exactly left that genre behind (I'll come back to this). And while Switchfoot has never really had an evangelical bent, those first five or so albums felt very neutered and lacked a certain edge of them, especially in comparison with their contemporaries like The Foo Fighters and Queens of the Stone Age. They were inoffensive, lightweight rock that didn't take any chances, and considering how much they were cribbing from other bands - first the mainstream post-grunge, then a very poor man's Queens of the Stone Age and then moving towards some of the lighter adult alternative in the mid-2000s. They were never as bad as Skillet or Creed, but neither were they anything close to being worth recommending.

But around their album Oh! Gravity, someone apparently told the band that a shift to a more serious, rougher tone might work better for them. On the one hand, the guitars got harsher and more ragged and started reminding me of Foo Fighters minus the memorable riffs - but on the other hand, the tone got darker, and that made the band a whole lot less tolerable. And it was a number of factors, too: Jon Foreman isn't remotely convincing as a heavier singer, the lyrics still weren't much to write home about, and there was an awkward defensiveness (especially on Vice Verses) that really got on my nerves. Despite the fact that Switchfoot never went evangelical, their lack of real humour or wit began to make their preachier songs a lot less tolerable. So I wasn't exactly enthused when I geared myself up to listen to Fading West. I mean, after seven goddamn albums of lightweight, not-particularly memorable Christian rock, did Fading West manage to surprise me?