Switchfoot – “Fading West” (ep)


FadingWestEP-SwitchfootEvery now and then a band comes up with a pretty cool idea for their fans.  In this case, the multi-platinum band Switchfoot has released an ep of songs that will be part of a full-length coming out in January 2014,which will also be the soundtrack for a movie they’re making.  If you buy the ep, you’ll get the rest of the album when it comes out.  Sort of like a pre-order with benefits.  I will say there are a lot of bands I wish could do this as there’s often a partially finished album sitting around for a while before the rest is finished and released.  Then again, most of what I listen to is from bands where the delays are time and finances since the band members have to hold down jobs to pay the bills their rockstar life doesn’t cover—like most or all of them.

So, should there be anyone unfamiliar with Switchfoot, they are an alternative-rock band from San Diego who have been around since 1996 and released eight albums.  Starting out primarily as guitar-driven rock in the Christian rock genre, their sound and popularity has increased greatly and now would be considered a mainstream artist with albums being sold in Christian bookstores and regular retail outlets.  Following their appearance on the soundtrack to the movie  A Walk to Remember, Switchfoot was signed by Columbia Records and released their first big hit, The Beautiful Letdown, which has gone on to sell over 2.6 million copies.  The bands next album, Nothing is Sound, entered the Billboard 200 at #3 and saw their songs used in ads with “We are One Tonight” showing up in ads for HBO and the Winter Olympics.  In 2007, Switchfoot left Columbia records and created their own label, lowercase people records, for their next release, eventually linking up with Atlantic Records for distribution.  Over the course of their career, their last five albums have all cracked the Billboard Top 20 and they won numerous Dove/GMA awards and a Grammy in 2011.  Throughout their career, they have taken on various philanthropic causes, even going out on the “Appetite for Construction” tour designed to benefit Habitat for Humanity where they eventually raised over $100,000 for the cause.

The ep kicks off with an almost lo-fi sounding intro to the song “Who We Are” complete with scratchy vocals and an almost funk guitar groove.  The song then quickly veers into something that sounds like it came from a Toby Mac album.  This is radio-friendly CCM style music to the point where I thought I may have the wrong album.  It’s well done if you like this style of music, but if you’re looking for guitar-driven rock, this is not for you.

“Love Alone is Worth the Fight” continues in the same vein as “Who We Are”.  More keyboard and effect driven than guitar driven music here.  The main verses are spoken over pleasant sounding effects and drums and then shift to the soaring chorus you expect in this genre.

“BA55” is the last song on some versions of the ep (including the one reviewed here) and it starts out promising with a loopy bass line and some effect-modified vocals over the top.  Granted I have missed an album or two since seeing Switchfoot live a couple years ago but I wouldn’t have recognized this sound as Switchfoot.  This ep is heavily electronic, radio-friendly, modern rock alternative or adult album alternative and is well-produced and somewhat interesting in terms of style and approach, especially if you like those genres, but guitars and riffs are notably absent.  If you’re thinking about getting the album when it comes out, I’d recommend getting a head start by picking up these tracks, but listen to it first so you know what you’re getting into.

Rating: 5/10

1) Who We Are
2) Love Alone is Worth the Fight
3) BA55

Band Members:
Jon Foreman – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Tim Foreman – bass
Chad Butler – drums
Jerome Fontamillas – rhythm guitar, keyboard
Drew Shirley – lead guitar

Record Label: Atlantic Records, Sept. 2013

Weblinks: Facebook / Twitter Website

Buy the album here:
Holland: First Paradox
Norway: Nordic Mission
USA: Metal Helm

Trailer for “Fading West”

Video for “Who We Are”


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