online listen
rather surprised at this one
not that I had a negative view of them
had heard other work with nothing standing out
some of this did

from the album - Dark Horses

released Sept 27th, 2011

from all music


After gaining a foothold in the contemporary Christian music scene, Switchfoot went mainstream with 2003's The Beautiful Letdown, a double-platinum album that straddled the line between sacred and secular rock music. The band spent the rest of its career appealing to both camps. Years before Switchfoot's commercial breakthrough, though, the group struggled to make a dent in the San Diego area, where singer/guitarist Jonathan Foreman, bassist Tim Foreman, and drummer Chad Butler began playing together in 1996. The lineup logged several shows under its original name, Chin Up, before adopting the Switchfoot moniker and attracting the attention of Charlie Peacock, an influential label executive who sought to promote Christian music to mainstream pop markets. Although Peacock signed the band to his own label, Re:Think, Switchfoot was moved over to the roster of Sparrow Records following Sparrow's acquisition of the smaller label.

Now signed to one of the largest Christian labels in the country, Switchfoot temporarily tabled their plans to reach out to a broader audience. Their first two albums, The Legend Of Chin and New Way To Be Human, were marketed almost exclusively toward Christian listeners, who took an immediate shine to the band's music. Keyboardist Jerome Fontamillas joined the band for 2000's Learning To Breathe, which found Switchfoot taking more steps toward a mainstream alt-rock sound. Breathe became a transitional record for the group, earning a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Gospel Album and selling over 500,000 copies, thus achieving gold status. Its success, coupled with the band's presence on the hit soundtrack to the 2002 film A Walk to Remember, set Switchfoot up for a healthy major-label run.

The Beautiful Letdown, Switchfoot's debut album for Columbia Records, was issued during the spring of 2003. It represented the quartet's full evolution from a Christian group to a mainstream rock act, eventually earning double platinum sales and producing two Top 20 hits: "Dare You to Move" and "Meant to Live." Switchfoot returned in September 2005 with their fifth album, Nothing Is Sound, which debuted at number three on the Billboard 200. Nothing Is Sound went gold, sparked another radio hit in "Stars," and was the first Switchfoot recording to include the work of additional guitarist Andrew Shirley (formerly a member of the contemporary Christian group All Together Separate), who'd been a touring member of Switchfoot since 2003. Wasting little time, the band returned to the studio with veteran U.K. producer Tim Palmer to begin work on its sixth album, one that found the guys broadening their musical scope. The resulting Oh! Gravity appeared at the tail end of 2006.

Oh! Gravity
. turned out to be Switchfoot's last album for a major label. Less than a year after its release, Jon Foreman announced the band's decision to leave Columbia Records and form its own label, lowercase people records. Columbia pulled together some of the band's greatest hits for a last-minute compilation, The Best Yet, while the band set to work on another record. At the same time, Foreman began releasing a string of solo EPs, each of them named after a specific season. He also formed Fiction Family, a folk-pop side project, with Nickel Creek guitarist Sean Watkins. Fiction Family's self-titled debut was released in January 2009, followed one month later by another Switchfoot album, Hello Hurricane, which won the 2011 Grammy Award for Best Rock Gospel Album. Several months after the band's Grammy win, Switchfoot returned with Vice Verses, an album that highlighted the band's rhythm section.

Album Review

If 2009's Hello Hurricane was a return to the straightforward alt rock anthems of Switchfoot's 2003 breakthrough The Beautiful Letdown, then 2011's Vice Verses delivers more of the same with a few production left-turns thrown in. Ballyhooed as a kind of showcase for the band's rhythm section, Vice Verses nonetheless still features lead singer/songwriter Jon Foreman and the passionate, rock uplift the Christian-centric band is known for. Much like their similarly inclined predecessor U2, Switchfoot have grown somewhat experimental in their middle age while never totally relinquishing the rock anthem mantle. To these ends, we get the melodic dance-rocker "The Original," the epic drama of the light acid rock anthem "The War Inside," and the sprawlingly romantic "Restless." Similarly engaging is the hummable electro-ballad "Thrive" and the intimate and yearning acoustic title track. If the band missteps a few times, especially with the culture-of-fear, media critique spoken word piece "Selling the News," you can chalk it up to that U2-esque mid-career experimentation. Ultimately, Vice Verses finds Switchfoot in a creatively energized and committed state of mind that should please longtime fans and produce more than a few ear-catching moments. Also included here is a second disc featuring a live concert the band gave at Center Stage in Atlanta.

Track Listing

1. Afterlife
2. The Original
3. The War Inside
4. Restless
5. Blinding Light
6. Selling the News
7. Thrive
8. Dark Horses
9. Souvenirs
10. Rise Above It
11. Vice Verses