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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Switchfoot dares themselves to move musically

Published: January 31, 2014
Section: Arts, Etc.

Switchfoot, the American alternative rock band, released their new album, “Fading West,” on Jan. 14. The music in this album has a laid-back but uplifting feel that really relaxes you, as though you are on a beach or surfing. This plays to the name of the band, Switchfoot, which is a surfing term meaning to stand on your board facing the opposite direction. They also used this word to represent taking a new perspective and direction in life.

Listening to the lyrics also confirms the calmness and beauty incorporated in these songs, as most are poems that paint a beautiful picture in our heads of “the sun going down like a photograph” and of the fire “burning brightly” in the song “When We Come Alive.” The musical intensity and the high, harmonized voices add to the bright colors of red, pink and orange that we visualize of the sunset and the fire. Additionally, the song “Love Alone is Worth the Fight” emphasizes the conception of paradise through words such as “oasis,” “illusion” and “love.”

As listeners progress through the album, there is a indie vibe that gradually increases with every song. Since the band used to have more of a punk-rockish style, they keep the edgy vibrations of the guitar while also impressively maintaining a lively sort of energy in songs like “Say It Like You Mean It,” which, with just reading the lyrics, anyone can tell that “this noise of rock and roll” adds “soul” to the groove and beat.

This contrast of intensity and lightness of sound adds another sort of beauty that represents a transformation from the struggles of the past to reawakening and feeling invigorated by a certain happiness or metaphorical “sunlight.” This also demonstrates Switchfoot’s mastery in the variety of different musical styles they are able to play. The experimentation of all kinds of sounds opens them up to new opportunities and will hopefully garner them more recognition as well as more inspiration for the next albums to come.

It’s no wonder their fans are so committed. The band cares deeply about their fans, giving them endless opportunities for meet and greets and allowing them exclusive previews of recording processes of their new albums.

They also participate in many organizations for the less fortunate. They have created Bro-Am, a benefit surfing contest and music event that raises money for local charity organizations, such as Care House, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping homeless teens. Also, the band joined with To Write Love On Her Arms, another non-profit organization which helps young people struggling with problems such as depression, drug addiction, self-harm and suicide.

The band also launched a website and magazine online called for music, arts, words and (get this, Brandeis) social justice! On the band’s official Youtube page, they write, “Musically, we wanted to go places we’ve never been before. We wanted to put out a more diverse collection of musical projects with more artistic control. Since music plays such a crucial role of connecting people with important issues around the world, we wanted to be a part of a label that gives directly to social justice causes.”