For someone who makes a large part of his living creating and playing music, I don’t listen to a whole lot.
Part never being able to turn off the critical listening region of my brain, part tiring too quickly of chord progressions and lead singer’s tone, part craving silence instead of sound, I’ve never really been able to put my finger on my lack of listening habits. Maybe I’m just too busy making my own music I don’t have time to digest other people’s.
Bottom line: I have to really like what gets played in my car. It’s not competing against a long playlist, it’s competing against quiet.
This past week Switchfoot’s new record came out, Vice Verses. Because I splurged and got the “deluxe package,” it also came with – among other things – a live album of Hello Hurricane.
I’m not sure why Switchfoot has hooked me the way they have. They’re great guys. They put on an amazing show. They love their families, still love Jesus without making him cheap (or being obnoxious). And successfully mix fun and intensity into their music.
And maybe that’s why I’m gelling with Vice Verses so much.
It’s about the dichotomies.
The tensions of life.
The older I get, the more I live out the extremes. Funerals and births. Hellos and goodbyes. Victories and defeats.
And if there were ever a soundtrack to accompany such life-living, I dare say this album is one of them. If nothing more than for the words.
Jon Foreman is a master poet. And he’s managed to capture the soul of such life predicaments in lyrics. Then the band wrapped them in threads of song.
I’m also a big fan of experimenting with tones, especially with bass and guitar, as in this record. Low-fi dirges to shrill grit. The lovely warmth of the clean to the harsh sterility of the digital. It seems even their production choices adhered to the thematic condition.
The deluxe packaging – a ribbon-tethered boxed set including a letter from Jon, manila folders filled with photographs, handwritten lyric pages, a DVD, and a sweet pencil (among other things) – is probably one of the coolest presentations I’ve seen in a long time.
Needless to say I have had Vice Verses and Hello Hurricane Live on in my car back-to-back. (The live disc deserves its own review; it’s that good). Switchfoot has done it with me again. Connected. Sounding familiar enough that I can pick up shreds of influence from bands that we clearly both love, yet foreign enough that I’m marveling at the nuances, at the elements of invention.
My hat’s off to the boys for crafting a rock-n-roll gauntlet in honor of life’s polarities. ch: