Album Review: Switchfoot ‘Vice Re-Verses’

Vice Re-Verses

Now I have to admit I was in two minds when I heard that Switchfoot was going to be bringing out an album of remixes from their latest full album ‘Vice Verses’. For some reason I was picturing an album that somewhere between U2’s Actung Baby and Discotheque… to be honest I was glad I was wrong.

Vice Verse was easily one of the best albums lyrically and musically that has been produced by any Christian artist in the past couple of years… it was an album that was honest without being cheesy and spiritual without being all ‘mumbo jumbo… plus it just sounded good.

So a remix album?

How will that add to what already was a great album?

The answer is it doesn’t… it seems like it was a great way for the band play with some different sounds and let some of their friends have fun with their sounds at the same time… the plus side of it all was that the fans get to listen to a new side of a group that feels like it’s just finding it’s own sound now, with Hello Hurricane and Vice Verses having what seems to have settled as the ‘Switchfoot sound’.

The remixes are actually REALLY well done… and they really should have been as they were already good songs but the people who remixed them are really good to… Adam Young (Owl City), Darren King (MuteMath), JT Daly (Paper Route)… not to mention the very reliable and often unsung sounds of Drew Shirley and Jerome Fontamillas from Switchfoot themselves.

I really like how the remixes add a new dimension to the songs rather than detracting from them… and there were times I think “wow I hadn’t noticed that in the song before”… and so for me the remixes have been very much a compliment, I don’t think the songs themselves are as good as the original however there are a few that get pretty close.

I really like the honesty that is kept in the songs like ‘Blinding Lights’ and ‘Vice Verses’ as it would have been really easy to take them and add a ‘oonce oonce’… and turn it into a club thrasher that looses the soul and heart of what the song intended to be from the very beginning.

The more banging tracks like ‘Afterlife’ and the ‘Original’ are great bookends to this album and really bring out the fun side of the album.

The track that surprised me the most was ‘War inside’ – this song already had a great groove to it and was really interesting to see how it was going to be worked… and it surprised me and I love it. I would have been easy to lay a phat beat over the top and crunch out a winner… however what Drew and Jerome did was make a song that was a stand out track… and it was the most remixed of the albums… the others were versions of the original… this was a remix…

This album is worth having a listen to… and it works in all settings… It’s a sophisticated remix album, it’s not your usual and that’s good.

 

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Album Review: Switchfoot ‘Vice Verses’

Switchfoot 'Vice Verses'

The album starts off with the screaming of a wall of sound… Jon yells “I’ve tasted fire I’m ready to come alive’… it’s clear Switchfoot are back and they’ve got something to say… and they’re gonna leave a piece of themselves on this album.

Switchfoots latest album starts of with all the bravado in the world… the attitude of a punk band, the cool of a 80’s rock band with all the riffs in the world to burn, buckle up this album isn’t about comfort and being nice… this album is about the tensions we live in, and the best way to do this it seems is AT HIGH VOLUME… and the boys are not holding back punches with lyrics like

Eyes open open wide
I can feel it like a crack in my spine
I can feel it like the back of my mind
I am the war inside

After a big start to the album Switchfoot give you a chance to rest musically with the song ‘Restless’, but they’re not about to let you rest on what they are wanting to say…  this album deals with what we all deal with, the battle of our soul, the battle of our minds and ‘Restless’ tells us about the search that goes on…

Switchfoot are sounding like a band that have finally found a sound that ‘fits’ them and songs like ‘Blinding Lights’ show they’re not afraid to pull from their sound treasure trove with tonal colours in their music reminiscent of albums like 2003’s ‘Beautiful letdown’

And to add to the tension of the album they boys through in ‘Selling the news’ – when i first heard this on the album  though someone changed the album, vocally it sounds like Jon is somewhere between some kind of circus ringmaster, and a newsboy on the corner

‘I wanna believe you, I wanna believe
But everything is in-between
The fact is fiction
Suspicion is the new religion’

Lyrically this album is so powerful, and the music only adds to the power of the words which just goes to show the strength of Switchfoots songwriting, and the fact that they are at the peak of their powers… and yet they are brave enough to look into themselves and sing ‘I know i’m not right’…

As the album prepares for a landing the band lays it down on the line with the track ‘Rise above it’ a glimpse that we are born for more than this, and yet we’re living in this world that is not perfect and we’re living everyday with the fact that we’re not perfect either, still dealing with our own vices.

This is the first album in a very very long time that i think hits the mark not only lyrically, but muscially and not only that… but being real and truthful and not willing to pull any punches… there is a sense that blood was left on the mat for this one… and it’s powerful in it’s humbleness…

the album end with this;

And when I reach the other side
I want to look You in the eye
And know that I’ve arrived
In a world where I belong

Where I belong

10/10

Album Review: Needtobreathe ‘The Reckoning’

NEEDTOBREATHE 'The Reckoning'

Since hearing Needtobreathe’s song ‘Washed by the Water’ from their 2007 album the heat, I have been following the band with interest… their distinctive ‘southern’ sound.

The band has based their sound around the growl of  their lead singer and main songwriter Bear Rinehart and by doing so they are really on to a winner… by it’s self his voice is both powerful and delicate, but when you add on top of that the harmonies that Bo Rinehart and Seth Bolt add to the mix (and often a good ole’ southern sounding choir) and it turns the atmosphere into something to be a part of… it’s somewhere between an intimate rock concert and a southern church service.

And it brings us to ‘The Reckoning’ – this album is certainly more melancholic than the other albums, but it also has more depth to it at the same time. One of the things that I respect about NtB is the growth that you hear on each album, their craft is broadening and you can here the change from them playing in small gig towns to large stadiums…

The album starts off with ‘Ohhs and Ahhs’  a simple bass and piano and Bear growling rhythmically over top – the rest of the boys come in with some southern harmonies before the song explodes into a layered rock song filled with trumpets and strings and riffs that give you a taste that this album is about to take you somewhere you may not have expected… and then we are launched into ‘White fences’ a cross between an Irish pub singalong session and a southern drink session…

At this point you are thinking “Ok I’ve got a feel of this album” and then they land their first single from the album on you ‘Drive all night’ and it’s a cracker… it’s Matchbox 20 meets Counting crows meets Tom Petty… it’s all rock it’s all southern and it’s melodic, and gives you a taste… and you want more… But like any good band NtB know not to play all their cards in their first half of their albums, and they drop you nicely into the Celtic infused ditty ‘A Place only you can go’ and it is beautiful and it is gentle and it is laced with bagpipes.

‘Slumber’ and ‘The Reckoning’ pick up the rock trail again before the very singable track ‘Able’ which almost has a Gaither band feel in the chorus, and a real tip of the hat to the old southern sound that the boys were most likely grown up with.

‘Maybe there on to us’ reminds me of a Rob Thomas song, it almost has an R&B feel to it.

The album finishes with ‘Learn to Love’ it’s beauty in it’s simplest and it feels like it’s a slow farewell that you expect from a concert…

This is a great southern pop infused rock album, it has enough swagger and drive to keep you interested while taking you on a musical journey through the lives of Bear and Bo Rinehart.

9/10

Here’s the video for ‘Slumber’ the second single from the album ‘The Reckoning’

 

Album Review: Red Hot Chili Peppers ‘I’m With You’

Red Hot Chili Peppers "I'm With You"

Everyone has been waiting with baited breath for the release of the latest RHCP’s album… the first since the second departure of John Frusciante.

This album was always going to be a new direction for the Chili’s with new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer filling in Johns shoes… Long time drummer Chad Smith said in Rolling Stone Magazine “this is a new band. Same name, but it’s a new band.”

This album seems to be to be less about the new guitarist and more about the two members of the band that hold the whole package together… the Rhythm section – Flea and Chad Smith… Anthony Kiedis just does his thing over top, while the new kid Josh makes some really tasty decisions to add to the depth of the sound.

The album starts with “Monarchy of Roses” a Helter skelter of drums and distorted guitar and fuzzy vocals… before breaking into a disillusioned disco sound a bitter sweet symphony of fun and darkness… I can’t help but think of Sound Garden.

The very next song is almost a totally different creature… a clean 80’s infused bass starts the “Factory of Faith” in fact this track can’t get anymore 80’s (it even adds some great cutting wah pedal towards the end of the song)

It’s odd listening to this album… it’s like listening to an album that sounds a bit like the Chili Peppers – there are parts that are classic Chili Peppers and then there is a dark turn that we haven’t seen in the Peppers before… almost more focused… before diving into a musical exploration of sound. A great example of this is the disco dance infused “Look Around”.

It’s refreshing to hear the band trying new sounds with a real Spanish flavour offered with “Did I let you know” complete with trumpet solo… a real foot tapper… but once again… they fool you by busting straight into a song that you would hear as the chase music on Playstation game like ‘Driver’ or ‘Grand theft Auto’.

I’m not sure all of the songs work on this album… and the band certainly are trying to push in areas that they maybe haven’t explored before… but every song has a touch of that  Hot Chili catchy-ness that makes you want to tap your foot… or just stand and dribble in awe.

If you are a big RHCP fan there is enough on this album to keep you happy… if you’re new to the band… you can get your groove on to parts of this album…

This is a new look/new sound Chili Peppers… you may want to taste before you buy because this is new ground… and it’s not all familiar.

Either way you have to feel sorry for Josh Klinghoffer he is either going to be hassled for changing the sound of the RHCP’s or hassled for not being John… lots of weight for young shoulders.

8/10