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Released: Nov 10, 2009
Genre: Alternative Rock
Label: Lowercase People Records
Number Of Tracks: 12
On their first release since parting ways with Columbia Records, Switchfoot are enjoying the freedom to think outside of the world of cookie-cutter formats.
UG Team, on november 11, 2009 7 of 10 people found this review helpful
Sound: After playing by Columbia/Sony BMG Records' rules on their past few albums, the members of Switchfoot have rediscovered creative freedom. Frontman Jon Foreman candidly stated they wanted to start with a clean slate because the last couple of records felt kind of compromised. One can imagine that the record execs wanted an album chock full of radio hits that follow a pretty common format, and while Switchfoot's 7th studio album Hello Hurricane comes close to that ideal, it's obvious that the quintet wanted to get a bit more artsy in the process. There's an underlying pop-rock vibe that is the driving force behind the CD, but Switchfoot still shows off their experimental side in a big way.
Small indications of that experimentation are apparent in a track like Needle and Haystack Life, which immediately introduces a much richer guitar tone that we've heard from the band in the past. While that particular song still sounds like a perfect fit to play over the credits of any random hip TV show, Mess Of Me begins to take the album in a more intriguing direction. If you prefer the edgier, more straight-up rock side to Switchfoot, you'll love Mess Of Me. Starting off with a sonic, distortion-seeped guitar hook, it also features an interesting arrangement in which a cappella vocal lines often trade off with the rest of the instrumentation.
It's very likely that Foreman and his bandmates had a ball playing around with various effects/synth equipment. There's been a quote going around regarding how Hello Hurricane delves deeper into both the band's acoustic and electronic sides. As odd as it sounds, it's an accurate statement. Not every song includes this combo, of course, but the album is full of paradoxes to be sure. A song like Sing It Out is an aural free-for-all, starting out with some eerie Pink Floyd-like crying guitar effects. The bass line is the guiding force underneath Foreman's solemn vocal work (which is also eventually joined by a string section), and you'll even hear a subtle robotic-like vocal line mirroring his lyrics. There's also a lengthy, fairly ghostly instrumental outro that sounds to be primarily synth work.
While Mess Of Me and This Is The Sound are the big rock numbers, the mellower offerings take up the bulk of the album. Enough is just a little too predictable in comparison with the rest of the tracks, but it does score points for its sentimental factor. Your Love Is A Song begins by being a fully electric ballad, but the band quickly strips everything down to only an acoustic and vocals. There are a few transitions of that sort in not only This Is The Sound, but in songs scattered throughout the CD. The acoustic doesn't always take the spotlight on the ballads, however, and you'll notice that Switchfoot became fond of a keyboard effect that produces a chiming effect that you might hear in a nursery rhyme. It's the little details like those which indicate that Switchfoot is truly attempting to think outside of the box. // 8
Lyrics: There's a common theme that runs throughout Hello Hurricane, namely that of self reflection. Whether Foreman expresses, I still believe you can save me from me or the sickness is myselfI made a mess of me, the album probably had a cathartic effect for the singer/songwriter. The main issue is that there is a fair share of the normal/typical rhyming patterns (I've got my back against the wall; I can still hear the blue sky call), and that often becomes distracting. The candid themes relayed, however, allow you to often overlook any predictable rhymes that show up on the record. // 7
Overall Impression: Recalling Switchfoot's big hits from The Beautiful Letdown (Meant To Live and Dare You To Move), there does seem to be creative growth for the San Diego natives. While it's fascinating to hear what effects, drum tracks, sampling are chosen (and where they are placed), it's just as satisfying to hear a dirty riff show up in the middle of Hello Hurricane. Somehow with all of the experimentation, Switchfoot still manages to sound commercially acceptable. The band didn't necessarily play by a major label's rules this time around, it would still be no surprise if a number of Hello Hurricane's tracks find Billboard success. // 8
takenthecannoli, on february 19, 2010 5 of 7 people found this review helpful
Sound: I could start off talking about the sound of this record by citing track four, "The Sound," but I'm not going to.
Having finally overcome the hype this record instilled in me, I've decided to start writing reviews again under a more critical eye than usual (don't tell that to the users complaining about my 'Thriller' review being too harsh), starting with the latest Switchfoot release.
I've been a huge fan of Switchfoot since the release of 'The Beautiful Letdown,' their best album up to then, which was, incidentally, 2003, and the best record they put out for quite a long time. While it is true that my favorite was the followup, 2005's 'Nothing is Sound,' I acknowledged the 'TBL' was the better and appreciated that, much like my feelings for 'The Wall' versus 'Dark Side of the Moon.'
It is well known amongst fans and friends of mine that I am not a fan of 'Oh! Gravity,' a cheap cash-in released to crowds of fans who were roaring for some reason merely a year after 'Nothing is Sound.' Well, isn't this special! Sony and Columbia are pushing out more fecal matter than we can chew on? Still?
Granted, it's not a bad record, it's just not a very good one, so I was anxious, after Switchfoot announced their record independence, to see what they'd come out with. Nothing was as disappointing to me as other releases by other bandsEvanescencebut the back of my head always ended the sentences of encouragement with the word 'yet,' which is, incidentally, another track title.
2009 brought us 'Hello Hurricane.' I bought a copy of this record and didn't open it; it was a Christmas gift for my best friend, so she got to hear it before I did, as far as the FBI knows. I had to wait until she sent it to me as a birthday present, and I only recieved it a few days before Christmas, so maybe I did hear it first. Legally.
Where were we? Ah, yes, Hello Hurricane. It beats 'Oh! Gravity' and 'Nothing is Sound.' Surprised? Let me talk about the opening track, "Needle and Haystack Life," as the opening track should always be one of the best. After all, without a solid opening track, where does the rest of the album go? The first song should blow the audience awayintroduce them to the world of the record. Well, "Needle" does that rather well. It's got Jon Foreman's Bonoesque screaming, as always, and a nice upbeat tempo to boot.
"Mess of Me" continues the new-found Switchfoot tradition of having a slamming rock theme, and ranks up with "Polititians" and is better than "Oh! Gravity."
The more somber sounds we got with older Switchfoot releases include "Enough to Let Me Go" and "Yet," which are both great tracks and great Switchfoot songs. The former is a very vocally driven piece with some nice acoustic guitars, and "Yet" is more bass and vocals. Both are amongst the best songs on the album.
The weakest on the record are actually kind of hard to pick out, though I can also say that there aren't any musical standouts hereno "Bohemian Rhapsody"s or anything. The most average ones, however, are "Bullet Soul" and "Free," neither of which are really all that bad. The title track is great, "Always" is a piano ballad of sorts which is sure to be a standout, "Red Eyes" is the perfect finale.
If anything, this record sounds emotionally inspiring, which you don't see a lot anymore. New elements include more beat-driven tracks, "Bullet Soul" comes to mind, but the most prominent tracks are still the emotionally wrenching ones. Switchfoot, of course, is known for doing this with works such as "On Fire" and such, and this record is definitely adding to their 'Best of' list. It's a nice refreshment and it gets closer to their roots than we have been for quite some timedefinitely a nice blend of older and newish Switchfoot. One of their best. Nice job, everyone. // 8
Lyrics: Jon Foreman has always been an emotional writer, and if you don't know that now, see his solo works. He's much in the veins of Roger Waters and Bono's illegitimate child, who, by the way, is writing this review. The tradition is continued as expected in this record, which is neither here nor there with quality. While Jon and whomsoever may assist him in the writing process may do a good job, they don't do a perfect one. By today's standards, I should be giving them a gold star, but I'm not reviewing this in short-terms, I'm reviewing in retrospect. If they're going to make music, they might as well do it right. Well, they at least do an acceptable job. No huge curves or anything unexpected, though that might be a good thing. I can't imagine Switchfoot trying to be tongue-in-cheek like Queen or outright and screaming like Pink Floyd. Thematically, it's more uplifting yet more emotionally charged than previous works, and there are some real tear-jerkers.
I've mentioned Bono twice in this review so far, and I'm sure my fellow critics have constantly compared he and Jon vocally. Yes, it's true, Jon does some things like Bono, though it doesn't sound like he's trying to imitate U2, despite citing the band many times as an influence. That's probably a good thing; a band that's influenced but doesn't sound too much like an older band. If there's one thing that sets the two apart, it's probably Jon's fantastic screaming. See: "Bullet Soul" and "Mess of Me."
Everything flows as you'd expect it to in a Switchfoot album, and that is to say that it flows rather nicely, thank you. // 7
Overall Impression: This year has been difficult for me, when it comes to music. Several bands I started listening toThe Fray, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatusand even bands I've known for awhile, like Skillet, have disappointed in 2009. Luckily, Switchfoot managed to pull out of the radiowave whoring that was 'Oh! Gravity' and put together a solid album, one of their greatest efforts to date. In fact, I'd put it above 'The Beautiful Letdown' if that wasn't such a classic SF record. And for all you older Switchfoot fans, there are still some things about 'New Way to Be Human' (1999) and 'Learning to Breathe' (2001) that were as memorable as moments on 'Hello Hurricane.' Even their debut has its moments. But Switchfoot has really grown as a band since then, taking themselves seriously, but not in the wrong ways. They're finding their foothold more and more each day. They've explored many areas with success and will continue to do so, and I'll be there when they do.
'Hello Hurricane' is, in conclusion, my new favorite Switchfoot record. It's got all the elements I loved about the older records, the middle ones, and even the newer releases. Plus, it's got personality that sets it apart from the others which I felt the previously cited sophomore record lacked sorely. Harder songs like "Mess of Me" and "The Sound" are full of Jon's magnificent howling, and more intimate tracks, "Always" and "Sing it Out" are just great. I enjoy every minute of 'Hello Hurricane,' even if it's not all the most creative and innovative stuff. I do recommend it, highly, whether or not you've been a Switchfoot fan since 'The Legend of Chin,' 'Nothing is Sound,' or even since reading this review. As a standalone record, it beats all the others. As a Switchfoot release, it's at least second best. We're supposed to be getting a new record either this or next year, and we'll just have to see whether they are met with my personal approval or not. Personally, I wasn't too thrilled the last time they only took a year between releases. // 9
rockyourworld99, on august 13, 2010 2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: I discovered Switchfoot by listening to "This Is Home" on a compilations disc. Switchfoot is a great band, and keeps changing its sound. They went from indie to mainstream, and after becoming dissatisfied with this situation, switched back to indie. This album definitely shows a change of sound, and it also shows more use of technology. Hello Hurricane took about 2 years to produce, more than any other Switchfoot album to date, since the band members put out a great deal of songs, and had to reduce 100+ songs to just 12 songs they could die singing. The album is a sonic mixture of soft ballads and rock anthems, from the soft "Enough To Let Me Go" to the catchy "The Sound (John M. Perkins' Blues)". The songs have been featured prominently on TV shows and movies, and have had significant airplay on famous radios, which attests to the quality of the album. // 10
Lyrics: The lyrics, most written by frontman, lead guitarist and singer Jon Foreman and his brother, bass player extraordinaire Tim Foreman, are heartfelt and painfully honest at times. While word choice might be criticized by some, the message delivered by the songs is meaningful, and the songs are one in both lyrics and music. The theme of the album, which is to never give up, is uplifting to the listener and accentuates the positive, while not failing to show living, breathing emotions, which also is a feature of Jon Foreman's singing. Jon Foreman is a highly skilled vocalist, singing both low and high notes with an incredibly crisp quality, going from almost whispering to screaming at different parts of songs. There is nothing more to be wished for. // 10
Overall Impression: I am highly impressed with this album. It is better than any other albums I own (as this is my only Switchfoot album to date) and compares admirably with their earlier, popular records. The San Diego quintet, consisting of Jon and Tim Foreman, Chad Butler, Jerome Fontamillas and Drew Shirley, has done an amazing job with this album. As usual, the CD needs listening to get used to the new style, but the more I listen to it, the better it sounds. If the album were stolen/lost, I would buy it again, and maybe go as far as to buy the Collector's Deluxe Edition. Needless to say, all of Switchfoot's albums are more than worth buying. // 10
sg4ever, on june 18, 2010 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: Switchfoot is the type of band that seems to change per album. Despite the changing sounds and different styles that permeate their catalog, the one thing that attracts me and I'm sure attracts other fans is their consistency. It's not the consistency where every album sounds the same, but they keep their sound regardless of how they change from album to album. They have this vibe and feeling about them that doesn't go away even when they go from quirky alt/pop to a straight up rocker during the course of one album. Such is the case with Hello Hurricane.
The album showcases a newer sound that is hard to put into words. Great tones are all across the board from lush delay and clean tones to fuzz pedals that go from smooth chords to raunchy grind and screaming leads. There doesn't seem to be much amp overdrive this time around (at least to my ears), which is probably part of the difference. There seem to be way more ambient sounds and fuzz tone in lieu of overdrive, that sound more post/rock in nature than I usually hear from Switchfoot.
The second reason why this album seems so different is probably the song arrangements. I know what you're thinking. Of course the song arrangements are different and of course that's why it sounds different. The thing is, it's not so much that the song arrangements are extremely different, but they seem more rich for lack of better word. I guess the word for it would be mature. It's been gone for a while, but it's ever more apparent that the wild abandon and three chord arrangements of their youth are long gone. They've added a lot of dynamics ranging from loud to soft and seem to have added that notorious middle ground that most bands miss and every member is a contributing part of the dynamics. If you take one away, then the whole thing doesn't work. From the call and response in Mess Of Me, to the stops right before a solo, to the chord progressions that manage to be have pop appeal yet remain interesting (singles nearly half the songs on the album), to the subtle things like a bass line or keyboard part, there is a lot going on and it takes all of them to do it. This is the tell-tell sign of excellent band dynamic and cooperation. // 9
Lyrics: Switchfoot has for the most part taken a philosophical stance to lyrics over aiming for the throat and hitting you over the head with a specific message. This can be taken as a good thing or a bad thing, because that leaves lyrics pretty open to interpretation and one may not always reach the intended conclusion. For the most part the lyrics have remained philosophical yet clear enough to properly discern, but some of the more spiritual meanings will probably be lost on people who don't look for them.
As for Hello Hurricane, the lyrics are intelligent enough yet remain easy enough to comprehend. Mess Of Me talks about how a lot of times the problem is found within ourselves and speaks of the desire to fix it and get back on track to live productively. Your Love Is A Song speaks of how the finite and often chaotic condition of the universe, life, our dreams, and even ourselves is held together by the symphony of God's love as it conducts chaos and discord into a song. Pretty much all of the songs convey messages just as deep and thought provoking. It might seem like such heavy lyrical content would dampen the mood of the lighter toned songs, but it doesn't. The lyrics fit quite well with the mood of each song.
As for the vocals, they are top notch. Could some properly trained vocalist who has been coached for years hand Jon and Tim their butts on a platter in technique? Absolutely. You have to see though, the vocal quality in question doesn't have so much to do with technique, but with heart. Jon delivers good feeling and power in his clean singing and his high pitched scream/singing and Tim offers excellent backup and harmony singing. There also seems to an improvement in range as Jon is hitting notes that we had previously had yet to hear. // 9
Overall Impression: Switchfoot can never really compare too heavily with other artists. I think that is part of the magic of each album being unique from the other. With them constantly changing they never sound a whole lot like other bands or artists. The most impressive songs to me are Needle And Haystack Life, Mess Of M, The Sound, Hello Hurricane, Bullet Sou, but they are all good. I can't really say I hate anything about it because I was getting tired of music in general. This album gave me something fresh. I would certainly get another if this was somehow lost. // 9
sovaso, on september 07, 2012 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: My impression was that Switchfoot kind of got in to a new era. They sound almost completely different but still amazing. I was personally not ready for the change but Switchfoot grabbed me back in with the single "Your Love Is A Song". Even though Switchfoot sounds a little like the Fray, they will always be avove them in my book. I find myself not listening to the last tracks after "Hello Hurricane" because of the non-complex structure. There is a story attached to some songs such as "The Sound". I now hear Switchfoot on every station I turn on when I turn on the radio. // 10
Lyrics: The lyrics are deep and profound but make sense in a way that is unexplainible. Switchfoot does this frequently. Some good lyrical songs are "Yet", "Sing It Out" and "Free". Jon Foreman has great skills. However "Mess Of Me" can be a little slured depending on how you look at it. // 9
Overall Impression: Switchfoot is above most other artists in my book. It runs along Coldplay and that is very impressive. The title track "Hello Hurricane" is great for everyone who listens to it. "Needle And Haystack Life", "Mess Of Me", "Your Love Is A Song" and "The Sound" are key tracks on the record. I Pretty much love everything about it! If it were lost or stolen, HECK YEAH I'd buy another! This is my favorite album by them and it topples over "Learning To Breathe" and "New Way To Be Human". However, "Nothing Is Sound" is a different topic. // 10