Oh! Gravity.Featured review by: UG Team, on january 08, 2007 11 of 11 people found this review helpful
Sound: Switchfoot's latest full-length CD Oh! Gravity actually started out with the purpose of being an EP release, but the band apparently discovered there was more than enough time to put out the real deal when they hit the studio. The band has described the result as the Switchfoot's "most sincere effort," and fans will likely be able to hear that as well. Full of rich sounds (many of which are on layering tracks to enhance the base melody) as well as some more punk-based songs, "Oh! Gravity" is a well-rounded exploration of Switchfoot's progressing style.
Some of the most impressive moments on the latest record are the little additions you can hear in the background of songs like the title track "Oh! Gravity." In the verse, you can hear what sounds like a high-pitched echo that matches everything vocalist Jon Foreman sings. It is so skillfully subtle that it's hard to tell if it is a guitar, keyboard, or even just another vocal line. Later in the song, you can also hear a fantastic keyboard line that could easily be done on a Moog - it just has that nice electronic vibe to it. The keyboard portion comes and goes quickly, so it is a fascinating little addition to "Oh! Gravity."
Switchfoot (rounded out by bassist Tim Foreman, drummer Chad Butler, guitarist/keyboardist Jerome Fontamillas and guitarist Andrew Shirley) makes the biggest impression with the track "Dirty Second Hands," which you can already imagine hearing on the radio. It has sort of an acoustic blues sound in the chorus, but then explodes in the chorus when a distorted electric guitar jumps in. It is an unbelievable good song and it uses enough different changes in style along the way to keep things extremely interesting.
While not every song reaches the level of "Dirty Second Hands," each track has enough melodic catchiness that Switchfoot fans will probably still find them likeable. "Awakening" sounds a bit too much like what you'd hear on a teen TV show right now with its relatively sedate verse and emotionally charged chorus, and it just doesn't live up to the talent heard on the other tracks. But again, it could instantly be a hit because it sticks to the formula really well. // 9
Lyrics: Even though Switchfoot has won several Dove Awards (for contemporary Christian music), the band has still always expressed its desire to steer clear from being overly preachy. By not pushing ideas down listeners' throats, the band has still managed to convey more philosophical ideas in a way that has probably connected with a lot more fans.
While the lyrics on "Oh! Gravity" are not the most groundbreaking the band has written thus far, they are still pretty solid. "Faust, Midas, And Myself" represents one of the most unique tracks lyrically on the record. It basically talks about a bizarre, but meaningful dream that Jon Foreman relays through the course of the song. In one section he wakes up from and dream and says, "My wife was at the door; With her night robe on/My heart beat once or twice; And life flooded my veins; Everything had changed." Each verse has an odd little reflection like that one and it makes for an interesting listen.
"Awakening" draws on very specific details in the lyrics and that makes it stand out instantly. Foreman sings, "Face down with the LA curbside endings; With the ones and zeros; Downtown was the perfect place to hide; The first star that I saw last night was a headlight of a man-made sky." Those are some of the most beautiful lines on the record and gives listeners more than what you usually hear on a rock tune. // 9
Overall Impression: "Oh! Gravity" is one of the best releases from Switchfoot in an already impressive career. The 6th album is diverse in the styles it covers, and surprisingly, the band is able to conquer each of those styles effectively. The strongest songs, among them "Dirty Second Hands" and "Circles," are not only melodically catchy, but they also explore a lot of interesting sounds and effects along the way.
While Switchfoot has been made fun of for its rather benign music, it should still be given respect this time around. It doesn't try to play heavy metal on "Oh! Gravity", and that's not a bad thing for this band. What Switchfoot might lack in aggression it more than makes up for in memorable and melodic songs. // 9
takenthecannoli, on april 25, 2013 5 of 8 people found this review helpful
Sound: After a platinum hit and a stellar followup, Switchfoot stumbled upon the creation of their sixth record with a few songs originally intended for an EP. Finding enough material for a full release, the band packaged the new tracks together in 2006's "Oh! Gravity." Production was handled by John Fields from "Nothing Is Sound", Tim Palmer (The Cure, Porcupine Tree's "In Absentia"), and Steve Lillywhite, who had previously worked on the scaled-down version of arena superstars U2 on "War". Similarly, Switchfoot pursued a sound less dramatic than their previous "Nothing Is Sound", released a year earlier. Singer/songwriter/guitarist Jon Foreman claimed an attempt to balance Switchfoot's "spit and polish" sound, with "Oh! Gravity." having "more spit".
Perhaps the record isn't as bombast as "Nothing Is Sound", but it is certainly no less polish. The opening titular track boasts a riff that might have been deemed raw, had it not been so cleanly implemented. Granted, the production is very fun and very Switchfoot, but the only thing scaled-back about it is the directness with which the band's previous albums so proudly opened. "Oh! Gravity." is a record bursting with sound from all over the sonic plane, though most of it is just plain loud in some way or another. Guitars are relied upon even more since Drew Shirley's induction, and while the record is certainly no worse off, it isn't necessarily helped. Often, the big rock tracks border on excessive, often overshadowing the band's typically profound imagery.
The opener itself is a raucous rock tune lead in full force by Foreman and friends, and "American Dream" essentially continues its sound beat for beat. "Dirty Second Hands" and "Faust, Midas, And Myself" are stompers, with the former being especially dark though nowhere near "Nothing Is Sound" at its brightest. There are a couple of typical Switchfoot cuts here, namely "Awakening" and "Head Over Heels (In This Life)". Both are powerful and slightly U2-ish melodically, though "Head Over Heels" is certainly the more powerful. "Circles" and "Yesterdays" are mercifully offbeat, "Amateur Lovers" and "Burn Out Bright" serve as more hard-hitting rockers, though "Let Your Love Be Strong" is a placeholder for a rather predictable ending.
"Oh! Gravity." is arguably Switchfoot's first rock album, with less emphasis than usual on post-grunge elements and more on pop-rock. The album does very little work convincing its audience of this, and tracks like "Amateur Lovers" (complete with cowbell) are clear indicators of how little it needs to. Just as before, the band handles its style with ease and power. However, there are a few potholes along the way. More than any release, with the possible exception of 2000's "Learning To Breathe", "Oh! Gravity." is terribly inconsistent. In the case of "New Way To Be Human" and "Nothing Is Sound" especially, there was a clear goal and a traceable linearity. The tracks made sense together, and even complimented one another. "Oh! Gravity." sure likes its own music, but there's so much going on from song to song that it becomes difficult to distinguish the album from its parts. "American Dream" is stuffy and somewhat jaded, "Dirty Second Hands" is dark and brooding, "Awakening" is spiritual and uplifting, "Circles" broods some more, "Amateur Lovers" is sarcastic and charismatic, and "Let Your Love Be Strong" feels entirely thrown together with a stab at solemnity. Ironically, the sound can be fully summarized in a vocal bit at the end of "Amateur Lovers": "We can't take anymore takes... Yeah, it's broken". Apparently something broke during the recording of that take what else broke in production?
The songs themselves are certainly powerful enough for what they attempt to achieve: the rock tracks go all-out with less of the oomph but more punch than "Nothing Is Sound", and though they certainly feel more like the pause button than a natural slow-down, the mellow tracks are nice. The glaring exceptions are "4:12" and "Let Your Love Be Strong". When the album winds down, it winds down quickly, with "Burn Out Bright" being a high point for Foreman but a low for the record. After that, it's all downhill, ending in the thoroughly un-spectacular acoustic piece. After "Twenty-Four" and "Daisy", it really is a feeble way to close an album already on the chopping block. Its advantage is in its initial intimacy, but this seems slightly lost in the build to the chorus and second verse, which feature instrumentation that falls right back into the pop of the rest of the record. It ends up sounding rather silly.
"Oh! Gravity." has some real musical high points, and really does feature great performances from even bassist Tim Foreman, who, with the help of wonderful mixing, escaped the "missing bass" effect after his riffs ended on "The Beautiful Letdown". The instrumentation is certainly a bonus, with "Amateur Lovers" and "Dirty Second Hands" feeling especially finished. However, the tracks that do feel finished don't at all belong on the same record with those that don't ("Burn Out Bright" and "Let Your Love Be Strong"), and the jumble of tracks is a bullet in the poor record. Even worse, much of the music is so contrived that it would be difficult re-purposing it for live performances. Segmented, the album is first a straightforward pop-rock thrash (the opener to "Awakening"), then an experimental post-grunge record ("Circles" to "Yesterdays"), then an uneven combination of the two. The less interesting tracks, while not entirely filler, throw off the balance of the record entirely. If more than a year had been taken between "Nothing Is Sound" and this release, perhaps the band might have found something a bit more realized and a lot more satisfying. // 6
Lyrics: Oh, but even if the music is a letdown, surely Jon Foreman will still deliver in the lyrical department!
Foreman certainly isn't capable of writing a bad song, but the best was saved for his solo efforts, which all released soon after "Oh! Gravity." The material that did end up on Switchfoot's drawing board is, in short, impersonal. Shockingly so, when compared to his solo work and previous releases with the band. Some are general rants against detestable practices in American society ("Oh! Gravity.", "American Dream", "Dirty Second Hands", "Awakening", "Circles", "Amateur Lovers", "Let Your Love Be Strong"), and some are... To be honest, hard to remember. After the ruthless onslaught of commentary on the record's first half, it's difficult to pay much attention without wandering to either the self-improving "The Beautiful Letdown" or melancholy "Nothing Is Sound", both of which addressed the same subjects in one or two tracks on a more personal level.
"Oh! Gravity."'s driving theme is essentially the degradation of American society. Foreman himself would have much more to say, and would say it much more eloquently, but for the uninitiated listener, that's what it boils down to. Here's a sample from each of the opening six tracks: "The fallout/The fallout/You found out the hype won't get you through"; "This ain't my American dream/I wanna live and die for bigger things"; "In the land of the free/And the home of the remedy/The old clock is a thief/With dirty second hands"; "Face-down with the LA curbside endings/And the ones and zeroes/Downtown was a perfect place to hide"; "Another day/Another sunrise/Another factory call"; "We don't know what we're doing/We do it again/We're just amateur lovers/With amateur friends".
Starting to see a theme here? A bit too much, perhaps. Where "Nothing Is Sound" was very personal and explorative, "Oh! Gravity." presumes to know the problem, the solution, and the outcome thereof. Every song is about some sort of disillusionment with American culture in particular, entirely disabling the band's hands-on lyrical imagery of earlier releases. It's gritty, it's intense, and it's loud, but is there a point? It's certainly hard to determine when the band is asking questions for its audience, and seldom does the same enticing analysis featured all over "Nothing Is Sound" show up. The self rarely comes into play, and the exceptions feel somewhat off-beat: "Faust, Midas, And Myself" is a great piece with some of the best lyrical work, but even as it asks "What direction?", one wonders the same thing about the song's placement. It's just as disenchanted as every other cut here; what distinguishes it from any of those?
Furthermore, the romance of Switchfoot is entirely gone. "Yesterdays" is a nice resting moment, with very specific themes of loss that will certainly resonate, but fall back on the incredibly honest Nirvana-ish lyricism that Foreman has boasted dating as far back as "Legend Of Chin", but which had been missing for the entirety of "Oh! Gravity." As in the case of other standout tracks, it would be more appropriate to say that it *sticks* out. "Head Over Heels" is as heart-swollen as Switchfoot gets, with a sudden decision to revert back to "Nothing Is Sound"'s skyscraper stomp. Compared to the rest of the record's complacent dribble, such honesty feels almost offensively left-field. It would be remiss of one to assert that everything good sounds out of place more accurately, everything finished feels out of place.
"Oh! Gravity." robs Foreman of his usual profundity in favor of a somewhat typical tirade against corporate America. He hints in places at the root of the problem the individual but, unlike in "Nothing Is Sound", shies from wondering what is at the root of the individual. Why is there a "fracture... In the backseat of a parked car/By the liquor store"? "Why can't we seem to keep it together?" is a great question to pose, but who are "we" in the first place and what's the problem? "Let Your Love Be Strong" implies emptiness more in tone than wording, and "Awakening" is bizarrely redeeming for the fourth track on a record about "Amateur Lovers" and the death of the "American Dream". It all ends up sounding kind of throwaway and kind of corny. Perhaps it isn't even that complicated; perhaps sometimes, even the masters just strike out. // 5
Overall Impression: The record resulting from those EP sessions is all over "American Dream": "If success is equated with excess/The ambition for excess wrecks us". That single lyric is at the core of the record and its composition, whether it be the actual message about excess or Switchfoot's own bland pop-rock flair. As the same cut states, "It doesn't feel like freedom". Even if Switchfoot was making a record for "the man", as later interviews suggest, the attempts to break from formula ultimately feel awkward. Considering the formula's own weaknesses, it's a real tragedy "Oh! Gravity." had to try so hard just to get a word in. It ends up sounding half skewed and half radio-ready safe.
"Oh! Gravity." is a pleasant journey for Switchfoot, which is a strength and a weakness. On one hand, "pleasant" is hardly a risque way to put it, and risque can make or break a rock record. On the other, at least it isn't unpleasant. Anyone looking for a few powerful tunes from one of the more deep-thinking acts in rock are going to enjoy the release, though a second look may raise questions. It's difficult to absolutely love this record, but it sure is hard to hate a band with as much spirit as Switchfoot. At the very least, "Oh! Gravity." puts a cap on a good opening decade for the band, after which independence from their label and freedom to create offers limitless opportunity. // 5
RachelRC, on january 08, 2007 2 of 4 people found this review helpful
Sound: I've always loved Switchfoot, great band, great guys. There's really nothing more to it. None of their songs sound the same, you can listen to an entire album and get a mix of everything and that's what I love about them; they never make the same album twice like other bands these days. This is a follow up to their CD "Nothing Is Sound" which came out in September of 2005, eager to get new stuff out, they recorded this just this past summer. You'll see in songs like "Dirty Second Hands" the many styles of music that Switchfoot is able to do. "DSH" is a very different song for them and it sounds amazing. // 10
Lyrics: Jon Foreman is one of my favorite lyric writers. Not only does he write about what's going on his life but he makes it completely relateable. Songs like "4:12" and "Awakening" are very motivating and easy to understand, not to mention, very catchy tunes. I like that Jon can write about God, his marriage, issues going on around him, and his own feelings of doubt and discontentment. The lyrics are one of the best things about Switchfoot, they never have a dull song, their lyrics are always amazing. Jon's not the best singer ever but he does a very good job still, his voice is very distinctive and I like that. On some tracks he shouts and on others he's really soft but you can really get the emotion from the song from the way he sings. // 10
Overall Impression: This is one of the best albums out there today. Not many artists can do what Switchfoot does, make a different record each time that still sounds like Switchfoot. There are so many bands that repeat their breakthrough album (i.e. FOB, Hawthorne Heights, TBS, etc.) but this is their 6th album and it sounds completely fresh, stuff I've never heard before from anyone. I love that I can relate to every song on this album, it makes music that much more interesting when you can relate to every track. The only thing I hate about this album is that it ends! // 10
aquaknight3, on january 08, 2007 1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: Before I got this, I heard samples of most of the songs and I had heard a few in concerts and I thought that the sound of their new stuff was pretty weird. But I kept listening and it got better and better and now that I have the album, I can't stop listening to it. It came out a few days ago and I've already tabbed the album. It's great, but I still think that their other stuff is a little better. But there was some "copying" of previous stuff. (example) my favorite song on here, "Awakening" (no. 4), sounds a lot like "Golden" on the earlier record "Nothing Is Sound." But it's Switchfoot, how can't I like it? // 9
Lyrics: This is my favorite part of the album. The lyrics are amazing, my favorites are definitely "Faust, Midas, And Myself" (no. 7), and "Yesterdays" (no. 9) because they tell stories. When you break them down and read them without music and rhythm, it's amazing how Jon can pack things like that into songs. I've always enjoyed reading Jon's lyrics, he's very talented. And his voice is like no other, that's another thing that I love about Switchfoot. If you don't like his voice then you can't like Switchfoot. // 10
Overall Impression: This is definitely one to buy. If you thought like me at first, this is your chance to really know this album. It's out for sale now; I've seen it at every store I've been to since Dec. 26. You won't regret it, at least I didn't. Get it now though, you can get a bonus download while it's still new! I think you can get a download of an acoustic version of no. 2, "American Dream." And the usual statement: yes, I would buy it again if I lost it. Well, that's it! Enjoy. // 10
Switchfoot555, on july 04, 2007 1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: Ever since Switchfoots fist CD came out in 1997 I've loved their sound and style.I was only 3 yrs. old then, but I knew what I liked. Their unique sound to the music and noises in the back round and even Jons voice is what got them this far. A lot of bands don't get far because they sound the same, but he bands that do are different and that's what I like about Switchfoot. // 10
Lyrics: The lyrics are cool in this CD because it's like "how'ed they think of this?" Like at the beginning of "Oh! Gravity" he sings "There's a fracture in the color bar, in the back seat of the parked car." I like "Amateur Lovers" because in this world we are amateur lovers until get saved. "Let Your Love Be Strong" is a nice song and how he says "Let your love be strong I don't care what goes down". // 10
Overall Impression: In overall this album is a 10. The songs are great and for you readers it wasn't rushed through. In one interveiw Tim said the had twenty songs to chose from and that's proved in one of the podcasts. Oh! Gravity is in MLB '07 The Show, but they take out the part where he says lycor. I've found tons of unreleased songs on Ares. // 10
parkerguitars24, on january 08, 2007 0 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: Their sound hasn't really changed much since Nothing Is Sound. Still alternative rock with thoughtful melodies. They had some fun with the title track with some strange noises and some out-of-tune pianos. On "Dirty Second Hands" I think I hear a Dobro. So there is a little evolution on this record. // 9
Lyrics: Switchfoot has always made you think about their lyrics and this album is the best yet. Unless you really think about not a single song will make sense to you. After some thought it still might not but that's why it's interesting! Jon and Tim always write the lyrics and they always find a way to go into a deeper form of thought. // 10
Overall Impression: This album can without a doubt be compared to Nothing is Sound. The most impressive tracks are Oh! Gravity, American Dream, Dirty Second Hands and Burn Out Bright. The best part of this album is the thoughful songwriting. The bad thing is the abundance of softer songs, but I still like the soft ones. If this was lost or stolen I would buy it again. // 9
Learn_to_fly, on january 09, 2007 0 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: While Switchfoot's previous album was written all on the road, this album was written at home, where they could relax, surf, and take time out to think without the pressures of being touring. This shows heavily on their latest acclomplishment, which, in my honest opinion, is their best record to date. The sound on this album is experimental, as opposed to the one sound they used on Nothing Is Sound to create a depressing atmosphere. This time around, the boys play around with sounds more, so that although it sounds like Switchfoot, you don't get that feeling that all the songs on the record sound the same. From the punchy "Oh! Gravity", to slow songs like "Yesterdays" and "Let Your Love Be Strong", to the anthemic choruses of "Awakening" and "Circles", and even the rhythm deprived "Amatuer Lovers", Switchfoot show-case their abilities to write catchy songs that stray JUST far enough from mainstream sound to be distinguishible. // 9
Lyrics: This time around, the lyrics seem to take a hit. Where the Jon's consistant writing used to be are just the same messages that keep getting bashed and bashed into the listeners head until you feel that materialism is the only thing he sings about. These songs are not by any means sub-par; they are redeemed by the actual lyrical talent of Jon Foreman and his ability to pen songs that make you think. However, songs like "Yesterdays", "Faust, Midas, And Myself", and "Awakening" don't carry on this trend, making them stand out. Also, they seem to be more 'christian' this time around, with the lyrics in songs like "Let Your Love Be Strong" and "Head Over Heels (In This Life)" obviously talking about God; this will please those who thought the lyrical content of 'Nothing Is Sound' didn't have enough of their christian side in it. // 8
Overall Impression: After the dissapointment that was 'Nothing Is Sound', Switchfoot hit the mark, for thier 2nd great album. Where their previous album seemed unsure and scattered, this one ties in all the different sounds with ease, without seeming in-cohesive or incostistent. Instant favourites like "Dirty Second Hands" and "Awakening" are the highlights of this masterpiece. While songs lik "4:12" and "American Dream" feel like filler, they are by no mean unlistenable; but the standards do drop a little bit. Asides from that, this is both lyrically and musically impressive, taking their sounds in new directions. Good directions. // 9
sg4ever, on february 12, 2007 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: Well, Switchfoot's sound on Oh! Gravity is different then anything they've ever done before. To me it's an improvement over their last album Nothing Is Sound while keeping the familiarity of their older albums. It's chock full of skillful arrangement and songwriting. The styles of the songs are diverse and range from punchy rockers like "American Dream", bluesy acoustic to full band chaos contrasts in "Dirty Second Hands", pop-edged rock anthems like "Awakening and Burnout Bright", earnest tracks like "Circles" and "Faust, Midas, and Myself", the truely alternative for lack of better words song Amateur Lovers with a hint of 60s flair, the not to be forgotten "Oh! Gravity", and the excellent acoustic track "Let Your Love be Strong". However, the tracks Yesterday and 4:12 are kind of dry, repetitive, and sleepy. They also seam to be weak in melody arrangements. Aside from those lacking yet listenable songs, this is a solid album with good songs you can listen to repeatedly. // 9
Lyrics: Switchfoot are Christians on a major label. They have written lyrics that have undoubtedly shown they're beliefs, but Oh! Gravity lacks the christian messages they once had much like Nothing is Sound does. There are songs that have lyrics doubtlessly about God like "Head over Heels(in This Life)" and "Let Your Love be Strong", but most of the songs point more towards issues in life and of happiness. The lyrics do go well with their respective songs and the pairing of lyrics with the music make the emotional effect of the songs much greater. Last but not least, Jon Foreman is a skilled singer that delivers the lyrics well. His voice is not as full as it was in The Beautiful Letdown, but it is still good. He seems to be opting for a more relaxed, yet sill earnest approach. Overall good lyrics and singing, but could have used more christian messages, but that's my preference. // 9
Overall Impression: My overall impression of this album is a good one. It's not as good as The Beautiful Letdown, but it is very good nonetheless. It's about as a good as Learning to Breathe in that it's a stepping stone for Switchfoot in terms of direction. Learning to Breathe was a more complex work than they had previously done before at that time and paved the way for the excellent The Beautiful Letdown. Oh! Gravity has much of that same feel to it and it's a good direction from Nothing is Sound. Most all of the songs on the album except for the two mentioned are really good songs that showcase their skill in diversity and the quality thereof. I would probably by the CD again if I lost it or if it was stolen. // 10