by Dylan Looney
Alt-rockers Switchfoot, known for their crossover hits like “Meant to Live” and “Dare You to Move,” will be performing this Saturday here at ETSU. To celebrate, I’ll be taking a look at their most recent release, last year’s seven-track EP, The Edge of the Earth. Coming just eight months after the release of their album/documentary, Fading West, the EP contains one previously released track, also titled “Fading West.” Strangely enough, the song wasn’t on the album of the same name, but it was featured as a bonus track on their 2013 EP, which was named, you guessed it, Fading West. To many, this may seem strange until they learn that The Edge of the Earth consists of unreleased material from Fading West. Led Zeppelin did something very similar with their track “Houses of the Holy,” which was left off the album of the same name but was used later for Physical Graffiti.
The EP opens with the previously mentioned “Fading West,” in which the laid-back garage rock vibe mixes with strings to create a downright Beatle-esque track, and a catchy one at that. The second track, “Against the Voices,” is another strong number with the clever use of vocal effects in the beginning. I presume this is to represent the “voices” which frontman John Foreman is singing about. I particularly like the lyrics in this song, such as “’Cause everybody knows/The hardest war to fight/Is a fight to be yourself/When the voices try to turn you into someone else.” Up next is “Skin and Bones,” a darker song that comes across like something from Nine Inch Nails. The next two songs are “What it Costs” and “Slow Down My Heartbeat,” both of which have a strong U2 influence. Of the two, “What it Costs” is the stronger track overall, with nice touches of acoustic guitars and an emotional vocal from Foreman. Although the band has distanced itself from the Christian music scene, the lyrics in “Liberty” are pretty clearly addressing the Man Upstairs. Lastly, we come to the title track, “The Edge of the Earth.” The song’s instrumentation, which includes mandolins, shows Switchfoot following the ever-growing Americana trend in alternative rock. The song also has an excellent vocal performance by Foreman, whose range is much higher than is shown throughout most of the EP. All in all, Edge shows an established band tipping their hats to their California surfer roots while still being willing to experiment, and aging much more gracefully than many of their 2000s post-grunge peers.