Monday, February 16, 2009

Make Room, Weezer!

Bringing you yet another review of an emerging artist, the artist I'm spotlighting today is the band "Switches". They're a British band who has only been around long enough to release one EP and a full-length album. I'll review their album farther down the page, as part of the emerging-artist spotlight.

Switches play energetic powerpop with mixes of other, older genres laced throughout. They're not far removed from Weezer, although they turn the rock meter up a little bit higher than the Weez boys. Switches are very big fans of Weezer, though, drawing inspiration from the Blue Album and Pinkerton and the Green Album, as well as going to one of the famed Weezer Hootenannies this past year. The individual members of Switches have very eclectic music tastes, from 80's pop to 60's bop to Britpop and etc. etc. The prominent genre is powerpop, but there are many brilliant little genre shifts throughout their songs.

Switches' first album is titled "Lay Down The Law". While not very musically new or unique, it's a fun rockin' ride all the way through, with few dead moments and no real filler tracks. Right from the starting gate, with "Drama Queen", Switches set the rocking-out standard and they keep it for most of the album. There are a few boring moments in "Snakes And Ladders" but the track has been slowly growing on me, mostly because of the great vocal parts. The title track, "Lay Down The Law" should have been a massive summer hit (it was still a summer hit, but not on a huge scale). Kind of inane lyrics and a great rockin' feel keep this song marching forward all the way until it ends all too soon. Despite the strong face that "Lay Down The Law" showed, the next track doesn't disappoint or feel like filler. "Coming Down" is an excellent song sung in the Ric Ocasek/Cars style and it's great. The album slows down for "The Need To Be Needed" and features some great falsetto by singer/lead guitar Matt Bishop. The next tracks, "Message From Yuz" and "Every Second Counts" are fairly uneventful, although the killer hook in "Message From Yuz" and the vocals in "Every Second Counts" both deserve mentioning. "Step Kids In Love" is a great piano rocker with some very dark pounding piano at the beginning and some weird plinking later on. "Lovin' It" is kind of a boring song but you forget all about its mediocrity when "Killer Karma" comes on. "Killer Karma" is the best song on the album by far, with everything from a great hook to excellent lyrics and snotty vocals to an interesting rhythm that is part Latin, part one-drop reggae. The album closes with "Testify", which starts out boring but ends strong.

All in all, Switches are definitely a band to watch for in the future. Switches feel as though they're just getting comfortable with themselves as a band, and the stories from each of their members (especially Matt Bishop - playing electric guitar and overdubbing songs at age four and recording hundreds of conflicting-style songs as a teen) leave hope that they'll only get better with time. Hopefully they'll be breaking into the US music scene in full force in the next few years with a new album release that could possibly be even better than this one.

Their entire album, as well as some remixes and B-Sides, is available for streaming on MySpace Music. Seriously, it's a great resource for stuff like this.

Switches' MySpace page
Switches' official web site
Switches' official "DGC/Interscope" web site
(There are multiple Switches websites out there. The former is beautiful and brilliant and has tons of excellent information, including a full band bio. The latter is an ugly, messy, DGC/Interscope cut-and-paste band website that has more than its share of bugs and glitches and has no relevant information. I'm just linking it to make you aware of the two contrasting sites and to let you know that there is a better Switches website out there. I guess the one thing the DGC one has going for it is that there's a forum/message board/comments system, so you can leave messages for the band if you so desire.)

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