Snugly tucked amongst a handful of Harry Gregson-Williams’ soaring instrumentals (which comprise the film’s masterfully executed score) and a new tune from that infinitely annoying Russian pop tart Regina Spektor (one heifer I cannot bear, despite repeated attempts), you’ll find “This is Home” — a slightly melancholy yet uncommonly gorgeous piano-based track from one of the great contemporary bands, Switchfoot (or, as they’re better known in my orbit, “Creed with legs”) — anchoring the original motion picture soundtrack for Disney’s new The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.


Despite the anomaly that was “Meant to Live,” their unavoidable, slow-burning 2004 crossover smash, these guys — led by the enigmatic Jon Foreman, whose world-weary voice conveys honey and vinegar in equal measure — have flown largely (and inexplicably) below the radar in the years following their major label debut, 2003’s The Beautiful Letdown, despite a pair of sturdy, worthy follow-ups.


“Home” instantly takes a place among my favorites of 2008’s musical offerings (a mighty short list, that one, at least so far), and while — just like Alanis Morissette’s brilliant “Wunderkind” from the first Narnia soundtrack a couple of years back — the song can’t be bought individually at any of the major online music portals, a plethora of worthy efforts from this terrific band most certainly can be, and if you’re looking for an entry point into their discography, you could do much worse than be starting with any of the following.


1. “Someday We’ll Know” — Mandy Moore and Jon Foreman (from A Walk to Remember: Music from the Motion Picture) — Jonathan Foreman & Mandy Moore - A Walk to Remember - Someday We'll Know — this stunning 2002 remake of the New Radicals’ unheralded late-’90s classic, refashioned here as a duet between himself and Moore (who, if you don’t count 2000’s “I Wanna Be With You,” was offering up her first hint of true musical fortitude, a promise she would make good on inside of eighteen months), gave us our first tantalizing taste of Foreman and his band.

2. “The Beautiful Letdown” — Switchfoot (from The Beautiful Letdown) — Switchfoot - The Beautiful Letdown - The Beautiful Letdown — after a trio of independent releases, Foreman and the boys leapt into the big leagues firing on every cylinder. A stunning introduction to a calmly confident band.

3. “On Fire” — Switchfoot (from The Beautiful Letdown) — Switchfoot - The Beautiful Letdown - On Fire — five years on, this is still Foreman’s finest hour, both as a songwriter and as a vocalist. Beautiful, astonishingly.

4. “Dare You to Move” — Switchfoot (from The Beautiful Letdown) — Switchfoot - The Beautiful Letdown (Deluxe Version) - Dare You to Move — a song that has enjoyed a bit of a digital resurgence in the few weeks since David Cook performed a (horridly truncated) rendition of it on “American Idol.” Do yourself a favor: stick with the original. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with it.

5. “Shadow Proves the Sunshine” — Switchfoot (from Nothing is Sound) — Switchfoot - Nothing Is Sound - The Shadow Proves the Sunshine — Foreman and the guys filed down some of the harder edges of their sound for this 2005 release, allowing themselves to trust that their songs were strong enough to stand without the bombast.

6. “The Blues” — Switchfoot (from Nothing is Sound) — Switchfoot - The Beautiful Letdown - On Fire — That new philosophy led to simmering triumphs like this, undoubtedly.

7. “Awakening” — Switchfoot (from Oh! Gravity) — Switchfoot - Oh! Gravity. - Awakening — from their latest record, an aural bottle rocket.

8. “Somebody’s Baby” — Jon Foreman (from Winter) — Jon Foreman - Winter - EP - Somebody's Baby — not to be confused with the Jackson Browne classic of the same name, Foreman strips it waaaay down for this solo offshoot, observing and surveying the tragedy of lost innocence. Perfect for his voice (and maybe his voice only), it’s a shattering knockout.


(An overdue note about this (and all future album discussions and playlists on the Buzz): As noted in this blog’s mission statement, the primary goal of these tune-filled posts is to point A’s ears in the right musical direction, and to ensure that endeavor is successful, his objective is to listen to each song in each playlist, and to choose at least one for purchase. To streamline this task (as well as to eliminate any unnecessary keystrokes and/or questions), I have embedded iTunes links beside each song title; clicking the link carries him (and you, if you’re so inclined) directly to the appropriate album at the iTunes music store, where the song can be purchased. In addition to that, I’ve also — owing to the fact that their widgets are mind-blowingly cool — embedded two graphic representations of this playlist courtesy of Amazon’s new MP3 store. The first of these can be found at the bottom of this post; the second, in the far right sidebar on any of this blog’s public pages. You can use either of these tools to hear half-minute snippets of each playlist offering — my friend Jane-Elizabeth always tells me she loves reading about the music even though she doesn’t know a bar of it, so here’s her shot at enlightenment — and to connect to Amazon’s store to purchase each song. Until I change my mind or decide on a format I like even better than this, each now hear this post will always contain an Amazon graphic loaded with music corresponding to said post’s playlist; the sidebar graphic, on the other hand, will always contain only the most recent playlist. In addition, you’ll notice an album cover jpeg image in the upper left hand corner of this post (and of last Thursday’s Cyndi Lauper post, and of each future new music post). That image is a link which takes you to its album’s corresponding page at Amazon.com, where you’re welcome to investigate its charms further.)


10 responses to “when everything inside me looks like everything i hate”

  1. the buzz from Sherry Ann:

    I would have whipped your ass if you forgot to include “The Blues”. Trust me A, that is the one to buy.

  2. the buzz from brandon:

    Forget “The Blues”?! What the heck d’you take me for, some Dorkus McForkus?!

  3. the buzz from Ben:

    You are insane. Regina Spektor is the cat’s pajamas.

  4. the buzz from brandon:

    No, Ben.

  5. the buzz from A.:

    Cat’s pajamas?! I had to look that up, and I thought I knew English well enough! In case anyone is curious, here’s the etymology.

  6. the buzz from brandon:

    Isn’t he like a human Wikipedia? Love ya, A!

  7. the buzz from A.:

    Here are the songs I acquired last night: “On Fire,” “Blues,” and “Someday We’ll Know.” It looks like my first two choics agree with Brandon’s and Sherry Ann’s top picks on this list! Any comments from other readers?

    A more thorough respose to come soon.

  8. the buzz from A.:

    As I was going through this playlist, I began wondering to myself, why have I not heard (of) Swtichfoot?! This band, and its leader Jon Foreman, are really quite great, at least judging by this playlist.

    The sheer range of their music is impressive: from a charming cover of “Someday We’ll Know” to the rather enigmatic (to me, anyway) “The Beautiful Letdown” to the fine but musically mainstream “Awakening” and “Dare You to Move” (what intriguing lyrics on that one!) to the triumphantly fervent “On Fire” and “The Blues.”

    I want to listen to more!

    Here are my three picks, this time in more detail.

    “Someday We’ll Know” – Mandy Moore’s lead-in and Jon Foreman’s follow-up immediately drew me into this song, which lived up to this catchy beginning and turned out to be rather infectious and delightful. As I distinctly remember my father explaining to me why the sky is blue, listening to the song I felt ahead of the game. Yet, there is much more that’s unknown, the “lyrical images” (thank you, Brandon!) earthly and profound that we can contemplate – and sing about.

    “On Fire” – This song is definitely on fire. Interpreted either as a testament to one’s lover or, more likely I would say, God (see Swtichfoot’s connection to Christian rock), it is as powerful as anything out there. The passion, the never-dying energy, the crescendo with every repetition of “on fire” and the vocal and instrumental performance surrounding every repetition of “mystery” (or “mysteries”) are simply fantastic.

    “The Blues” – What a downhearted yet impassioned look at the state of the world. All of us must have had moments when this song would have struck a chord. For the entire 5 minutes and 17 seconds of the song’s duration, I never doubted that the singer truly believes in every word he sings. Just listen carefully to the words and to the musical notes, “Is this what you call pain?” and “Is this the New Year or just another desperation?” being good examples.

  9. the buzz from A.:

    I should add that I just investigated Regina Spektor, and as much as I would love to boast about my compatriots (Regina and her family immigrated to the US from the Soviet Union in 1989), based on the music videos “Fidelity,” “The Call,” and “Hotel Song” (all available on YouTube), I can conclude only one thing: she is plainly vile. While the song openings are at least somewhat promising, I literally shudder by the time the counter reaches 30 seconds.

    Ben, what songs of hers do you recommend? Or, did the phrase “cat’s pajamas” acquire a new meaning in West Texas?

  10. the buzz from brandon:

    I’m telling you, in three years that man has not made a more astute, dead on music-related comment! The mind *reels* at the number of responses I could make to that “cat’s pajamas” question, but I’ll be nice and refrain. For now.