Switchfoot – “Harmony Hall” (Vampire Weekend Cover)
Last week brought the surprising news that Switchfoot, the mid-aughts Christian rock crossover success story, were releasing a new covers EP recorded under quarantine featuring material from a fascinating selection of artists: Frank Ocean, Vampire Weekend, the Chainsmokers, the Verve, Harry Styles, and Jon Bellion. Upon announcing the EP, they shared their take on Ocean’s early stunner “Swim Good.” Today they’ve released their cover of Vampire Weekend’s Father Of The Bride highlight “Harmony Hall.”
Musically, Switchfoot’s treatment of the song is fairly faithful. They’ve got the central guitar riff on lock; that playful Rolling Stones piano-romp vibe is in there too. It’s slightly looser and slower than the original, but generally Vampire Weekend fans should be pleased. The main objection I foresee is Jon Foreman’s vocals, which are heartier than Ezra Koenig’s and take some getting used to on an aesthetic level.
Foreman shared a statement about the band’s decision to release this song during this tumultuous week:
During this difficult week, we have been wrestling with whether or not we should release new music — trying to listen more than speak.
As an American, there are so many reasons to mourn, to be angry, to lament. There is so much that we need to change. Let’s take a good, long look at who we are and who we’ve been. Let’s promise each other that we will continue to fight for a better version of America. A better version of ourselves.
Music quite often says what words cannot. Singing into the storms of life, music provides a scaffolding for our souls to reach for something beyond ourselves.
And so we decided to sing. This is our attempt to do what we do best — to sing into the storm. Our new song is a cover of Vampire Weekend’s “Harmony Hall,” a song that feels incredibly relevant to the week that we’ve had as a nation.
“Harmony Hall” takes inspiration from former slave plantations named Harmony Hall. For me, this is a song that acknowledges that if we are to change our future, we need to first confess our past.
I confess my fears. I confess my silence. I want to live a life that transcends these fears and reaches out in love towards justice. To all my black brothers and sisters out there, I stand with you. I kneel with you. I weep with you. I mourn with you. I long for justice alongside you.
“The stone walls of Harmony Hall bear witness.” America, we need to do better than this.
Switchfoot’s Covers EP is out 6/19. This Sunday, 6/7, they’ll headline San Diego’s Feed The Need drive-in concert at Petco Park.