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Music Under the Radar: Found Family

Stephanie DePrez | Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The situation: Music hunters seek, read, blog and cull music from radio, print, and most often, the interwebs. Music gatherers collect mix CDs, free digital downloads and whatever their friends happen to be listening to. If you are a gatherer, this space is for you. If you are a hunter, e-mail me your latest find, and I promise you’ll find it written up here. (Seriously. E-mail. Even if you’re not a student.)

Great collaborations are a hallmark of music-dom — think of Jay-Z and Linkin Park, New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys, and Carole King and James Taylor. When two musicians collaborate, they not only bring their independent sounds together to create a style yet unknown, but they bring two fan bases together that might not have otherwise listened in. Let’s just say I’m waiting with baited breath for the latest collaboration from Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga (not).

Today I would like to focus on the collaboration between Jon Foreman and Sean Watkins, or, as you may know them, the lead singers of Switchfoot and Nickel Creek. But before we get to that, let’s lay some groundwork.

Switchfoot

They were meant to live for so much more. Switchfoot had a brief foray into the radio waves in 2005 with their album “The Beautiful Letdown.” Songs like “Meant to Live,” “This Is Your Life,” and “Dare You to Move” became pop standards, and made themselves available to endless covers at venues like, say Acousticafé. Since then, they’ve released three major albums, all of which have kept the band afloat and touring. Their not-so-subtle Christian sentiment has allowed them a devoted audience. Challenge to you: if you’ve never listened to them purposefully (for you must have heard them at one point, on the radio or on a soundtrack), look up the song “Dare You to Move,” and try to keep the chills of adventure from climbing in your window and snatching your people up.

Tracks to Tap” “Dare You to Move,” “This Is Your Life,” “Stars”

Nickel Creek

Let’s make bluegrass interesting. No, let’s make it popular. No, let’s make it cool! And thus, they did. This bluegrass fusion band makes the mandolin downright sexy. Balancing female and male vocals, they walk the line between indie and folk without falling into the labeled-for-life genre of “indie folk,” and actually consider themselves “progressive acoustic.” Though now disbanded, they have four albums that showcase a wide variety of tastes.

Tracks to Tap: “When You Come Back Down,” “Best of Luck,” “Doubting Thomas”

Found Family

Jon Foreman (Switchfoot) and Sean Watkins (Nickel Creek) have come together in an epic mash of finger-pickin’ madness. Their sound is probably indicative of what would happen if a mandolin and a guitar decided to reproduce. Far less genre-specific than either of the original bands, Found Family creates a nice medium between jamming and virtuosity.

Tracks to Tap: “Friday, I’m in Love,” “Betrayal,” “War In My Blood”

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer. Contact Stephanie DePrez at sdeprez@nd.edu