As they enter their 17th year as a band, Switchfoot has achieved a level of success that brothers Jon and Tim Foreman and their high-school friend Chad Butler never anticipated when forming the band in San Diego in 1996. The SoCal natives have sold 5.5 million copies worldwide of their eight studio albums (including their 2003 double-platinum breakthrough The Beautiful Letdown and 2009’s Grammy Award-winning Hello Hurricane), racked up a string of Alternative radio hit singles (“Meant to Live,” “Dare You To Move,” “Mess of Me,” “The Sound (John M. Perkins’ Blues),” “Dark Horses,” and “Afterlife”), performed sold-out world tours (visiting five continents in the past year alone), raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to aid homeless kids in their community through their own Bro-Am Foundation, and earned themselves a global fan base devoted to Switchfoot’s emotionally intelligent and uplifting brand of alternative rock.

So when it came time to write the songs that would make up their ninth studio album, the members of Switchfoot were looking for a challenge. “The point became, ‘What are we going to do to push ourselves,’” Jon recalls. “Could we take ourselves somewhere we’d never been before, yet achieve a feeling of comfort at the same time? How do we go to a new place that feels like home?”

Switchfoot found the answers on the road and in the waves. A year ago, while touring in support of their 2011 album Vice Verses, the long-time surfers set out in search of inspiration by visiting several of their favorite surf breaks around the world. “The idea was to surf, write songs, play music, and see what ideas came,” says Tim. The band traveled to Jeffreys Bay and Crayfish Factory in South Africa, Bronte Beach in Australia, Raglan in New Zealand, and Uluwatu in Bali, and chronicled their physical and emotional journey, as well as their unshakeable brotherly bond, in Fading West — a documentary film that features stunning locales, revealing interviews, jubilant live footage, and glimpses of Switchfoot at home and in their studio in San Diego. Like Rattle and Hum meets Endless Summer, the movie is part travelogue, part surf film, and part behind-the-scenes look at the making of the band’s upcoming new album, which will also be entitled Fading West.

Not surprisingly, the album, which finds Switchfoot returning to the melodic pop sensibility of their early years, was inspired by the sea, which Jon describes as a perfect metaphor for simultaneously experiencing comfort and danger. “You’re comfortable out there, but it’s the unknown,” he says. “You can paddle out in South Africa and it’s exactly like home and nothing like home all at once. That’s what I’m hoping our record feels like — trying to find peace in dangerous places.”

Man Man is a fearlessly unique band from Philadelphia. The group's fifth full length album On Oni Pond features an arresting reconstruction of the group's visionary sound – stripped to its core and rebuilt as something new and compelling yet still very much Man Man. This marked shift is a direct result of an intensive collaboration between the band's frontman, Honus Honus, and drummer Pow Pow, who has assumed a new-found prominence in the songwriting process, bringing an exhilarating array of new rhythmic ideas to the mix. "With this album we got to do something that very few bands or creative people get to do which is a reboot, and one that feels natural," comments Honus Honus.

In a review of a track called "Head On," Pitchfork writes that Man Man "have taken their licks and endured, evolving from their excitable and divisive Beefheart/Zappa-influenced early work into rich and resonant piano pop that values populism over provocation."

The compositions on the new album were honed by the band members along with producer Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes, First Aid Kit) into a compelling mash-up of Fear Of Music era Talking Heads, classic soul, psychedelia, hip hop, and 50's rock and roll. With its imaginative yet economical rhythms, huge hooks, and overriding sense of urgency, On Oni Pond melds these seemingly disparate influences into an unexpectedly lush, melodic album, exquisitely consolidated by the band's unique and affecting vision.

"This is a strange and beautiful record but it's also head on and fearless," says Honus Honus. "It's not a record that's going to flirt with you, this is a record that's asking you out. If you get into bed with us there's going to be a relationship."

Man Man's latest also expresses Honus Honus' evolution as a lyricist. Consistently inventive, the lyrics now have a new poignancy and insight that makes this album as personal and reflective as it is joyous. The thematic centerpiece of the record is the bittersweet, deconstructed soul anthem "Head On." Simultaneously melancholy and inspiring, the track features a unique take on personal resilience exemplified by the lines, "Are you dreaming of death? Are there ghosts in your chest?" and "I need new skin for this old skeleton of mine 'cause this one that I'm in has let me down once again over time," which build into the refrain "Hold onto your heart, hold it high above flood waters, hold onto your heart, never let nobody drag it under."

With On Oni Pond, Man Man has delivered a beautifully weird and unforgettable collection of songs. From the pounding syncopated drumming, psychedelic organ and impassioned crooning of "Pink Wonton" to the sneering new wave dub of "King Shiv" and the big beat bratty swagger of "Loot My Body," this is an undeniably ambitious band reborn to new, focused greatness.

Basic Vacation

Formed in May 2012 the East-coast indie rock trio Basic Vacation (Chris Greatti on Lead Vocals /Guitar, Jon Paul on Bass, Mike Montalbano on Drum) have been living under the influence of the 1980’s New Wave meets Power-Pop movement citing Jellyfish and Tears for Fears as among their influencers.

With guitar-heavy swagger, a raw drive and heart-on-the-sleeve songwriting, Basic Vacation puts on an energetic live show that immediately converts listeners to fervent fans. Of recent, they have shared the stage with fellow up-and-coming indie rockers New Politics, 21 Pilots.

The band just released a self-titled debut EP, working with Grammy nominated producers Machine and David Kahne,.

$25 + $1 donation to Maryland Food Bank

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Switchfoot with New Politics, Man Man, Basic Vacation

Thursday, December 19 · Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM at Rams Head Live