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MUSIC REVIEW

Switchfoot fleshes out its '90s retro rock with plenty of resolve

If the entire performance vocabulary of Switchfoot frontman Jonathan Foreman seems cribbed from countless forebears, he at least deserves credit for knowing what he wants. Make no mistake: If Foreman, with his ''How is the city feeling tonight?" banter and self-important posturing, acted like a Big Rock Star at the Roxy on Wednesday night, it's because, right then and there, he was.

Riddled with cliches as it was, Foreman's stage presence was a perfect fit for the band's material, seemingly pilfered from '90s mainstream alternative -- both good and bad. ''The Shadow Proves the Sunshine" had an airiness similar to latter-day U2, and the swinging ''Company Car" got deliriously lost chasing its own tail, like some of Ben Folds's best work. But most of Switchfoot's songs sounded like a hybrid of Bush and matchbox twenty, with a dollop of Creed for good measure.

If those bands haven't stood the test of time, they certainly hit big, and Switchfoot's borrowings proved equally effective. The down-tempo, stadium-size ''This Is Your Life" was practically designed to be a lighter-waving singalong, while ''Meant to Live" was overinflated with a sense of importance. That reached its zenith when Foreman compared ''Politicians" to both ''Imagine" and a prayer, but ultimately, Switchfoot had a job to do, and the hooks in songs like ''Stars" and ''Easier Than Love" did their work.

Second-billed Eisley showcased numbers from this year's wonderful ''Room Noises" alongside the odd obscurity culled from its eight-year existence. Like an expansion of the ideas that Belly explored on ''King," the four Dupree siblings and cousin/new bass player Garron presented a lyrical and melodic dream world with superb clarity. On ''Mr. Pine" and the gorgeous ''Memories," guitarist Sherri and her keyboard-playing sister, Stacy, tugged and pulled at each other's vocals, playing off one another as often as they fell into harmony. But it was sister Chauntelle who captured the spirit of Eisley's set as she stood off to the side playing her guitar and singing to herself without the benefit of a microphone, caught up as the music lifted and lifted.

Openers Augustana played a set of nondescript, mechanically earnest WB-ready rock.

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