Dave Grohl Is At It Again… What Can’t This Man Do?
November 18th, 2014 by Lauren Puleo
The Foo Fighters have finally released their long-awaited eighth studio album, Sonic Highways, and it most definitely does not dissapoint.
Don’t expect this album to be anything like previous releases from the Foos. Yes, Dave Grohl’s vocals are unmistakable, and yes, you can tell that they have the same line-up they’ve been using for the past few years. So while there are certainly continuities between this album and albums past, the Foo Fighters aren’t looking to repeat any of their past work. If 90s-style Foo Fighters is what you’re looking for, then go listen to “Foo Fighters“, “The Color And The Shape“, or “There Is Nothing Left To Lose“.
If, however, what you’re looking for is some innovation and a refreshing appreciation for American rock history, then you’ve come to the right place. This album was released in conjunction with an HBO mini-series in which the Foo Fighters tour eight cities across America and record a single song in each city. For the week that the band was in a particular city, they would spend about six days recording the instrumental version of the song and create a barebones outline for the vocal part. Each night they would interview local artists that had significant impacts on the local music scene. Artists like Willie Nelson, Chuck D, Bonnie Rait, LL Cool J, Dan Auerbach, the list goes on. On the last day in the recording studio, Dave would sit down with the transcripts of all the interviews and would form lyrics from words and phrases that encapsulated the story of that city.
This YouTube video will answer all of your questions.
While this is a fascinating writing strategy, it doesn’t have as large an impact without the HBO mini-series to back it up (so make sure you watch it!). If you listen to the CD alone with no background information going in, it sounds like a random set of eight rock songs, and the average listener wouldn’t be able to recognize regional differences between them.
Obviously the first track off the album, “Something From Nothing“, is a big fan favorite by now, seeing as the single has been out for a couple of weeks. It’s definitely recognizable as a more recent Foo Fighters song, I mean it could have come off “Wasting Light” and no one would have known the difference.
Let’s talk about “Congregation“, the third track. This song has two distinct sections to it separated by a drop about three minutes in. The first section is much lighter than the second one, but in the end it all ties back together into a cohesive song. Also, if you feel like you’re hearing Zac Brown in the background there, you’re right.
Lastly, I have to say that there are a LOT guitars on this album. Just in general. Maybe it’s because the Foo Fighters have grown from a three-piece to a five-piece band and I’m just used to their older stuff, but it seems unusually… guitary. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining though. It’s refreshing to hear real rock music in a music scene that is increasingly dominated by Alt-Pop.
Overall, good work Foos! Keepin’ us on our toes while educating America about its music history. My rating: 10 Golden Stars.