Foo Fighter – Sonic Highways the review

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A new Foo Fighters album has been launched to accompany their series of documentaries as they tour and record across America. Ever one to look at different ways to record than the conventional, this time Dave Grohl and his band of merry men have left behind the garage and recorded 8 songs in 8 different cities with guest appearances from local musicians in each one.

The album starts with Something From Nothing recorded in Chicago, it’s a relative slow burner that builds to an angry sounding Grohl finishing the song singing ‘fuck it all I came from nothing’. Certainly a strong start.

Feast and the Famine recorded in Washington, reminds us of a more classic sounding foos as the punk influence that set Dave Grohl on the path of music. It certainly is one of the high points of the collection. Previews of the album suggested that the track recoded in Nashville would feature one Dolly Parton sadly didn’t come to fruition but the track Congregation with country legend Zac Brown recognises the role the church plays in the musical scene there if not sounding particularly gospel.

The opening 3 strings certainly are very strong, but then the record hits a baggy middle section. Austin’s What Do I Do?/ God As My Witness is different to say the least. Whilst fans of the Eagles may love Outside, I’m no fan of them so don’t want the Foo Fighters sounding like them. A song they recorded in the studio Josh Homme brought them to could have been quite special.

New Orleans track In The Clear has a familiarity about it, certainly Classic Foos elements are there to hear with the addition of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band adding some much needed horns. With so much of his life defined by Seattle a place where he laments the loss of Nirvana leader Kurt Cobain it’s no surprise to learn that Grohl is at a more melancholic mood ‘nothing left within, I’ve been mined, to hell and back again’ he sings on Subterranean, easily the slowest track on the collection.

It all comes to an end with I Am A River, where they work alongside legendary producer Tony Visconti.

So there we have it. 8 tracks, 8 cities and another collection to add to their live cannon. But how well does it compare to their previous work?

This album sounds and feels more like a soundtrack to a TV series rather than an original Foos record. The series is quite brilliant (certainly the 4 episodes I’ve seen have been) and as a requiem to the American music scene it’s without equal. The songs placed at the end of each episode feel more in place there than in here. Ultimately the album falls short of previous work, where as Wasting Light was a brilliant piece of recorded music this isn’t of the same standard. However it’s far from poor and at least it means one thing, the Foo Fighters WILL be touring soon and let’s be honest. That’s a damn good thing.

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