Foo Fighters Release Sonic Highways
By Live Wire Editor-In-Chief
For the past twenty years, the Foo Fighters have been one of the most ambitious bands of our rock culture and they still continue to prove so with the release of their new album, “Sonic Highways.” The eight tracks on this album follow the band’s experimentation with other sounds inspired by different musicians.
Founder of the band Dave Grohl, created and directed an eight-part TV series on HBO called “Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways.” It documents an ambitious, cross-country production process with the band and its long time producer, Butch Vig, recording each of its eight songs in a different U.S. city: Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.
In the documentary, the series takes full advantage of Grohl’s unique status as a punk-spawned celebrity to carefully intertwine mainstream and underground rock histories. For instance, so far in the series we’ve seen how Chicago-blues icons like Buddy Guy and noisy nihilists like Big Black were both fueled by the same impoverished necessity, or how hardcore pioneers Minor Threat and go-go greats Trouble Funk shone a light on the Washington that lurks in the shadow of Capitol Hill. As a promotional film for a new Foo Fighters album, however, it makes you wonder why its trailblazing subjects’ transgressive influence didn’t seep into the sound of the final product.
“Something for Nothing” is the band’s lead single and it sparks up a high clear point on the album. The track has a little bit of everything on it, from the “metal chill” guitar riffs of special guest Rick Nielson of Cheap Trick to the ‘70s sounding keyboard of Rami Jaffe (The Wallflowers) and a blistering guitar part from lead guitarist Chris Shiflett about midway through.
The song starts off by Grohl in a melodic vocal, but by the end he is defiantly belting with these lyrics, “No you can’t make me change my name. You’ll never make me change my name. Pay no mind now ain’t that something. Fuck it all, I came from nothing!”
The song “Congregation” pulls it back a bit, with country superstar Zac Brown sitting in for a more melodic track. But don’t worry Foo fans, despite the presence of Brown and the setting of Nashville, this is no country song. It’s still a solid rocker and pushes the up-tempo, foot-stomping beat later during the track’s breakdown.
While most of ‘Sonic Highways’ pushes the pulse, late album track ‘Subterranean’ offers a more contemplative Foo Fighters. Launched with dreamy sounding acoustic guitars and a vibe more attune to special guest Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie, “Subterranean” is strum-along goodness and a little bit of a curveball.
As a project, there’s no denying the overall success of what Foo Fighters accomplished in representing the respective music scenes, but as an album it feels a bit disjointed at times. However, the craftsmanship is top notch and the disc is well worth your time even if the “highways” don’t always make the smoothest of transitions.
Pick up their album today and make sure to catch their series on HBO on Fridays at 11pm!