Foo Fighters stick to their guns on ‘Sonic Highways’

By Chase Myers

A band’s success is usually determined by its ability to pump out records and give its fans what they want year after year.

When it comes to spending time in the music industry, Dave Grohl is one of the more experienced rock musicians, which comes from more than 25 years of rock stardom.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the formation of Grohl’s second successful musical venture Foo Fighters, and what better way to celebrate than by putting out their eighth studio album.

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“Sonic Highways” was released on Nov. 10. It has an accompanying documentary series currently showing on HBO. The documentary provides a look into the unique recording process, which took place in eight different cities in the United States.

Grohl mentioned in a Billboard interview in May he wanted to show the viewing audience why these different musical genres such as blues, country and psychedelic originated where they did and provide “the history of American music” in its true form.

The album begins with a song titled ‘Something From Nothing,’ which starts out with a slow build-up section and starts to groove really well around the two minute mark. I must commend the production of this song, because the instruments compliment each other very well. However, that is really is all that sticks out in this song.

‘The Feast and the Famine” showcases the band’s musicianship a little more with an abundance of syncopation and tastefully timed instrumental breaks, or pauses rather. Lyrically, this song has a “revolution” and “change” theme, which is somewhat played out in popular rock. Instrumentally this song is really good, but the lyrical element just isn’t there.

“Congregation,” the third song on the record, is reminiscent of older Foo Fighters’ songs, with the driving guitar riff and heavy use of the ride symbol throughout the song. There is also a hint of nostalgia in the main riff of the song that resembles old classic rock. This song is one that both new and old fans of the band can enjoy.

The next song titled “What did I Do?/God as My Witness.” is essentially two songs in one, in the way that Green Day used to combine their songs into one on “American Idiot.” But it uses one main structure, and the song could have had just one name. It was as if the band had one idea but found a better one while recording and decided to keep both. The break in the middle is unnecessary, as the song basically picks back up where the track started.

The next two songs “Outside” and “In the Clear” are not the most complicated lyrically, but definitely sound like old, reimagined Foo Fighters songs.  Sometimes bands tend to try and recapture their essence in new songs but run out of ideas they haven’t previously used. In this case, the band makes their songs sound old but original by utilizing familiar guitar riffs with new little things here and there like triplets and syncopated symbol crashes.

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The song “Subterranean” features acoustic guitar and slide guitar. Foo Fighters appreciate different types of music and pull that into their own. You can hear the country and blues influences throughout.

Foo Fighters closed their album very well with the song “I Am a River,” which, despite the bland and somewhat corny name, is instrumentally sound. The first few minutes of the seven-minute jam are very atmospheric. If the song was cut down by about a minute in the middle section, this would be the strongest instrumental on the album by a large margin. The lyrics, however, are rather redundant.

All together, this album includes something both old and new fans can enjoy, but doesn’t live up to previous albums “Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace,” or “The Colour and the Shape.” If you want a well-represented image of who the band really is and what their sound is like, this album isn’t your best bet. Regardless, the band really sticks to what they know and what they do well on “Sonic Highways.”

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