Album Review: Foo Fighters - Sonic Highways

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Loved by popular consensus and loathed by most punk/indie aficionados, all must agree on one thing: Dave Grohl makes great decisions.

After the generation-altering loss of Kurt Cobain, Grohl could have easily dove into a similar crisis, depression or addiction. Instead, he recorded the Foo Fighters first album pretty much by himself, in itself a show of confidence.

Sure the meat and potatoes alt-pop sounds he created were't anything new but they did show a surprisingly well-versed appreciation for the early days of alternative rock.

The decision to really seize the day and make the Foo Fighters an actual living and breathing rock group really took place on the second album, 1997's The Colour and The Shape. Grohl and his bandmates created an emo-rock sound devoid of self-pity and more focused on testosterone fueled angst.

This led to the Foo Fighters' popularity increasing exponentially throughout the 2000's, touring arenas and eventually culminating with a show at England's Wembley Stadium. You don't play Wembley without having good decision making skills.

This was a turning point. Where does Grohl want to take a band that already has it all? Turns out, back to the garage. Albeit a four luxury-car garage, but a garage nonetheless.

He then decides to reunite with producer Butch Vig, who he hadn't worked with since Nirvana's Nevermind.

He brings back Pat Smear, who's elderly punk vibe brings another level of credibility to the group.

2011's Wasting Light is the loud reminder that Grohl and company have a firm grasp on why they started the group in the first place.

2012 and 2013 found Dave Grohl creating the feature-length band documentary "Back and Forth," cementing Dave's status as a funny and unique storyteller and the viewer is giving a look into how the Foo Fighters put in a lot of work to get where they are.

Then Dave got the crazy idea to create a feature-length documentary on the decaying but legendary Californian recording studio Sound City.

A true enthusiasm for the rock and roll history dripping from the walls of the legendary studio is shown by Dave in this film as well as the current HBO miniseries Sonic Highways.

Sonic Highways is indeed a perfect storm of marketing. They record eight songs, a different city and studio for each song and tape the proceedings.

Each of the eight cities hold some importance either to Grohl's life or to the history of rock and roll and the interviews he conducts at each of the cities are thoughtful and instantly memorable.

But this review is about the accompanying album, Sonic Highways. Strangely enough, a new city and studio for each of the eight tracks does not make the album sound like a disconnected hodgepodge.

Instead, producer Butch Vig gives each one of these tracks a muscular, loud groundwork for Dave to contemplate the American landscape.

"The Feast And The Famine" imagines Grohl as an eighties straight-edge DC punk singer except for the fact that the production is bright and vibrant which is something that a lot of 80's punk didn't possess. "Congregation" gets the closest to the meat and potatoes arena rock that the Foo have been maligned for in the past, but "Outside" returns the guys to a seedy, sunset-strip-minus-the-hairspray sound.

Album closer "I Am A River" is by far the deepest ballad Grohl has written with multiple twists and turns on the way to a truly transcendent chorus.

The songs don't necessarily evoke the cities where they were recorded but every once in a while there will be a lyrical allusion to the city.

The album sounds like the product of a cool, hair-brained idea. By traveling to these different locales, Foo Fighters have created a musical road trip, and while that description may sound corny, it is the truth.

Grohl appears to be enthralled by the history of music and finally, with Sonic Highways, that enthusiasm is starting to makes it's way into his own music.

Wanna read more on this? Check these out: Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Rotten Tomatoes Rating Revealed (more); Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Movie Trailer Released (more); Album Review: U2 - Songs Of Innocence (more).