The Foo Fighter’s 8th album, Sonic Highway, features some of their most ambitious production yet. The concept behind the album is an expansion of Dave Grohl’s Sound City experiment, but this time on a national scale. Rather than focusing on the music production history of one city (Los Angeles), he takes his band on an all-American road trip, writing songs inspired by the 8 cities he visits.
A cult figure in rock-and-roll, it’s becoming increasingly hard to believe that Grohl is even capable of doing wrong. The documentary explores the musical history of the 8 cities on the tour, providing an insight into some of the music that influenced modern rock music. Grohl again proves himself to be more than capable as a filmmaker; and his natural musical talent shines through as ever.
Albums built upon a strong concept can sometimes try to become something more than just music (Lady Gaga is a prime example), but that is not something the Foos are guilty of here. Whilst the concept behind the album is a very ambitions one, it still feels very much like a Foo Fighters album. There’s the usual blend of sing-along rock anthems (‘The Feast and the Famine’), slow ballads (‘I am a River’), and slow-building aggressive rock (‘Something from Nothing’) for which the Foos have become known for.
The influence of the host cities is certainly noticeable on some tracks, such as Gary Clark Jr’s emotive guitar solo in ‘What Did I Do? / God as My Witness’, which harks back to classic Texan blues guitarists like Stevie Ray Vaughn. The start-stop element of the song creates a driving sound, pushing the track towards the powerful solo which brings it to an end. Combined with Grohl’s fading vocals ‘With God as my witness / Yeah you gonna heal my soul tonight’, the track brings together two classic American genres of music which really captures the concept of the album.
Sonic Highways, rather than taking the band in a new direction, is adding a new spin to a tried and tested formula. Grohl’s raspy vocals still lead the tracks, and the distortion-heavy guitars still tear trough each song. It’s unmistakably a Foo Fighters album. Sonic Highways shows that sticking to the formula is not always a bad thing; especially when it’s a formula that’s as tried and tested as the Foo Fighter’s.
Jacob is in his second year studying English and Film at MMU. He is a gamer, film fan, and music lover. At the weekend Jacob is often found drowning his sorrows of Tottenham’s tragic season. Find him on Twitter: @shinyjaker