A week has passed since the release of Sonic Highways and despite all the hype surrounding the record, the Foo Fighters have been beat out by Pink Floyd in sales and their ambitious vision may not be panning out the way they hoped it to.
The Foos knew that releasing another solid rock album would not be enough so change was in store, and to be fair, the concept they came up with was incredible. The band traveled to eight great American cities hoping to capture the different cultures and sounds of each city within the individual songs on the album. The lyrics came from interviews that Dave Grohl conducted with city natives, and the band brought along a film crew from HBO, creating a beautiful tribute to American Rock ‘n’ Roll history. After the success of Grohl’s recent documentary Sound City, the TV show was bound to be a hit, but unfortunately the paired up album just doesn’t make sense without following the show. On its own, it is nearly impossible to figure out which song comes from what city. The Nashville song should sound more country, the Chicago song should sound more bluesy, and the New Orleans song should sound more jazzy. The influences from each city are not distinct and that’s what was supposed to make Sonic Highways special.
The lead single off the track, “Something From Nothing”, has a killer riff and funky keyboards. As a preview to the album, it was great. Especially when you got to Dave’s gratuitous, but very welcomed growling that brings out all the nostalgic Foo Fighters feelings. But although this is one of the better songs off the album, it strikes me that what primarily makes this song so great was taken from another. The main riff appears to come from a Dio song called “Holy Diver”. It makes no sense that they would sample this particular riff because Dio is not from Chicago, the city this song is supposed to represent. Rick Nielsen from Cheap Trick is featured on the song, but comes in for only a short bridge playing deep chords on a Baritone. The collaborators did not seem to bring much to this album overall.
“Outside”, the song that represents Los Angeles, has a more creative flair. This is not a rehashed Foo Fighters track from the ’90s, with the breakdown riff making it worthwhile. “Subterranean”, which represents Seattle got creative lyrically with certain phrases that act as larger motifs. Musically, it ventures into a sound that is something between a cross of Radiohead and Pearl Jam, making it eerie at times. The last song, from New York, “I am a River”, attempts to be a heartwarming ballad, and musically it is quite nice, but lyrically becomes repetitive and corny very quickly.
As a whole, the album is strong but not cohesive, and the songs, that were meant to stand on their own fail to deliver the promised concept. Musically anything the Foo Fighters produce will be of quality, but Sonic Highways is just one of those albums that grows on you over time. To fully capture Dave’s vision, it seems that watching the HBO series is necessary.
Catch the Foo Fighters on tour next year at any of the following dates:
7/4/15– Washington, D.C. – RFK Stadium (ON SALE NOW)
7/6/15– Camden, NJ – Susquehanna Bank Center*
7/9/15– Toronto, ON – Molson Canadian Amphitheatre*
7/16/15– New York, NY – Citi Field*
7/18/15– Boston, MA –Fenway Park (NO BOX OFFICE PRESALE) **
7/19/15– Boston, MA – Fenway Park (NO BOX OFFICE PRESALE) *
8/12/15– Edmonton, AB – Rexall Place*
8/13/15– Calgary, AB – Scotiabank Saddledome*
8/17/15– Denver, CO – Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre*
8/19/15– Maryland Heights, MO – Verizon Wireless Amphitheater*
8/21/15– Kansas City, MO – Sprint Center*
8/22/15– St. Paul, MN – Xcel Energy Center*
8/24/15– Detroit, MI – DTE Energy Music Theatre*
8/25/15– Pittsburgh, PA – First Niagara Pavilion*
8/27/15– Indianapolis, IN – Klipsch Music Center
8/29/15– Chicago, IL – Wrigley Field (SOLD OUT)
9/11/15– Vancouver, BC – Rogers Arena
9/12/15– George, WA – Gorge Amphitheatre
9/14/15– Portland, OR – Moda Center
9/16/15– Mountain View, CA – Shoreline Amphitheatre
9/18/15– Anaheim, CA – Honda Center
9/21/15– Los Angeles, CA – The Forum
9/25/15– Phoenix, AZ – AK-Chin Pavilion
9/27/15– Albuquerque, NM – Isleta Amphitheater
9/29/15– Oklahoma City, OK – Chesapeake Energy Arena
9/30/15– Wichita, KS – INTRUST Bank Arena
10/4/15 – Atlanta, GA – Centennial Olympic Park
10/5/15– Nashville, TN – Bridgestone Arena
10/7/15– Memphis, TN – FedExForum