Sonic Highways

By Michael Boesel

Elm Staff Writer


When talking about Dave Grohl, frontman of the Foo Fighters, it is nearly impossible not to talk about Nirvana. Being the drummer of the legendary band that was the voice for Generation X and popularized alternative rock, especially grunge, he already ensured his legacy. During his time with Nirvana, he played drums but also wrote songs. When the band dissolved after frontman Kurt Cobain’s tragic death in 1994, Grohl started his own band: the Foo Fighters.

Almost 20 years after their first release, the Foo Fighters now have released their eighth album called “Sonic Highways.” This marks a new ambitious project of Grohl’s for each of the eight songs of the album, the band traveled to a different American city and recorded it in a studio there. The cities they chose were Austin, Texas, Chicago, Los Angeles, Nashville, Tenn., New Orleans, New York,  Seattle and Washington, D.C.

The Foo Fighters tried something new and unconventional with the lyrics for the album as well. While the band had the songs already written, Grohl wrote the lyrics on site. These recording sessions were filmed and are now aired as an eight episodes HBO Show with the same name as the album. The show, which was created and directed by Grohl himself, features local famous artists of the music scene.

“Something From Nothing,” the first song of “Sonic Highways,” was recorded in Chicago with Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen. The song may feel a little unfamiliar at first but soon reveals the typical Foo Fighters sound. Following is the rocking punk-like song “The Feast And The Famine” that definitely shows the Washington hardcore-punk history that inspired the song. In Nashville, Tenn., the band recorded “Congregation,” a strangely monotonous song although it sounds so familiar. “What Did I Do?/God As My Witness” is a two-part song which works surprisingly well in this form.

With the help of Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh, “Outside” was formed to a potential hit at every Foo Fighters concert. “In The Clear” will most likely get stuck in the head of listener’s the longest time due to its catchy chorus written in New Orleans. Grohl deals with Nirvana and the loss of his friend Cobain one more time in the lyrics of the dramatic “Subterranean,” which was recorded in Nirvana’s hometown Seattle. The last song “I Am A River” combines references to New York with a love story to forge an emotional finale to the album.

“Sonic Highways” as an artistic synthesis is unique. If the TV show and the story behind the record are put aside, it is nothing more and nothing less than an ordinary Foo Fighters album full of rock music for the stadium and there are definitely worse things than that.

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