As a long-time listener of the Foo Fighters, myself along with many avid fans know very well how highly anticipated the band’s eighth album “Sonic Highways” would be. Within their remarkable two-decade career, Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Chris Shiflett and Pat Smear have become well-versed in getting listeners enthusiastic about their music. Every record the band releases has that something about its assembly — every single one. “Sonic Highways” does not taint this tradition; in fact, it may be their finest and most grandiose musical effort to date.
“Sonic Highways” met some of my high expectations and others not so much. However, even with the flaws within the album, the concept behind the Foo Fighters’ eighth album illustrates the band’s passion and pride.
The album is the very talented Grohl’s extended love letter to the history of American music.
To accompany the release of the album, an eight-episode HBO documentary series was released that follows the band as they visit eight different American cities with particularly rich musical history. Each episode of the series focuses on a particular city and Grohl interviews legends of blues, classic rock, country and punk, and attempts to channel their sounds and stories, plus the musical vibes of the chosen city, into the band’s new material. Each song on the album attributes each city, which includes Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.
Each song is written to illuminate the culture and history of the city. The lyrics of each song off “Sonic Highways” are an assembly of quotes taken from interviews with local musicians and producers. Grohl uses these quotes create a wider perspective.
It is a risky concept, and a challenging task, but like always the Foo Fighters succeeds and delivers in a myriad of ways.
By capturing and celebrating the different genres of music, “Sonic Highways” illustrates The Foo Fighter’s reinvention of themselves while also recapturing some fundamentals of their previous records.
From ‘Echoes, Patience, Silence & Grace’ and ‘Wasting Light’, the Foo Fighters explore the sounds that make them great with a tasteful mixture of fresh sounds. “Congregation”, a track off the album, holds a similar sound to “Long Road to Ruin” from one of the band’s earlier records with its resilient vocals that are escorted by a fast pace.
While this album is not the greatest musical masterpiece of the Foo Fighters’ career, it is a creation that should be celebrated.
As a former member of Nirvana and now the current leader of the Foo Fighters, Grohl wrote “Sonic Highways” as a way of coming to terms with how much of an influential American musician he is. He’s become something beyond a classicist: a conservationist. “Go on, tell me now,” he sings in one new song. “What can I do to preserve you?” “Sonic Highways” is a painstakingly contrived and wonderfully executed revitalization effort, I for one am eager to know what is coming next.