Casey Hudacko ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
This past year, the year of their 20 year anniversary, Foo Fighters travelled around the country and visited eight select cities searching for inspiration for their new album, Sonic Highways. Lead man, Dave Grohl wanted to make this album an homage to the history of American music. The making of this album was documented in a television show that premiered in October on HBO, also titled Sonic Highways. Every week, the band would travel to a city and talk to artists from the city and learn the history of music in that area. Grohl would then use snippets from his interviews and the stories he had heard and work them into the lyrics for the song. The band would then record the song at a studio in that city.
The first song off the album, “Something From Nothing” was recorded in Chicago with Rick Neilson of Cheap Trick. This song is really a testament to build-up. The five minute song starts off slowly, but builds for the next two minutes. The listener’s excitement builds with it. The lyrics include references to the city’s history, “Give me the flammable life,” being a reference to the great Chicago fires. “Wash them in the Muddy Water” references the great Chicago Blues artist, Muddy Waters. It features four guitar parts as well as a strong drum line from Taylor Hawkins. The best way to describe this song would be hard and angsty. The angst lyrics, the sounds of multiple guitars, and the classic growl of Grohl’s voice as well as the use of feedback give the song a real hard rock sound.
The second song and their second single was recorded in Washington D.C. and is a salute to the underground punk rock scene of the city. “The Feast and the Famine” has a simple guitar and drum part during the verses, but it really picks up during the chorus. Grohl repeats “Hey, man, it was the feast and the famine” and this line is one that will stick around in your head even after hearing the song once. Lyrics that connect to the city of Washington D.C. include “We need a monument.” For this song, the Foos collaborated with Bad Brains, a hardcore punk band out of D.C. “The Feast and the Famine” is a simple but catchy single that is sure to have you singing along.
“Congregation” is the third single off the album and is a favorite for many fans. It starts off with a strong electric guitar part before Grohl comes in with smooth vocals in the first verse. The song builds in the bridge before breaking for a great guitar riff that will pull you in before moving into the chorus. This song was recorded in Nashville, the home of American country and gospel music. After speaking with artists like Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton, he incorporated references to the famed venue, The Bluebird Cafe, (“Singing like a bluebird in the round”) and the Grand Ole Opry (“Send in the congregation”). After the second chorus, the song picks up a bit for a guitar solo that has a country feel to it. The fast-paced guitar solo then leads into a slower portion of the song that features just drums, rhyme guitar, and Zac Brown on guitar doing a simple yet hauntingly soulful solo. Grohl repeats the lyrics “Do you have blind faith? No false hope” multiple times, getting more and more passionate each time which really builds excitement. The song wraps up by slowing down and Grohl singing deeply and expressively “They’re singing like a bluebird in the round.” “Congregation” is a perfect example of what they aimed to do with this album, which is incorporate the sound of a particular genre of a city into their own sound. It is a perfect combination of their hard rock sound with a little country flare to it.
The last song on Sonic Highways is “I Am a River.” It is best described as a song that will be screamed out-loud in stadiums around the world. Foo Fighters are truly masters of build up in a song and they clearly exhibit that in this 7-minute masterpiece of a song. It begins with a sequence of drawn out chords that hum in the background as the the lead guitar fades in, simply plucking along. Then, the humming drowns out as more guitars build on top of one another. About a minute and a half into the song, Grohl’s voice chimes in sounding soft and delicate, which is not something often heard from Dave Grohl. He proclaims in the lyrics, “I found a secret behind a Soho door,” an obvious connection to New York, where this song was recorded. It isn’t until about two minutes into the song that the drum line kicks in which leads into the first chorus. The chorus features a slow but soulful rhythm and lyrics that will have people singing or screaming along. In the last minute, the guitar part is coupled with violins to make it foot-tappingly, sing-along-at-the-top-of-your-lungs good.
Foo Fighters’ eighth studio album, Sonic Highways, was a fantastic documentation of how music travels and what each unique region in this country has brought to the table in regards to music. This album was all about the journey and how music is created and what inspires the lyrics. Sonic Highways wasn’t created to be about the destination; it was created to be about the journey. But the destination of the album will surely land it high on the lists of great albums of this year. Foo Fighters have another solid album that their fans, and all music lovers can get on board with.