So How is the New Foo Fighters Album, Really? And Is It Really About the Album?

Had a chance to listen to Sonic Highways yet?  What do you think?

For me, it’s a good soundtrack to a great series of HBOs documentaries. As a standalone record, though, I’m not sure. It somehow feels…incomplete without the stories and the visuals. Maybe if they had released the documentary after we’d had a chance to become acquainted with the songs I’d feel differently.

Then again, maybe we’re missing the point. The Foo Fighters have been around for 20 years and have plenty of hits to draw from whenever they play live. They’ve reached that stage of their career when people come to their gigs to hear all the old hits and not necessary anything from a new album. Ask U2 what that’s like.

The Foos and their management know that the chances of any new album going platinum are slim. The real money is in live gigs, merch and creative moves like co-producing a documentary series with David Letterman’s Worldwide Pants and then striking a deal with a massive entity like HBO. The album is simply a means to these ends.

Call me cynical, but I think this is a great business move but one that may not have necessarily resulted in a good album.

Here’s another take on the record from contributor Gilles LeBlanc:

I can’t think of an album in recent memory more hyped and eagerly anticipated than Foo Fighters’ Sonic Highways.

Then again, no album has ever really had this type of promotion behind it, primarily driven by what will amount to an 8-week informercial on North America’s most popular and far-reaching pay TV channel.

Following the success and acclaim of the FOO’s back-to-garage-basics Wasting Lightin 2011, music mastermind Dave Grohl apparently wasn’t simply satisfied with saving rock ’n’ roll from whatever ailed it. He moved from behind his singer’s mic to that of a director’s viewfinder, helming the very well-received Sound City, a documentary on the legendary studio of the same name, with a subplot of real songs and records continuing to be made by analog-loving musicians. The companion soundtrack, you may remember, featured several kick-ass collaborations, including one with a certain Sir Paul McCartney that led to a spontaneous Nirvana reunion of sorts.

Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

4 thoughts on “So How is the New Foo Fighters Album, Really? And Is It Really About the Album?

  • November 13, 2014 at 9:28 am

    I like that through the series, I have been exposed to types of music and musicians that I might never have found on my own. I find the album a good solid album, no not mind blowing and off the charts brilliant but still great to listen to. I think this whole adventure has been Dave Grohl’s way of expanding his producing/directing and documentary ambitions not necessarily creating the best music of all time but I am fine with that. I am happy with the album, look forward to watching the rest of the series and of course seeing them in concert when they come to Toronto.

  • November 13, 2014 at 9:47 am

    I know the Foos are sacrosanct in the rock world, but I’ll be the voice of dissent: I’ve felt that after their third album they fell into a formula that they’ve been repeating ad nauseum.

    Their music doesn’t sound urgent and raw anymore. It sounds calculated and corporate. I’m sure if I saw them live I’d be blown away, but on record I’ve had little interest for over a decade.

  • November 13, 2014 at 11:11 am

    Let me preface this by saying that I absolutely love this series. I really enjoy anything to do with the history of music and it’s clear that Dave G has a real passion for it as well.

    I have yet to hear the album on its own but have enjoyed each song as it has been unveiled at the end of every show. Until I hear the album outside of the context of the episode, I really can’t say what kind of legs the album will have.

    Nevertheless, I applaud the band for the approach they are taking. It is original and it has caused me to have an appreciation for music that I had not yet taken the time to listen to.

  • November 14, 2014 at 12:31 am

    Really enjoying the series so far. Interesting to hear how they take “buzzwords” from the interviews and repeat them in the songs. Learning about groups I’ve never even heard of. (That two-headed dog song is a real ear-worm). Foos album is a solid effort but no real standout tracks I find. Does anyone know if Austin City Limits shows are available commercially?


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