Review: ‘Sonic Highways’ shows different side of Foo Fighters

The latest album from alternative rock/post-grunge band the Foo Fighters is one with an interesting concept and is worth listening to. “Sonic Highways” marks the band’s eighth studio album, selling 190,000 copies in the first week of its Nov. 10 release.

The current lineup of the band consists of lead guitarist and backup vocalist Chris Shifflett, rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist Pat Smear, bassist Nate Mendel, drummer and backup vocalist Taylor Hawkins and former Nirvana drummer David Grohl as the lead vocalist, who also contributes his talents on guitar and percussion.

What’s interesting about this album is that it’s a companion piece for Grohl’s HBO television documentary series of the same name. Grohl defined the series and the album as “a love letter to the history of American music.” In the series, which premiered Oct. 17, the Foo Fighters visit and explore the musical heritages of eight cities—Chicago, Washington D.C., Nashville, Austin, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Seattle and New York City. For the album, the band recorded a song in every city it went to, with each track influenced by the local musical flavor of each place.

The Foo Fighters’ second track, “The Feast and the Famine,” draws from the sound of the punk scene in Washington D.C. around the 1980s and 1990s with lyrics inspired by the Civil Rights Movement. The lines, “Hey where is the monument/To the dreams we forget?/We need a monument/And change will come” seem to pay tribute to those who struggled during the movement.

Sonic Highways features other fast-paced, high energy songs like “The Feast and the Famine,” but the slower-tempo tracks such as “I Am a River” and “Subterranean” provide a strong sense of balance for the album.

It might not be one Foo Fighter fans are used to, but the concepts make for an interesting and layered work. If you want to start off with a sound similar to the Foo Fighters’ usual work, listen to “The Feast and the Famine.” But if you want something completely different, try “I Am a River.”

Grohl stated that the mission of the album was to “make the creative process new again” after spending around 20 years in the Foo Fighters, which was founded in 1994. The band’s previous albums include “Foo Fighters” (1995), “The Color and the Shape” (1997), “There is Nothing Left to Lose” (1999), “One by One” (2002), “In Your Honor” (2005), “Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace” (2007) and “Wasting Light” (2011).

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