This was an exciting prospect. Fresh off the success of "Sound City," Grohl announced this passion-project, where the Foos would tour different studios in different cities all over the US to show off the auditory capacity of our great nation.
I can't speak to the documentary aspect, but the tidbits I've seen have shown that Grohl definitely has a place (with his film makers) as a documentarian.
However, does the album that came as a result of the documentary suffice as a Foos album?
Let's go track by track:
|1.||"Something from Nothing" from Chicago
This sounds like it should have been two songs and makes for a great theme to the "show." As a Foo's song, it is a bit all over the place and almost feels like they were just trying to give everyone something to do.
|2.||"The Feast and the Famine" from Washington DC
Perhaps the song most hurt by the "lyrics garnered from interviews" aspect of this project. Musically interesting, but lyrically confusing. You should not have to watch or read something else to just enjoy a song.
|3.||"Congregation" from Nashville
Congregation definitely feels the influence of Zac Brown who is now become a pseudo-Dave Groll protégé. One of the few songs on the album that actually sounds slightly like it was influenced by the area where they performed the song. It sounds pretty similar to "Wheels" which was on the Foo's greatest hits album.
|4.||"What Did I Do? / God As My Witness" from Austin
Unfortunately, this sounds like two separate songs. What Did I Do? sounds very similar to Gary Clark Junior and this almost comes off as just the Foos covering him while he plays along. "God as My Witness" has a very hymnal quality to it, which stems probably from the area but also from the influence of the Gary Clark Junior.
|5.||"Outside" from Los Angeles
Outside the guest guitarist Joe Walsh's mindbending guitar solo, there's very little to make this any different from any other from song from almost any other Foo Fighter album. Perhaps the only big difference is the insane bass line by Nat Mendel.
|6.||"In the Clear" from New Orleans
Probably the most egregious example of a song not illustrating the area or the influence of being on the road. Other than throwing some horns on the song, you'd be hard-pressed to know that the Foo Fighters rolled into New Orleans. I suspected they could take the horns out and just throw the mellowtron on later in concert. Not a bad song but again not an example of what this project seemed to be aiming for.
|7.||"Subterranean" from Seattle
Despite my wife's protestations, this is probably my favorite song on the album. It has a semi-ethereal quality that reminds us of Grohl's time in Seattle.
|8.||"I Am a River" from New York|
This song also illustrates part of the problem of this album. While it might have been recorded in New York, the orchestrations of the strings were played in Los Angeles? This kind of chear shows that an album project with such ambitions is always going to fall short somehow..
This sounds like I didn't like the album, which is not true. As a Foo Fighters album, this falls short. As a "soundtrack" to a documentary, it is not bad. As a Dave Grohl vanity project, it absolutely NAILS it.
My suggestion for Sonic Highways part 2? Go into different towns and COVER the bands that make sense... that could be one of the best Foo Fighters albums EVER!