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Archive for the ‘Krist Novoselic’ Category

secondsSOUNDTRACK: FOO FIGHTERS-Wasting Light (2011).

Foo_Fighters_Wasting_Light_Album_CoverThis summer I began writing about Foo Fighters’ albums.  Somehow I stopped before the final two.  Even though I had talked about Wasting Light before, in respect of a sense of continuity here’s more words about it.

It took four years for the Foo Fighters to release this album (I guess Grohl was doing one of his many side projects?).  The big story about this record was that Grohl wanted it all recorded with analogue equipment (in Grohl’s garage).  And he chose Butch Vig, who recorded Nevermind to do the work. Pat Smear was also included as a member of the band for this album (he even plays a baritone guitar)

Although to my ear it doesn’t sound any different from the digital recordings, there is a warmth and bigness to the album that their recent records seemed to lack

“Bridge Burning” opens with a bunch of muffled notes that give way to a big screamed opening verse.  This song grows more adventurous with some guitar harmonics at the end of the verses. The bridge leads to a classic Foo Fighters chorus (with more vocal harmonies in the background, that just seems to make it feel bigger)).  I love the descending chords in the (what, sixth?) part of the song.  Before the simple but great closing riffs.  It was released as the fifth (!) single from the album.

“Rope” was the first single.  It opens with some echoed guitar chords and then what sounds like a big old Rush riff and intro.  The riff is a little unusual but really cool (guitarist Chris Shiflett to comment that “What my guitar is doing over the bass makes no sense in a way. It does, but you don’t know how.” ) The verses have that riff in between them and a big “ow!” in the bridge.  Unsurprisingly, despite all of the oddness of the verses, the chorus is big and friendly with some great sing along parts.  There’s even a section for a (brief) drum solo.

Bob Mould (clearly an influence on Grohl) came into sing and play guitar on “Dear Rosemary.”  You can’t really hear him all that much, but when he pops up (especially near the end) it sounds great.   “White Limo” is a punky blast, with Grohl’s vocal shredding (lyrics are pretty much inaudible) right from the get go.  There’s some interesting riffs and chord changes (the music is so much cleaner than the distorted vocals).  “Arlandria” sounds like the Foo Fighters, but there’s something unusual about the feel of the song (the bridge especially).  The chorus is pure Foos, but the verse has an interesting style that’s not like anything Grohl has done before.

“One of These Days” opens with some rather unusual guitar notes (Grohl has clearly been experimenting with his guitar skills over the years).  It progresses into a smooth verse and then shifts to a big (but short) chorus with stadium chords and then another sing a long part after it.  It’s a very cool song (and Grohl has said it’s his favorite song that he’s written).

“Back & Forth” has a strange backwards kind of riff that opens the song and a kind of chugga chugga heavy metal guitar verse.  The song is one of the simplest ones on the record–almost completely poppy (if not for being so heavy).  It also seems weird that it ends with the riff too.  “A Matter of Time” starts out as mostly drums and vocals with some guitar riffs. It moves to a kind of unusual staccato riff around one minute and then turns into yes, a huge chorus.  The verses after the chorus seem bright and sweet with a newly added guitar line.

“Miss the Misery” features Fee Waybill, lead singer from The Tubes (and a friend of Grohl’s).  The opening riffage actually reminds me a song by Aldo Nova (who?).  I like the chorus (and backing vocals, although I never would have guessed it was Fee Waybill).

And Krist Novoselic plays bass (and accordion!) on “I Should Have Known.”   It has a slow echoey intro (complete with mellotron and strings).  It has an aching vocal delivery in the chorus.  The bass doesn’t really kick in until about 3 minutes (when the song really fills out)

“Walk” ends the album.  It is pretty classic Foo Fighters at this point, a slow opening and then big choruses (and was written about helping his daughter to walk).  This one even has a radio friendly pause in one of the choruses.   (I love that the final song was released as the second single, and am so glad they didn’t front load the album!).  And that the song and album end with a fast chord .

This is a solid album from start to finish.  I think when they keep their albums under 50 minutes, they keep the music tight and don’t throw in any filler.

[READ: January 13, 2015] Seconds

Wow I loved this book.

I had been reading a lot of graphic novels and I was a little burnt on them, but this one rose above everything else I’d read in a while.

O’Malley did the Scott Pilgrim series, one of my favorite series and a darn good movie too.  While this has similar sensibility to Pilgrim (including the punchline of the same joke, ha) I think this being a a single book made it more impactful.

The story is about Katie.  She is a chef.  She also looks a lot like the style of O’Malley’s characters–sort of short roundish features, bordering on anime but with his own style thrown on top.  Katie’s most recognizable feature is her awesome flame of red hair on top of her head.

Katie co-owns Seconds, a very popular restaurant.  People come for her food because she is a very good cook.  Even if she doesn’t actually do much cooking anymore–she’s more a manager than a chef (having read a lot about chefs in Lucky Peach, I understand what this whole scene is like more than I might have otherwise).  She is really interested in opening up her own place (called Katie’s) across the river.  Since she is only co-owner of Seconds, she wants to be out of it and into her very own restaurant (even if she still likes the other co-owner).

We meet the others who work at Seconds.  The new head chef Andrew (with whom there’s a bit of a romance) and the waitresses, especially Hazel, a very tall mousy kind of woman whom everyone else thinks is very strange.  Hazel is quiet, she’s really hot, and she always wants to close the restaurant at night (others have seen her doing strange things before she leaves). (more…)

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wrenchiesSOUNDTRACK: FOO FIGHTERS-In Your Honor Disc Two (2005).

Foo_fighters_in_your_honorSo disc two is an all acoustic collection (and is actually a little longer than the rocking side, bring the total time to about 85 minutes).  Because of the guests, I tend to think of this as a less than exciting collection of songs.  But it is actually quite solid.  And even though I have always preferred Foo Fighters’ louder songs, Grohl’s voice is well suited to acoustic songs and his songwriting withstands stripping away the noise.

“Still” is a mellow acoustic opener.  Grohl’s voice is gentle.  It’s the kind of opening that on later records would lead to a big loud chorus, but this album is all mellow.  I like the way the song unexpectedly shifts chords about half way through.  The song also has keyboards done by Rami Jaffee (I believe a first for a Foo Fighters record).  It’s 5 minutes long and perhaps a little samey.

But the album perks up with “What If I Do?” a brighter song with a catchy chorus.  It is also 5 minutes but doesn’t feel long. It’s followed by “Miracle” a lovely ballad with a great chorus (and John Paul Jones on piano).  I really like the entire composition of “Another Round,” the clear guitars and the bright chorus.  And John Paul Jones plays mandolin on this one!

“Friend of a Friend” is done on just a quiet acoustic guitar. It’s a lovely, dark song.  Although it is always tempting to assume Grohl’s songs are about Kurt Cobain, this one apparently was.  According to Wikipedia, this was the first acoustic song Dave Grohl had ever written.  “The song was written by Grohl in 1990 (and recorded in secret the same year), and it was about his first impressions of new bandmates Kurt Cobain, and Krist Novoselic.”  The way it is so sparsely recorded was a really good choice.

“Over and Out” has a cool and interesting riff and a nice big chorus.  “On the Mend” has some lovely acoustic guitar pairings.

Then comes “Virginia Moon.”  It has a slow jazzy feel, a shuffling drum sound and really delicate vocals.  The biggest surprise of course is that Norah Jones (no relation to John Paul Jones) sings a duet with him.  It’s a pretty song and, while I wouldn’t want a bunch more songs like this, it works well as a one off.  The next song “Cold Day in the Sun” was written by drummer Taylor Hawkins.  Evidently they tried to make a rocking version but it never really came off so they made it acoustic.  Hawkins sings lead vocals (and has a raspy Peter Criss type of voice–is that a drummer thing?) and Grohl plays the drums.  It’s got a super catchy chorus.

“Razor” ends this disc with a neat hammering guitar line.  Josh Homme plays rhythm guitar on this song.   It’s a very pretty song, although I feel like Homme is underutilized.

For an 85 minute album, this is mostly really quite excellent.  I tend to forget about it in the Foo’s discography but there are a number of stand out tracks here.

The band did some acoustic shows following this album, and made a CD and DVD from them.

[READ: January 20, 2015] The Wrenchies

Most of the First Second books I had been reading were either for kids or young adults. This one is squarely in the adult category–and I feel you can tell that by the rather ugly style of drawing on the cover.  (First Second does an admirable job of getting books that are pretty as well as ones that are ugly).

Dalrymple has a broad spectrum of styles in this book.  He has excellent realistic characters (warts and all) but he also has really nice pretty sections as well–where the characters are quite beautiful.  The fact that he chooses to pick the uglier style more is likely a matter of the location–a post apocalyptic hell–than anything else.

This story is (obviously) quite dark.  In fact I can see a lot of readers being turned off right from the get go with how dark and violent it is.  It’s also a little confusing because the post apocalyptic world that we are introduced to is not really explained.  There are also riffs on T.S. Eliot-with lines like “In the room the children a come and go.”

The story begins with Sherwood and Orson entering a cave. It all seems rather idyllic until we see just what kind of creepy thing lives in the cave–and what it does to Sherwood. (more…)

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kurt-cobain-montage-of-heck-psterSOUNDTRACK: FOO FIGHTERS-Foo Fighters (1995).

ffDave Grohl was like the anti-Kurt Cobain.  How many photos do you see of him with a big stupid grin on his face.  He seems to be silly and fun all the time (despite some apparent angst in his life).  And how surprising was it to find out that not only could he bang the hell out of the drums, he could also write songs (and play guitar).  Of course we all looked for songs “about” Kurt, on this record, but I realize that Dave only knew Kurt for a couple of years, he likely didn’t even really know him that well.  Dave has other things on his mind.

And somehow, despite the really aggressive often heavy metal feel  of Foo Fighters albums, they are always popular.  Foo Fighters have gotten so big, it’s easy to forget that Grohl was even in Nirvana, which is saying something.

The Foo Fighters debut album was written and performed entirely by Dave Grohl.  I remember when it came out (well, after it was revealed to be Grohls’ album–it was a secret for a little while) listening to it in an apartment in Boston.  I must have listened to it a lot because I know the whole thing so well.

Grohl uses some of the loud/quite format of Nirvana, but mostly he just writes songs with simple lyrics (easy to sing along to even if you don’t know what he’s saying (bridge to “I’ll Stick Around” anyone?) and big catchy choruses.

If you like loud rocking songs, this album is fantastic.  “This is a Call” and “I’ll Stick Around” are super catchy heavy songs.  “Alone + Easy Target” is a bit less catchy, although the chorus has a very cool riff in it.  “Good Grief” is super heavy with an aggressive chorus.

But it’s also git some sweet songs.  “Big Me” is quite tender and it makes me laugh because the drums are so incredibly simple and gentle for a basher like Grohl.  “Floaty” is a really pretty song with some cool fuzzy guitars and a cool riff that goes from bridge to chorus.  The chorus has an aggressive punk riff which complements the rest of the song in an interesting way.

“Weenie Beenie” (I had no idea that’s what the song was called) is loud and aggressive with a massively distorted vocal. It’s kind of a throwaway but shows Grohl’s love of punk.  “Watershed” is a similarly fast punk track and is only 2 minutes.

“Oh, George” is a mid tempo song, with some very catchy moments and a classic rock style guitar solo.  “For All the Cows” opens with a kind of jazzy guitar and drum sound and then really rocks out.  It was released as a single but never did anything, which is a shame because it seems like a joke but is actually quite good.

Even though Grohl did everything on the album, he had a little help from Greg Dulli who played guitar on “X-Static.”  I would never have noticed it was Dulli, although knowing that it’s someone else playing, you can hear a different style in the guitar.  The disc ends with “Exhausted,” a song which sets a kind of trend of longish more meandering songs near the end of Foo Fighters albums.  I don’t love it but its a fine ending.

So many things could have been wrong with this album–a drummer writing songs, and an ex-famous drummer at that.  He even initially wanted to record it with Krist Novoselic, but was afraid that people would think it was a Nirvana band (and he’s very right about that).  Despite all of that, it turned out to be pretty great.  And it was the start of something of a phenomenon.

[READ: May 20, 2015] Montage of Heck

So I was a huge fan of Nirvana (like the rest of the world) when they came crashing forth on my speakers.  And yes, I knew that they saved rock.  But by the time Kurt killed himself, I was bummed but not distraught.  I was never going to have a poster of him on my wall or anything like that.

I was intrigued when I heard this documentary was coming out. But I didn’t have any plans to see it.  And then NPR played an audio excerpt from the movie in which a drugged up Kurt is getting yelled at by Courtney while their infant baby is lying next to them.  And I decided I didn’t need to see that film–it was brutal just to listen to.

Then I saw this book at work and thought it might be an easier dosage than the film.  (Although my friend Eugenie has seen it and says it’s excellent).

It turns out the book has a lot more stuff that the film does (although I can’t say what as I haven’t seen the film).  It consists entirely of interviews and illustrations (very cool ones by Hisko Hulsing and very creepy ones from Stefan Nadelman.   There’s lots of photos and a few excerpts from Kurt’ diaries and the like.

The interview subjects are listed on the page 18-19 spread of the book.  Each has a photo.  There’s Don Cobain and Jenny Cobain (Kurt’s father and stepmother).  Then there’s Wendy O’Connor, Kurt’s mom and she looks exactly like Courtney Love WHAT IS UP WITH THAT?  In her early younger photos she doesn’t.  It is creepy. (more…)

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