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Archive for the ‘Pat Smear’ Category

 loverboysSOUNDTRACK: FOO FIGHTERS-Sonic Highways (2014).

sonicThree years after Wasting Light, Foo Fighters gathered to make Sonic Highways. It only has 8 songs on it (3 are five minutes one is 6 and 1 is one is seven).

There is a lot of back story about this album.  And I’ll use the Wikipedia summary because it is so tidy

In writing the album’s eight songs, singer and guitarist Dave Grohl traveled to eight cities across the United States to conduct interviews with musicians, recording engineers, record producers, and other individuals discussing each city’s musical history, which he used as inspiration for the songs’ lyrics. The band and producer Butch Vig then traveled to a different recording location in each city to record the songs. Each track features contributions from one or more musicians with ties to that city’s musical history.

They made a documentary about it which I have not seen, but which I feel I ought to.

I can’t say I recognize the sound or any signs of whatever city is supposed to be represented ion each song.  I was initially concerned that it meant that the Foos were going try to make a “Chicago song” or, gasp, a “Nashville” song, but that isn’t the case.  So perhaps in that regard the traveling part was unsuccessful, although perhaps it was good for inspiration.  Plus the album is really quite good.

“Something for Nothing” [Chicago (featuring Rick Nielsen)] There’s a nice riff on this song and an interesting guitar sound (Neilsen I assume).  The first 90 seconds feel like an intro to the more chugging riff that is yet another interesting part to the song.  I love that the second repeat of that section includes a clavinet.  And with all of those parts, I love that the song turns into a hugely metal section (“fuck it all I came from nothing”) by the end.

“Feast and the Famine” [Virginia (featuring Peter Stahl and Skeeter Thompson)] has a quick and tidy introductory riff and quickly jumps into a loud chorus.  Stahl and Thompson are in Scream, the hardcore band Grohl was in before he moved to Nirvana.  You can hear their influence in the cool backing vocals during the “Is there anybody there” part.

“Congregation” [Nashville featuring Zac Brown] This song does not feel Nashville at all.  It has a simple but very catchy riff.  There’s a nice chorus which doesn’t get too heavy.   Zac Brown does “devil pickin'” and backing vocals on “Congregation.”  It has a lengthy middle section which is quite different (and angry) before returning to the big chorus.

“What Did I Do? / God As My Witness” [Austin, featuring Gary Clark, Jr.]  This song starts out with a big rumble of chords and then a nearly a capella vocal turn.  I like the way the chords build and then stop for each line.  The “What Did I Do” section feels very classic rock (the way that guitar lick is played–knowing that Joe Walsh is on the record I would have assumed he was on this song).  Gary Clark plays the solos on this song.  The middle of the song is just like the opening.  And then it segues into “God as My Witness” which seems to elevate the song in an interesting way (this is where the much longer guitar solo kicks in.

“Outside” [Joshua Tree, featuring Joe Walsh].  This song has a great fast riff (kind of like a Pearl Jam riff, actually).  The song is fast all the way through with no major distinction between verse and chorus.  Walsh plays lead guitar during the lengthy jam section–mostly just quiet bass and drums while the guitar natters away.  It’s a very different style of song for the Foo Fighters.  And while it’s a little dull at 5 minutes, it’s not bad by any means.

“In the Clear” [New Orleans featuring the Preservation Hall Jazz Band].  Despite the location and the guests, I never would have guessed the location of the song.  It has a big riff to open with but it quickly settles down to a verse that ends “god damn I swear.”  It’s a simple song but it has big catchy chorus with horns playing along with the guitars.  Although I wouldn’t have wanted to have a big jazz influence on the song (and they have done jazzy things before) it’s a little wasted to have the ensemble only add horns to the song.  I like it nevertheless, but it feels like they could have done more.

“Subterranean” [Seattle, featuring Ben Gibbard] is a slow build of a song (with two people playing eerie e-bow).  It lasts six minutes and has several stages as more musicians enter the song.  Even at 6 minutes it is still quite a subdued song with no really big chorus, the chorus is actually kind of understated and very moody.  And yet I can’t hear Gibbard at all.

“I Am a River” [New York, featuring Tony Visconti and Kristeen Young] The song is over 7 minutes and has a very slow introduction, with overlapping guitars and the vocals not coming in until about 90 seconds in.  It seems like it’s going to take off about 2 minutes in, but there’s a delay at work and the slow verses continue.  The song builds slowly to a big chorus (although it’s not a dramatic change from the verse either).  I love Kristeen Young but I can’t hear her anywhere on this song (she has a unique voice too).

This is certainly not my favorite Foos’ album but it’s very solid and despite a few songs being too long,  it’s a pretty tidy album (at 42 minutes) and could have been way overblown (the strings at the end of the album are almost too much but they are actually quite restrained for this concept album).

[READ: May 25, 2015] Loverboys

I know Hernandez’ brother Jaime’s work a little better than Gilbert’s.  And I have to say that I like Jaime’s better as well. There’s something I find lightly offputting about Gilbert’s drawing style.  It seems very boxy and childlike–despite the fact that he clearly has a great grasp of anatomy. There’s something especially odd about the faces that I just find… odd (to say nothing of the breasts on Mrs Paz and the waists on every woman in the book).

So, having gotten past that concern, what about the content of the story.

Well, I found the story a little confusing as well.  I mean, the basic premise is obvious, but there were some side issues that I thought were really weird.

So the premise is that in the small city of Lagrimas (“tears”), there are a number of characters. There are some young girls who are sill in grade school, there are some mid 20s men who are out of school and working and there are some older women–successful workers. (more…)

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auroraSOUNDTRACK: FOO FIGHTERS-Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace (2007).

330px-Foos-ESPGIt would seem that after recording the split acoustic and rocking In Your Honor and then touring a lot of acoustic music that the Foos were ready to make an album that combined both of these dynamics into one disc.  For many of the songs it means acoustic openings and super heavy end sections.  But some, particularity at the end of the album are completely acoustic.

Of course having said that, the album opens with a great heavy classic Grohl song, “The Pretender.”  A fantastic opener with the great chorus of “what if I say you’re not like the others.”  The next song, “Let It Die” opens with a real acoustic opening–not just mellow electric guitars but full on acoustic guitars (which Grohl has clearly become quite proficient at).  The switch to the really heavy chorus (not until almost 3 minutes into the song) is pretty intense–they pack everything into one song.

“Erase/Replace” is another great song–there’s an interesting twisting riff and an awesome chorus.  There’s some very nice contrasting with the smoother sections and even a cool guitar solo (there’s not too many solos in early Foos songs).  “Long Road to Ruin” is one of my favorite Foo Fighters songs–the chorus pushes all my yes buttons with the way it speeds up and has and the staccato stops in the middle of the chorus.  Fantastic.

“Come Alive” is another song with a slow mellow acoustic opening.  It builds slowly over 5 minutes to a noisy end.  “Stranger Things Have Happened” is the first fully acoustic song on the album that stays acoustic–there’s nothing heavy in it.  It’s got a classic Unplugged type of feel with two acoustic guitars playing off of each other, and a soloing section that has several pause click click resume moments.

“Cheer Up, Boys (Your Make Up Is Running)” has a great riff and very poppy verses. It sounds like earlier Foo Fighters songs and reminds me of Cheap Trick with the “stop, stop” backing vocals.  There’s also several different sections which hearkens back to earlier songs.

And from this point on the album mellows out but in different ways.  “Summer’s End” has a folky jam band feel (even though it’s not acoustic.  It’s got a such a wonderful chorus.  It’s the first of three songs to feature Grohl on piano!  Taylor Hawkins plays piano on it too.  “Ballad of the Beaconsfield Miners” is a 2 minute instrumental written by Grohl.  There’s some lovely finger picking in the song and you can hear that Grohl has really developed his guitar playing.  Kaki King plays rhythm guitar on this song which is surprising as she is such a much better guitarist than he is.

“Statues” is a piano ballad (played by Grohl).  It feels totally classic rock, with the sound of the opening guitar solo and the chord progression.  “But, Honestly” is fast acoustic song.  The melody and backing vocals remind me a lot of Bob Mould’s style of song writing.  The song feels like it’s just going to stay in a mellow vein, but this song really ramps up at around 3 minutes with some simple but cool riffing and a big growling end.

The final song, Home,” is a pretty piano ballad (Grohl on piano and vocals) with strings.  It’s almost cheesy but avoid that trap.  It doesn’t have a  big chorus, and is rather understated.  It also provides the album with its title.

This is a really complex album that works to all of the band’s strengths and even lets them explore different styles a bit. Guests on the album include Rami Jaffee and Drew Hester from the live shows as well as Pat Smear (who is a sometimes member of the band, but only plays on one song here).

[READ: January 26, 2015] The Rise of Aurora West

I really enjoyed Paul Pope’s Battling Boy, but I didn’t really like the art work. So here’s the second book in the series with a different artist (and no color)–perfect!

I enjoy this David Rubin’s art a lot more because of his much cleaner page–it’s far easier to understand what’s happening here.  But at the same time I don’t really like the way he renders faces.  For instance, on the very first page, the bottom right image of Aurora–it’s really hard to tell what she is thinking in that image–is she angry or what (and her face seems kind of oddly misshapen).  And that is fairly consistent throughout–the eyes are too big or something?  I found it distracting but it didn’t really hinder my enjoyment of this story.

This story looks at the early life of Aurora West, the daughter of Acropolis superhero Haggard West (so Battling Boy does not appear in it at all). (more…)

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