Sunday, May 01, 2011
and a half
Back & Forth Documentary:
Fuse Tv Takeover:
Hey look, the Foo Fighters are back! They've flooded the media with their first album in about 3-4 years with their new effort Wasting Light. I'm a big fan of the Foos and as blasphemous as it is like them better than their "parent" group Nirvana. Maybe that's because even with all of their alternative rock posturing to me they are at heart an arena rock band. Fired up, inoffensive, catchy and slightly formulaic rawk.
Like the best of arena rock bands, Dave Grohl's Foo Fighters know how to update and tweak their sound each time out to keep things fresh. The time off did Grohl some good as Wasting Light is their most consistent sounding disc since 99's There Is Nothing Left To Lose. Every song on Wasting Light has a strong guitar riff and hooky chorus. Bringing in Nirvana Nevermind producer Butch Vig brings back that classic album's punchy feel. Original guitarist Pat Smear returns giving the Foos that "Molly Hatchett" effect of having a butt load of axe slingers ready to lay down the law. Guest appearances by Pixie Bob Mould and ex Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic have the rare effect of enhancing the music instead of distracting (a lot of guest appearances to me have that "special guest star" effect when it happens). Having Novoselic, Grohl and Vig in one place is a big deal in the post grunge world.
Maybe that's the artistic growth here, Grohl no longer has to run from his association with a rock legend. His lyrics seem darker than ever here ("Rope" seems to use a hanging metaphor and another song is called "Miss The Misery")and at one point seems to address the ghost of Cobain himself (with the Novoselic assisted "I Should Have Known"). As uniformly great as Wasting Light is, my one problem with the album is there isn't a stand out track. The Foos can usually be relied on to deliver at least one stand out anthem per disc ("The Pretender", "Best Of You", "Learn To Fly" and "Everlong" come to mind). None of these songs hit me that way (though "Alandria", "Miss The Misery", "Dear Rosemary" and the single "Rope" get close). That's pretty much my only quibble with this album.
To go with the new album is a band documentary Back & Forth. As far as rock and roll band docs go, it's kinda dull. Dave Grohl himself is always game for a good interview, yet after watching I didn't feel like I got any more insight into the band than if I just read Wikipedia. And to be honest, other than thinking Grohl rocks I haven't been that interested in the band's personal history. It wasn't a total waste of time, I learned they've had the same bass player since the second album (Nate...I forgot his last name. Still, I thought the side men kept switching from disc to disc but guess that was just the guitarist slot.) I vaguely recalled the drummer drama between the 1st and 2nd albums and it was nice to see Grohl openly take some responsibility for that mess. And it kind of confirmed that the One By One album was lacking (well, at least that they recorded it twice). But yeah, nice to watch as a fan just not very deep or revelatory.
Better was their takeover of the FUSE channel where they funded some aspiring video makers to create clips for the songs on Wasting Light. While there was a definite repitition of themes among the vids (chasing, boy meets girl and weird stuff happens, people being taken over by a mysterious black force like Spawn) and lacked the presence of the band, the videos had that creative fire that recalls the early days of MTV. And the hour long interview with Toure' was more fun to me than the documentary. Particularly when Grohl took exception to Toure's insinuation that rap was more socially relevant than rock (though to be honest, I side with the interviewer on that one) Grohl's irritation was better than anything from the documentary. And a final interview between the band and Mark Hoppus where they rip on each others videos was pretty good. I even learned what a Leighton Meester was...I think. Is that who I was watching?
I've often had to sit through a launch of many a popular artist who I thought was just OK or worse in recent years. It's nice to see it happen for a band I like.