venerdì 15 marzo 2013


Dave Grohl took his directorial skills beyond Soundgarden music videos for his first documentary film entitled Sound City, which tells of the history of Sound City Studios, a recording studio in the Los Angeles area. Grohl has a closeness to the studio, having recorded smash hit Nevermind with Nirvana there in the early 90s. The film has gotten mostly good reviews since it debuted, and now this week the soundtrack follows along with it.

Entitled Sound City: Real to Reel, it’s a who’s who of classic and modern rock, with the likes of Tim Commerford, Taylor Hawkins, Brad Wilk, Stevie Nicks, Alain Johannes, Corey Taylor, Josh Homme, Krist Novoselic, Pat Smear, Paul McCartney, Trent Reznor, and of course Grohl all over the disc. These names were just some of the ones that helped do interviews for the documentary, and then created these accompanying songs.

Clocking in with 11 songs and nearly an hour in duration, the soundtrack erupts with “Heaven and All”, with the likes of Robert Levon Been, Grohl, and Peter Hayes. It’s a straightforward piece with a garage rock quality, as well as plenty of brash, sharp guitars and a bombastic, explosive finish. “Time Slowing Down” has a very Grohl quality to it, and also features Rage Against the Machine buddies Commerford and Wilk, as well as Chris Goss. It’s rather sleepy, or at least subdued, with Grohl and Goss exchanging dissonant vocals until the more charged up chorus strikes. Grohl is only a bit player vocally, stepping back to let the other musicians shine. The Rage components of this tune don’t overpower, and actually play their most melodic yet.

“You Can’t Fix This” features Stevie Nicks on vocals, as well as Hawkins, Grohl, and Rami Jaffee. Nicks sings of avoiding the devil and losing friendships (which could possibly be an illusion to drug use) against a pretty musical backdrop. Grohl’s cooing backing vocals, although sparse, are effective and sound great against Nick’s croon. “The Man That Never Was”, with Grohl, Hawkins, Smear, Nate Mendel, and Rick Springfield is appropriately very Foo Fighters-esque, even though Springfield is on vocals.

A more amusing moment on the soundtrack comes in the form of “Your Wife is Calling”, with Grohl, Hawkins, Johannes, Smear, and Lee Ving. It’s a punk rocker with a silly lyrical bent, and is reminiscent of early, mid-90s Foos musically. “From Can to Can’t” has a lineup of Grohl, Rick Nielsen, Scott Reeder, and Stone Sour’s Corey Taylor on vocals. Taylor’s emotive delivery and lyrical melancholy goes a long way to guiding this song, which is quite beautiful.

“Centipede”, with Goss, Grohl, Johannes, and Josh Homme on vocals, is a dizzying little acoustic riff that showcases Homme’s eerie delivery quite well. It sounds a bit like an unplugged Queens of the Stone Age. Grohl’s touch comes in when the electric instruments kick in halfway through the song, Homme’s voice a sturdy murmur against the ascending riffage. “A Trick with No Sleeve” is built from the trio of Grohl, Homme, and Johannes, who takes the mic in this drum-heavy and trippy rocker.

Next is “Cut Me Some Slack”, the track that led the Nirvana reunion with Paul McCartney on vocals during the song’s debut at the 12 12 12 Hurricane Sandy benefit concert. The studio version manages to evoke the same energy and presence that its live counterpart did, with indulgent guitar solos and crisp vocals from McCartney. The song builds and builds to quite a satisfactory conclusion.

“If I Were Me”, with Jessy Green, Grohl, Jaffee, and Jim Keltner, Grohl proves his acoustic prowess, taking a rare lead vocals position. If you enjoy the lighter Foo Fighters offerings over the years (like disc two of In Your Honor), you’ll love this one, especially with the light piano touches. This is actually one of the softest Grohl moments in probably his whole career. The last track, “Mantra”, is the daunting combination of Grohl, Homme, and Reznor. The bouncy backdrop of piano and light guitar fits in against Grohl’s subtle delivery, which is only augmented by Trent Reznor’s backing vocals. Reznor and Grohl weave their voices into a delicate tapestry supported by percussive beats and occasional piano trills midway through this one. It has the big layering crescendo typical of Reznor’s work, and is quite impressive. It also features a lengthy Nine Inch Nails-esque bass and effects-heavy breakdown.

With an impressive lineup of some of the best musicians still in the game, there’s virtually nothing to dislike about Sound City: Real to Reel. The influence of all of these extraordinarily talented musicians means that you don’t just hear the exclusive musical leanings of Grohl. From the eerie acoustics of Josh Homme’s work, the sullenness of Corey Taylor’s contribution, and the gradation of Reznor’s tune, you can tell that these were all collaborations between these musicians. Grohl may have been commandeering force behind the film and the soundtrack, but he lets plenty of others take the reins, resulting in a one hour musical tour de force.

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