Music Monday: Dave Grohl’s ‘Sound City’

Posted in Movies, Music on July 15th, 2013 by Nick

trailer-still-8b08451df7a2c7ccfa0d3886a65dcc42Last night, I finally got the chance to sit down with Dave Grohl’s 2013 documentary (and directorial debut) about Sound City Studios, a studio responsible for so many legendary albums from Fleetwood Mac, Nirvana, Tom Petty, Pat Benatar, Rage Against the Machine, and countless others. The film, simply titled Sound City, chronicles the studio’s early days and struggles, and showcases interviews from Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, Petty, Lars Ulrich, Trent Reznor, Butch Vig, Josh Homme, Grohl, Stephen Pearcy, Rick Springfield, and a continuing army of Rock and Roll kings and queens from past to present.

The studio was originally run by Joe Gottfried and Tom Skeeter, two guys who wanted to start a record company and also got into artist management. After a rough start, Skeeter ponied up $75,175 to buy a state-of-the-art recording console from Rupert Neve, a British electronics genius who built technologically advanced audio gear. The Neve purchase was a big deal. As Skeeter mentions in the film, the cost of the Neve 8028 analog mixing console was more than double the man’s home purchase! Needless to say – it was quite a chunk of change for 1969. sound-city-blu-ray-cover-98

Grohl recorded Nevermind at Sound City with Nirvana and was inspired to create the documentary after he purchased several items from the studio including the Neve 8028 (now located in Grohl’s home studio) when the studio closed in 2011. His love affair with the studio and its story is understandably shared by many of the musicians who spent time there; their testimonials fuel the story and cyclically, the story fuels their passion for music.

Grohl’s intention, both here and in his own music, is to make sure the human element in music is never lost amidst our plunge into the Digital Age – and studios and the equipment they house are a huge part of the music-making experience. After all, just how much will we continue leaning on computers for? And how long will it be until machines have fully taken over the production process? These artists’ love for analog recording techniques and old school methods are absolutely commendable, and lets face it, comforting for us music fans.

After the story of days past is told, the film segues into Grohl’s recording sessions with other aforementioned artists. The result is the album Sound City: Real to Reel. The jam sessions that take place in front of your eyes are pretty mindblowing – Paul McCartney joins the surviving members of Nirvana; Nicks croons with Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, and Rami Jaffee backing her; Rick Springfield fronts the Foo Fighters; Trent Reznor sits in with Grohl and Homme. The tracks were produced all on Sound City’s former equipment with Vig manning the soundboard. The results are crisp, loud and old school. Some may argue that it’s music heard and recorded the way it should be. It is indeed a treat.

At times, the film can be a little self-indulgent. Grohl has been quoted calling Sound City his “life’s most important work.” Is this true? It might be. Though I wish Grohl would’ve let the film speak for itself and let others make the gigantic claim if they chose. Despite this gripe, Sound City really is a great film that highlights a slice of music history that is now lost and gone forever.

Well, except for the gear stashed in Grohl’s basement.

Film Grade: A-
Album Grade: B+

The film is now out on DVD and Bluray. It’s not on Netflix, but digital fans can find it on iTunes. The album is out on CD and can also be found on Spotify.

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Music Monday: Garbage and Screaming Females – ‘Because the Night’ Cover

Posted in Music on May 13th, 2013 by Nick

It’s no surprise that I think Garbage is one of the best rock bands in recent music history. (No, really. We should all be bowing down to their excellence on a daily basis.) Gushing aside, it’s important that great bands be able to pull off great covers – and Garbage has accomplished this with new pals and up-and-comers Screaming Females on this recent cover of Patti Smith’s “Because the Night.”

The track was recorded for a special Record Store Day 10-inch that the band released in April. With Screaming Females opening for them at the time, the collaboration seemed to be fated. Shirley Manson’s vocals pair well with Marisa Paternoster’s signature scowl – the perfect crooning ying to Paternoster’s angsty yang.  And that’s not even mentioning the mindfuckingly insane shredding that the Screaming Females frontwoman adds to the track.

Check out the official video for “Because the Night” below:

 
The track is available on iTunes and also on the 10-inch in record stores around the country.

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Dave Grohl’s ‘Sound City’ Doc to Premiere at Sundance

Posted in Movies, Music, Trailer Park on December 6th, 2012 by Nick

When the Foo Fighters set out to record their latest release, Wasting Light, frontman Dave Grohl and his bandmates went old school, digging the art of analog from its grave and recording straight to tape. No computers, no bells, no whistles. With the upcoming Rock-Doc Sound City, Grohl is still celebrating analog from the vantage point of LA’s renowned, yet sadly defunct Sound City Studios.

Grohl’s film (yes, he directed it) has appearances by Trent Reznor, Stevie Nicks, Josh Homme, Lars Ulrich, Butch Vig, Rick Rubin, Tom Petty, Frank Black, Krist Novoselic, and many more, all of whom sit down to discuss and focus in on the humanistic element of music and recording…and, of course, Sound City itself. After all, it was only the recording place of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, Nirvana’s Nevermind, and Neil Young’s After the Gold Rush, to name a few. But what makes it so damn special, and what have computers actually taken away from music? Grohl’s film will answer these questions and many more.

Sound City is set to premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, but until then, check out this just-released trailer:

 

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Garbage Returns with ‘Blood for Poppies’ Video

Posted in Music on April 4th, 2012 by Nick

Things that are facts in this very universe:

1) Garbage is better than whatever you are listening to at this moment.
2) Garbage is BACK (!!)
3) …with this new single and video called “Blood for Poppies.”
4) Their new album is out in May and it’s called “Not Your Kind of People.”
5) You should listen to this song. Right. Now.

I love the track, but it definitely had to grow on me. The video makes me think it’s 1995 and I’m still 12 and watching MTV. It’s random, quirky, black and white…all good things.

Thoughts?

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TLW Presents: The Top 10 Albums of 2011

Posted in Music on January 3rd, 2012 by Nick

Hey now – it’s another presumptuous and pretentious Top 10 of 2011 list! Well…yeah. Fuck you. But how can I not? In true Littlest Winslow form, this post is being presented all 2012-style. But hey – last year I posted this in March. (Really, Nick? Fucking March? I couldn’t be bothered to type something up quicker than that? It’s no wonder I have like 10 readers. At least 10!) I’m going to try to keep this short and snappy – and as always – holler at me with your picks or to tell me what an asshole I am.

I’ll put my thing down, flip it, and reverse it.

10. Lady Gaga – Born This Way

It’s hard to leave Gaga off this list. She’s basically like the modern day Madonna – ubiquitous, unavoidable, trend-setting. Although the album A) wasn’t as good as I thought it would be, B) wasn’t as huge as I thought it would be, and C) was slightly too flamboyant, I still have to give the Queen-in-training credit simply for the amount of times I blasted “The Edge of Glory” on repeat in my car while jammin’ to the sweet, sweet sax of Clarence Clemons (RIP). Gaga has staying power, man. You may hate Pop and you may hate her, but she is a head turner. No doubt. Best Tracks: “Marry the Night,” “The Edge of Glory,” “You and I”

 

9. The Decemberists – The King is Dead

The Decemberists are perhaps one of the most consistent bands of our time. Every effort is just as strong as the last. And man, do they pack a punch. All members are multi-instrumentalists and they harmonize like beautiful angels flying oh, so high in the sky. The King is Dead is Indie Folk at its best. In a year that was primarily dominated by Indie Pop and Hard Rock, the Decemberists hold their own here. Ten tracks. Short, sweet, polished. Best Tracks: There are really no throwaways here. However: “Don’t Carry It All,” “Calamity Song,” and “Down by the Water” are a cut above the rest.

 

8. Ida Maria – Katla 

Hands down, the most underrated record of the year. I can’t believe this album didn’t catch here in the states. Katla is fucking badass. Ida Maria showcases her versatility here. From hard rock, to pop, to doowop and swing, to mariachi, to stoner grunge rock…um…you get it already? She’s a Norwegian firecracker who destroyed her debut album with a sophomore effort that is bold, fearless, and in your face. Best Tracks: Look no further than the 9-minute-plus “Devil” to see what she’s capable of. Still hungry? So is she: “I Eat Boys Like You for Breakfast” and “Bad Karma.”

 

7. Wild Flag – Wild Flag

Let’s face it: Carrie Brownstein is the coolest. Besides the fact that she’s a third of one of the raddest riot grrrl/indie rock acts to come out of the Pacific Northwest in the 90′s, and forgetting that she’s now showing off her comedic chops on IFC’s Portlandia, Brownstein and company still have some insane street cred. That’s because the debut album of Wild Flag is completely worthy of any and all of the accoldates its been receiving since its release in September of 2011. Nearly a decade later, Brownstein is still delivering top-notch indie rock full of solid rhythms, tons of keys (!), and bitchin’ riffs. It’s a slow burn that grows on you, and before you know it, you’ll be humming the beats and singing along without the headphones planted firmly in your ears. Best Tracks: “Romance,” “Boom,” “Racehorse.”

 

6. The Black Keys – El Camino

The Black Keys have done it. They’ve tackled mainstream success while still keeping their cred, a feat which lesser bands like Kings of Leon failed miserably at accomplishing. Miiiiserablyyy. Although I wasn’t a huge fan of Brothers, El Camino is incredibly strong. It’s shorter than its predecesssor, sleeker and tighter. A duo going at it alone is always impressive too. You just have to love their vintage garage sound. Best Tracks: “Gold on the Ceiling,” “Run Right Back,” “Lonely Boy.”

 

5. Foster the People – Torches

Man, did I drag my feet on this one. I didn’t want to like it when I heard it, and hell, once I started digging it I still didn’t want to include it on this list. This is clearly the trendy/hipster portion of this countdown. But damn-it-all-to-hell! Have you heard “Pumped Up Kicks”? Of course, you have! How could you have escaped it? It was probably one of the best singles of the year, as well. That song infested my brain, nearly rotting my insides. What should’ve been a one-hit-wonder was backed by an amazing, catchy, addicting, guilty-pleasure-inducing collection of indie-pop melodies that turned out to be irresistable. Best Tracks: “Pumped Up Kicks,” “Houdini,” “Helena Beat.”

 

4. Adele – 21

There’s just something about the simplicity of a girl and her piano. What can be said about Adele that hasn’t been uttered already since the debut of 19? That voice! If you’ve ever heard her open her mouth and haven’t been totally enthralled, you’re dead inside. Sure, it’s an album mostly filled with ballads, which may or may not be your thang, but you’ve got to respect talent. And Adele’s got plenty of it. I’m eagerly anticipating every step of her musical journey. Best Tracks: “Rolling in the Deep” (duh), “Set Fire to the Rain,” “Someone Like You.”

 

3. The Joy Formidable – A Balloon Called Moaning

Hailing from North Wales, The Joy Formidable is a relatively new band that released one of the best alternative rock albums of the last decade. OK…so it’s technically a mini-album (their actual debut The Big Roar hits the U.S. in March). Still, The Joy Formidable’s instrumentation, lyrics, and huuuge sound comes from a power-charged trio led by the pint-sized frontwoman Ritzy Bryan. The sound is just as epic live, even in an arena setting – a platform where smaller bands sometimes get drowned out (Dave Grohl heard them on the radio and nabbed them as an opener for the Foo’s Wasting Light tour). From start to finish, A Balloon Called Moaning amps you up. It’s a record that just excited the hell out of me this year. Best Tracks: “Whirring,” “The Greatest Light is the Greatest Shade,” “Cradle.”

 

2. Architecture in Helsinki – Moment Bends

If Ida Maria’s Katla was the most underrated record of the year, Architecture in Helsinki is the most underrated band of the year. Moment Bends was released quietly in May here in the states and is probably the best Pop album in the year. Hell, it almost made the #1 spot. It’s a disc you play from start-to-finish. Good for parties, work and the car! Bonus. This five-some boasts a group of talented musicians that even rock such rarities as the glockenspiel and melodica. Horns and keys ablaze, just like in previous endeavors, Architecture’s 2011 release is non-stop fun and their live show backs it up entirely. Best Tracks: “Escapee” was easily one of my favorite songs of the year, “Contact High,” “Desert Island.”

 

1. Foo Fighters – Wasting Light

Although I put heavy weight on an album’s personal affect on me, whether lyrically or musically, I still believe that the best albums of the year should at least capture a portion of the zeitgeist. Sure, many of the albums on this list may not have accomplished that, but I still feel strongly that the best music of the year should have accomplished something. They should turn heads, be respected equally by critics and fans alike, and be created passionately and honestly. Wasting Light is a great example of this criteria and completely deserves a spot in any Top 10 of 2011 list. Dave Grohl and the Foos went old school on this one, recording the album in Grohl’s garage using entirely analogue equipment until the post-mastering stage. They brought in Butch Vig to produce (Garbage drummer, Producer of Nevermind and countless other records), and had guest musicians such as Bob Mould (Hüsker Dü) and Krist Novoselic (Nirvana). They even tossed a piece of the original master tape into every unit sold (style points!). All of these cool technicalities aside, the album just fucking rocks. It’s one of the loudest and proudest of the Foo Fighters’ career and by far, the best Rock record of the year. The album had a nice blend of radio friendly singles, such as “Rope” and “Walk,” while going balls-out heavy on “White Limo” and “Bridge Burning.” Because of this blend of artistry, production, and killer material, Wasting Light is The Littlest Winslow’s #1 album of the year. Best Tracks: All of ‘em.

As if this wasn’t long enough…here are a few honorable mentions that would’ve made the cut had I had the patience to put together a Top 20:

The Parlor Mob – Dogs
Smith Westerns – Dye It Blonde
The Rapture – In the Grace of Your Love
Holy Ghost – Holy Ghost
Cults – Cults
Dum Dum Girls – Only in Dreams
Yuck – Yuck
Mr. Heavenly – Out of Love
Florence and the Machine – Ceremonials

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New Foo Fighters Documentary ‘Back and Forth.’ Tonight. VH1.

Posted in Music on April 8th, 2011 by Nick

Countdown to new Foo: 4 days!

VH1 is airing the brand spankin’ new Foo Fighters documentary (titled Back and Forth) tonight at 10pm. Directed by James Moll, the doc will cover the band’s history and is interspersed with interviews, concert footage, and more awesome Foo-ness.

Academy Award winning documentary filmmaker James Moll will chronicle the 16 year history of the Foo Fighters, from the cassette demos Grohl recorded during his tenure as Nirvana’s drummer through their ascent to their Grammy-winning, multi-platinum, arena and stadium headlining status as one of the biggest rock bands on the planet. This chronicling of the Foo Fighters’ triumphs and tragedies will culminate in an in-depth behind the scenes perspective on the making of the new album: A process in which the band pushed itself forward by taking a gigantic step backward — recording in Grohl’s garage completely on analog tape. No computers, no software – just a band recording an album to tape in Dave’s one-car garage. The new record also marks the Foos’ first full-length effort with legendary producer Butch Vig, with whom Grohl worked on Nirvana’s classic Nevermind. Former Nirvana members Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear will also return along with other surprise guest artists.

Needless to say, this blogger is psyched! Record it in HD, crank the volume and enjoy.

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Totally diggin' The Subways' "All or Nothing"

Posted in Music on February 7th, 2009 by Nick

So The Subways – why aren’t they huge yet, dammit!? The first album, “Young For Eternity” was badass. The second album, “All or Nothing,” even moreso.

They’re a trio, with male-fronted vocals by Billy Lunn. Female bassist Charlotte Cooper sings as well; Josh Morgan rounds out the trio on drums. They’re good shit – standard alt-rock British band with some killer songwriting chops. Garbage drummer Butch Vig produced the 2nd effort.

Take a listen to some of their best. These are all from “All or Nothing”:

“I Won’t Let You Down”

“Alright”

“Shake Shake” (Disclaimer – They aren’t this poppy – but, it’s a single they’re promoting soooo….)

DEAR SUBWAYS: TOUR AMERICA PLEASE. thanks.

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I Miss Garbage

Posted in Music on November 12th, 2008 by Nick

After watching Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles this week, (click here and here) I reached an astounding realization: I MISS GARBAGE.

Although I’m glad Shirley told her label to shove it when they shelved her solo record (“I’m not interested in getting up in a short skirt and singing a pop song.”), I must admit: I miss them dearly.

I’m actually surprised that 2005′s “Bleed Like Me” didn’t really catch on because I thought it was a solid contender for their best album ever (lack of touring and a two-year hiatus probably had something to do with that).  I need another Garbage record. Need. And while I’m being greedy, how about another tour as well? The band tore it up on the Rock Steady tour (which I saw twice!), but I’d love to catch them headline their own show…hell, their own arena tour!

Butch Vig has stated in the past that the band was at one point considering a start date for a new record. I really hope it’s sooner rather than later.

Some classic Garbage jams:

“Stupid Girl”

“Push It”

“Bleed Like Me”

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