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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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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Lets Talk About Music We’ve Already Talked About

Posted in Music on April 14th, 2011 by Nick

The last two albums I purchased (actual CDs, mind you!) have been highly anticipated (by myself, of course) and quite friggin’ epic. That’s why I just can’t stop talking about them. Because I’ve already talked about these damn records ad nauseam,  I’m going to (try to) keep this brief. And hopefully do so with way less parentheses.

The Sounds latest (and fourth…shit!), Something To Die For, is both experimental and a return to form. It’s no secret that this blogger wasn’t a big fan of the last effort, Crossing the Rubicon, but there’s something about Something that just brings the vibe back to the band’s  good ol’ prime. The attitude is back and so are the dance beats. There’s even some killer guitars on tracks like “Yeah Yeah Yeah” and “Diana.” Frankly, the songwriting is world’s better than Rubicon‘s.

The Sounds didn’t hesitate to experiment with some techno/house beats, however, which I’m not sure really works in their domain. “Better Off Dead” has an off-putting mid-song breakdown; one no Sounds fan is accustomed to. Does it work? Kind of, yes. Is it a direction the band should be heading toward? No. If the next album is insanely clubby, then I literally will be better off dead. (Well, that’s dramatic, innit?)

Download These: title track “Something To Die For,” the back-to-basics “The No No Song,” and “Dance With the Devil.”

And then there’s THIS:

I’ve been blogging and writing and yapping about this album for months now, and after finally listening to the disc through a few times: it’s totally worth the hype.

Dave Grohl and the gang brought their A-game, with tracks that make up the band’s best work since 1997′s The Colour and the Shape. Recorded on analog from the comforts of Grohl’s garage, Wasting Light is loud, proud and always in your face. From start to finish, the energy is palpable. Real “turn-it-up-to-11″ material.

Though none of the tracks quite match the previously-leaked scream-fest of “White Limo,” most of the album’s songs remain extremely heavy…especially given The Foo’s mainstream status nowadays. It’s absolutely fascinating how this band walks the delicate tightrope between Hard Rock refugees and Pop Radio Hitmakers.

Buy this album. Play it loud. You’ll even get a slice of the destroyed master tapes as a souvenir! Excellent!

Download These: “White Limo,” “Rope,” and “Arlandia.”

You hear these albums? Holler at me!

I promise to never talk about Foo Fighters or The Sounds ever again.

By now, you surely know I’m lying.

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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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I’m all about the new Foo if you haven’t noticed – “Rope”

Posted in Lazy Time, Music on February 27th, 2011 by Nick

Foo Fighters. First single. “Rope”.

Yes. \m/

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More Foo Fighters

Posted in Music on February 17th, 2011 by Nick

Foo Fighters have titled their new album Wasting Light. The disc is due in stores on April 12 and includes the single “Rope” which is due at radio on February 23.

Track list:

1. “Bridge Burning”
2. “Rope”
3. “Dear Rosemary”
4. “White Limo”
5. “Arlandria”
6. “These Days”
7. “Back & Forth”
8. “A Matter Of Time”
9. “Miss The Misery”
10. “I Should Have Known”
11. “Walk”

Gimme.

*Edit* – Oh, yeah. This too:

Thanks TuneLab!

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Foo Fighters Announce Release Date for New Album

Posted in Music on February 7th, 2011 by Nick

The Foo Fighters have announced a release date for their as-yet-untitled new album hitting this spring. The magical date: April 12th.

“There’s 11 songs and, front to back, there’s not one sleepy ballad,” Grohl said. “The fact that we did it without any computers, it was just really simple. It just sounds massive. It’s different to any other Foo Fighters album, because it just sounds big. It was really inspiring.”

Here a 10-second clip of new song “White Limo” here.

Badass.

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FREE stream of Them Crooked Vultures album

Posted in Music on November 10th, 2009 by Nick

It’s true. Here’s my fave, “Elephants.” The rest can be heard by clicking through to YouTube, or by searching for username “themcrookedvultures.”

This album is SICK. Props to Dennis for the tip.

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Them Crooked Vultures – House of Blues, Boston

Posted in Live Shows on October 13th, 2009 by Nick

Check out a few vids of Them Crooked Vultures at the House of Blues in Boston from Sunday. They killed it. John Paul Jones (Zep), Dave Grohl (Foos), Josh Homme (Queens, Eagles of Death Metal), and Alain Johannes (Queens).

The band played for a solid 90 minutes and played to perfection. A little blues, a little jammin’, a LOT of Rock ‘N Roll. Pics to follow shortly…

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Cobain Meets Guitar Hero: Who cares?

Posted in Video Games on September 15th, 2009 by Nick

cobain-guitarhero5

I’ll prepare to be immediately flamed when I say: Who the fuck cares!?

Ok – first off, Activision should definitely be sued if they used his likeness without consent. Duh. It’s a no brainer. They should also be sued if they misled the Cobain Estate – having Kurt as an avatar for Nirvana songs is one thing, but to be able to unlock the character and use it on will is completely different.

But is the fiery vengeance-of-doom backlash led by the blogosphere really necessary?

First, everyone was bitching about Courtney, assuming she OKed it (personally, I’m over the trendiness of Court bashing. Isn’t that just a given yet?). Then, Love denied it saying “We are going to sue the shit out of Activision.” Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic then said they were aware of his likeness being used for their songs only, but they have no control obviously.

Yada, yada, yada. Bored now.

So Cobain might be singing Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf” or Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” on teenagers’ and young-twenty-somethings’ TV screens everywhere. If I turn on the game, and play Blink 182′s “The Rock Show” with Kurt on the mic, it’s not like I actually believe that he would’ve ever sang or covered it. IT’S JUST A FUCKING VIDEO GAME PEOPLE. And the legal shit will eventually work itself out.

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