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:
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.
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
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:
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.
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.
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.
1. “Bridge Burning”
3. “Dear Rosemary”
4. “White Limo”
6. “These Days”
7. “Back & Forth”
8. “A Matter Of Time”
9. “Miss The Misery”
10. “I Should Have Known”
*Edit* – Oh, yeah. This too:
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.
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…
Straight from Pitchfork:
“According to Antiquiet, Dave Grohl told Mojo magazine in 2005, “The next project that I’m trying to initiate involves me on drums, [Queens of the Stone Age's] Josh Homme on guitar, and [Led Zeppelin's] John Paul Jones playing bass. That’s the next album. That wouldn’t suck.”
Four years and hundreds of rumors later, it seems like this no-qualifier-necessary, cap-S Supergroup is ready for its close-up. They’ve got a name: Them Crooked Vultures. (Via Antiquiet.) There’s an oh-so-cryptic show listing for a post-Lollapalooza midnight gig this Sunday, August 9, at Chicago’s Metro that features symbols for the Foo Fighters, Led Zeppelin, and Queens of the Stone Age. And there’s also an official-looking website that links to Them Crooked Vultures hubs on MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter. The Twitter lists Them Crooked Vultures’ bio as “Dave Grohl, Josh Homme, John Paul Jones.” Super and online friendly!
While a fall tour and new album are currently being whispered about, official spokespeople are keeping mum about Them Crooked Vultures at press time.”
All I can say is: Y E S.