Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways – [Record 169]
Sonic Highways is the eighth studio album by American rock band Foo Fighters, released on November 10, 2014, through RCA Records. As part of a companion HBO television series, Foo Fighters Sonic Highways, the band recorded eight songs for the album, each in a different US city: Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. It will be available on CD, vinyl and as a digital download. The album’s lead single “Something from Nothing” was released on October 16, 2014.
1. Something from Nothing.
2. The Feast and the Famine.
4. What Did I Do? / God As My Witness.
6. In the Clear.
8. I Am a River.
Background and writing: Despite initially announcing a break after supporting Wasting Light, Grohl later stated in January 2013 that the band had started writing material for an eighth studio album. On February 20, 2013, at the Brit Awards, Grohl said he was flying back to America the following day to start work on the next album. In an August 2013 interview with XFM, Grohl announced that their next album has been slated for a 2014 release, saying:
“Well, I’ll tell you, we have been in our studio writing and in the past few weeks we’ve written an album and we are going to make this album in a way that no-one’s ever done before and we’re pretty excited about it… It’s a little ways off – it’s not ready to happen right now – but I think next year is going to be a really big year for the Foo Fighters, without question.”
According to lead guitarist Chris Shiflett, Grohl would finish the lyrics just before recording his vocals, the last part of each song. This time the compositions would drift away from “love letters and confused relationships” to deal with the feelings Grohl had regarding each city during production.
Recording: On September 6, 2013, lead guitarist Chris Shiflett posted a photo to his Instagram account that had indicated 13 songs were being recorded for the album. Keyboardist Rami Jaffee has recorded parts for three songs, one of which is entitled “In The Way.” Butch Vig, who produced the band’s prior album, Wasting Light, confirmed he produced Sonic Highways as well. On July 30, 2014, Vig revealed that the band had finished recording and mixing the new album and it is slated to be released a month after the Sonic Highways TV series. In an August 2014 press release Grohl spoke about the album, saying: “This album is instantly recognizable as a Foo Fighters record, but there’s something deeper and more musical to it. I think that these cities and these people influenced us to stretch out and explore new territory, without losing our ‘sound’.”
Packaging: The artwork for the album has a cityscape amalgamating landmarks of every town used for production – Seattle’s Space Needle, the Hollywood Sign in Los Angeles – and a recurring motif of the number eight, marking both the Foo Fighters’ eight album and infinity (∞). The vinyl pressings of the album are packaged in nine different covers, depicting each of the eight cities and the “Forever” building shaped like the infinity symbol. Although most retailers will not guarantee which cover the purchaser receives, when pre-ordering the album from the band’s official web site an album cover can be selected.
Promotion: On January 16, 2014, a picture was posted to the Foo Fighters Facebook page with several master tapes, some labeled “LP 8”. On May 15, 2014, it was announced that the band’s eighth album would be released in November 2014 and that the Foo Fighters would commemorate the album and their 20th anniversary with an HBO TV series directed by Dave Grohl entitled Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways. On August 11, 2014, it was announced that the album would be titled Sonic Highways and released on November 10, 2014.
Critical reception: Sonic Highways has received generally mixed reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, they assign a “weighted average” rating out of 100 to selected independent ratings and reviews from mainstream critics, and the album has received a Metascore of a 63, based on 6 reviews, indicating “generally favorable reviews.”