Granted, the idea was pretty good. Visit eight different studios in eight different cities, all of which have a rich musical history, and write a song in each city and then accompany the whole thing with a documentary featuring local legends who also contribute to the songs. It’s like the most elaborate press kit ever!
But if the idea was to capture the local atmosphere in each song, then why do all of the songs on “Sonic Highways” sound like vintage Foo Fighters? And more importantly… why do they all sound so alike? I wouldn’t have even been complaining too much about if the new songs were really good. But nope, can’t even say that about them! It’s as if making the documentary took up so much of the band’s time that writing the songs for the album became almost an afterthought.
“Something From Nothing” (featuring Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen on guitar) is an excellent choice for a single with its organ groove. It is also by far the best song on “Sonic Highways”. Well, maybe along with “Outside”. “The Feast And The Famine” however starts off decent enough but the chorus seems like an attempt to test how many times you can repeat the song title before it becomes annoying, “Congregation” simply feels like the band is rehashing “Learn To Fly” and “Subterranean” is slowly trickling towards absolutely nowhere. And don’t even get me started about the cheesy minutes long “I Am A River”!
As for the guests (Pete Stahl & Skeeter Thompson from Scream, Gary Clark Jr., Joe Walsh, Ben Gibbard and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band to name a few), they are hardly given a chance to bring any of their local flair to the table, which I thought was kinda the whole point.
Dave, I’ve always been a big fan so it pains me to say this but “Sonic Highways” just doesn’t cut it. We would however still consider that interview, so feel free to mail us anytime!