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Foo Fighters Go Garage Band on ‘Wasting Light’

Courtney Eckerle | Tuesday, April 26, 2011

“You kind of imagine that after playing to 85,000 people, God, what do we do now? We’ll make a huge rock record in a garage,” Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl said in “Foo Fighters: Back and Forth,” the recent documentary on the band’s history and current album, “Wasting Light.”

The Foo Fighters seventh album was created like most bands’ first — in a garage. Their first album in four years since “Echos, Silence, Patience & Grace,” “Wasting Light” was made using only back-to-basics analog equipment, so the album was crafted old-school style. The album-making experience was captured in “Back and Forth,” which had a limited release in theaters and was featured on VH1 commercial-free a few days after its premiere at SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas. The band also performed the entire album live from Grohl’s Studio 606 and uploaded it to YouTube in its entirety. The songs come to life in the 50-minute performance, and while some bands would see this video as a freebie to discourage people from buying the album, the Foo Fighters used it as a promotional tool. It was effective, considering the album was the first Foo Fighters’ venture to debut at number one on the Billboard Top 200 chart.

“Walk” has the signature Foo Fighters guitar that goes back to their ‘90s hit “Learn to Fly,” but it shows Grohl’s growth as a singer and songwriter, especially since his days as a drummer for Nirvana. His simple lyrics make for a certain kind of rock ‘n’ roll charm that makes the band so accessible. “Back and Forth” is a song that exemplifies the band’s return to its roots, especially since they are a three-piece guitar set again. “White Limo” is pretty much a metal track, with a thrashing sound that borders on frenetic.

However, not all of the songs benefit from that simplicity. The ballad-y “I Should Have Known” is a nice reprieve from the overall upbeat tone of the album, but the lyrics are only so-so. The back-and-forth sound is enough to keep the song solid, while light guitar riffs make for a melancholy and introspective feel.

“Rope,” the first single, is the album’s clear standout. It is a different sound, a definite step forward, but maintains the the Foo Fighters’ distinct sound, courtesy of the synchronized guitar fireworks at the end of the song.

The Foos prove that even after a 15-year career they are not a, but the rock force to be reckoned with, and their post-grunge sound still commands respect. By stripping themselves to the bare bones they have shown that they have the stuff to be included with the rare “forever” bands such as Aerosmith, The Rolling Stones and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.