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COURTESY OF RCA

September 19, 2017

TEST SPIN | Foo Fighters — Concrete and Gold

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In the world of modern rock and roll, one group has reigned supreme for the better part of this millennium: Foo Fighters.

The group was founded by Dave Grohl in 1994 as a solo project following the separation of Nirvana on account of Kurt Cobain’s passing. And with the help of guitarist Pat Smear and drummer Taylor Hawkins, Grohl has brought Foo Fighters to critical acclaim and mass popularity.

Throughout the years, Foo Fighters have had numerous top singles, including the David-Letterman-endorsed “Everlong,” along with several world tours and major festival headlining spots. They even were able to command an audience at this years BottleRock Festival despite festival organizers pulling the plug on the sound during the end of their set.

The Foo Fighters have been called rock’s most consistent group, as they have been able to turn out stadium-worthy record after stadium-worthy record since their inception. Their previous album, Sonic Highways, took the band across the country on a journey of self discovery to record in different major studios. And while this approach created an interesting perspective within their music, Foo Fighters decided to return to the basics for their most recent release.

Recorded in a single studio in LA, Concrete and Gold is the Foo’s attempt to branch out from the anthem rock that brought their sound to the masses. But this seems too daunting a task for them even with help from featured artists such as Sir Paul McCartney, Justin Timberlake and producer extraordinaire Greg Kurstin, who has worked with the likes of Adele and Katy Perry.

The Foo’s ninth studio album sounds all too familiar; heavy guitar licks, entertaining lyrics, head pounding beats and love songs. Nothing too political. The Foo fail to take advantage of their platform and opportunity to say something profound.

Although there is a general lack of substance and power to the release, there are a few standout tracks — most notably the luscious 80’s rock intro “T-shirt” which calls to mind the sonics of Queen and Styx, the psychedelic “Happy Ever After (Zero Hour)” and the Pink Floydian title track “Concrete and Gold.” However, these are diamonds in the rough.

Beyond these few gems, lies an album riddled with blunders such as the decision to enlist Macca to lay the drum track on “Sunday Rain,” despite the presence of two of the greatest rock drummers alive today in Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins. “Run,” the so-called song of the album, comes across as a less exciting recreation of “Monkey Wrench,” and “La Dee Da” sounds like a cheap attempt at sounding like Lynyrd Skynyrd.

While Concrete and Gold is by no means a bad album, it is not what we expect when a band of this caliber says it’s creating something like “Slayer Making Pet Sounds.” It seems that Foo Fighters may have finally exhausted their well of inspiration. After all, lyrics such as “just trying to keep my t-shirt clean” can conjure only so much emotion. For fans, the hope for a repeat of the raw emotion and power that drove The Colour and The Shape is gone.

The musical culture of 2017 is one of politics and heavy emotion, and Foo Fighters seem to match that culture in every way but the most important one, a desire to express political ideologies. Instead of creating something important, they chose to make more of the same, and a few years ago, hell maybe even a few months ago, this would have been more than enough to get people talking. But the values of grunge and dispassionate rock have been rendered obsolete in our current society. It’s time for the Foo to escape the chains of tradition and create something that is as monumental today as The Colour and The Shape was in 1997.

 

Peter Buonanno is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at pfb48@cornell.edu.

  • Darnell Bratcher

    “Noting too political. The Foo failed to take the opportunity to say something profound”???
    What is it with you out of touch “elites” who just don’t get it? WE DON’T LISTEN TO OUT OF TOUCH MILLIONAIRE ARTIST TO GET OUR POLITICAL AND SOCIAL IDEALS!
    As it says again in the last paragraph, they are missing “…missing the desire to express political ideologies…”
    ARE YOU FREAKIN KIDDING ME? I SAY SHUT UP AND SING!!!!
    It’s about freakin rock and roll man! We turn on this music or go to concerts to get away from political junk, the more artist learn this the more successful they will be instead of alienating half their fan base!
    I will turn off any artist that is a political or social idiot that lives in a bubble and knows nothing but elitism and nothing of the real man’s world!

    • Motto

      The only thing elite about Dave is his musical talent. First Amendment rights tell me he’s free to sing about whatever he wants, including his children’s future. Source: my Bachelors in History.

      This isn’t a fascist country. Stop trying to make it one.

  • Darnell Bratcher

    Dave Grohl had 41 million dollars in the bank before he even started Foo Fighters. I love Dave’s talents and music but I completely disagree with him and most of my favorite artist on political and social issues because they follow the herd of elitist who all live in a bubble of protection insulated from the real world and its values. They appear to suffer from “rich guilt”. They should all just shut up and sing, PLEASE!
    The author of this piece, by twice mentioning the Foo Fighters should be more political, appears to be pushing his own desire as an activist…. leave rock and roll alone!! Let the idiots sing and we may continue to buy their product.

    • Motto

      “Herd of elitists who all live in a bubble of protection”?

      So then people with money, fame and power can’t use that as a platform to spread awareness about social issues? That makes absolutely no sense.

      There are plenty of people with money, fame and power that don’t, and continue to live in their bubble. There are also plenty that spread social awareness and use their power that way. You do realize that, right? It’s precisely what Colin Kaepernick did. But since most of footballs’ audience is a bunch of meatheads, it became about football and the flag. He still used his power to spread a message and give those of us a voice.

      Nobody is gonna listen to me. I have no platform. I have no power or money to use.

      Money and power shouldn’t automatically disqualify someone. It’s what they do with it that counts.

      • Darnell Bratcher

        Hmmm… So, you are fine with getting your social and political directions from Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, George Looney, or dumb ass Bruce Springsteen and Cher?
        As I said…STFU and sing, PLEASE!!!! I’m intelligent enough to attain my own political and social stances from MY education and life experiences… those that can’t be duplicated or experienced by those who we pay to perform for entertainment.
        Let the Foo Fighters rock on, they will destroy themselves if they become activist rather than rockers!

        • Motto

          Nobody actually gets their political or social “directions” from celebrities, and if you do, you’re an idiot. You should form your own opinions, and then if celebrities agree with you or not, then go from there.

          Your commentary is baffling.

          Most artists or musicians are usually liberal or left-leaning. You haven’t figured that out yet? There is probably something to that.

          • Darnell Bratcher

            I have previously explained why I believe most millionaire artists are blind to reality (leftist)…the same reasons why those like Bill Gates is such a leftist philanthropist, rich guilt and insulation from the masses.
            Although, most actors and musicians are just straight out stupid (see Robert De Niro, Michael Moore, Matt Damon, Rosie O’Donnell, Merle Streep, Whoopi Goldberg, Lena Dunham, Alec Baldwin, Madonna, Bette Midler…on and on………

          • Motto

            Straight out stupid because they’re capable of critical thinking, unlike the right?

            Turn off Fox News bud.

          • Darnell Bratcher

            No! Straight out stupid because they are NOT capable of critical thinking; all they know is what reverberates in their liberal echo chambers: the liberal bubble.
            I’ll say it once more. IT’S ABOUT MUSIC!!!! I get paid to perform my technical duties for my company, I supply them with my mechanical expertise. I’m quite sure they would rather me STFU about my political or social views, likewise, these artist need STFU and do what they are paid to do….or suffer the consequence.(E.G. See NFL)

          • Motto

            Suffer what consequence? As overrated as football is, it’s not going to hurt the NFL. It’s a billion dollar industry. It’s not okay for musicians to voice their beliefs over things like climate change that affects their children because some jerkoff on the internet said so?

            The left and the right have their own echo chambers. The right is just far more regressive than the left. The left is more capable of critical thinking than the right. They’re much more accepting of science and education as well.

          • Darnell Bratcher

            I’m not a “jerkoff” on the internet telling anyone what they can’t say or do; what I am, though, is a customer who can choose who can earn my money. Yes, the NFL IS hurting and going to get much worse, jerkoff!

          • Motto

            No.

          • Darnell Bratcher

            NO SOUP FOR YOU!

          • Darnell Bratcher

            ..

  • Evan Kravitz

    Everything about this album fell flat for me. Their singles run and sky is a neighborhood seemed forced and overblown, and they seemed to grab too many elements from country music. I think arrows sticks out as a driving, emotional force but the rest of the album didn’t need to be made

    • Darnell Bratcher

      I’m a really big Dave fan and Foo Fighters but I have to agree with you on this one. This album seems to possibly be a compilation of tracks previously rejected from previous records.
      There’s a lot of noise, not a lot of stuff that will play well in the arenas.

  • Motto

    1) The reason they haven’t topped that landmark album is because nobody can top it. Not even any other bands. That’s like expecting to catch lightning in a bottle, twice. Not happening. It’s a feat that will never be reached. I think the band knows this, so they do other things (that are almost as good, and still worthy of classic status).

    2) Not political? You’re joking right? One of the biggest reasons I love the new album is because it’s political undertones and lyrics. Sometimes I wonder if people are actually listening to the same thing I am. It’s a wonder these people get out of bed and out of the house in the morning. I just, don’t.. get it..