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Saturday, 22 November 2014

Reviews: Foo Fighters, Nickelback, Sister Sin

Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways (RCA)

The Foo Fighters have gone through an interesting career, starting as almost a Nirvana offshoot, they have now overtaken Nirvana in terms of popularity and recognition eight albums into their career and The Foo's seem to be in a position where they can do whatever they want; their previous album Wasting Light saw them turn into a five piece and expanded their musicianship a lot as it was a very organic record drawing from their influences. Sonic Highways then carries on this audio experimentation as the album is an accompanying piece to a documentary which sees Grohl travelling around America taking in the music of those cites. Grohl wrote all the music for the songs after the visit to each city and then recorded the vocals later taking lines from the interviews he conducted. So a difficult recording process then but how does that translate to the album itself, each track is representative of a city so it is eight cities, eight tracks starting with Something For Nothing (Chicago IL) which has a echoing opening and turns into a stomping blues piece with a little bit of funk in the middle with guitar by Rick Nielsen, next up is Feast And The Famine (Arlington, VA) which is snotty punk rock featuring members of Scream (Grohl's first real band). Congregation (Nashville, TN) which definitely evokes the spirit of Country with it's uplifting message and jangly guitar lines, while also staying true to the Foo Fighters sound. Things get a little more soulful on What Did I Do?/God As My Witness (Austin, TX) with a really rocking track with some big guitar riffs from Texan Gary Clarke Jr. and a real change of pace in the final part. The album is a little disjointed but for the most part the songs are strong enough to stand on their own, one of the best is Outside (Los Angeles, CA) which features Mr California himself Joe Walsh on guitars. As the album draws to a close the songs we get the excellent Subterranean which is a laid back paen to his adopted home before we get the finale of I Am A River  (New York, NY) which is a swelling ballad on which Grohl sings his heart out. Overall this is another solid album of arena baiting rock music aimed at a wide audience, but Sonic Highways shows that Grohl and his band can now do whatever they want to and Sonic Highways is a testament to a band unafraid to whatever they want. 8/10     

Nickelback: No Fixed Address (Republic)

Are Nickelback the most hated band in the world? Well some would say yes, but I've always had a soft spot for Mr Kroeger and co but it seems even his long term supporters are casting him adrift as this is the first album not on their long term label Roadrunner, they are now on Republic home to  Amy Winehouse, Akon, Lil Wayne, Nelly, Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj, Lorde, Drake, Lil Wayne, Weezer and Enrique Iglesias to name a few, so not a step down really but a shrewd marketing step; cast off the hardcore rockers and pitch yourself to the manstream. But I digress No Fixed Address is Nickelback's eighth album and as such it is the sound of a band with nothing to prove, they don't care what people think. From the bass led punch of A Million Miles An Hour which is a thumping rocker to start proceedings straight into the government baiting Edge Of A Revolution which has a chanting clarion cry chorus, cue mass gang shouts. So here is where things start to get a bit weird, What Are You Waitng For? is a typical Nickleback ballad but features some chart style synths in the background (it is also the first song co written by rapper Jacob Kasher), She Keeps Me Up is almost Stevie Wonder mixed with Maroon 5 style funk with Kroeger trying his hand at rapid fire rhymes and duetting with a female almost Rhianna-like singer. The most jarring track on the album is Got Me Runnin' Round which features rapper Flo-Rida doing his trademark stuff on a song laced with horns. So a bit of a weird one this there are some classic Nickelback-style songs, a lot of ballads mainly with very few rockers but most of all there are just too many songs that are a bit too poppy, meaning that this album is very disappointing especially when compared to their last album and their mid 2000's heyday. Many may have thought Nickelback sold out years ago, I never did, I always thought they were a rock band that have appealed to the mainstream however unfortunately this album reeks of a sell out. 2/10
Sister Sin: Black Lotus (Victory)

Sister Sin are one of theses bands that have been on my periphery, having seen a bit of them at Bloodstock I was impressed enough to give this latest album a spin. Sister Sin hail from Sweden and as such they play old school, leather clad heavy metal straight out of the 1980's with the banshee like vocals from Liv Jagrell echoing Warlock, the Teutonic axe attack of Accept,  the bouncy hard rock of former tour mates Lordi. Jagrell's vocals are scarred and raw but they fit the music perfectly with bass gallop, stun gun riffs and pounding drums. Au Revoir has the same metallic swing as Grand Magus, Desert Queen is a doomier feeling song with some big organs augmenting it. This is Sister Sin's fifth album and it continues in the same old school style they have played on their last four albums but this doesn't mean that this album is repetitive in fact far from it Count Me Out is a orchestral backed hard rocker and The Jinx is straight out of the Halestorm song book (Jagrell sounds a lot like Lzzy vocally actually). Sister Sin are a great little band from Sweden that play some top quality metallic hard rock. Well worth checking out if you like your metal with a female bite to it. 7/10 

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