Review Summary: While it’s nice to hear so many icons playing together on one album, that doesn't necessarily mean they produce anything noteworthy.
Bringing in a hefty team of past legends and new stars ranging from Paul McCartney to Corey Taylor, the soundtrack to Dave Grohl’s documentary Sound City
is bursting with spots from guests who all share a mutual respect and appreciation for the golden days of analog recording studios. Though the love for that era might be one of the few, if not the only thing that most of these artists have in common with each other, as Sound City: Real to Reel
suffers from an abundance of collaborations that really don’t sound too cohesive at all.
While Grohl works naturally with his regular jamming buddy Josh Homme, most of these songs lack an aspect that brings the collaborators together. All too often these artists sound as if they’re off in their own individual zones while performing instead of seeking out a way to make their offerings click with everything else that is going on in the track. While everything sounds in place on the Paul McCartney and surviving Nirvana members jam track “Cut Me Some Slack," there really isn’t anything distinguished about the song that makes it distinctly recognizable as the product of a concept as interesting as a former-Nirvana/former Beatles collaboration. While all of the songs sound like hard rock as dusty as the analog recording equipment the film itself focuses on, quite a few of them seem like refined versions of jam sessions that never had an initial idea in mind, and were just finalized while still in the rough draft stage.
Trent Reznor brings a layer of piano to the eight minute album closer “Mantra," but it frequently seems out of place, and just like the other more lengthy cuts such as “Time Slowing Down” and “You Can’t Fix This,” the song tends to drift and meander due to its running time and the lack of a goal. This isn’t particularly special, or inventive musical ideas that are presented here either, every song is just comprised of conventional hard rock elements that sift around but never really comfortably fall into place with one another. On “From Can to Can’t,” Corey Taylor sounds like he could be singing over any other blues rock band that isn’t made up of big names like Dave Grohl, Rick Nielsen, Scott Reeder.
Collaborations are really only of interest if the musical ideas that are presented between the collaborators are interesting, but nobody really feels like they’re giving it their all and putting forth all of their defining traits into the Sound City
soundtrack. It's fun to hear jams between music legends when it clearly sounds like they are working to find a sound that complements one another's distinct styles while still bringing something fresh and satisfying to the table, yet this music just sounds like casual jamming where everyone is holding back from being truly creative. The end result of this is a guest-based soundtrack that is mediocre and listenable, yet vacant of chemistry between the collaborators, and with an absence of the unique playing and creating talent that they’re all known for displaying in their own work.