The development that would later become known as the Foo Fighters began as early on as Dave Grohl's involvement in the hardcore punk scene of Washington D.C., which led him to drum for Scream in the late 80's while Grohl was still a teenager. Penning and recording his own material in the basement studio of friend Barrett Jones, his music gained momentum on Scream's final studio album, Fumble. Meanwhile, a little known Seattle-area band called Nirvana were itching for a new drummer, leading them to pull Dave Grohl up to the Northwest to record Nevermind. With aid from the hit single “Smells Like Teen Spirit", Nevermind became one of the top selling albums of all time and the grunge staple that helped put bands like Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, and Soundgarden in constant rotation, let alone inspire many musical acts today. In amongst all the interviews, photo shoots, t.v. appearances, and touring in promotion of Nirvana's new album, Dave kept recording music. Some songs Dave wrote appeared on the Simple Machines released cassette titled “Pocketwatch", some songs were recorded with Barrett Jones up until 1993 when it was time to follow-up Nevermind with the cryptic In Utero, a single from which included a song of Dave's titled “Marigold". Plans to release another solo cassette never were passed, and Dave's future in music came to a halt when news broke of friend and Nirvana mastermind Kurt Cobain's ambiguous suicide in 1994. Understandably, Dave took a few months to himself. In the fall of 1994, Grohl and Jones recorded what would become the Foo Fighters debut album. Consisting of Dave playing all of the instruments as well as singing, 100 copies of the album were passed around to friends and associates, gaining record label attention. Coincidentally, Pat Smear joined Nirvana six months before Kurt's death, even landing him a spot on guitar on Nirvana's legendary Unplugged performance, so it didn't take long for Pat to be included. Through Grohl's wife he met Sunny Day Real Estate bassist Nate Mendel, who took along the drummer of the same band, William Goldsmith. Since frontman Jeremy Enigk quite Sunny Day Real Estate to forward his energy towards Christianity, the Foo Fighters were set to tour with two parts Nirvana and two parts Sunny Day Real Estate. On Independence Day in 1995, the Foo Fighters, named after a WWII secret force that was said to research UFO's, debut album was released to an eager audience. Gaining much success with singles like “This Is A Call" and “Big Me", a second album was sure to follow. During the recording of what would become The Colour and the Shape, drummer William Goldsmith left due to creative differences, leaving Grohl to fill his position for much of the album. Amongst the completion of the album, guitarist Pat Smear left the band, leaving Grohl's career shaky yet again. Bringing in Taylor Hawkins, who had drummed for Alanis Morissette, and Franz Stahl on guitar, the band hit the road yet again. By the time a follow-up was in the works, however, Franz left band, leaving the Foo Fighters a threesome for the recording of 1999's There Is Nothing Left To Lose. Shortly after, Chris Shiflett joined the band as guitarist for both 2002's One By One and 2005's In Your Honor. While Dave Grohl collaborates with many artists, appearances among Queens of the Stone Age's Songs For The Deaf and Garbage's Bleed Like Me, he stays solid as the singer/songwriter/guitarist for the steadily popular Foo Fighters.
On the earlier Foo Fighters albums, there was definite humor, mostly among the outlandish videos involving a Mentos spoof and the band dressing in drag, but their two latest albums, the hugely successful One By One and their newest installment, the 2-disc In Your Honor, the gears have shifted to a more serious side. Brought to mainstream attention with the powerful single “Best Of You", In Your Honor finds the band covering ground yet reached in their catalogue, the first disc being the usual pop rock made staple by the band, and the second disc comprising of acoustic tracks accompanied by a slew of guests. Some may argue the new material as being some of the best produced by the Foo Fighters, but whether or not the band is at their peak, it is clear that they shed all preconceptions here and make strides in new directions, even including a slow jazz track on the latter part of the album.
Disc #1 begins with the thunderous title track that leads directly into “No Way Back", a track that would find it's place amongst The Colour and the Shape quite nicely. Following is “Best Of You", which from start to finish builds and builds to an explosive finish, proclaiming a message of optimism in an overall negative environment. Even if you don't like the bands music, the Foo Fighters definitely put everything they've got into their songs, putting emotion way before anything else. Three more highlights in this ten song set include “The Last Song", “Resolve", and the catchy yet raw “End Over End" that concludes the first disc with building feedback. This disc alone would have fit next to the Foo Fighters earlier efforts, although a bit more consistently heavy than their previous two albums, without any disappointments, but the bands progression proclaims itself more amongst the second disc included.
Disc #2 finds the heart of In Your Honor in a haunting and often cryptic light, opening the second disc with “Still", with almost whispering vocals. An upside to the softer tracks are all of the guest appearances, including Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones playing piano on “Miracle" and mandolin on the following track, “Another Round". A reoccurring role on this disc are the saddening lyrics with haunting vocal echoes, which emphasizes an apparent note of perfection on the album where the tiniest details seem to be examined and improved. It is clear that the band did not cut corners on the second disc, which makes for easy repeated listens. Something that seems to stick out a bit is the Nora Jones accompanied “Virginia Moon", that finds the Foo Fighters presenting a slow jazz track that plays like Dave Grohl featured on a Nora Jones album rather than the other way around. Followed is “Cold Day In The Sun", which has Taylor Hawkins taking the lead and Dave Grohl filling in on drums, which presents a typical feel to the band with a new twist to keep it interesting. Concluding In Your Honor is “Razor", which features Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme adding some interesting guitar.
Standing as an established band of their own right, the Foo Fighters present what could be considered as their Physical Graffiti or their White Album to the masses. The new direction on the second of the 2-disc set may alienate some and bring in others, but the bands proclaimed niche on the first disc makes the purchase a sure bet for any Foo Fighters fan.
Personal Note- I have always been a bit spectacle of the Foo Fighters, comparing them to Nirvana in the back of my mind. Although they may not be as influential to me as Nirvana, they prove to stand well on their own with One By One and In Your Honor. As a band, they create some well written music, and surprise me a bit in the direction they've gone as of late. There are some really great tracks on this album, so I definitely support it and urge anyone to go check it out.
0.5-Sad, hardly can be considered noise
1-Horrible, better off never recorded
1.5-Mind numbing, less than mediocre
2-Basic, mainstream machine
2.5- Alright, low expectations
3-Good, but has a few flaws
3.5-Well-done, deserves to be acknowledged
4-Excellent, stands well on its own
4.5-Amazing, always a great listen
5-Perfect, life changing work of art
The reviews I write are without plagiarism or bias to any sound or genre, but as a third-person presenting facts and logical comparisons. My personal feelings are not concrete and solidly agreeable, so when they are presented they are isolated and left to be viewed as such. The ratings for each album are not shifted due to what I am currently interested in, but out of a calculated sum ranging from originality, ability of repeated listens due to consistent effort and solid production, poetic lyrical structure, and overall musicianship.