If you came up to me two years ago and said that Dave Grohl would form his own band, I would have laughed. I mean, come on. At that time he was simply the third guy from Nirvana, the “guy with the long hair.” Sure, he was a good drummer, but start his very own quartet, where he would not only sing, but also play the guitar? Oh, COME ON.
Well, it’s two years later. And last week, I, foot neatly inserted in mouth, drove to the Danbury Fair Mall, strode down to the record store, and picked up the self-titled debut album from Dave’s band, the oddly named “Foo Fighters” (many people mishear or misread it as “Food Fighters”). And I must say, I was mighty impressed, not just with the fact that, contrary to my beliefs, Dave actually knew how to play the guitar, but also with the fact that this is not another band ripping off Kurt Cobain and his mighty songs about depression, pain, and alienation.
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The Fighters have a sound somewhat similar to Nirvana (you can almost feel the force of Cobain’s soul in the angry guitars ), but the songwriting is all very original (all the songs were written by Grohl). And for the die-hard Nirvana fans looking for a mix of slow tunes, thrashy melodies and that ever-present speed-metal-like song present in every Nirvana album, it’s all there. And surprisingly, the speedy ode to Cobain and his ultra-quick drum-beat songs that were the staple of Nirvana recordings (“Polly” and “Breed,” just to name a few), “Watershed,” is surprisingly good.
While I would eventually tire of Cobain’s endless screaming on these two, I never tire of Grohl’s voice. Cobain’s was a deep, dark voice that could make your ears bleed at the proper volume; Grohl’s is more melodic and (dare I say it: soulful.). It has many different tones, and even at its deepest, you still won’t want to turn the stereo down. (It saddens me to think what “Smells Like Teen Spirit” or “All Apologies” would have sounded like with Grohl at the microphone instead of Cobain).
And it doesn’t end there. Besides “Watershed,” two other songs especially stood in my mind: the two singles, “This is a Call,” where you get to hear the melodic tone of Grohl’s voice as he sings this loose, breezy tune that’s not much about anything, and “I’ll Stick Around,” where you also hear his fiercely enraged voice with his melodic one. “I Don’t Owe You Anything!” sings Grohl, as though he was shouting at the millions of Cobain fans who wanted him to keep Nirvana alive with the band’s guitarist. Yet, ironically, in a way he has.
Will fans of Nirvana like Foo Fighters? Not necessarily. They have an only slightly similar sound, and their songs are more upbeat than Kurt Cobain’s tales of alienation. But I’m sure the die-hard fans will accept Grohl and his new band, and I’m also sure many non-Nirvana fans will get interested in Foo Fighters’ highly-listenable tunes. Maybe that was Grohl’s mission all along C to wake up the depressed Nirvana fans and introduce them to something slightly less dark, songs that don’t bring you down.
Mission accomplished, Dave.
Grade: B+ .