Review: Foo Fighters’ ‘Concrete and Gold’ is 24k Rock

I’ve always loved the Foo Fighters. Their story, their music and, possibly most of all, Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins.

They’re great, genuine guys who have deep-rooted passion for music that drives them. The Foos are not a band to crank out albums every few years out of obligation or money. The music swirling around in their heads simply won’t let them stop for very long.

Last Friday, Sept. 15, marked the much anticipated release of the Foo Fighters new album, “Concrete and Gold.”

After originally telling fans they were taking a break to focus on their families and other side projects, the Foos shocked and delighted with the surprise release of their first single “Run.”

It’s not that Dave Grohl and company were purposely leading fans astray or playing a cruel trick, rather that the music pulled them back together way sooner than they had anticipated after “Sonic Highways.”

As always, you can tell the passion for the music is the driving force for these multitalented musicians with the master stroke of an album, “Concrete and Gold.”

The minute and a half “T-Shirt” starts off the Foo Fighters’ latest album softly with plaintive vocals bemoaning misunderstandings in a struggling relationship and ends with a bright heavy sheen leading into the ever popular “Run.”

The inventive music video for the first single was an idea cooked up between drummer Taylor Hawkins and Grohl and produced by Grohl himself. Their efforts were nominated for the VMA’s Best Rock Video. The soft and blow-your-mind-heavy contrast of this song makes it as impactful as it is addictive. The love child of a pop-flavored song like the Foos have been known for in the past and a heavy Motörhead record, it makes you want to go out and do something crazy.

After saying they were taking a break from music, the Foo Fighters released a new album on Sept. 15 to the surprise and delight of their fans.

The whole album is full of collaborations that largely depart from names you’d expect, and  “Make It Right” is no exception.

The album’s third track features Justin Timberlake on backup vocals. Listen for the “la, la, la’s” and you can definitely tell. The tonality of this song is the music equivalent of a badass leather-clad biker who secretly volunteers at a children’s hospital on the weekends. A majority of the song is a solid rock combination of killer riff, growling vocals and aggressive drums. That is until the chorus comes around and the backing harmonies let the sun peak through in an otherwise heavy song, making it a catchy tune to road trip or headbang to.  

When I first heard “The Sky is a Neighborhood,” I was obsessed immediately. I played it on repeat for weeks. The instrumentation and arrangement of the song almost makes you forget that the lyrics are kind of creepy. I mean, aliens banging on the ceiling of your home would be more than a little concerning. When you consider the band’s name is about WWII aliens, however, it becomes less surprising. Yet another amazing music video starring Grohl’s two oldest daughters Violet, 11, and Harper, 9, accompanies the song. If you haven’t had a chance to watch it yet, do it now.  

Skipping two songs down the tracklist, “Dirty Water” starts off as a twisted dreamy island tune. Laid-back acoustic guitar paired with sparse Beach Boys-flavored electric guitar play and Grohl’s soft voice is backed by angelic “oos and aahs” that sound like the sea sirens of folklore.

A little over halfway through the song, however, the song kicks it into overdrive. Everything is turned up to 11: tempo, Grohl’s signature abrasive vocals, drums, guitar gain and a crunchy saxophone played by friend and smooth jazz saxophonist Dave Koz. The result is a blend the Foo’s have never done before, yet pull off like the rockstars they are.    

“Sunday Rain” makes an appearance at No. 9 on the album and is a stand out for me in an album of new favorites. Sung by drummer Taylor Hawkins with Sir Paul McCartney behind the drum kit, it already had the beginnings of an amazing song. Hawkins’s voice is the perfect balance between raspy and strong nostalgic vocals. His style of vocalization and the way the song is mixed, blends new with undeniable classic rock flavors. The song lays down a solid baseline with heavy use of bass, high gain guitar, a great drum rhythm and killer lyrics and an explosive chorus that suits Hawkins’s voice to a T. The surprise disconnected piano solo at the end is a nice touch, too.

“Concrete and Gold” closes out the album that bears its name and is by far the darkest and heaviest. Until the chorus that is. The Foos enlisted the help of Boyz II Men vocalist Shawn Stockman to create the feel of a choir singing in the background, and man, did Stockman deliver. This song, which starts off dark and depressing, makes a surprising turn into a slow hopeful song about perseverance with a Pink Floyd-esque instrumentation peaking through.

With “Concrete and Gold,” the Foo Fighters showcase experimenting with music done right. There is plenty there on the album that Foo fans haven’t heard before, but quite a bit that is typical of the steady rocking band. Their collaborations aren’t evident. Instead, they are hidden almost like Disney easter eggs for fans to mull over as they listen. Long story short, the Foo Fighters deliver yet another stellar rock album that I will continue to be obsessed with for months on end. 

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