Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Soundtrack to Silence: The Foo Fighters and TAKS

Wasting LightFor those whose orbits intersect with the public school system, I am sure you know that last week was TAKS.  All teachers are affected in some way or another, resulting in a week-long ordeal of weird schedules and strictly enforced silence.  Of all the people in the school, I was scheduled to administer the oral math exam.  That’s right, I’m the band director – give me a fraction and I see a time signature!
Anyway, the day was long and quiet, at least as far as actual acoustic phenomena.  In my head, however, it was a much different story.  The Foo Fighter’s new album has been in circulation in the car, and the last thing I heard before heading into the school was this beast of a tune.

It was real hard to stay still in a quiet room with that going on permanent repeat in my head all morning, especially after the morning coffee.  The urge to stand on tables and spastically air guitar was nearly unbearable. 

Although I also think that all of the Foo Fighters albums are at least good, their previous release Echoes, Silence, Patience, and Grace was perhaps one of the finest hard rock records released in 00s.  It is not only a brilliant album from beginning to end it, like The Colour and the Shape long before it, represents a significant stride in the Foo Fighter’s progress and overall maturity.  A difficult album to follow up, I think.

Wasting Light does not change the formula.  Like the majority of their work, its accessible, energetic, and precise, and it will most likey stay in rotation for awhile, but as a whole I am not sure that it will dislodge my Foo favorites in the long run.  It is, however, an intentionally raw and profoundly melodic album that makes clear the distinction between focused anger and chaotic rage.  Although the album presents itself as relatively loud, the accessible but often unpredictable song forms on Wasting Light also feature a significant amount of breathing space, which, ultimately, gives them more explosive potential.

I have said it elsewhere, but I think it bears repeating.  If you would have told me that one of the musicians responsible for "Smells Like Teen Spirit," the quintessential anthem for all disenfranchised teens in the early 90s, would eventually keep the flame of well-crafted hard rock alive, I would not have believed you.  I would have been even more incredulous if you told me the drummer would be the one to do it, but Grohl has seemingly evolved into a 21st century mashup of Lemmy and Phil Collins.  Can’t say that I am disappointed in the least.

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