Monday, April 10, 2006

Foo Fighters: In Your Honor Disc 2

Track 1 of the acoustic disc of In Your Honor, "Still" is a very quiet number that lives up to its name. Gorhl's vocals almost sound like he is whispering and a simple guitar riff is backed up by synthesizers and piano alone. In fact its not until half way through the song that the drums and bass make their presence felt, making "Still" a dreamlike, mellow first track.

Track 2, "What if I Do?" continues to lull rather than drive, drawing in the listener through melody rather than rhythym. Grohl's lyrical sense, hinted at even in his driving rock hits is clearly on display here in a song that can best be described as melancholy.

Track 3, "Miracle" is less lyric and has more of a beat than the previous two tracks, using rhythym guitar, drums and piano to provide a solid background to Grohl's vocals from the first beat. After the first two tracks, which were somewhat similar, "Miracle" is a welcome show that the band doesn't intend Disc 2 to be for dozing. This track also sees a wider range of instruments, with strings added into the mix to provide a different color to the musical palette.

Track 4, "Another Round" begins with Grohl and guitar alone and has a very old-school country-western vibe to it. Drums are minimal here, yet "Another Round" still has more rhythym and drive than any other track on Disc 2.

Like a painter experimenting with different colors, different brushes, each track on Disc 2 explores new territory and "Another Round" is no exception. Here the new colors are courtesy of accordion and harmonica, further reinforcing the back-porch quality of this crooning number.

Track 5, "Friend of a Friend" might be the weakest track of either disc. Although the musicianship is first rate, the number of mellow tracks has been a little too high and they all begin to run together. In terms of energy, the middle of the disc is not where you want a low energy point (of course, do you want one of those anywhere).

Track 6, "Over and Out" begins quiet but with a much higher intensity level than track 5. Its like a change in the taste of the air before a thunderstorm. And when the intensity rises in the song, you find yourself holding your breath.

Unfortunately, what "Over and Out" delivers is more of a warm shower than a thunderstorm. Its a fine song, comforting and with a genuine glow about it. Unfortunately what the album needed at this point was a jolt of energy, something to stop the listener from just drifting.

Track 7, "On the Mend" begins with more energy and its a welcome change of pace. The song is rhythymically more complex than the last few tracks and is almost instantly engaging. While drums and base provide a framework, Grohl's vocals and two guitars in counterpoint draw the listener into the track and make it a track you'll want to listen to again almost immediately to pick out the subtleties you might have missed the first time through.

Track 8, "Virginia Moon" features a jazz-like duet between Grohl and Nora Jones. With Jones' sweet voice mingling with Grohl's gravel and a nifty guitar solo, "Virginia Moon" manages to be assured and classy without being pushy.

Though the song ends with the duet singing "good night", you won't be ready for bed after this song (unless its at the end of a romantic evening with your partner). In fact what you will probably be in the mood for is another listen.

Track 9, "Cold Day in the Sun" is a great track, easily the best track on Disc 2 and has a lot of drive and energy. In fact this is the track that best represents the Foo Fighters' usual sound, only with acoustic instruments.

This is a track you could easily see the band playing with their normal (plugged) alignment on tour. It also has a great acoustic guitar solo, something the world is always in need of. After lagging in energy in the middle of the disc, tracks 8 and 9 will have you tapping your toes again.

As if determined to go out with a bang (always better than a whimper), Track 10, "Razor" continues the trend of higher energy, more complex music. In fact this track has the best guitar work by far on the acoustic disc and is a duet between Grohl and guitar.


In Your Honor serves up notice that the next ten years of the Foo Fighters might just be more interesting than the first ten and that the band isn't going to be pigeon holed into one little cubicle of the music industry.

It also shows the band with a lot of guts, and more musicality than most listeners have given them credit for.

Disc 1 is a driving rock album that might just be the band's best, well deserving of its Grammy nomination for Best Rock Album.

Disc 2, while suffering from a lull in the middle, shows the band stretching, and capable of more than we have seen thus far from them as a rock band. Though not as strong as the first disc, it contains a surprising number of gems for the band's first foray into acoustic music.

Grade (overall): A-
Grade (Disc 1): A
Grade (Disc 2): B+

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