Friday, October 16th, 2009

Foo Fighters – Wheels

Don’t know if they’re headlining Reading & Leeds next year, but it wouldn’t really be a surprise, would it?…


Alfred Soto: A few years ago I stopped wondering how The Heights would follow up “How Do You Talk To An Angel?” Well, they finally did — with Nickelback guitar.

Edward Okulicz: No, no, no, please… The Foo Fighters’ best work showed serious smarts — melodic, textural and dynamic. Songs oozed with big hooks and didn’t just flip fast/slow, they had intensity and power and passion. Then they became just a big square wave of ROCK POWER: harder, not smarter. This has dialled back the volume, but is still awfully glum on the tune front.

Martin Skidmore: This is their 30th single, according to Wiki. I can’t remember what a single one of them sounds like, while sort of recognising that this new one kind of sounds like them, like the others.

Iain Mew: There’s not a single moment of this that is actually unpleasant in its own right or that I could pinpoint as being something bad. It’s just that it drags on and on and on without ever reaching anything good either, and that we already have one “Times Like These” slowly but surely sucking the life out of everything it comes into contact with.

Al Shipley: You can’t fault Dave Grohl and Butch Vig if they want to subvert expectations for the first time (give or take a Garbage guest spot) that they’ve recorded together since Nevermind. Still, it’s pretty funny that the 1991 they’ve chosen to evoke instead is Tom Petty circa Into the Great Wide Open.

John M. Cunningham: If you’re going to steal from Tom Petty, you could at least set your sights higher than “Learning to Fly.”

Anthony Easton: We went from “Rape Me” to “I Wish for Something Beautiful, I Wish for Something True” — for all of the hate and the crazy that Ms Love spews, at least she is not capable of that kind of Hallmark bullshit — and frankly the Fighters have not produced anything as great as any of Love’s albums.

Anthony Miccio: Neutered Nickelback or Richard Marx with balls, and I’m afraid of anyone who wants either. Let’s retroactively make Dave Grohl the ex-drummer for Buffalo Tom.

Hillary Brown: Um, suddenly my dad telling me on the phone the other day that he liked the Foo Fighters makes a lot more sense.

Chuck Eddy: Yet another slice of powerless powerpop from the most overrated rock band of the ’90s (and maybe the ’00s, too — I stopped keeping track). The guitars and melody in the chorus are not entirely mush, and the solo has a bit of anthemic swoop to it. And right, I’m sure they’re still nice guys. The verses really stink, though. And as usual, the rhythm section’s taking a nap.

Michaelangelo Matos: Wait: why aren’t the wheels on the ground in the first place? Don’t wheels usually propel you forward on land? What kind are these, steering wheels? Or something else altogether? Because judging from this they sure as hell aren’t grinding all that hard in Dave Grohl’s head, not that they ever really were in the first place.

Matt Cibula: Excellent — keeps my whole “there is no reason to pay attention to the Foo Fighters” shtick intact for another year.

27 Responses to “Foo Fighters – Wheels”

  1. i’m with ed; i stopped writing a blurb once I wrote “sounds like Don Henley” and then got sad.

  2. most overrated rock band of the ’90s (and maybe the ’00s, too

    And judging from the scores, looks like I’m now the one doing the overrating! Guess I’ve always had such low expectations for these guys that I was surprised to not totally hate this song. Or maybe it’s that I really have nothing against Don Henley (his music anyway) or Richard Marx (especially with balls) (not that I think this actually sounds enough like either.)

  3. And [i]Into The Great Wide Open[/i] is a pretty good album.

  4. Oh sure, it is. At the moment I’m kind of regretting that I unloaded my copy on the last trip to sell off used CDs. I’m happy someone else picked up on the “Learning To Fly” vibe, though.

  5. The idea that FF are the most overrated band of the 90s is insane, though. 99% of the people who like them are all “yeah, they’re okay.”

  6. If it wasn’t such a pointless exercise, I’d stack Full Moon Fever and ITGWO against the first album and Damn the Torpedoes anytime.

  7. […] Foo Fighters – “Wheels” (3) […]

  8. [i]I’m happy someone else picked up on the “Learning To Fly” vibe, though.[/i]

    The beat is pretty “you don’t know how it feels,” too.

  9. Just remembered that Grohl almost joined the heartbreakers after the death of kurt/firing of stan lynch, even backed them on snl

  10. idea that FF are the most overrated band of the 90s is insane

    I dunno, when you factor in “respect among the industry” as the nonembarrassing face of commerical rock or whatever, and the fact that they’ve never been even remotely distinctive or memorable — absolutely identify with Skidmore’s “30th single…can’t remember what a single one of them sounds like” — I don’t think it’d be hard to make a case. But as always, it depends on who’s doing the rating. And the more I ponder it (at least in retrospect, a decade after the ’90s ended), I can think of bands who’d give them a run for their overrated money after all (not gonna name them, though, because somebody will think those are insane, too.)

    Saying FMF or Into The Great Wide Open (which right, aren’t bad) are as good as Torpedoes is insane, however. (And the debut’s uneven, sure, but Petty never topped its best and maybe its second best song; depends how much a consistency fetishist you are, I guess.)

  11. nonembarrassing face of commerical rock

    Er, actually guess this would more be Green Day now, right? (But their ’90s were actually pretty good.)

  12. To be fair, I think the Foo Fighters’s run of singles to the first three albums (except the execrable “Stacked Actors”) is actually quite impressive – and the pick, “Everlong”, is the quintessential post-grunge power-pop single. I’ve pretty much disliked every FF single since “All My Life” with the curious exception of “Long Road To Ruin”. But, er, not as good as Green Day’s 90s output, no.

  13. Chuck, you enjoy Petty’s whine on those early records more than I do; I prefer it cushioned by Lynne-o-tronics and acoustic guitars.

  14. Well Alfred, you’re definitely right that I think his singing lost character later, but I’d probably attribute my prefering those early LPs just as much to their punch, sharper hooks, and what I perceive as their concision (though songs on the albums you like might technically be just as short) and less meandering songwriting. And more guitar power too, sure.

    Everlong”, is the quintessential post-grunge power-pop single

    Nah, I’d definitely take Local H’s “Bound For The Floor” or Ruth Ruth’s “Uninvited” or Urge Overkill’s “Sister Havana” or Collective Soul’s “Gel” or a whole pile of Stone Temple Pilots and Weezer singles (and probably some other stuff I’m not thinking of right now) over that one. Though I guess it depends how one defines “post-grunge” and “powerpop” (a category I’m not fully convinced includes “Everlong,” fwiw.)

  15. “Sister Havana” = power pop, but not post-grunge. “Somebody Else’s Body” might be post-grunge. “The Break” definitely is.
    “Gel” = definitely power pop – “Shine” was the last gasp of grunge! But they hadn’t quite got past it yet even though is way more.. not soft rock, not hard rock.. sort of medium rock. Let’s call it quartz.
    “Bound For The Floor” = too choppy and harsh to be power pop. Maybe if “Eddie Vedder” by LH were a bit faster.

    Not sure which STP singles could be power-pop, maybe “Big Bang Baby” or “Interstate Love Song” at a pinch. Weezer are probably a better call and “Buddy Holly” and “The Good Life” are definitely power-pop. Still take “Everlong” over all of them.

  16. STP powerpop (or at least singles that seem sufficiently powerful and poppy to my ears) = “Big Bang Baby,” “Tumble In The Rough,” “Unglued,” “Sour Girl,” maybe “Vasoline,” maybe “Trippin’ On A Hole In A Paper Heart.”

  17. Generally I think STP were too hazy to be power pop – cf really clear melodic lines of Foo Fighters and the big Weezer singles. That third STP album hovers on the brink though, they upped the tempo a lot for the most part but perversely submerged the tunes in this muddy druggy haze. “Sour Girl” is too quiet and downcast (The DeLeos’ slight country fetish comes out a bit much here too) for power pop though surely?

  18. OK, you’re right about “Soul Girl” — just relistened to it; I guess ’60s obsessives could call that chorus “flower pop” or something, though. (It plays more upbeat in my memory than in reality.) (Still, relistening now to “Everlong,” I think what most party-poops its pop for me is the weeping willow vocal; song just doesn’t seem all that catchy to me. Feels like just more dreary alt-rock. At least STP had glam in their bones.)

  19. Landing gear on an airplane, obviously, Matos.

  20. haha you’re right! should’ve realized.

  21. Power pop died when drama replaced sitcom as the preferred TV genre, causing indie-coded mainstream pop rock to supplant catchy radio punchy ditties on screens.

  22. But Party of Five had The Bodeans!

    (This better not be turning into a “Death Cab is the new Rembrandts theory…)

  23. “Closer To Free” came out in ’93 though, so its writing and recording is well before that particular watershed (which I’d still place some years after Po5 as that was actually quite a low-rating program despite its fame). (And yes, I remember hearing it on the radio in early ’94 so it did get some spins pre-Party).

  24. Actually, duh, the all-time kings of post-grunge powerpop were Everclear! No idea how they slipped my mind above. (Also, I’m pretty sure I hear more power and pop in the Foos’ “Monkey Wrench” than in “Everlong,” fwiw.)

  25. Wouldn’t “Celebrity Skin” count as post-grunge power pop? Or “You Oughta Know” or “Everywhere” or “Come Clean” or “Since U Been Gone”?

  26. Definitely, sort of, not quite, no, umm yes probably if you think about it.

    Everclear were, for two albums anyway, fine purveyors of post grunge power-pop.

    Back to the Foos, “Monkey Wrench” is probably a better archetype of power pop but the song kinda sucks and was the first time you could hear the seeds of their later uninterestingness – and that shouty middle eight bit was so unnecessary. Underrated Foo Fighters power pop single: “Generator”.

  27. I actually had to google “Come Clean” to figure out who did it. Am I lame, or what? Still not sure I’ve ever heard the song. Though I’ll try to. (I’m torn about Alanis, though. If she’s post-grunge powerpop, why not 4 Non Blondes? Or Spin Doctors, for that matter, or Third Eye Blind? Or jeez, ’90s Soul Asylum or Gin Blossoms, come to think of it.) (And if I had to pick a powerpop classic by Hole, I’d probably go with “Malibu.”)