The new Foo Fighters album SONIC HIGHWAYS is out now, accompanied by an HBO series of the same name. Each episode sees the band recording a new song in a different city: Chicago, Washington D.C, Nashville, Austin, L.A, New Orleans, Seattle and New York. I’ve had the album for a couple of weeks now and I dig it; not sure if I LOVE it just yet, as any good album takes some time to make its way into the “Favourites” column. Alas, this is not a review of the new album. This is the Vigilante Detective ranking of all the Foos studio albums.
1) There’s Nothing Left To Lose (1999)
I can tell you’re already surprised, “Wait, isn’t the Colour and the Shape supposed to be at the top of the list”, and normally it would be. But it’s the 3rd Foo Fighters effort “There’s Nothing Left To Lose” that is my absolute favourite Foo album. It is without a doubt the poppiest and catchiest album the band has every done, but it doesn’t lack in the riff department either. This album came out when I was in highschool and immediately made its way into my heart. From the riff rockers “Stacked Actors”, “Breakout”, “Gimme Stitches” and “Generator” to the softer but still amazing “Aurora”, “Next Year”, “Ain’t It The Life” and “M.I.A”; it’s all there to enjoy. Dave Grohl’s voice on this album is clear and melodic, and it’s the only Foo album the band recorded as a 3 piece. Not to mention the CD came with a press on FF tattoo! The Foos can keep putting out albums but they will never top this beauty!
2) The Colour and the Shape (1997)
This is the monster, the BEAST! “The Colour and The Shape” gave us the modern Foo Fighters, as well as a never ending parade of hits. “Monkey Wrench”, “Everlong”, “My Hero” are all here and accounted for, padded out by the best album tracks EVER. “Wind Up”, “Up In Arms”, “My Poor Brain”, “Hey! Johnny Park”, “February Stars”…I might as well write out the entire tracklist for this rock classic. It didn’t make the top of my list but it’s damn close.
3) Foo Fighters (1995)
The first Foo album is kind of an anomaly. It was recorded solo by Dave Grohl after the breakup of Nirvana. He did everything: drums, bass, guitar and vocals and called it Foo Fighters. It was only after that he recruited a band to perform it live. Being that this is essentially a solo album, the songwriting is a little different from follow up efforts. But it’s that different form of songwriting that makes this album so appealing: fuzzed out riffs, droney vocals, and pounding drums. Kinda sounds like Nirvana but better. It also had it’s fair share of hits: “Alone + Easy Target”, “Big Me”, and “I’ll Stick Around” all led the foundation for the Foo future.
4) In Your Honor (2005)
This album marked the 2nd phase of the Foo Fighters chronology. An epic double album with one side electric and the other acoustic. The electric disc is fairly standard Foo Fighters: “No Way Back”, “DOA”, and “Resolve” are all healthy Foo hits. But it’s really the 2nd acoustic disc that makes the band shine. The songs are quiet but powerful and shows the band’s ability to write any kind of song. Highlights on the acoustic disc include “What If I Do”, “Miracle” and “Over and Out”.
5) Wasting Light (2011)
This is one of the strongest single disc efforts the Foos have done since their late 90s heyday. Recorded straight to tape, “Wasting Light” has the strongest lineup of songs from the Foos in a long time. All the songs rock and it’s a tight tracklist: “Bridge Burning”, “White Limo”, and “Arlandria” are the standouts. This album is the standard to hold all future Foo albums against. The new album “Sonic Highways” is a solid effort, but it doesn’t quite reach the level of rock that this album attained only 3 years prior.
6) One By One (2002)
At the time of its release, “One By One” was hailed as one of the great Foos albums. In hindsight, both the band and fans have seemed to turn their backs on it. I think the criticisms leveled at this album are a little harsh. It may have its share of filler tracks, but it also has “All My Life”, “Low”, “Have It All” and “Times Like These” on it. The first half of the album alone justifies its existence, but the latter half is for Foo diehards only; no classics to be found here.
7) Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace (2007)
The band tried to balance the dual “electric/acoustic” direction of “In Your Honor” with an album where the genres met eachother halfway. This record is probably the Foo Fighters’ most experimental; “The Ballad of the Beaconsfield Miners”, “Summer’s End”, “Home” and “Statues” kinda take the band into Eagles territory, but it’s offset by great rockers like “The Pretenders”, “Let It Die”, and “Long Road To Ruin”. A great album, but a little uneven and thus it’s low spot on this list!
8) Sonic Highways (2014)
Only time will tell if the new Foo Fighters album will climb up this list. I love it just like any other Foo Fighters album, but it’s pretty short at only 8 songs. And since every track reflects the city where it was recorded, the lyrics can be a little on the nose. It takes the documentary vibe of “Sound City” and applies it to new Foos songs, and it’s good, but we’ll see it if turns out to be truly great.