Sound City (2013)


Get an instrument, learn it, start jamming, start recording, and make money. That’s about it in a nutshell, my friends.

This is a rockumentary about a Los Angeles recording studio called Sound City Studios. To most, it may not seem like much since it’s old, fragile, and doesn’t feature all of the top electronics that most artists live off of today. However, to some, it’s the special place where they all got their start and found out that not only do they love music, but they love recording it as well. Bands like Fleetwood Mac, Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, and many more have all played there, but it’s Foo Fighters leading-man, Dave Grohl, who takes the stage and sets out to bring back the old-school studio for the whole world to appreciate now, in the 21st Century.

To be honest, as much of a music fan as I am, I had no friggin’ clue about the Sound City Studios, it’s significance, how many people played and recorded there, and what type of history came passing through. I never really payed much attention to that in the first place, but you’d think that such a landmark studio in the music industry would be very known by now, right? Well, yes and no.

See, it’s yes because the studio has recorded some of the greatest albums of the past century and continued to do so, up until the late-80’s. That’s where the no comes into play. Everything was all fine and dandy with Sound City Studios for the longest time because they were all about a no frills-type of producing. There was no added sounds, effects, or mixers. Everything you heard, is exactly the way it was meant to sound like and not only was that awesome for the artist’s that were able to record that way, it was also awesome for the fans considering they were able to hear everything in the coolest, and most realistic way possible. It feels as if you are right there, listening to all of the band-members just jam their hearts out, without the addition of synths, keyboards, and special-effects that should have been just for the movies, not the music.

Oh, that Dave.
Oh, that Dave.

But as mighty-high as everybody was around that time, the world started to change, and therefore, music followed the path as well. Once people started becoming obsessed with music that used computers and digital-effects to make the music sound crisper and more perfect, then Sound City found it’s problems because nobody wanted to be around a bunch of people that rocked, and didn’t have a synthesizer with them. Because honestly, let’s all face it: everything needs a synth, right? Hell to the no! However, my word doesn’t count because everybody back in those 80’s, found that it was the right way to go about their music, and therefore, Sound City started to fall-out of tune (pun intended) with the rest of the world and the audience.

Sound City found some life with a little band named Nirvana, who rocked their shells off the right way and enjoyed every piece of it. Then more bands came in, but it was only a short time until life for Sound City started to fall apart, and then, the unthinkable happened: they ended-up closing. That’s right, one of the premier recording-studios of all-time, had to close-up due to a changing world that was more concerned with poppy songs that sound as if they came off a Mac, rather than a pure bread, gritty song coming from the fingertips, mouths, and energy of the artists’. It’s just the way music was made to be played, recorded, heard, and sent out to the mainstream. Sadly, that’s not how it’s been forever, and that’s where Mr. Dave Grohl comes in.

Sorry for the whole history of Sound City Studios, but I feel as if it was necessary since I knew little to nothing about it going in and, in case you couldn’t tell, I feel like I know everything about it going out. This is the directorial debut of Dave Grohl and if you know who he is, basically, the man’s a musical-genius. Some cooler, hipper-types may disagree with me here, but the guy knows his music, he knows how to do it right, and most of all, he knows how to stay loyal and respectful to his roots, where he came from, and where the music that he loves to play and make money off of came from as well. The guy loves music and for that, you have to love him. He’s the man and it’s a perfect-opportunity for him to direct this movie because let’s think about it: who else could do this?!??! Nobody, that’s who!!

Other than making this a long, extended episode of a bunch of people reminiscing on the good old days and how they don’t make ’em like they used to, Grohl goes one step further. Yeah, he talks about the history, the significance, the figures, the moments, and all of the purrty things about Sound City, but he shows us that it isn’t about the old days and how awesome they were, but more like how much the love of music can still generate within each and every one of us, if we decide to take a page out of Sound City’s book and collaborate together in a way that’s real, and more down to Earth.

Why does that matter though? Well, it’s simple. Being a musician myself, I totally know how it feels to just rock out with your socks out to some crazy jams, with all of your pals, not give a damn about the rest of the world, and just feel all of the emotions and heart that goes into jamming. It’s been awhile since the last time I picked-up the drum sticks, but I can assure you; that feeling always goes through me no matter where I am, or when. It’s always there, and it’s something special that mostly all musicians have, regardless of what type of music, he or she plays. That’s why I can totally understand and relate to where Grohl is coming from when he talks about making music, the good old-fashioned way, and not settling for this laid-back, computer shizz that almost every winner at the MTV Video Music Awards is taking prime-advantage of. Grohl even does go that far to talk shit on how the music bizz has sort of gone downhill with all of the computer-crap, but nonetheless, like the true gentleman he is, he keeps it short, sweet, and never points the finger at anybody in-particular. He just knows that certain people shouldn’t be allowed to sing and play music, all because they have a computer helping them out. Is he wrong? No. But does he have a point? Hell yeah!

Stevie Nicks may be crazy, but if Dave likes her, she's gotta be alright, right?
Stevie Nicks may be crazy, but if Dave likes her, she’s gotta be alright, right?

The reason this movie works as well as it does, for a music-junkie, is because it taps into that feeling of music that I love so much and it’s great to see those same feelings go through all of these musicians as well. Many people in here show-up from past and present times, like Sir Paul McCartney, Trent Reznor, Josh Homme, John Fogerty, Rick fuckin’ Springfield, Tom Petty, and the man of them all, Krist Novoselic, who seems more than happy to jam with his old, Nirvana buddies. Growing-up and loving all of these guys, you could imagine the type of honor it must have been for yours truly to get a chance and see them all at their finest hours and it just never really went away for me. I wanted to call my buddies up, jam, rock on, and forget about everything else! That’s the way music is meant to be played, and always should be.

As a movie-junkie, though, there does leave some to be desired, especially from Mr. Grohl himself. You can kind of tell that this is his first film, because certain-aspects of this flick don’t add up well with the others. There’s moments where it seems like the movie wants to be a comedy about the golden days, then it gets serious, then it gets technical to the point of where we have no idea what the fuck they’re talking about, and some people get more focus then you’d expect. It’s not a bad direction from Grohl, in fact, it’s actually very, very good, but I have to be fair and say that he does leave a lot to be desired. However, I was so able to get past all of that movie crap and just live it up with all of these musicians, what they feel, and how they feel it. That’s what life is all about, but most of all: that’s what music is, and forever always will be, about.

Consensus: If you love documentaries about subjects you never knew about, and love to get swept-up in everything on-display; then you’re going to really like Sound City. However, if you love music, the way it makes you feel when you play it, and all of the history of it and what makes it so significant, then you’re going to practically fall in love with Sound City. Thank you, Dave Grohl. Thank you.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

Take that, modern-technology!
Take that, modern-technology!
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13 comments

  1. I’m eager to see this film as I am a music fan and I want to hear the full version of “Mantra” that could be a monster-super group in the making. Dave Grohl, Trent Reznor, and Josh Homme. Oh…..

    • I want to hear everything from this movie. It seems like everybody was having a ball when they were making this music, and that’s the way it should be.

  2. rock out with your socks out? wait a minute are you into christian rock or something? lol

    I have heard nothing but good things about this film and look forward to checking it out in the near future. Nice write up Dan.

    • Haha hey dude, I gotta keep it PG over here. Thanks! Give it a look, I feel like it’s definitely worth the watch if you like music and movies together.

  3. Really looking forward to seeing this. Massive Foo Fighters fan and, if it’s possible, bigger fan of Dave Grohl. (Did you read the AMA he did on reddit? Man’s such a legend.) I love my music, but not an afficianado as such, but still, this documentary is kinda screaming at me to get watched.

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