Fee Fi Foo fum, CDs tend to make you hum

Foo Fighters
“Echoes, Silence, Patience, & Grace”
3.5 out of 5 stars

I’m going to be completely and brutally honest on this one: I’ve always really liked the Foo Fighters. Dave Grohl and the rest of his coterie of ne’er-do-wells have consistently been one of my favorite mainstream groups since they late ’90s. But the fact of the matter is that all of its albums sound mostly the same. While I can’t imagine these guys will ever suprise us, they have once again put together a solid album.

The first single off the album, “The Pretender” is a typical Foo Fighters single in the same vein as songs like 2002’s “All My Life:” straight forward modern era alt-rock with Grohl’s frenetic vocals. Gil Norton, the producer from 1997’s “The Colour and The Shape,” also returns on this album. Where the band has really set itself apart from the other mainstream acts over the years is in its ability to pull back and not always drive ahead blindly. The subtle melodies and harmonies of tracks like “Summer’s End” and “Statues” are good examples of this.

Detractors could say that it’s just another similar album from a band who individually aren’t anything to sneeze at. But when it comes down to it, it’s another good record from a band that continues to prove that mainstream rock isn’t dead yet.

Key Tracks: “The Pretender,” “Cheer Up Boys (Your Makeup Is Running),” “Summer’s End”

“Once Upon A Time In The West”
3.5 out of 5 stars

On its last album, Hard-Fi frontman Richard Archer almost literally had a license to print money. Their debut LP was produced for under $2,000 and the band eventually shot from nowhere all the way up to No. 1 on the U.K. album charts. This, its second album, needed only one week to do so.

But in my humble opinion this is the new sound of British pop, so to speak. For those of you who don’t know, the band puts out a sound that’s a mix of post-punk and indie rock with an urban flair. Meanwhile, Archer’s lyrical structures have a very distinct down and out suburban edge with the recurring theme of hope for the future. It’s the band that Damon Albarn, frontman of Blur and Gorillaz, never created and comes across as a hybrid of the two. Certainly the Albarn nods are huge on this record like they were on the band’s last album.

This is darker than the band’s debut offering and a bit more unrestrained, charting new territory musically for the quartet from Staines. It’s not as immediately catchy as the first album, but when all is considered it’s still a solid offering that avoids the sophomore slump and helps establish the group as a name to be reckoned with.

Key Tracks: “Suburban Knights,” “Little Angel,” “I Shall Overcome”