Sound City | Movie review
Dave Grohl salutes a legendary studio—and analog recording.
You could fill a benefit-concert lineup with the rock & roll heavyweights who appear in Sound City, the directorial debut of Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl. Everyone from Tom Petty to Neil Young to Stevie Nicks drops in to wax nostalgic about the titular space, a rundown L.A. studio where some of the most beloved albums of the last three decades were recorded. Nirvana’s Nevermind, featuring Grohl on drums, may be the most seminal of the bunch.
Resembling a particularly star-studded VH1 special, Sound City consists mainly of anecdotes, with big-name artists gushing about the building’s uniquely desirable acoustics and sharing fond memories of its devoted staff. The wistful reflections prove less fascinating than the shop talk; when getting into the nitty-gritty of tapes and tracks, Grohl makes a strong case for music docs directed by musicians. At its core, the film is a reverent eulogy for analog recording techniques. “Pro Tools was the death knell,” one interviewee laments, articulating the way audio software helped drive Sound City out of business.
Grohl’s affable personality shines through occasionally, as when he subtitles his own goofball reaction shots during an interview with the creator of the Neve console. That particular hunk of hardware drove many bands to the legendary studio; Grohl eventually purchases the equipment, testing it out with some famous friends during an extended, last-act jam session. Perhaps he should have saved his money and shot Sound City on celluloid instead. With the rocker now moving into cinema, he’s got a new digital revolution to rage against. (Available on Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, iTunes and VUDU.)