Sound City: Real to Reel

  • Record Label: RCA
  • Release Date: Mar 12, 2013

Generally favorable reviews - based on 15 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 15
  2. Negative: 1 out of 15
Buy On
  1. Mar 12, 2013
    Sound City: Real to Reel sounds exactly like what it is: a bunch of old rockers jamming in a studio. Often, this is quite enjoyable, as they're all excellent musicians playing through a top-notch board, but the songs do have a tendency to drift away from the point, sounding like exceedingly well-executed first drafts.
  2. Mar 13, 2013
    The result plays out surprisingly cohesive, sounding like a new Foo Fighters LP with special guests, or a nonmetal version of Grohl's Probot.
  3. Mar 12, 2013
    On the whole, this is an interesting experiment in the creative process, as well as the values of musicianship and friendship.
  4. Classic Rock Magazine
    Jun 21, 2013
    It's an undeniably intriguing and often inspired collection, shining with genuine heart and humanity. [May 2013, p.86]
  5. 50
    Sound City: Real to Reel has its highlights, but the bad songs are hard to justify. Some collaborators don’t mesh with others, and all of them suffer from embarrassing lyrics.
  6. Mar 12, 2013
    While Sound City Studios was unforgettable, this glorified jam session is not. It’s uneven and top-heavy.
  7. Kerrang!
    Apr 12, 2013
    The highs far outweigh the lows. [9 Mar 2013, p. 50]
  8. Magnet
    Apr 16, 2013
    For the most part, he succeeds. [No. 97, p.60]
  9. 70
    The album ends up as a tribute to each of the individual singers rather than Sound City itself.
  10. Mar 13, 2013
    It’s too bad that many of the other collaborations here feel as generic and laborious as a ProTools tutorial.
  11. 60
    Real to Reel would have benefited from more diversity.
  12. Mar 12, 2013
    Sometimes the songs seem like works in progress--"Heaven and All" is just Grohl and two members of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club riding a screaming glam-punk riff, while "Cut Me Some Slack," by Paul McCartney and the surviving members of Nirvana, isn't much more than a Macca grunge-guitar blowout. But the sound of real rock created in real time is part of the appeal.
  13. Mar 12, 2013
    Real to Reel is otherwise lacking in the kind of tension that's required to produce an album that's more than the sum of its talented parts.
  14. Mar 12, 2013
    Perhaps due to understandably lower expectations, Sound City has a better batting average when Grohl is collaborating with a lesser tier of legend--or with no legend at all.
  15. Mar 14, 2013
    Some tracks (the Rick Springfield-augmented The Man That Never Was) sound like Foos-by-numbers. However, Grohl and Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic have coaxed a jewel from Paul McCartney: the raging, White Album-ish Cut Me Some Slack must be the rawest thing he's recorded in over 40 years.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 19 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 6
  2. Negative: 0 out of 6
  1. Mar 15, 2013
    While I don't agree with the overly mixed (to negative) reviews I've seen for this, I also don't agree with the overly positive ones either.While I don't agree with the overly mixed (to negative) reviews I've seen for this, I also don't agree with the overly positive ones either. There are only 2 tracks on here I gladly skip (Time Slowing Down and From Can to Can't) but the remaining 8 songs I enjoy and don't skip, I enjoy because they're effectively Foo Fighters songs with a couple of high profile friends chipping in. For example, The Man That Never Was just sounds like a Wasting Light b-side. Now that's not a bad thing by any means, but I feel that for this project, Grohl and co. should've tried to create a different sound from the one he's made signature with the Foo Fighters. But I guess that's expected with getting Taylor Hawkins, Pat Smear and Nate Mendel to work on this. (The lack of Chris Shiflett on this surprised me a little.) It comes as no surprise that, any tracks with the magnificent Alain Johannes involved, are among the strongest on the album. All in all, I would recommend this album as I enjoyed it immensely (bar Time Slowing Down and From Can to Can't). Just don't expect anything more than a Foo Fighters' b-sides record. Full Review »
  2. Apr 15, 2013
    I’m happy to say that this turned out just as awesome as you’d expect from a project like this. Considering the album’s extensive roster, II’m happy to say that this turned out just as awesome as you’d expect from a project like this. Considering the album’s extensive roster, I think a track-by-track analysis is the best way to go about this review. Opening track Heaven and All (basically Black Rebel Motorcycle Club with Grohl on drums) is a heavy, driving riff-rocker that really starts the album off with a bang. Time Slowing Down (feat Masters of Reality’s Chris Goss & the rhythm section of Rage Against the Machine) seamlessly trades off between dreamy & almost psychedelic verses & a Foo Fighters-esque chorus/guitar lead. You Can’t Fix This (feat Stevie Nicks, Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins & Wallflowers keyboardist Rami Jaffee) has all the makings of a great Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac song; incredibly catchy melodies, poetic lyrics centered around betrayal & the end of relationships, guitar leads that are both jangly & twangy, and Nicks’ distinct raspy vocals in top form. The Man That Never Was (basically Foo Fighters fronted by Rick Springfield) is an angsty hard rock song with a multitude of awesome riffs, and finds Springfield in a much more edgy mode than we ever saw on Jessie’s Girl. Your Wife Is Calling (feat Hawkins, Fear frontman Lee Ving, Queens of the Stone Age bassist Alain Johannes & Foo Fighters/Germs/Nirvana guitarist Pat Smear) is admittedly a song that took a while to grow on me. It has a hardcore punk-like feel, goofy & repetitive lyrics, and throughout it rides a very odd groove that I can barely tell the time signature of. It’s an oddball of a track but by the 3rd listen I was hooked. From Can to Can’t (feat Slipknot/Stone Sour frontman Corey Taylor, Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen & Kyuss/The Obsessed bassist Scott Reeder) is a dark moody epic about what I’m interpreting as being told from the point of view of a man who’s questioning his faith in a higher power after a loved one dies. It does a great job of building throughout too, with the instrument getting heavier & Taylor’s vocals getting more emotionally-driven over the course of its 5-minute length. Centipede (feat QOTSA frontman Josh Homme, Johannes & Goss) is a much more acoustic-based track than the other ones here, being driven throughout by a quickly-picked guitar riff & switching into rock mode about halfway in. Honestly though this is probably the only song I have a gripe with; while it’s in general very well-written, to me the acoustic first half runs about a minute too long & eventually loses my interest until the 2nd half. Still, it’s overall a very good track. A Trick with No Sleeve (feat Homme & Johannes) is another solid rock track, even if there aren’t really any compliments I can give it I haven’t already given to other ones here. Cut Me Some Slack (feat Smear, Nirvana bassist Krist Noveselic & Paul McCartney) was the first impression we got of the album and man, was it a good one. It features a killer riff/groove & Sir Paul wailing his geriatric butt off over his heaviest song since Helter Skelter. If I Were Me (feat Jaffee, former Jayhawks violinist Jessy Greene & renowned session drummer Jim Keltner) is the first of Grohl’s 2 lead vocal performances on the album, though neither this nor Mantra (feat. Homme & Nine Inch Nails’/How to Destroy Angels’ Trent Reznor) sound like the average Foo Fighters song. The former is a beautifully reflective ballad driven by a steady vocal delivery & harmonic-tinged acoustic guitar riff. The latter is an ambitious sprawling 8-minute alt-rock track that keeps a nice groove throughout driven by spot-on drumming & a very catchy bassline by Homme, and it features both Grohl & Reznor on lead vocals in various points throughout the song, a duet I’m pretty sure many a rock fan has been waiting for for about a decade now. Like From Can to Can’t, Mantra does a great job at building, only here it’s done a lot more gradually and subtly, and as a result it creates a lot of tension & leads to a fantastic climax. It’s overall a great ending to a great album, which you’d expect with such an alt-rock dream trio collaborating on a track. Overall this is a very impressive album, which I frankly wasn’t surprised by considering the people Grohl managed to get together for this. It’s easily a contender for Album of the Year in my book. Top 5 tracks: You Can’t Fix This, Mantra, Cut Me Some Slack, From Can to Can’t, Man That Never Was. Score: 91/100 Full Review »
  3. Mar 17, 2013
    I am not sure what the "critics" were expecting here and frankly, I do not care. For what amounts to a collection of jam sessions, most ofI am not sure what the "critics" were expecting here and frankly, I do not care. For what amounts to a collection of jam sessions, most of these songs are better than what a lot of bands put out today as singles. I would not label any of the tracks as true duds, even if there are a few I will probably skip during further listening but I think the key here is that this does warrant further listening. It had the potential to be a throw-away soundtrack but shines like a lost Foo Fighters album with powerful help from other artists. The beautiful thing about that is what is missing the annoying songs that are instantly pop-crafted radio-friendly hits. It seems like every Foo album has a song or two that I really do not like at all and they happen to be the ones that are overplayed on the radio. It definitely warrants a listen to the casual fan, but if you really enjoy the deeper cuts where Dave lets his rock n roll spirit go wild, you will thoroughly enjoy this album. Full Review »