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Sound City (2013)



Average Rating: 7.7/10
Reviews Counted: 41
Fresh: 41 | Rotten: 0

Smart, affectionate, and unabashedly sincere, Sound City pairs a great soundtrack with a well-argued ode to one of rock 'n' roll's most fondly remembered bygone eras.


Average Rating: 7.8/10
Critic Reviews: 17
Fresh: 17 | Rotten: 0

Smart, affectionate, and unabashedly sincere, Sound City pairs a great soundtrack with a well-argued ode to one of rock 'n' roll's most fondly remembered bygone eras.



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Average Rating: 4.3/5
User Ratings: 5,608

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Movie Info

Deep in the San Fernando Valley, amidst rows of dilapidated warehouses, was rock n' roll's best kept secret: Sound City. America's greatest unsung recording studio housed a one-of-a-kind console, and as its legend grew, seminal bands and artists such as Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young, Rick Springfield, Tom Petty, Metallica and Nirvana all came out to put magic to tape. Directed by Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters) and featuring interviews and performances from the iconic musicians who recorded some

Apr 7, 2014


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All Critics (41) | Top Critics (17) | Fresh (41) | Rotten (0)

In Sound City, a raucous yet sweetly romantic documentary, dinosaurs do indeed rock the Earth again.

January 1, 2014 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Dave Grohl's terrific new doc, Sound City, profiles the studio where some of the greatest music of the past four decades was born.

December 16, 2013 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A joyous ode to a lost era of music making that will delight music buffs and those who appreciate a well-done documentary.

February 21, 2013 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A cocky, affectionate and very musical documentary that may make its central point a few times too often.

February 7, 2013 Full Review Source: Newsday
Top Critic IconTop Critic

In his directing debut, Dave Grohl shows the instincts of a real filmmaker. Sound City hits you like a shot in the heart.

February 2, 2013 Full Review Source: Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Even if you don't know what [Grohl's] talking about when he says a room gives "great decay," or when somebody else extols "24-track sensibility," the passion of this project really pops right out of the groove.

February 1, 2013 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[Grohl] has great fun sweeping through the historic parade of latter-day rock royalty whose hit records came out of the place.

February 4, 2014 Full Review Source: SF Weekly
SF Weekly

Sound City is a fun ride for diehard fans of most any brand of rock and roll.

January 1, 2014 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

A sincere tribute to the tape-based dumpy Sound City.

December 19, 2013 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

When getting into the nitty-gritty of tapes and tracks, Grohl makes a strong case for music docs directed by musicians.

December 16, 2013 Full Review Source: Time Out Chicago
Time Out Chicago

Dave Grohl shares a lot of stories in Sound City, and what's most impressive is that for a first-time filmmaker he tells these tales remarkably well.

December 16, 2013 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

It's (a) part documentary homage to the defunct Los Angeles rock-and-roll studio where Grohl's earlier band, Nirvana, cut its breakout album, 'Nevermind'; and (b) part self-promotion for the DVD release of this very film and its companion CD soundtrack.

April 15, 2013 Full Review Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

It cheapens itself by hitting some self-congratulatory notes, but until it does it covers some fascinating rock 'n' roll ground.

April 11, 2013 Full Review Source: Times-Picayune

For those about to rock, we salute you. A fond acknowledgement of a special time when a studio produced several albums that signaled key moments in music history.

March 29, 2013 Full Review Source: The Popcorn Junkie
The Popcorn Junkie

An infectious appreciation for rock and roll lingers past the somewhat self-satisfied finale.

March 19, 2013 Full Review Source: CraveOnline

There's something rock about the film's messy, nostalgic imperfection.

March 15, 2013 Full Review Source: Irish Times
Irish Times

Fascinating, as rock history, thrilling as rock entertainment.

March 5, 2013 Full Review Source: Movie Nation
Movie Nation

Grohl has ... created both a fascinating account of the process of analogue recording and a tender tribute to the rock bands of yesteryear.

February 19, 2013 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

A rich, kaleidoscopic, rock music documentary.

February 8, 2013 Full Review Source: East Bay Express
East Bay Express

A total blast to watch, sustaining momentum with a sharp admiration for the thrilling highs and lows of the complex and its rich history with some of the biggest artists around.

February 7, 2013 Full Review Source:

It's a sprawling documentary that laments what's been lost in analog recording without ignoring the benefits of technology.

February 5, 2013 Full Review Source: Paste Magazine
Paste Magazine

Loving doc about a legendary recording studio is one of the very best-and quite essential-movies about rock music ever made.

February 4, 2013 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

Audience Reviews for Sound City

Dave Grohl's passion and gratitude is clear to see from his directional debut and tribute to Sound City Studios. He recorded Nevermind there, indeed many great rock band recorded many a great album in the studio there over a thirty year period. Sadly, the film documents the history but also the end of the studios existence. Grohl has got a few Rock and roll friends, all of which turn up to do their talking head spot out of similar passion and gratitude but also because of the studios historical and cultural importance. Here is where the message gets mixed. Grohl credits the studios famous analog console for the great sound heard on every album just as much as the people working there. Wouldn't the film be a better tribute if it was a 'Lets save the studio' fund raiser? Wouldn't that be the best way to show your gratitude? Halfway through the film, the studio is closed and that is it and like some kind of unfortunate twist (kicking a studio when its down), Grohl announces that he's bought the analog console, has got a few of his friends round and is recording music in his brand new studio. What starts as a tribute turns into self-promotion! Genius idea but a bit of an insult to everyone at Sound Studios, the people you're supposed to be crediting. The music is good though!
March 6, 2014

Super Reviewer

An intimate look at one of the most storied recording studios ever in Los Angeles, CA, a place of magic and luck that appeared to be nothing more than a dump, but instead possessed an indescribable environment full of special people that ultimately stood the test of time despite many instances where it could have been sold. Director Dave Grohl, one of the best musicians of our time, shows a lot of skills behind the camera, making this little studio seem ultimately timeless despite the inescapable shifts in success it experienced given the changes in the music industry. Mostly, this documentary is a treat to watch because of the cameos involved, from Tom Petty, to Rick Springfield, to even Sir Paul McCartney, all with fond memories of when they produced albums there.
September 21, 2013
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer

Dave Grohl's directorial debut is a phenomenal documentary about the legendary Sound City Studios, a studio where some of the most legendary records in music history have recorded. Grohl interviews many musicians who have used the studio and they give their insight as to why Sound City was such an integral part in their creative process to create something memorable on tape. Sound City Studios was a studio that used analog recording equipment instead of digital to record its artists. No matter the genre of music you enjoy, this is a must see documentary that is truly impressive. The stories told by the musicians are wonderful. Grohl goes deep into the subject matter and give his film the human connection of making music with a band, and not simply a computer. Analog tape is an obsolete technology in terms of recording, and the film gives us an explanation as to why recording with tape is the best way to record music. Grohl gets his point across very well by stating that with tape, you can hear every little mistake and imperfection, which makes the music more real, while with digital you can easily fix it, tweak and perfect it, but at the same time cheapening the feel of the art form. With that being said, I have a profound respect for this dying form of recording and the stories are simply stunning. Dave Grohl interviews everyone from Mick Fleetwood to Stevie Nicks, Neil Young, and Lars Ulrich to producers Rick Rubin, Butch Vig and Ross Robinson. I've seen plenty of music documentaries, all of them were great, but Sound City is very different. This is a film not just about a studio, but the human element of creating real, pure music from the heart, something that most popular artists of today have forgotten all about. Everything nowadays is all about auto tuned vocals, electronic, computerized beats and not about playing an actual instrument. Sound City is a film that will delight music fans as well as those interested in this classic recording method.
March 23, 2013
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

There are few absolutes in this world. One is that the carcinogenic concoction that theaters drizzle over their popcorn is more addictive than anything Marlboro could produce. Another is that if a senior citizen is hit in the face with a shovel, chances are it will ruin their weekend. Finally, the last absolute is that most people respect Nirvana Drummer/ Foo Fighters front man Dave Grohl. Throughout his musical career he has churned out admirable hit after hit all while remaining convivial, self-deprecating, & perhaps most importantly, a total badass.

The subject of a recent documentary that was very popular at last year's South by Southwest, Grohl has now assembled a team of veteran filmmakers and turned the camera on the studio that helped launch his art into the ears of millions of fans the world over. This directorial turn begs the question, is Grohl as enchanting behind the camera as he is in front of it?

Sadly, I would have to answer in the negative as Grohl's love letter to Sound City Studio is a nice polished piece of entertainment, but a bit scatterbrained. Weaving together Grohl's personal journey with that of the studio itself, along with the myriad stars who all made iconic pieces of music within its walls, is already quite an undertaking. Yet, even with three main courses filling every inch of the plate, he attempts to squeeze in music's changing of the guard; the tumultuous change from analog to digital & the artistic devastation wrought in its wake. On top of this, he even throws in footage of his dream jam sessions with the likes of McCartney, Rick Springfield, and a slew of other musical prodigies.

All of this information is crammed into the running time of a standard-length documentary while the material could have filled a Shoah-length documentary. Not to mention it would have been a hell of a lot less depressing.

In an effort to juggle so much, Grohl inevitably drops the ball a couple of times. For instance, in telling the story of the switch to digital, a brief moment regarding Trent Reznor and his embrace of the digital format is awkwardly packed in; not doing that story any justice while simultaneously taking away from the film as a whole.

Overall, Sound City is chock full of energy and just being a fly on the wall watching these titans of the music industry create and refine music together makes the film worth a watch or two. Yet, for his sophomore effort, it might behoove Grohl to streamline his focus and allow the material to breathe a bit more.
March 11, 2013
Reid Volk

Super Reviewer

    1. Trent Reznor: Now that everyone is empowered with these tools to create stuff, has there been a lot more great shit coming out? Not really. You still have to have something to do with those tools. You should really try to have something to say.
    – Submitted by Arshia J (18 months ago)
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