Sound City


Sound City (2013)


Critic Consensus: 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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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 of rock's greatest albums at the studio, Sound City doesn't just tell the story of this real-life rock 'n' roll shrine, it celebrates the human element of music as Grohl gathers some of rock's biggest artists to collaborate on a new album. Using Sound City's legendary analog console, together these artists continue to create musical miracles in a digital world. (c) Variance

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Critic Reviews for Sound City

All Critics (45) | Top Critics (17)

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

Jan 1, 2014 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

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

Dec 16, 2013 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

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

Feb 21, 2013 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

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

Feb 7, 2013 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
Top Critic

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

Feb 2, 2013 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

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.

Feb 1, 2013 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Sound City


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.

Dan Schultz
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.

Alex roy
Alex roy

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.

Reid Volk
Reid Volk

Super Reviewer


Usually January is the dumping ground for early Hollywood trash. This is the exception, Sound City is easily the one of the most well constructed documentary on the music industry I've seen in quite a while. Preferences in music does not apply for this is an documentary that brings a fresh perspective between the battle of digital and analog. Sound City is a documentary covering the title fabled recording studio through it's early days in the 70s, battle with digital, and ultimate end of the studio. For those who are into Nirvana, Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young, Dio and some others this is a definite must watch behind the studio that created their greatest hits. The documentary tells the studio story in linear order with plenty of information. It's well pace so each time we move to a different part of Sound City history it feels like we got the most significance parts of specific events. I will say that 3/4 of this documentary is very informative and even regular movie goer will find the stories behind the studio interesting enough to keep watching. It's the remaining 1/4 that feels like a behind the scenes look of an new album. The remaining 1/4 gives little insight on the digital and analog debate of music. It brings the movie to a complete halt unless you like Dave Grohl (who's the documentary director) of Nirvana and Foo Fighter fame you might like this section. The array of musicians that provide insight and personal experiences in recording studio Sound City is where it shines. These are professional music talking about a profession that even if you're know nothing about playing an instrument you'll still know what these people are speaking about. It made with a real passion reminding of a time when music had a human element and wasn't completely auto-tune. Sound City is an excellence music documentary because it doesn't focus on a single artist, but instead on studio that produce some of the greatest rock music we still listen to today. For the regular viewer I recommend you check it out and you'll enjoy the history that'll have you invested. For fan of rock music or music enthusiast it's a must watch for the legacy of the essential studio in rock history and insights from famous musicians guarantee you'll love it.

Caesar Mendez
Caesar Mendez

Super Reviewer

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