Sound City - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Sound City Reviews

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January 17, 2017
The first time I saw this documentary, I was thrilled. I thought it did an exceptional job speaking the messages it needed to convey, namely the closing of Sound City, the stories of the records and the people involved, and digital technology's takeover. At the time it seemed the documentary captured the feeling of being in the studio with the people making what would become the soundtrack to this movie fairly well, and overall I thoroughly enjoyed the story of Sound City as it was told.

However, for me, this documentary movie did not age as well as I hoped. After not watching it for a long time and then coming back to it, the documentary, while still technically superb and appearing historically accurate, came across to me as, in some parts, showing some older artists that are preaching cynical opinions about the current music coming out today. These opinions wouldn't be so problematic if they didn't show up as often as they do, but it gets distracting, especially if someone like myself isn't fully on board with the opinions which are shared.

In addition to the opinions themselves, the people in the movie sometimes back up their points of view and the general opinion of the documentary in ways that either mean very little or are unclear. A common theme in the movie is that an artist must "play from their heart" and "be real" to be any good. This is one such example of something that on the surface sounds like it has the same universal meaning to everyone, but after digging a little deeper does not really have any set definition. To clarity, one person could theoretically define being "real" as making or playing what sounds good to them, whether or not sounding good contradicts the rest of the opinionated points made by the documentary.

Another example of something that has little substance and also backs up the point I made earlier about the documentary focusing too much on older artists preaching about what is wrong with music today is the comment by Trent Reznor from around the middle of the movie:

"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."

The reason this quote is being placed in this review is I found it to be the most prominent of all the quotes I could use that combines subjectivity with lack of meaning, and it therefore illustrates my point. To quickly break this down, the first half is regarding the music coming out (from where and what outlet, exactly?) not being great. Whether or not current music is great is an opinion, yet Trent is stating it as fact. The second half of that statement can be interpreted in much the same way that "playing from your heart" and "being real" can, which is completely dependent on the person.

Not only does the meaninglessness show exclusivity towards certain artists, but it can come across as discouraging, not inspiring, because it implies not doing something "for real," or "faking it," whatever that means, indicates you shouldn't even start to make music. That is a message I am close to certain Dave Grohl likely doesn't want to send.

The third part of it, however, is the most well done because the mood lightens up, the history has been covered, and the opinions and their reasons for the most part quiet down. These factors, coupled with the fact that watching the artists in the studio nearly gives the impression that you are in the studio with them due to the way it was filmed makes this part of the documentary the most fun for me to watch.

Bottom Line:

I am a fan of Dave Grohl's music and can appreciate this documentary as a great entrance for him into directing. I still have respect for Dave Grohl and his documentary on Sound City because it is technicaly well done and is fascinating to watch if you don't know about the studio, Sound City, because it gets the historical message across. But if it's goal was to change people's minds with it's opinions, I don't know how far it will get, as it certainly didn't change mine.
October 8, 2016
C'est pas mauvais, mais ça a surtout mis la table pour Sonic Highways,
September 9, 2016

Impressive as all the guest stars may be, Sound City tends to loose itrs track towards the end as it enjoys presenting the history and the aspects of the locations but eventually doesnt really go nowhere conclusive on the matter, at least not beyond implications. However it does not take away the fact that Sound City does a great job at documenting some important history and connecting a ton of stories and little details that make the documentary even more enjoyable.
November 30, 2015
If you like music, you'll love this.
September 4, 2015
Dave Grohl must have learned a great deal from James Moll during the making of the documentary Foo Fighters: Back and Forth. This time Grohl not only tells the story, but steps behind the camera as the director. Grohl shows skill and makes a seemingly insignificant story interesting. The film tells the tragic, yet glorious tale of the Sound City Studios in Los Angeles. Against the odds, a seemingly a rundown sound studio in a former manufacturing facility produced several classic rock n roll albums. Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Neil Young, Rick Springfield, and Slipknot recorded watershed albums there. The film walks through the formation and history of the studio and explains a great deal about the process of making a recorded. It also comments on how different the process is today, not necessarily for the better. It is almost a perfect documentary, but the end drifts into the making a reunion album involving collaborations of various artists who recorded at Sound City. The resulting music from that album is nice, but watching the making of the reunion album is less interesting. It is still a very well made documentary with tons of great interviews. Any fan of rock music from the 70s-90s will love it.
July 8, 2015
A very fun documentary and a close look on the legendary Sound City music studio. This features some of the greatest musicians and writers of the last 40 years giving their stories and insight on the music business and their lives.
½ April 2, 2015
I can honestly say that I like this documentary more than any Foo Fighters song.
½ March 17, 2015
Honest tribute for a recording studio!
Just gearing up for "montage of heck"
½ February 17, 2015
Grohl and Monroe hit it right. Big time.
Super Reviewer
February 10, 2015
Dave Grohl is a GENIUS! I love him so much!!!
½ February 6, 2015
Written, produced and directed by Foo Fighters frontman and Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl. This is a documentary of two halves, first it tells the story of one of the most famous recording studios in Los Angeles, and the roster of stars who made best selling records there, and secondly, it's also celebrates a unique mixing desk that captured the sound, and how the desk would be used once again for the soundtrack. Sound City Studios was based in Van Nuys, Los Angeles. It opened in 1969, but it wasn't very state of the art, and it had once been a factory, as a result, it was very run down in need of modernising. However, the studio did have one very big ace up it's sleeve, and that was it had a Neve 8028 analog mixing console, which captured a deep, rich sound on all the recordings, and it attracted all the very best musical acts from the 1970's, right up until the studios closed in 2011. Acts including Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, Nirvana and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Grohl bought the Neve mixing desk, and he invites a few friends to his place to jam... You can tell that this is a passion project, but you can tell that Grohl has real interest and passion in the studios in question, and despite it being very run down and in need of a good clean, the studio had character and a quirky charm. But, what brought people to the studio was the Neve console, which comes into it's own when Grohl records with the likes of Stevie Nicks and Paul McCartney, which gives the story some closure.
January 28, 2015
I don't really know anything about music. ...
January 19, 2015
For those who like the analogue and yearn for the days before digital, when musicians had nowhere to hide behind pitch correctors and multi-tracking. great stuff!!
January 18, 2015
That was fantastic. Apparently I owe a whole lot of my musical taste and the existence of some of my favourite albums to Sound City - a recording studio and the custom ordered Neve sound board. Analog and unforgiving, if you couldn't play or sing, there was nothing to hide behind and no way to make you sound like something you weren't.

There really are three parts to this documentary. The history of the thing, the invasion of the digital age and how that changed things forever when it came to how albums were recorded, and the re use of the equipment. I remember liking a Dave Grohl and Paul McCartney song that managed to run away with a Grammy despite no one having heard of it and it was off an album that Dave Grohl and company made with the Neve board. Yeah, I may have just gone and bought that album.

If you're a music lover, specially one of bands like Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Nirvana, Rage Against the Machine, Nine Inch Nails, and and whole bunch of other artists (seriously, the amount of hit records this place has is astounding) you'll love it. It's a great film to feel nostalgic too as much as sad and hopeful about. Highly recommended.
January 9, 2015
The first 30 min was fragmental, felt impossible to soak in, the it suddenly got better and better, when credits shown I felt lost.
January 3, 2015
AWESOME a must see !!!!
December 28, 2014
Great movie from a great musician
December 24, 2014
amazing, just amazing. the history of one of the best sound studios ever, where so many magical bands have put out their best albums. very entertaining, and very informative. it is really cool to see where some of my favorite albums ever were recorded!
December 7, 2014
An interesting piece of American history
November 14, 2014
Sound City is a documentary that every music lover will love...especially if you have a home cinema system that has volume you can turn up to 11!

The history lesson is as amazing as the music. You will end up liking Rick Springfield...really.
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