Taylor Hawkins - Kota

Aside from Dave Grohl, the other true rockstar in the Foo Fighters has always been Taylor Hawkins. He brings his all to the Foo's live shows and can pull off the impressive feat of singing and playing drums at the same time. He's released his solo album Kota, and the mini-LP unfortunately leaves a lot to be desired.

The album begins promising, but slowly just loses sight in being a fun rock n' roll album. The Pink Floyd atmosphere from the intro of 'Range Rover Bitch' leads into groovy riffs, punctuated throughout by cool guitar lines and some powerful vocals - classic rock n' roll. That momentum attempts to carry on in 'Bob Quit His Job,' but if you couldn't tell from the title, this song really isn't great. It starts off okay, but the chorus is literally just "Bob quit his job, Bob quit his job / Did you know that Bob quit his job today," in a bombastic Queen feel, making it feel really tacky. The ending is just cluttered mess.

The truly sad part of this record is that it has such a misguided idea of what it is. It was supposed to be an epic, fun rock n' roll record that brought Queen and punk together. It certainly does, but in the tackiest and uninspired way possible. 'Rudy' is straight Queen vibes, bassline and piano included. It's down to the harmonies. But it's nothing more than that. It's a good track but doesn't quite feel like an original song. Like the songs that Foo often cover live, it feels like a Queen B-side, but a bad one. It also feels like he didn't really know how to do this project by himself. Closing track 'I've Got Some Not Being Around You Today' is as cluttered as the title is. Truly, this album is just a mess.

Taylor Hawkins is a rockstar, but his solo material does feel ready to show that yet. Kota is misguided and lost in an idea that it never executes quite well. It's truly unfortunate, given that you can understand the promise it has. It just doesn't make the cut, in the end.

Favorite Track: Range Rover Bitch

Least Favorite Track: Bob Quit His Job

Rating: 49 / 100

Foo Fighters - Sonic Highways

"Rock is dead," they said. Oh, were they wrong. This year alone has been filled with some huge rock releases, being topped off by none other than the Foo Fighters. Foo's eight album (in case you didn't pick up on the 8's scattered around the cover), Sonic Highways is a strong one, an appropriate follow up to 2011's award winning Wasting Light. Recorded in eight different cities, it holds true to Foo's sound while inhabiting every location at which it was recorded in. Full of huge, arena-filling moments, as well as having the down-to-earth, mellow moments, this album is nothing short of amazing.

1) Something From Nothing - The track begins as a light guitar track, a contrasting gentleness to what becomes a track that would probably punch you in the face if it had a physical form. The track gradually builds up in an epic fashion, beginning quietly and becoming a huge jam only halfway through. What makes this track is Mr. Grohl's huge "ALL RISE!" to conclude the bridge, reasserting himself as one of rock's strongest vocalists. A very powerful track on the album, one of the best on the album. 9/10

2) The Feast and The Famine - Immediately out of the eargasm that is Something, comes this upbeat, relatively standard rock track. While one of the more safer tracks on the record, it provides a huge sound all the same. The drum track does an excellent job of driving this track, understated yet powerful at the same time. Also, it's necessary to yet again point out how great Mr. Grohl's vocals are, specifically during the chorus. The song concludes with a powerful, almost thrash-esque breakdown of sorts, letting out on a strong note. 8/10

3) Congregation - This song is very reminiscent of the Foo Fighter's older sound, among the rest. The lyrics even hint at the classic rock-sounding track, with, "A jukebox generation..." The chorus is complimented with a great, happy riff that just screams "Victory!". The song has an overall upbeat tone to it, speaking to the spirit of the song. The bridge does a great job of showing off both Foo's ability to buildup a track flawlessly and the great guitar work that went into the album. Definitely a great jam, I can see it being a very "American" anthem to be blasted throughout households everywhere on Independence Day (coincidentally, they'll be performing at the 4th of July. Hard to get much more American than that). 8/10

4) What Did I Do?/God as My Witness - The track starts off with a burst of energy, probably as a filler in order to dispel the excitement from the album for a brief moment. This is one of the first moments on the album where the piano is brought to the front of the mixing, allowing for an intimate moment in an album constantly exploding with energy. Complimented by guitar chords, the track builds up to another very Foo Fighter-esque track. Once the "God as My Witness" portion of the song kicks in, it becomes an anthem for the lost. "God is my witness / Yeah, it's going to heal my soul tonight." A lot of emotion is clearly put into this portion of the track, and it pays off as the track doesn't lose any power while it fades out. 8/10

5) Outside - This track begins by introducing what is personally my favorite baseline on the record, very groovy. This song is mixed in favor of the instrumental taking power, but the vocals follow a great melody and have some wonderful meaning behind them. The first guitar solo on the song is an unforgettable moment on the album, the two guitar tracks harmonizing with each other fantastically before subsiding into the groovy baseline again, this time complimented by some bluesy guitar. The guitars yet again build up for a second, epic reprise of the guitar solos. Honestly, one of the most epic moments on the entire album. 9/10

6) In the Clear - One of the most uplifting riffs on the album right here. The big rock sound complimented by the addition of a brass section reminds me of myself, walking down the streets of a big city, about to fulfill my dreams. Gotta let each note inhabit you, man. Dave Grohl reminds you in the chorus that now that he's found success doesn't mean that the struggling is over. There's a constant battle between yourself and society that will never end. In the end, once you've fulfilled your dreams, it's all worth it. 9/10

7) Subterranean - Opening with a string section and acoustic guitar, you can tell this one will be the ballad of the album. The term "subterranean", in the context of the album, refers to digging down deep inside within yourself to find who you really are. The track seamlessly transitions from the sad, reminiscing first verse and chorus to a guitar-heavy track. The ascending baseline in this portion of the song is another great lower-register moment to pay attention to. The song soars throughout, concluding with a synth that transitions wonderfully into the next track. This track seems to lack something that the others do: a powerful vocal line. While they are more centered around the lyrics, there's no real power to them making it one of the weaker tracks on the record. 7/10

8) I Am a River - My personal favorite on the entire record, the song transitions from the synth ending of Subterranean and adding a wonderful delayed guitar into the mix. The formula of adding the drums and more consecutive layers after the first chorus, in this case the pre-chorus, of the track continues to prove effective. One of my favorite moments of this track is, in fact, the pre-chorus, in the sense that it reminds me of My Hero, in that uplifting (and even in a somewhat melodic) sort of way. The chorus could definitely be better, but Dave Grohl crying out, "I! I am a river!" in such a heartfelt way makes up for it. Everything after the first chorus of the track is full of emotion, every note, every beat. The strings coming in at the last part adds to the beauty and power of this track. I wouldn't have chosen a better way to end this incredible album. 10/10

The Foo Fighters are often acclaimed by many as the leaders of today's rock circuit, and for very good reason. With each effort, they continue to grow and expand their huge sound, all the while staying true to their roots. Each album proves that they can create some of the greatest moments in music history, as well as bringing true emotion to the plate. This album is nothing short of incredible.

Overall Rating: 9/10