When Kurt Cobain died, Dave Grohl started writing Foo Fighters music, initially just for himself, and when Kevin Mahon lost both his parents, he did much the same. Never meaning to release any of it, the music stayed stored for years, but eventually he changed his mind and the record Hell’s Kitchen Irish Ale finally saw the light of day. The album has parts 90’s alternative, leaning on R.E.M. and Beck, while at other times mixing classic rock, Celtic sounds, and other influences for an album both experimental and heavily influenced, if disjointedly at times.
There’s a distinctly R.E.M. inspired sound to “Figure Out” with blues rock filling the rest of the space. A unique vocal delivery and the driving pound of the drums make it a sonically grabbing way to open the album. A classic rock meets The Hives sound opens “Sound The Alarm” before a hectic guitar line takes over. Interesting stops, the weird rhythmic switches and a Beck level of genre-flipping make this and other tracks fascinating listens.
Experimental sounds are shed on “And We Play” for a more Celtic-inspired song with distorted rock overtones playing a part but not overpowering the song’s softer side, instead elevating the wondrous feel of the track. “Revolution” jumps into a acoustic shuffle, with unique sonic touches and the subtle harmonies giving the track a more interesting sound than many tracks like it.
Slap-back drums, and significantly sustained guitars give a dreamy rock feeling to “Hotels And Airplanes,” in its slow-burning flame of a track. There’s a clear classic rock influence to “Hip” letting Mahon throw his vocals over a Boston-style guitar sound. The track is a exceptionally written in terms of variety and how often it surprises without losing its drive, although after such a unique album intro some of the unique qualities that started the album feel left behind.
Celtic-rock comes back into the fold on “Hell’s Kitchen” with mandolins and harmonicas flowing beautifully through the track, along with an amazing duet vocal track. Some of the harmonica backing mixed with the guitars are a killer combo in emotional power. The rock kicks back into gear on “Iowa City” with distorted guitars driving the track with killer licks and tone. The stellar drums and unique vocals really give this track an even more standout feel that mixes together in a great call and response style at times.
The album ends on a somber note on the unsurprisingly titled “Final Song,” opting for lighter guitars, almost using electrics as a background layer. Some catchy melodies and uniquely sad feel ultimately bring the record to a close.