In Praise of Sound City on #Netflix

Fans of contemporary music history should give Sound City, one of the ‘older’ doccies on Netflix, a go. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.


I’m loving Netflix, but it’s proving that whole theory about how having too much choice makes choosing a chore.

So, on a break from Stranger Things Season 2 – a rather rare case of me delaying gratification – I turned to some of their documentaries NOT #CurrentlyTrending.

A documentary buff friend recommended Sound City (2013), so I’m passing the good vibes along.

The film was created by Dave Grohl, of Nirvana and the Foo Fighters, who got the idea when he bought recording equipment from Sound City, the infamous LA recording studio.


As a former 90s ‘grunge kid’ (oh how we hated the term at the time), it really got me in the feels. It features some of my favourite bands and musicians – think Fleetwood Mac, Rage Against the Machine, Frank Black, Trent Reznor and Nirvana. And its narrative structure takes you on quite the emotional journey.

“Sound City hits you like a shot in the heart”
−Peter Travels, Rolling Stone

There’s euphoria, sex appeal, sadness, philosophical depth, nostalgia, trippy moments and some epic jams with heavyweights including Paul McCartney. And it’s very much a tribute to the analog era.

I particularly enjoyed the behind-the-scenes insight it gives into the muso subculture – how the musicians talk in code, instantly getting what they mean when they communicate with sounds, not words. I admired their completely unself-conscious, joyous freedom to express themselves. Seeing Stevie Nicks singing sensually. Watching McCartney and Grohl rough-and-tumble affectionately after a successful recording. And the startled look on Reznor’s face at the moment Grohl interrupted their jam to say, “This is awesome” (or something along those lines). To which Reznor replied that they should just “get back to it” then. Don’t push him out of The Zone!

To remember magical musical moments in time, and feel the rush of powerful tracks from the past (won’t lie, I found myself doing a version of headbanging more suited to my age to RATM), put today’s trending series aside and get lost in Sound City.

*BONUS: Here’s a short interview with Grohl on the studio.

Sound City 1

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