KINGS OF LEON : : AHA SHAKE HEARTBREAK (RCA '05)

Slow night, so long,
She's frenching out the flavor.
She's 17, but I done went and plum forgot it.

The unbridled urgency of the Kings of Leon announces they're fully ready to put their footprint on this earth. While their debut Youth & Young Manhood got buried with perhaps too much praise, this follow-up is a huge leap forward. A true original is emerging, packed with rough but tight, incisive guitars buoyed by soulful southern bass and cracking percussion. There are whiffs of The Black Crowes, AC/DC, and a myriad of edgy '80s guitar acts, but they manage to never sound quite like anyone else.

Singer Caleb Followill, one of three Followill brothers and their cousin who make up Leon's rulers, has a deliciously odd voice - Bon Scott mixed with Kevn Kinney (Drivin' 'N' Cryin'), the Toy Dolls' vocalist, and maybe a squeak of Howard The Duck during incautious moments - the very place where a lot of the meat on their bones comes from. Despite some reviews that claim the band is pandering to current '80s nostalgia, this is not a safe record. It took a second pass to more fully define what the Kings sound is going to be, and this reveals a band simply turned on by sound and song without worrying where those sparks came from.

Not since the Crowes' Amorica has a band so thoroughly dissected the downside of fame. Just smell the dissatisfaction in lines like, "18, balding, star, golden, fallen." Around them clamor taper jean girls with motel faces, gold-digging mothers, and cowgirl kings of the rodeo. The atmosphere is positively hormonal, perhaps a byproduct of being wildly loose after a childhood spent in the back seat of their preacher dad's car.

The Kings of Leon are the new rock 'n roll circus, spiritual descendents of the Stones and other hard-livers who reach past the velvet rope for something deeper to hold onto. Glorious in every freakin' way.

Dennis Cook
JamBase | NorCal
Go See Live Music!

http://www.kingsofleon.com/

[Published on: 3/28/05]

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