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King of the Rodeo
The Early Vinyl
Shortlist Music Prize Nominees (number: 2005)
1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die (2005 edition)
The history of The Kings Of Leon reads like a potential storyline for a movie. Let's re-cap: The band consist of three brothers and their cousin. The brothers were raised by their father, a travelling, alcoholic preacher. They roamed the Southern States, spreading the gospel whilst living out of a car. They played the blues, copying heroes like the Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd. With their long hair, beards and retro clothing, they even looked like them.
It is no wonder then that such an off-beat and romantic story was immediately taken up and embellished by the media. The Kings Of Leon and their first album Youth And Young Manhood were hyped by everyone. Some critics labelled them as recyclers who were laughably re-living an out of date rock 'n' roll dream. But the criticism was unwarranted as their musical style was more than just a re-hash of the old; they had developed their own unique sound.
The filthy driving rhythms and gorgeously gravel vocals were definitely a cut above the rest and their popularity grew and grew. They were a real explosion of pure rock 'n' roll energy. In an effort to escape their pigeonhole, the band are back, with haircuts and a second album that is quite different from the first. The songs are much subtler and therefore take a few listens to appreciate, but the wait is worth it.
They have incorporated different rhythms and styles throughout with plenty of tempo changes. "Pistol Of Fire" is the most up-beat track with the screeching guitar licks and foot stompin' beat. "Milk", "Rememo" and "Soft" are slower, melodic and poignant even if the lyrics do make very little sense. "Day Old Blue" is sweetly acoustic in part and "Razz" brings in a touch of the ska beat.
Aha Shake Heartbreak takes you on an interesting journey. Musically it is innovative and diverse and Caleb's vocal style is as individual as ever. His rasping chords sounds like he's just smoked 50 fags but he remains tuneful and purveys strong emotion whether exhilaration, tenderness or pain.
Yes it's still rock 'n' roll but there's nothing wrong with that.