If you’re only used to hearing Kings of Leon through “Sex on Fire” and “Use Somebody” Caleb Followill’s voice thoughout Aha Shake Heartbreak must come as a shock. The sweet, tender, soulful voice is nowhere to be found. Instead he sounds like a drunken Murmur-era Michael Stipe whose southern accent is even more pronounced. The lyrics are purposely slurred, and inaudible.
“The Bucket” is the highlight of an album full of stand-out tracks. It begins with Matthew Followill’s guitar riff that lies somewhere between lazy and commanding. The hangover has ended, and the party is just beginning. Someone shouts “wooo!” and the song turns into a shuffle once Nathan Followill rolls his drums in.
Before Kings of Leon got big I used to describe them to people as “the stooges drinking whiskey” or the “Allman Brothers on heroin”. “The Bucket” isn’t country-punk, but it’s certainly country influenced and played by a garage-rock band. Interestingly, “The Bucket” has fast verses, and slow choruses – the exact opposite of most Nirvana songs.
The song is apparently written by Caleb Followill to his younger brother Jared (KOL’s bass player) who was just 17 at the time of the recording to help him deal with the band’s newfound fame (they were huge in Britain for years before hitting in the US.) “You kick the bucket, and I’ll swing my legs” seems to imply a brotherly relationship – we’re in this together. By the end of the song, Caleb’s “gonna show the way,” and you know that he means it.
Like much of Aha Shake Heartbreak I became obsessed with “The Bucket” because even 5 years later, it sounds like nothing else.
While I sometimes pride myself on liking older artists, I find it hard to get into newer or current artists. There have been very few “new” artists that I have really been impressed with in the past few years (Kings of Leon, Arcade Fire, TV on the Radio, My Morning Jacket). And I while I love records by all of those artists, I’ve also worn them to death. None of these groups have a vast catalogue I can explore and discover new things about. They also don’t have the same nostalgia for me like a group like R.E.M. does.
I really need a new group because I miss the excitement that they bring to a live show. I’ve pretty much seen all of my old heroes live at one point or another (or several times) and while I absolutely love hearing “Like a Rolling Stone”, or “Where The Streets Have No Name”, it’s not the same as somebody new coming along and absolutely killing it live. I want that seem feeling that I had in 2005 when I first saw Kings of Leon before they blew up and became radio favorites. Perhaps I just want to be part of the cultural zeitgeist before it actually happens.
Does anyone know of any new good groups I could listen to?
Dear Kings of Leon,
I’ve been a huge fan of yours for a long time. I’m not mad at you for making Only By the Night. It’s a bit polished for my tastes, and had some decent songs and two absolute masterpieces (“Closer” and “Cold Desert”). “Sex on Fire” wasn’t bad, but you’ve an entire album (Aha Shake Heartbreak) on the same subject, but it sounded original and different. You’re not pop-stars – you’re among the best rock and roll bands out in the scene right now, so with your next album prove to everybody that you’re in it for the long-haul. Take a cue from one of your own songs below:
(I’ll love you forever, I swear.)
No matter what you think of Pearl Jam, Eddie Vedder can sing. And he also happens to be one hell of a performer. He’s also an avid fan of music in general. Pearl Jam sets are known just as much for their wide variety of covers as much as anything else. It’s little wonder that he’s performed with dozens of bands and artists. So he’s a few of my favorite Eddie Vedder guest appearances:
Eddie Vedder, Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band: No Surrender (2004)
R.E.M. & Eddie Vedder: Man on the Moon (2007 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Introduction)
Pete Townshend & Eddie Vedder – Heart to Hang Onto (Letterman 1999). Vedder has played numerous times with The Who and Townshend, but this has always been one of my favorites since I watched it when it aired.
My Morning Jacket & Eddie Vedder: It Makes No Difference (2006? Maybe?)
U2 & Eddie Vedder: Old Man River (2oo5)
Kings of Leon & Eddie Vedder – Slow Night, So Long (2007). Best version of this song ever. Also, if you only know Kings of Leon by way of “Sex on Fire” and “Use Somebody” they tear it up on this one.)
Here in Baltimore, after days of obnoxiously cold weather in May, it’s finally beginning to feel like late spring/early summer. As such, I decided to make a playlist on my Ipod of “summer songs”. Not all of these songs are about summer, but I was looking more for a feel here. The idea was to start out with more up-tempo, and then end up with songs that conjure up feelings of 100% humidity and you’re exahusted. Here’s what I came up with:
Walt Whitman’s Niece – Billy Bragg & Wilco
Chain Gang (Live) – Sam Cooke
Spirit in the Night – Bruce Springsteen
Everyday People – Sly & the Family Stone
Heat Wave – Martha Reeves and the Vandellas
Where Did Our Love Go? – The Supremes
Pressure Drop – Toots and the Maytals
Piece of My Heart – Big Brother and the Holding Company
Taper Jean Girl – Kings of Leon
Dead Flowers – The Rolling Stones
The Weight – The Band
Sweet Illusions – Ryan Adams & the Cardinals
TB Sheets – Van Morrison
What are yours?
I still like Kings of Leon, but Only By the Night was kind of a disappointment – Mellower songs, and too many Edge-like guitar effects compared to their Allman’s meet Stooges thump on their first two albums Youth and Young Manhood and Aha Shake Heartbreak.
Until it came on my Ipod the other day, I forgot about the song “Trani” (which according to drummer Nathan Followill even had Bob Dylan floored when they opened for him a few years back.) Listening to this song, it’s hard to believe that these guys would actually top the charts and make Itunes best-selling album of 2009.