I have been on a quest lately to find out why Kings of Leon aren't the most popular band in the universe, a crusade which was fermented by their show last Friday night at the Greek Theatre I attended with Betty and 6000 of our closest friends.
Seriously people, what the fuck?
It's an issue about which I am admittedly emotional, considering how much I love their latest album, "Because of the Times." So, I am trying to put that away and logically come to some sort of reasoned conclusion as to why people aren't humming KoL songs at all times.
I went to the most music geeky guy I know, Salk, and we walked through it. Basically, it went like this. He said,
"Haven't heard the new ablum. First one was okay and I heard the second one sucked."
KoL's first release, "Youth and Young Manhood," was a fresh piece of finely-cut meat with several jangly, catchy songs. It was basic, but enjoyable, and I wore grooves in the CD listening to it frequently. Tunes like "Molly's Chamber" and "California Waiting" gained some radio (and commercial jingle) play and were pretty representative of the rest of the release. They provided a contrast to the stock rock of today's "alternative" bands, cookie cutter outfits like FallOut30SecondsTakingBackYellowcardSundaytoMarsBoy, but neither were they breaking any ground. Just some good, primative songs with the southern/gospel influence seperating them from the dyed-black hair, shag cut, Emo pack.
Then came their second album, "Aha Shake Heartbreak," which I didn't like nearly as much of the first. It still was in regular rotation, but was less stark than its predecessor and didn't seem to have a clear goal or identity. The thing about it is, the album makes sense only in the context of the third, as you can see the metamorphisis of the band's direction. They didn't achieve anything with "Aha Shake Heartbreak," but they planted the seeds that would grow full-fledged. It's transitional and I'm guessing the band found what worked, and, perhaps more importantly, what didn't.
Which brings us to "Because of the Times," a quantum leap forward. On Friday night, the band played 11 of the 14 songs from the album (and played the shit out of them) and the contrast between those and their older songs was like comparing mono and stereo. "Black Thumbnail" is a vital piece of anthemic rock. "Knocked Up" is a seven-minute meandering epic of soulful defiance. "On Call" is guts opened and blood spilled, all of them punctuated by Caleb Followill's unique voice and occassional yelp and twang. The musicianship is amazing, the songwriting daring. If you gave KoL a try a few years back and didn't connect, do yourself a favor and give them another chance.
I'll tell you what. Buy the whole album for $9.99 from iTunes. If you hate it, legitimately hate it, I'll buy you into a Mookie. That's how fucking serious I am about how good this band is.
Also, if you legitimately hate it, you're an idiot who lacks basic common sense and even the slightest good taste. But you'll get a buy-in our out the deal, which I assume you'll use to suck out on someone. Because you're just not very bright.*
(*Joe Speaker is not affiliated with, nor employed by anyone employed or affiliated with Kings of Leon.)