Album Reviews: A-Ha Shake Heartbreak by Kings of LeonLike The Strokes, Kings of Leon gained a lot of attention in the UK before getting their due in their native country, the United States. Clever marketing or differences in taste? Regardless, it worked, and America is finally ready to take notice.
KOL often sound like the aforementioned Strokes, but it's not as likely that the Followill boys (three brothers and a cousin) listened to The Stooges, Velvet Underground and Television while traveling around the South with their Pentecostal father, Reverend Followill. Their Southern roots are common fodder for journalists, who often compare them to the Black Crowes and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Like the Crowes, their Southern roots often are apparent, but it’s KOL’s larger-than-life (a la early Who) rock 'n' roll spirit that will leave its mark.
The two standout tracks are "Soft" and "The Bucket." They’re rock classics waiting to be discovered. "Day Old Blues" starts with a simple beautiful acoustic guitar riff reminiscent of The Faces. I thought we had another "She talks to Angels" (Black Crowes) on our hands. It would’ve been their huge radio hit. But to my amusement and surprise, Caleb Followill begins yodeling the indiscernible chorus. Caleb’s Bon Scott-style swagger and vocals aren’t the only apparent AC/DC influence. The songs on Aha Shake Heartbreak are short, punchy rock songs with simple, gritty guitar riffs. The songs are like short hard punches to the gut. Unfortunately, the quiet, sparse production stifles some of their force.
This is a straight-up rock 'n' roll album, and like most classic rock, these songs revolve around women and wine (or more fittingly, booze and broads). It’s not pop-punk, alt-rock or even indie in any way. This should and most likely will be one of the biggest bands in America. This is a very good album, from a band that’s destined to be called great someday. But you need to see this band live. At times, the album feels suffocating of their stadium rock prowess. - Doug Kamin
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