American rock music "kings" Kings of Leon have long been superstars across the pond: their first two albums hit #3 on the UK charts, and their most recent two reached the top spot. However, they haven't always received a lot of hometown love during their career. They instead saw a steady gain in popularity, charting at, chronologically, 113, 55, 25, and 4.
How could they have expected to compete with the beautifully poetic Amy Winehouse for chart spots? (Not goin' back to rehab, nonono...)
Apparently, sales doesn't mean familiarity: fairweather Kings Of Leon fans, drawn in by the success of "Only By The Night," were so ignorant of KOL's music that they thought their old songs were debuts of material from the upcoming "Come Around Sundown" album. Said drummer Nathan Followill to Absolute Radio, "The other night there was someone on the front row and we had played a new song, and then we played 'Trani' which is off our first album. I saw the girl look at another girl and say 'Is this another new song?'. So it's like a lot of them don't know the difference." No, it's not like they don't know the difference... they don't know the difference.
In case the label of "uninformed fan" applies to you, I'm gonna try to help you. I consider myself a knowledgable fan of the Tennessee Followills, so here are a few key cuts of theirs, released before their smash hit "Only By The Night":
1. Red Morning Light (from Youth And Young Manhood, 2003)
The debut single is certainly an impressive introduction to the band, although it is (perhaps unfortunately) no longer indicative of their style. This upbeat southern garage rocker puts the skills of guitarist and singer Matthew and Caleb Followill right at the forefront of your perception, featuring an energetic guitar solo and scratchy-yet-soulful vocals. The track was good enough to garner the attention of EA Sports, who used it as the introduction song for FIFA 2004. The only disappointments are when the song ends ate a mere 3:00 in, and that Caleb eventually axed the 'stache and chopped the mane.
2. On Call (from Because of the Times, 2007)
You'll immediately notice the difference between this track and the one prior, with the synthesized keyboard intro and all. Once it picks up, you'll make no mistake that it is the rocking KOL you fell in love with, albiet they've mainstreamed their style a tad. But like before, you'll hear an excellent vocal out of Caleb, and some scorching guitar out of Matthew. This album is definitely a preview of what was to come with Only By The Night, and sees the band shedding their southern rock roots. This change isn't necessarily bad, just different (one change that was definitely bad... and different).
3. Knocked Up (from Because of the Times, 2007)
The 7+ minute opener to the album showcases the improved songwriting ability of the band. From what I gather, it tells the tale of two teens determined to have their baby, despite their parents wishes. This now-typical storyline is contained within a dark and looming track, pierced by the high-pitched guitar wail, and told by an emotional and assured vocal. There are few better ways to kick off a record than with a song like this (well, here's one superior method).
These aren't necessarily the top three songs I had to pick from, although I could easily argue for any of them. They were just the three songs that I figured would be easiest to write a paragraph about. Other highlights include "Charmer," "California Waiting," "Milk," "Arizona," "Holy Roller Novocaine," and "The Bucket."
Do any of you true Kings Of Leon "Fans" (another great song I almost forgot) have any other gems I forgot that you feel compelled to share? Do you want to praise me for my musical taste and knowledge? Do you agree with my pride in Kings of Leon for saying no to Glee and American Idol, henceforth avoiding selling out (like this)? Do you appreciate the MP3 downloads of the three featured songs of this post that I'm giving to you? Do you want me to stop with the questions? Either way, let me know.
EDIT (10:53): I found an interesting fact I'd like to share. The titles of the four Kings of Leon albums (and the upcoming album) are all five syllables long: Youth-and-Young-Man-hood, A-ha-Shake-Heart-break, Be-cause-of-the-Times, On-ly-By-The-Night, Come-A-round-Sun-down.