Kings of Leon - Aha Shake Heartbreak

Kings of Leon
Aha Shake Heartbreak


First Appeared in The Music Box, April 2005, Volume 12, #4

Written by T.J. Simon

Thu April 28, 2005, 12:00 AM GMT


The unusual foursome known as Kings of Leon consists of three brothers and a cousin ó the Followill family ó from rural Tennessee. They were raised in a cultural vacuum while being home schooled on the road with the familyís traveling evangelist patriarch. So, as one might imagine, the groupís style is a unique one that blends the bits of southern, progressive, and garage rock into a consistently pleasing product on the bandís sophomore outing Aha Shake Heartbreak.

Kings of Leon is headed by Caleb Followill whose singing mimics the vocal pitch of Aerosmithís Steven Tyler with the marble mouth delivery of Garrett Dutton (a.k.a. G. Love from G. Love and Special Sauce). The disc begins with the amazing Slow Night, So Long, a catchy guitar rock number that showcases progressive chord changes worthy of The Mars Volta or Phish before it concludes with an alluring bossa nova groove. With its hand clap rhythms and awesome guitar work, King of the Rodeo is an equally impressive tune, and the other home run track is The Bucket, which owes a musical debt to both Aerosmith and The Strokes.

In fact, the influence of The Strokesí guitar sound is the unifying factor that ties together the songs on Aha Shake Heartbreak. The tracks Taper Jean Girl, Soft, and Velvet Snow all borrow from the New York bandís stylistic approach. Unfortunately, things falter a bit when Kings of Leon slows down its tempo; itís here that the the limitations of Calebís voice become apparent. Day Old Blues, for example, is too similar to the Black Crowesí She Talks to Angels to ignore the similarities, and the closing track Rememo fails to resonate. Caleb Followillís lyrics are pretty obtuse and difficult to decipher, but when one can follow his story, it can get downright creepy, such as on Softís ode to erectile dysfunction. Home-schooled, backwoods, hillbillies who canít get it up? Thatís too much information, thank you.

None of these criticisms belie the fact that Kings of Leon is an innovative group doing something very different and making some unforgettable music. The bandís profile likely will be raised significantly while serving as the opening act on U2ís summer tour. In the meantime, Aha Shake Heartbreak is the perfect CD for people who listen to a lot of modern rock but have grown bored by its increasingly generic mediocrity. starstarstar Ĺ

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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


Copyright © 2005 The Music Box