Original Release - 2004
For those of you who don't know the Kings of Leon yet, they are an American rock band, formed in Nashville, Tennessee in 1999. The band consists of three brothers and a cousin: Caleb Followill - Pipes, Nathan Followill - Skins, Jarred Followill - Bass man Boss man, and Nathan Followill - Licks. There is a quick introduction to one of the best rock and roll bands America has to offer.
The last great Kings of Leon album is their most fun. Its the faster, dirtier, and more focused sibling to their excellent debut "Youth & Young Manhood". There is something so romantic about a primal rock & roll album, hearing a band work out its sound before they "break out", which eventually happened to KOL in 2009 behind the mega-hit singles "Sex On Fire" and "Use Somebody".
With every great band that comes along there is a period of time when they are a best kept secret. You may wish them all the success in the world, for the world to see their true brilliance, but when that happens it somehow leaves you feeling empty. This is exactly how I feel about KOL. I saw KOL in Minneapolis on the "Aha Shake Heartbreak" tour at the Fine Line Music Cafe. I was in the 2nd row center, in a crowd of about 400 people, on a cold winters night. The show was great, it was energetic, it was loud, it was everything a rock & roll show should be, and I realized that it was only a matter of time before these guys hit it with some un-inspired single on MTV, or worse, having a song featured in a commercial. Both of these things happened, but that debate is for another post.
This vinyl edition of "Aha Shake Heartbreak" is what I love about recorded music, because no matter what, you will always have this album. The KOL don't pull any punches, they will straight up tell you to piss off, and smash their guitars in the process (as Caleb did at the Readings Festival, smashing his precious Gibson ES-325) which, to me, and especially in 2005, was totally refreshing.
What we have here is a deep fried, southern soul, rock & roll album. Its something that can never go out of style, its like wearing blue jeans, or a Jack Daniel's on the rocks, it... just... is. The KOL channel all of their influences with great results in this lick filled record that will leave your head spinning. Hints of Led Zeppelin, The Black Crows, Skynard, and even British Invasion influence will give you a feast for the ears. This is a riff heavy album, from "Taper Jean Girl", to "The Bucket", to "Pistol of Fire" which displays the always present KOL innuendo; just take a listen and let it do its job. If you do that, it will rock your face off.
Another highlight is the old school rocker "Soft", with its easy going drumming, and great bass line (that really shines through on vinyl), and totally ridiculous lyrics. This song sums up KOL in a nutshell, rock & roll is an attitude. And if you don't like it, then expect the finger from Caleb and the boys.
This vinyl presentation is really exciting for a number of reasons. First, the presentation is beautiful, with a 10" black heavy duty gatefold. Second, the 10" vinyl itself is clear, which is a super cool surprise. Lastly, there is a bonus track added to the end "Where Nobody Knows", this is exciting news to the KOL faithful who have the fist pressing of the U.S. CD release.
The clear vinyl sounds great, and there is only a touch of needle movement on sides A & B. Surface noise is at a minimum, and its great to hear such distinguished low end here, that really displays the KOL bass line better than the CD version.
Album - A -
Vinyl - A -