Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Kings of Leon - Only by the Night

Pretty much the only good thing that I took out of SNL last weekend (9/20) was a couple performances by the band Kings of Leon. I had kinda heard of them but never really made any effort to check them out for one reason or another. This was probably the case because I never had any friends that said, "Ethan you HAVE to listen to the new Kings of Leon album." Maybe they didn't have reason to promote them. Or maybe you think I have bad friends. I dunno. Either way, the two songs they performed in between some awful sketches (with the surprisingly disappointing James Franco) got me interested in them. Kudos to their booking agent! The quick bio/background on the band is they're 3 brothers and a first cousin from Tennessee, and they've released four albums since 2003. Their road to success was somewhat backwards since they became more popular in Europe and the UK when they toured in support of U2 and The Strokes. Their 2007 release Because of the Times reached #1 on the UK charts upon its debut and made them stars in the process. Having not heard much of their back catalog it's hard to know how much their sound has evolved over the course of the last number of years. However, I've basically inferred that they've gone from the "garage to the arena," meaning their last album had a bit of U2-style epic rock songs and melodies. The newest release certainly hammers home that style and feeling.

Only by the Night is actually a pretty good album on the whole. I say this because many rock albums have such a low percentage of interesting (GOOD) songs. Having ditched some experimentation and garage techniques to broaden their audience may have alienated their base, but it will most likely bring in more fans than they'll lose. The tracks on the album are actually set up much like a lineup in baseball: the first track is pretty solid and starts off well, the second is a bit better and gets you more into the album, and then the Kings of Leon give their rendition of Murder's Row. The 3, 4, 5 tracks are really the meat of the album. It's hit after hit after hit. In fact, on SNL they played "Sex on Fire" (track 3) then "Use Somebody" (track 4). After those three hits the album has normal ups and downs with a couple hits sprinkled in, but nothing like the first half of the album. Usually, if the song/melody is lacking Caleb Followill's voice keeps your interest. He definitely has one of those great lead singing voices that is even better when performing live as evidenced by the gig on SNL. It's so emotionally evocative that he could be singing nonsense and give it meaning. Not to take anything away from his brothers and cousin, on the contrary their playing is solid. The lead guitar is echo-y and ringing, the bass is very active and solid, and the drumming holds everything down the way it should. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised when I checked out this newest effort from Kings of Leon. They will be more present on my radar for shows and new releases here on out. Enjoy the lead single below.

"Sex on Fire"


Anonymous said...

Mr. Zimman,

I also went to F&M, and you may, in fact, remember me (not that I'm going to use my last name, 'cause I'm somewhat paranoid.) So hi. But I'm not commenting about Ben In The Box or other such glorious memories of our college days. Nor am I here to discuss the Kings of Leon. I am here to let you know that, after going through your entire blog, I have discovered that you have left out my two favoritest bands, and I DEMAND that you remedy this situation.

Please look up Dr. Dog. They put out a new album "Fate" in July, and it is wonderful (although Pitchfork despises them purely for shits and giggles). You can find them at and at I would also highly recommend seeing them live, although I think they already passed through your part of the world last week, so nevermind. They have glorious harmonies, an organ, excellent songcraftin' skills, and are very nice people. I bake them cookies every time I see them.

Also check out Of Montreal for Bowieish theatrics and fun.

Also also, a music blog I greatly enjoy -

Thank you in advance for your reviews. You've got some good, solid writing in here, Mr. Ethan.


Nerkon said...

Convengamos algo, este es otro KOL con solo esbozos de lo que fueron sus innovadores trabajos previos.

La transiciĆ³n siempre es un peligro. Puede destruir o elevar (Radiohead) tu carrera...y pese a que inicialmente me vi sorprendido por un disco que no fue de todo mi agrado..debo confesar que con el paso del tiempo a logrado ganarse un espacio entre mis minutos de mp3.
...sera el camnio correcto de KOL.
Juzgue Ud...