Key Notes - an Irish music blog by Steven O'Rourke

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I Prefer Their Earlier Stuff Vol. 1: Kings of Leon

Feb 25

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009  RssIcon

The first in an irregular series, Key Notes takes a look at bands who, having produced interesting or innovative music early in their careers, are now so middle of the road that they're in danger of being knocked down.  Kings of Leon feature in this first edition.

It's happened to the best of us.  You see a friend and you can't wait to tell them about this new band you've just started listening to.  You wax lyrical for what seems like an age only for your friend to shake his/her head and say:  Yeah, they're okay but....I prefer their earlier stuff.  Key Notes has been on both ends of this conversation and while there are times when this particular blogger has said it just to annoy the person on the other end, more often than not it turns out to be true.KingsofLeon

Now, before you start, I'm not picking on Kings of Leon because they are an easy target.  There are quite a few Irish bands that will feature in this series.  No, I'm picking on Kings of Leon because they are the most high-profile example of a once exciting band now specialising in generic blandness.  Youth & Young Manhood (and the Holy Roller Novocaine EP upon which it was based) and Aha Shake Heartbreak were, and still are, amongst this blogs favourite ever records.  Their blend of baptist-tinged-garage rock is well showcased on tracks like Molly Chambers, The Bucket and Taper Jean Girl.  It was music that made you sit up and pay attention.  Coupled with the fact that they sported some of the best beards this side of Jesus and Santa Claus, Kings of Leon looked as good as they sounded.

However, as much as Key Notes loved Aha Shake Heartbreak (So much so that this blog also bought a copy for Old Man Key Notes) it contains the song that, in this blogs mind, set Kings of Leon on their path to banality.  Milk is nothing more than an acoustic dirge that would never have been recorded were it not showcasing Caleb Followill's distinctive vocals.  Key Notes is a big fan of these vocals, but there was so much more to Kings of Leon.  Now though, almost everything Kings of Leon produce centres around Caleb's Southern drawl.  Having lots of free time on his hands these days, this blog used some software that it owns to strip all four Kings of Leon albums of their main vocals.  The first two still sounded good but Because of the Times and Only by the Night, without vocals, come across like Liverpool without Gerrard; they just don't offer anything worthwhile.

In promoting Only by the Night the Kings of Leon spoke of being influenced by Crystal CastlesRadiohead and My Morning Jacket but that's not evident when you listen to the record.  Indeed it's difficult to believe that Only by the Night was written with anything other than commercial success in mind.  There's nothing wrong with that and I'm sure the Followill's are very happy with their lot in life.  However, the only way real way to achieve that type of success is by producing bland, inoffensive music.  In that they have succeeded and, if the reception they got at Oxegen last year was anything to go by, the general public wouldn't have it any other way.  Key Notes though, well, he really does prefer their early stuff. 

Speaking of which:

Kings of LeonMolly Chambers 


Key Notes also preferred when they had beards and would allow you to embed their official videos!

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3 comment(s) so far...


Re: I Prefer when Key Notes wasn't so judgeMENTAL

Tut tut Key Notes,
Can't believe you don't like Milk.... Kings of Leon banality? and acoustic dirge,bland ouch don't slip off your soapbox, you aimed too high here, slag off Mercury Rev and Snow Patrol!

Long live the Kings!

By kT on   Friday, February 27, 2009

Re: I Prefer Their Earlier Stuff Vol. 1: Kings of Leon

I really like the old sound of Kings Of Leon. They sound much weirder today. And their music hardly makes me get up anymore...

By Darren Tan on   Thursday, March 26, 2009

Re: I Prefer Their Earlier Stuff Vol. 1: Kings of Leon

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