Kings Of Leon - Aha Shake Heartbreak
(2004 HandMeDown Records)
Caleb Followhill - Vocals, Guitar
Nathan Followhill - Drums, Vocals
Jared Followhill - Bass Guitar
Matthew Followhill - Lead Guitar
Kings Of Leon are all brothers apart from Matthew Followhill who is their cousin.
Aha Shake Heartbreak, the Kings' second and most recent album. Often deemed the hardest, especially after a fairly strong debut. There's a lot of fuss about the second album; Were the band pulling a fluke on their debut? Will the follow-up be as good? I can safely say that Aha Shake Heartbreak beats their first hands down.
The reason for this is simply the song writing and overall album quality is a lot higher. There are no bad tracks on Aha Shake Heartbreak whereas their debut album lacked in a few songs.
First up is Slow Night, So Long, one of my favourite songs off the album. Opens with a soft guitar riff, an interesting chorus consisting of strumming an A chord for a few bars and the trademark Caleb Followhill hard-to-distinguish southern twang. The best part of the song however is the outro. You can tell KOL are experimenting a bit here - you can hear interesting percussion, a calypso-ish vibe, some nice guitar chords that remind me of being on a beach somewhere and even some tasteful piano later on. Sound much like Youth And Young Manhood? I think not.
A lot of the songs on the album contain simple but effective guitar riffs. Thats what I love about KOL, they turn the simplest riffs and ideas into interesting songs.
Nathan's drum parts are extremely simple most of the time, but occasionally he will play something a bit out of the ordinary - check out the intro to Razz, pretty tasty drum fill, and then the end to Rememo. Plus if you've ever seen the video, hes got this great way of looking statue-like still while playing. I love it. The bass playing has improved quite a bit from Youth And Young Manhood. Jared comes up with some pretty funky basslines (intro to Razz) and some nice licks here and there. Finally, Matthew has a slightly sloppy style on guitar. It fits KOL perfectly. He can also play really clean though, as heard in most of the tracks however his solos usually have a sloppy feel to them.
Caleb has to be one of the best frontmen ever (well, maybe not ever, but he sure is good!). His voice is instantly recognisealbe and his way of singing words makes their music sound a lot more original. He either has a screechy voice or sings in some kind of new language unknown to man. I actually found it quite fun trying to figure out the lyrics (of course my theories came nowhere near the actual words), especially in Four Kicks.
This album contains a greater mix of styles / tempo than the debut. Pistol Of Fire is a fast paced rocker, opening with a soft ride cymbal pattern before blasting out a catchy guitar riff. Milk is the opposite, a slow, emotional ballad featuring 80s synth keyboards (:eek: 80s keyboards in a KOL song?!) acoustic guitar and Nathan's driving bass drum keeping rhythm.
Highlights of the album:
- Simple but effective
- Good song & lyrical writing
- Good instrumentation
- A definate improvement on their first CD
- Drawing more ideas and showing off more influences
Downsides to the album:
- Still a bit samey
- Velvet Snow brings it down a bit
Tracks to look out for:
- Slow Night, So Long
- King of The Rodeo
- Pistol Of Fire
- Day Old Blues
- Four Kicks
As you can see, there is a mix of songs and styles, all the more to keep you hooked. If you liked their first album, buy this one too. Its a great improvment. If you didn't like their debut, at least try and listen to this because its quite different. And in a good way.
I give this album a 3.5 out of 5. (That doesn't mean its bad, I just feel 4 / 5 should be reserved for excellent / mind blowing albums)