Jeff Yerger jyergs September 19, - The idea of who they were and where they came from was the selling point before the actual music.
Jeff Yerger jyergs September 19, - The idea of who they were and where they came from was the selling point before the actual music. By now, you know the story: They form a band called Kings Of Leon with their cousin Matt, and find early critical acclaim, despite half the band being barely old enough to drive. In the early days, the band found more success in the UK than on US soil.
Overseas, fans ate up everything KOL had to offer: They were somewhat of an outlier in the garage-rock revival of those days. Leave it to the Irish band that idolizes the idea of Americana to change the way an actual American band approaches their music.
I saw them on that tour. U2 have always been the benchmark for how grand music can be, and at the time, there were few things bigger than a U2 show. Surely, watching this band do their thing night after night had to leave an impression on the Followills, because for whatever reason after that tour, Kings Of Leon changed their narrative.
The music was spacious, darker, and bigger. They were onto something, and even America was beginning to catch on. In press photos, they were slowly ditching their mustaches and stupid haircuts the jeans remained. In short, they began to morph into the polished band they always truly were. This is where Only By The Night comes in. Only By The Night — released 10 years ago today — is the album that finally excised Kings Of Leon from the fabled lore of their past. Not many years had passed since their first record, but they were a long ways away from their Southern rock roots.
Looking back, this was arguably their first truly authentic album. This is the record they always wanted to make, but were too drunk and stubborn to make it. This time around, with the taste of success on the tips of their tongues, Kings Of Leon set out to make a big, dumb rock record in the vein of their heroes within the classic rock pantheon, only they were never really in on the joke.
At the very least, the anthems are no longer hidden, the vocals are cleaned up, and the guitars and rhythm are precise. The first two songs are ginormous and undeniable.
The rest of the album is just a vessel for these behemoths. The song reached 1 in the UK and helped the band finally gain significant popularity in the US by reaching 56 on the Billboard Hot and 1 on the Billboard Modern Rock charts.
In fact, not many bands do. The next song on the album would prove to be even bigger than its predecessor. It is the mother of all rock power ballads, released at a time when only bands named Coldplay were allowed to make songs this unabashedly sappy. Suddenly, the Kings Of Leon were the biggest band on the planet.
Their shows grew larger, and their fan base grew wider. YouTube and music blogs became saturated with bands covering the damned thing. Kelly Clarkson covered it. Motherfucking Bat For Lashes covered it. Sure, there have been bands like Portugal The Man to break out from left field to the top of the mainstream charts, but these types of hits rely on pop, dance, and hip-hop beats and tendencies.
For better or for worse, Kings Of Leon never really tried to be like that. In recent years, bands like Coldplay, Maroon 5, or say, Panic! At the Disco who used to rely on rock in the general sense of the word have all but ditched the guitars for the latest pop trends on their most recent records.
The time for an old-fashioned rock record to make its way onto pop charts has come and gone. But hey, it beats being the Strokes.
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Indeed, Only By The Night hasn't left the UK's Top Ten since its release, and the band's current tour looks as if it's going to continue until the fans can't take anymore - which won't be anytime soon.
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