Kings of Leon burst out of the rural South and into the international consciousness with their distinct, unpolished style of garage rock. Each of their early albums subsequently embraced and perfected this music, becoming the band’s trademark sound for the ﬁrst part of their career.
While the Kings eventually began to experiment with other genres and sonic exploration, their ﬁrst three studio albums represent a family-band of young, hungry musicians paying tribute to their inﬂuences, from the raw guitar of Thin Lizzy to the southern-fried Allman Brothers Band, with all the swagger of the Stones.
Now available, on remastered 180-gram, gatefold double LPs, are the band’s ﬁrst three albums: Youth and Young Manhood (2003), Aha Shake Heartbreak (2004), and Because Of The Times (2007), plus the vinyl-only release Rarely, a full album of rarities, live tracks, and B-sides from the period surrounding these albums hand-picked by the band.
Aha Shake Heartbreak may have blown open the doors of fame for Kings of Leon, but their third full-length album (named for a United Pentecostal Church ministers' conference) ushered the Nashville foursome directly to rock and roll's zenith. The three Followill brothers and their cousin, along with producer Ethan Johns, mine a smorgasbord of musical influences while utilizing a cacophonous ensemble of guitar, bass, and drums to drive the rock-centric Because of the Times.
A trio of relentless rockers - "My Party," "Camaro," and the sarcastic "Charmer" - follow along the lines of Kings of Leon's original Southern-etched sound, yet the band uses the album as a jumping-off platform for a broader, more ambitious approach. Reverb guitar, echo-laden vocals, and a "whoo-whoo" chorus add a sinister aspect to "Trunk," while the radio smash "Knocked Up" features a laissez-faire Caleb Followill crooning "She don't care what her mama said/She's gonna have my baby." The seven-minute fatherhood revelation leads into the U2-influenced "McFearless," a reggae-splashed "Ragoo," and the rambling English blues of "Black Thumbnail."
1. Knocked Up
3. On Call
5. Black Thumbnail
6. My Party
1. True Love Way
4. The Runner