Rocks Off has always been a little puzzled we're not more of a Kings of Leon fan. It definitely puts us in the minority when it comes to our social circle, because everyone from cranky music critics and their musician sons to, well, pretty much every female friend or acquaintance we've got is in the tank for these Tennessee studs.
Once upon a time, so were we. Rocks Off thoroughly enjoyed the Kings' 2003 debut Youth and Young Manhood
, particularly opener "Red Morning Light," "Molly's Chambers" and the last track, "Holy Roller Novocaine." We even wrote an article for the Austin Chronicle
about how, along with Drive-By Truckers and My Morning Jacket, the Kings were at the head of the class of new-school Southern rockers, bands who took the best bits of the Allmans/Skynyrd/ZZ Top triumverate and polished them up for the Pitchfork era.
For the Kings, that seemed to be mostly the way they dressed and carried on - both onstage and backstage - like they just stepped off the Rolling Stones' 1975 U.S. tour. We are also fond of a drink and the fairer sex, so we could definitely relate, and we didn't much mind that many songs reminded us (and many, many others) of the Strokes, because we were still into the Strokes back then too. Youth and young manhood really are wasted on the young.
One King of Leon or another at Verizon Wireless Theater, October 2008
Mark C. Austin
We really don't know what happened next. We don't remember owning or even listening to the Kings' 2005 follow-up Aha Shake Heartbreak
. We do the next one, 2007's Because of the Times
, and distinctly remember thinking 'Eh.' Last year's Only By the Night
, the album that finally broke them in the U.S. and brings them to Toyota Center tonight, has its moments ("Crawl"), but at their Verizon Wireless Theater show last October
, we were frustrated and annoyed that the Kings steadfastly refused to go for the jugular.
We may have mixed up the various Followills' instruments' - that's Caleb, vocals; Jared, bass; Nathan, drums; and cousin Matthew, lead guitar - but we could tell when a band is phoning it in, and they were. If we weren't bound by the Music Critic Code to not use such language, we'd say that makes them pussies.
But Rocks Off is a forgiving sort, or at least we try to be, so we've been listening to the Kings all afternoon on last.fm
to see if we missed something. We're already starting to come around to Heartbreak
, although putting those songs up against what we heard last fall, we still say it's the band that was missing something.