\ Hip Displeasure: January 2005

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An independent music and pop culture commentary collective.


Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Kings of Leon - Aha Shake Heartbreak


Many have claimed Kings of Leon are nothing more than Creedence Clearwater Regurgitated, but as Aha Shake Heartbreak proves, their sound is actually informed by a variety of sources, none of whom are named Fogarty. The album opener, "Slow Night, So Long," features an extended intro that recalls The Who during their '70s heyday -- especially the Entwhistle-ish bass line. In "King of the Rodeo," lead singer Caleb Followill executes the type of verbal gymnastics for which the otherwise very un-gymnastic John Popper is known. At times, Followill's distinctive skronk of a voice misfires like John Germaine's saxophone during a performance of "Hot-n-Heavy" at a post-coital showcase, but his unique delivery ends up being perfect for the band's vibe.

If this album's got a hit, it's probably "The Bucket," which is easily the most modern-sounding track of the bunch. That's not to say the other tracks sound dated, because although they each recall past artists, they all have their own fresh take. As for the down and dirty southern-fried boogie expected of Kings of Leon, they definitely deliver the goods with "Razz," though it's much more of a Black Keys/Black Crowes hybrid than anything found in the CCR catalog. On the final track of Aha Shake Heartbreak, all of these disparate influences are wrapped up perfectly with the profane waltz "Rememo," which would be right at home on a Nilsson album. It's a fitting end to the first great album of 2005.