KINGS OF LEON / AHA SHAKE HEARTBREAK

So, I really have to start this off with a disclaimer for the majority of you….

WARNING: THE CONTENTS OF THIS ARTICLE MAY CAUSE EXCESSIVE NOSTALGIA & FEELINGS OF BEING REALLY, REALLY OLD.

2016 has been a fairly average year for new music, but amongst the mediocrity there have been some truly amazing releases and even more interesting returns by some of rock n rolls biggest names. The Kills dropped a beauty of a record and the Rolling Stones are still to release a brand new studio album in December. Between those, Kings of Leon released their 7th studio effort, WALLS. We reviewed it at the time and you can find it right here, but a byproduct of the success of this latest released had been the re-listening to older albums, lengthy sessions and full immersion into the world of KOL. In doing this I released that this November marks a full 12 years since they’re iconic second album ‘Aha Shake Heartbreak’ was released in the U.K.

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November 2004 saw a welcome return of the new and unlikeliest of indie rock heroes, after blowing everybody away with their early EP and successive LP release, ‘Youth and Young Manhood’. The UK had fully embraced this family band of four southern preachers sons and were desperate for me. What we got, was way more than we could have ever asked for. Perhaps there’s a nostalgic glow to this review, as there always is when looking back at a favourite album, but I remember the amazement and excitement when those hairy fellas off of ‘Molly’s Chambers’ were back, looking like they’d shed twenty years each and there was much less hair to go around too. More importantly, the music was phenomenal. I still cite ‘Slow Night, So Long’ as one of my favourite album openers. It’s simple, steady, but builds towards a frenzy, especially when Caleb’s vocals start and where he’d sported a bassier, more country vocal style on the first album, he’d come back harsher, shriller, a little more unintelligible but a lot more rock n roll.

The album eventually spoiled us rotten with future classics like ‘The Bucket’, ‘Milk’ and ‘Four Kicks’, as well as fan favourites such as ‘King of the Rodeo’, ‘Soft’, ‘Taper Jean Girl’ and ‘Pistols of Fire’. It’s a solid a second album as I can ever imagine and there aren’t really any comparisons I can make to other bands on their second albums. What’s even more impressive is that I can’t really compare ‘Aha Shake…’ to any of KOL’s other albums. It showed diversity, range and adaption to the world they’d perhaps unwillingly fallen into thanks to their endless talent and unique sound. Five albums followed in that 12 years and they remain one of the biggest bands on the planet after adapting their sound to be more commercially acceptable, which had always been a divisive move and has hipsters and indie kids still moaning and reminiscing about the good old days. Whatever they sound like and however they evolve, they remain a force in the rock and roll music world and continually impress. The first two albums may have been the highest point for many and I can see why, but hey, here’s to another seven albums.

Words by Stuart Green (@mojo20_music)

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