Like old-time minstrel families crisscrossing the countryside to tell their stories, the Followills — brothers Caleb, Nathan, Jaredc, and cousin Matthew — make up the Kings of Leon, traveling worldwide to share their music. Here are our picks for their finest songs.
10. “Family Tree”- Mechanical Bull
Kicking off with some old-school KOL bravado and rolling drums, this funky tune has a fresh backbeat and Motown feel. The song rumbles through a quiet/loud arrangement and explodes with an infectious chorus that will get you grooving along to this good ol’ Southern gospel hand-clapper. “Family Tree” is definitely a highlight on the album.
9.”Milk”– Aha Shake Heartbreak
You might find yourself pressing the ‘skip’ button on this one — but trust me, don’t. Slow to start, the basic guitar and drumbeat allow the lyrics to speak for themselves. Give this a listen on headphones to truly hear Caleb’s heartfelt vocals as he remembers a girl that was once his.
8.”Beautiful War”– Mechanical Bull
KOL has come a long way from their raunchy debut album Youth & Young Manhood. Written on the same weekend as hit-single “Use Somebody” back in 2008, this sultry down-beat song aches with sentiment and teaches us a lesson in love. Clocking in as the longest song on the album, Caleb definitely asserts his presence throughout. Get your lighters in the air for this future favourite.
7.”Back Down South”– Come Around Sundown
KOL takes us back to the simple days of family gatherings on this country-inspired tune. The lap steel guitar and violin give it that country twang, reminding us of their southern roots. Recorded in Nashville, “Back Down South,” embodies the laid back feel flowing through Come Around Sundown.
6.”Charmer” – Because Of The Times
The Kings have surely met their fair share of girls on the road — I mean come on, look
at them — but with the shrill of this tune one can only imagine how many times they’ve
had their asses handed to them. Everything from the paranoid bass line, frazzled
lyrics and Caleb’s high, piercing, schoolgirl yell makes this one of their most distinct songs.
5.”Closer” – Only By The Night
This haunting tale of a torn soul lets us know the depths of vocalist Caleb’s thoughts. While his voice is nothing short of powerful on this one, it’s his brother Jared’s chilling bass line that captivates you from the very beginning.
4.”Four Kicks”– Aha Shake Heartbreak
The gritty guitar licks remind us that these boys were born and raised in the south and know a thing or two about booze and brawls. Caleb and Nathan, the two eldest members of the four brother band, don’t fight often, but when they do, make sure to get the hell out of the way. In 2007, Nathan ruffled up some rooster feathers after a night out in Nashville that left Caleb with a dislocated shoulder. The song is a short two minute bar fight anthem that will pump you up and leave you bloody. If anyone ever confused KOL for the Hanson brothers, this song is sure to set them straight.
3.”Red Morning Light”– Youth & Young Manhood
We may not be strangers to KOL’s dirty lyrics commonly heard in Youth & Young Manhood, but their mother is. Unable to understand a word he’s saying throughout, much like a mouthful of marbles, Caleb purposely does this so his mother can’t understand the song’s salacious lyrics. The aggressive beat accompanied by Caleb’s high-pitched shrills epitomizes the bands earlier stuff and gets the crowd ready to rock.
2.”Cold Desert”– Only By The Night
Putting a spotlight on the sinning, searching and tortured faith in singer Caleb’s vocals, this song, despite never meaning to be on the record, is the track that closes nicely Only By The Night, an album fueled with anthemic rock ballads. The track was originally incomplete — with only the first verse written — but in a drunken stupor and a quick hit of the record button, an honest moment was captured. Most of the lyrics free-flowed off Caleb’s tongue — the most heart-wrenching “Jesus don’t love me” is a line that Caleb may not remember saying but will surely raise the hairs on your neck.
1.”Talihina Sky” – Youth & Young Manhood (Hidden Track)
This hidden gem can be found eight minutes into their LP “Holy Roller Novocaine.” Showing us a softer, more sentimental side to their usual head banging rock, the southern rockers literally step out of where they came from,foreshadowing their slower yet brilliant tracks heard on Come Around Sundown and Mechanical Bull.