Kings Of Leon - Aha Shake Heartbreak (2LP)

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The mysterious Followill family returns to the front porch/garage on the Kings of Leon's engaging sophomore effort, Aha Shake Heartbreak. On Youth & Young Manhood, the Kings gave Southern rock a swift kick in the rear, sounding like Lynyrd Skynyrd posing as a bunch of N.Y.U. film students (or vice versa). For their latest, the Nashville quartet raises a flag that's equal parts Confederate and Union Jack. Their success in the U.K. is understandable, as Caleb Followill's lazy drawl sounds like a cross between Bon Scott, Ray Davies, and Eddie Money with a slight Jamaican accent, but it's their seamless and agreeable blend of rock & roll, country, and Roky Erickson-style psychedelia, matched with a keen lyrical wit, that makes them fascinating to both sides of the pond. On the twenty-something barfly opener "Slow Night, So Long," Caleb laments/celebrates the soulless dance of the one-night stand ("She's opened up just like she really knows me/I hate her face, but enjoy the company") like a true student of outlaw country. It's a theme that runs rampant throughout Heartbreak, and whether it's set against a swamp-sick boogie ("Pistol of Fire") or emitted through a lonesome yodel ("Day Old Blues"), it resonates as clear and cool as the opening notes of a Creedence Clearwater Revival tune.

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