I sat here considering what topic to use for my first ever venture into the increasingly popular world of blogging, and typically I got distracted and ended up mindlessly scrolling up and down in my iTunes library. As bands starting with ‘k’ flashed before my eyes I was pleasantly reminded of Kings of Leon, a group who I seemed to have recently forgotten and neglected from my speakers. By accident I clicked on their latest album, ‘Only By The Night’, released last year. Usually I’d recognise a mistake like this and move onto a much better album, but this time something triggered inside me and ultimately my mood turned for the worse.
As I was growing up, I always looked to Kings of Leon as being the epitome of cool, a band who grew up in the south of America, preaching whiskey, sex and drugs, what else could a fifteen year old yearn for? As one of a few select of bands who actually played filthy bluesy rock and rolly music, they soon became a huge favourite of mine, something backed up by my play count on my last fm profile.
The first two albums were and still are absolutely amazing, dripping with arrogance and coolness. Long hair, skinny jeans and boots were again considered the only way any self respecting indie kid would dress, harking back to the good old days of Zeppelin and Skynyrd.
What I didn’t realise was that this band was going to eventually grow up, and well, it’s gone pretty disastrously, in my opinion of course.
Okay, so Because of the Times was quite a good album when it came out, but they’d moved from their standard branch of southern rock and turned a bit ‘stadium rockish’ for want of a better phrase. Alarm bells didn’t start ringing quite yet.
But dear God, their most recent album, the aforementioned ‘Only By The Night’ was a kick in the metaphorical groin for me. Never have I seen a band sell out so much and put (another metaphor here) a massive two fingers up to their roots and the fans who loved them from the start. Bland, bloated and lacking any sort of balls.
Now, there’s something incredibly pretentious about being put off a band just because they’ve became hugely popular; which is of course what happened with Only By The Night. There’s something oh so snotty, arrogant and unjust about it, but occasionally I’m an excellent hypocrite, and I gave it my best shot at this one. Thrusted into the mainstream, everything that was once down to earth and genuine about KoL (a new acronym for the band, do I sense marketing?) had vanished. Suddenly everyone was singing Sex on Fire and Use Somebody, every little chav had it on their phone, every middle aged woman knew all the words. I’m not saying that reaching out to as many fans as possible is wrong, but it was done at the expense of artistic merit, and also at the expense of their true fans. Me included.
Another thing that massively irked me was their announcement of a new clothing range. At first when I heard about it I was quite excited, thinking that the cotton shirts, skinny jeans and black boots with generous heels that they don in the posters on my wall would be available for everyone. I looked up at these posters, one of which includes two band members wielding shotguns, one with a bottle of Jack Daniels, and all with cigarettes. The epitome of cool rock and roll. I clicked on the link on NME.com and at first wasn’t particularly impressed but at the same time I wasn’t disgusted. Until I saw the price. A leather jacket for £739; yes that’s right, £739. A checked shirt for £112 and a t-shirt at £71. I’ve saved the worst till last… a bandana for £65. Sorry, but how out of touch do you want to be? Coming from the band who used to buy from charity shops and swap clothes with eachother. There’s even stories of them demanding the lights be off at their earliest gigs because they simply didn’t want to be seen.
Rumours are that their next album will be back to basics, gritty, southern, and dirty bluesy rock and roll. If so, it’ll be like having an old friend back in my life.