125 of 138 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2010
I've listened to it a couple of times, and Come Around Sundown is (unfortunately for some of us) what I expected from the Only By the Night follow-up. Don't get me wrong. It's a solid effort. It's well written. It's polished both in terms of vocals and instrumentals. It's easy to listen to. And it's got an expansive, big sound that will play well in any arena. If Use Somebody and Sex on Fire were my introduction to KOL, I'd probably really like it.
On the other hand, it's a bit dirgy, safe, and predictable compared to previous records. It doesn't have the youthful exuberance or rawness of Youth and Young Manhood, and it doesn't have the experimental, what-will-they-do-next feel of Because of the Times. The story lines are a bit more finessed (what, no stories about grabby preachers?); the imagery a bit more mainstream (there are bloody teeth, but I didn't hear anything about a trani on a ten); and the lyrics do a little more lamenting than previous efforts. For me, that takes away a lot of the fun that is Kings of Leon. And where is that driving bass line that roars through 7 full minutes of Knocked Up? I can't find it anywhere on here.
Regardless, I do believe it is a solid effort. Of course, I could listen to Caleb sing Celine Dion if I had to. That voice...
If you're favorite record is Only By the Night, then you'll probably love this. If you're stuck in the past (like me) and want less polish and more grit, you'll continue to be disappointed.
40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2010
The 3-star and lackluster reviews are all from people who love the old stuff and hate that their favorite band has become more mainstream with its last few albums. Most of them admit the songs are pretty catchy and well-produced, but they long for the days before band got discovered...when they were dangerous. I've got a response for that: this album is KOL's best. Face it--anyone who thinks it's easy to write a collection of songs that are melodic, memorable, and singable can tell you that it's not selling out...it's a SKILL. Sure, there are TERRIBLE, overly-simplistic disposable pop songs with nothing interesting to say. There are millions of them. And I am a fan of a number of bands with complicated and obscure albums. This KOL album, though, is accessible for a REASON--the SONGS are great. The vocals are STRONGER than they were, and the lead singer is COMMUNICATING better than ever before. Listen to their first album sometime. I imagine to 90% of the world, it's kind of unlistenable. You can barely understand a single word (and I live in the South). It sounds like Tom Petty drank three straight bottles of whiskey and then got hit over the head with a shovel until he started bleeding from his nose. Sure, Sex Pistols fans find that to be a great recommendation, but THIS album, Come Around Sundown, invokes all the lessons learned on the previous albums and then stretches out with real melodies and vocals that could, as some reviewers say, catapault the band into U2 territory with songs that make people FEEL something. I'll put "The End" from this album up against "Spiral Staircase" any time. Sometimes success is actually as sign that something GOOD is going on and that a band it getting better at what it does. Listen to the clips. You'll hear the rock, you'll hear that voice, and you'll hear something uplifting and earnest. You won't hear any processed, over-produced, pandering. This music is from the heart and the band now has the skills to tell the musical stories that they want to tell. Reviewers who say otherwise are probably just finding that music sounds different when you're 16 and it's hard to recreate that feeling in later years. Get over it. This album is great.
47 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2010
**REVIEW DISCLAIMER** This album has to be judged solely on it's OWN merits, not how it holds up to Youth and Aha Shake. There exists a sharp divide within the KOL fanbase, going all the way back to the third album. The purists maintaining they were there from the beginning and that the Followill boys sold out their southern rock roots for radio play and fortune. The newcomers seen as carpetbaggers jumping into a party they should've known about long before they arrived. I was on the bus from the first album, and yes, I prefer my KOL with long hair and flannels, banging out chord driven southern swagger, but that does not discount the quality of the SONGS in the three subsequent releases... I think this may have contributed to some of the more negative reviews I have read on this release.
Come Around Sundown... A platinum album well into the teeth of the download era, mainstream breakthrough finally after three critically acclaimed albums shot just under the radar, headlining outdoor arenas... The brothers Followill had the rock community guessing as to their ever varying direction for the followup to 2008's Only by the Night. Would we get another groove driven, jangly new wave effort, or would the boys pull the rug up from under us and revert to the raucous southern smash in the mouth they came in on... now that they got everybody aboard the train? What you get is the former, a safe play followup and a very logical successor to OBTN... we'll have to wait for the distorted power chords and anthems pertaining to cigarettes, shotguns and whiskey to return, if they ever do.
On the whole the album is solid front to back. Second or third listen hooks and sing along choruses are again the order of the day. As has been the case since since Because of the Times, Jared Followill's bass is out front of the guitars, creating most of the melodies for the songs. Very rarely do you hear discernible guitar riffs, the six stringers used more as accompanying instruments and to add mood and atmospheric effects. The transition to a band being fronted by their rhythm section has resulted in a definite "danceable" element to the sound. This has no doubt been a factor in the droves of young fans the band has won over. What sets this Tennessee outfit apart from the rest of the sheep polluting the rapidly decaying rock radio waves recently is simply this...songwriting.
Caleb's vocals are as versatile as ever and the lyrics are descriptive and abstract at times, rather than the cliched "you, me" verbiage we've endured these last dozen years or so. We still get a brief flicker of southern roots, more so than on the predecessor. Listen to Caleb channel Ronnie Van Zant on Mi Amigo as he calls out "you know son!" preceded by a short blast of falsetto on the last chorus... and who can resist the hook of Caleb boasting of his gal friend's admiration of his manhood on the same track...possibly the coolest KOL vocals since the sophomore effort. Indeed, there are no radio "monsters" in this collection, and sales will probably pale in comparison to OBTN. In 2010 we'll take fun, well written rock records wherever we can get them... that's what you get on the fifth release from the Kings... take it as it is.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2010
This album is full of variety, and I like that. The current issue of the "Rolling Stone" magazine, covers the variety of songs, included in this deluxe edition, and gives it a very good review. Also, the amazon product description even mentions, this deluxe edition is full of variety. Also, the New York Times, has called this the "Rock Blockbuster of the Season". Also, the magazines, "Spin" (Nov.2010), & "American Songwriter"(Nov.Dec.2010) both rate this as a great release, and both have the Kings of Leon on the cover of their current issues. Also, the current issue of "Uncut"(Nov.2010), have the Kings on their cover, and they give this album a good rating. The review of this CD by "Uncut" (Nov.2010,p.89), states "Come young, come old! A Superb fifth will delight Boomer and Tweeter alike...". Also, on p.57, Matthew states, "If I was a Kings of Leon fan, I would want to hear an uptempo rock record eventually." Also, the review in "Uncut" P.89 links the sounds on this deluxe CD, to the Great Southern Bands, that came before them, especially the songs, "Back Down South", & "Pickup Truck". It compares them to the Marshall Tucker Band, and the Allman Brothers Band. Also, in "Spin" (Nov.2010)p.76 it even suggests that KOL might be their generation's Lynyrd Skynyrd. Also, on p.61 of "Uncut" Nov.2010, in the "Songs of the South" Guide, it mentions that the KOL are proudly restating their Southern roots on their new LP "Come Around Sundown". I agree with these assessments.
After reading all these magazine articles, and listening to the songs on this deluxe edition double CD, many times, and from reading other amazon reviews, I've learned alot about this band. I've learned from other reviewer's assessments of this release, even from the ones that totally disagree with my assessment. I've learned about the pro's & con's of this release. I've learned that it's "popular" & "cool" to be disappointed with this release. I learned about the Pigeon droppings, incident, at a KOL concert, in St.Louis of this year. Yes, this album is different from their first 2 albums. Plus, yes they listened to a lot of "Texas", Townes Van Zandt music, and other related music, but they also liked Thin Lizzy, and other artists also. They came up with the name "Kings of Leon", because the father of the 3 Followill brothers', middle name was Leon. So, they started to call themselves the "The Sons of Leon", but then they had a cousin in the band, who was not a son of Leon. So, they came up with the name "Kings of Leon".
"Radioactive" is like a "Rock/Gospel/Spiritual" song, plus it relates to the Kings' Southern Christian roots. It begins with the words, "When the Roll is Called Up Yonder", which is the title to a Gospel hymn. Also, it includes the lyrics "...its in the water...where you came from...", which adds more support, about releating to the Kings' roots. Plus, it could also, be a great arena rock song. "Back Down South", "Mi Amigo", and "Pickup Truck", have somewhat of a Southern Rock &/or Country sound to them. Some songs such as "The Immortals", "Beach Side", "Pony Up", have somewhat of a "Punk Attitude" about them. While, "Mary" has a "50's Doo-Wop" sound to it. "The Face" relates back to Tennessee and the South, it mentions "If you give up New York, I'll Give You Tennessee". "The End" is good solid arena rock, subtly suggesting that this release may be the end of the KOL's popularity. The rest of the songs on disc one are all good solid rock songs.
The lead singer Caleb, has a unique singing style, I love his southern accent, it sounds as if he's "preaching" the lyrics. Afterall, his father was a southern, pentecostal preacher, while the band members, three brothers & a cousin, were growing up, down south. I can relate to a lot of their raising, because I grew up in the deep South, in a very similiar environment, and so did Jerry Lee Lewis, to a certain extent. When they talk about "blow-outs" in Sunday Morning Church Services, in the "American Songwriter" (Nov./Dec.2010), I know exactly what they're talking about.
On disc two, the bonus disc for the deluxe edition, includes another great arena rock song "Celebration". Also it has a great remix of "Radioactive", which includes a mass gospel choir singing in the background. Also it has a great remix of "Closer", from their Grammy Award Winning album, "Only by Night".
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on October 26, 2010
I'm not a diehard KOL fan. Although I've been aware of KOL ever since they came onto the scene with their debut and before they blew up, despite a few songs that sparked, they just never caught fire with me. Therefore, I'm not biased or carrying the torch for the sound of their early albums and the baggage that goes along with it when a band starts to evolve. I'm not even biased towards the sound of their last album. Honestly, when they started to get all that buzz for "Sex on Fire" and "Use Somebody" I thought, OK, time to give them another listen. For me, the first half of OBTN was the making of a classic, but the second half fell flat and kept me ambivalent about KOL. Upon my first listen halfway through "Come Around Sundown" I felt I had again fallen prey to the buzz. The first half seemed clearly tailored for fans picked up by the last album, but, except for Radioactive, sounded like leftover B-Sides. However, I kept listening. The new album really didn't get interesting to me until the second half kicks off with "Back Down South." I think its the best song on the album and most successfully combines their early southern rootsy sound to their recent arena-ready sound. I love how "Back Down South" would be a total front porch southern jam with its fiddle and slide guitar if not for the U2 BAD-esque bass and drum part thumping in the background. Speaking of U2, let me be the first to say that if I hear one more band being touted as "the next U2" I'm going to let out an arena-sized scream! Let U2 be U2 and KOL, or any other band, find their own sound without the weight and hype of the U2 tag. Luckily, unlike Coldplay, KOL doesn't jump at the chance to take on the U2 mantle and be something they're not. Sure, there are flashes of U2 and some Edge-like guitar playing here and there. However, I hear more of a marriage of KOL's southern twang and influences of Johnny Greenwood (Radiohead)and the Pixies on this album. The second half of the album really comes together and rocks and simmers right to the end. The rhythms and melodys are really tight while still giving the songs room to breathe and space so you can really hear the intruments and vocals playing off each other. The songs have a looseness and classic laid-back feel that flows well. This album seems to be more of a lesson in subtlety (something U2 has lacked since The Joshua Tree) as compared with their previous albums which I believe is more interesting and rewarding with each listen. Also, with subsequent listens I have come to enjoy the contrasts of the first half of the album as well. "Radioactive" is the best rocker on the album and "Mary" is a lot of fun with its doo-wop vocals and overdriven guitars reminding me of Teenage Fanclub from years ago. The only song that really falls flat and stalls the album for me is "The Face" which seems like a dumbed down couples-skate power ballad, forced and calculated to elicit high school makeouts and slow mirrorball dancing(It will probably be the biggest single). There may not be a song as classic as "Use Somebody" or "Sex on Fire" that screams to be heard and breaks down the barriers to rock music being heard on pop radio stations these days. But that's OK, I'm burned out on those songs anyway! As a whole, I think this is a better album then their last. It challenges fans both old and new. Taken alone, as I essentially took it, its a good, maybe even great rock album and that's OK in my book. P.S. I wouldn't spring for the "Deluxe Version." Unless you're a diehard fan, save your money. You're not missing out on anything.
22 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2010
First two albums were glorious; drop the needle (so to speak)anywhere in the disc and it would lift you up, lyrically and musically. Sweep you up.The 3rd one was a big great step forwards. The 4th one was understandable. I had high hopes for this latest release, but already with the first cut I am thinking "this sounds like "Sex on Fire/Use Somebody II". U2 had the global vision to absorb and digest synthesizers - KOL sounds swallowed up by the sounds and lost. And will someone please take that reverb knob away from them. The songs sound like they are coming via formula: hear the initial bassline, Matthew's guitar lines soaked in delays and reverb, Nathan ( a great drummer btw) working in the odd snare hit, and then the melodies that have become repetitive. This used to be one of their strengths: Caleb's vocal melodies that once had no rules.
I don't understand the reviews about "back to their roots" ; I don't hear the influences from listening to Towns, or Ry Cooder's slide; it seems to be going exactly the opposite way. I was reading an interview where Caleb was saying "This was before I knew how to talk to a celebrity". Maybe they should unlearn all that as soon as possible.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
In my opinion, Come Around Sundown is one of the best albums of 2010. It has been in heavy rotation around my house since it was released in October. I think this is a lot different than "Only By The Night" - it seems to have a more mellow feel to it and the band seems to not be taking themselves too seriously. KOL is definately one of the best bands out there right now - they have a very original sound which reminds me of old time southern rock like Lynard Skynard. My favorites on this album are Pyro, Pickup Truck and Back Down South - although it is really hard to pick a favorite because I think all of the songs are just great. There are very few albums that I can put on and listen to all the way through and this is one of them. KOL rocks!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 20, 2010
I have every KOL CD ever released, and I have been listening to them from the beginning. That said, I am impressed with the depth and the sound of this album. I still expected more of the poppy sounds that made up "Sex is on Fire" and "Use Somebody", but was pleasantly surprised to hear more southern rock coming from my speakers. The Followill brothers (and cousin) have grown up, and grown into a much more mature sound, that now compliments the lead's voice, rather than make him sound like a screeching banshee as on previous albums.
Overall, very happy with this CD, and I look forward to more music from this multi-talented band of Followills.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2014
I had heard the Kings play something other than their hits on the today show and loved it. That was years ago and I finally got around to buying this album because I had NEVER heard any of the cuts. The first play through was nice, but as my ear re-trained ittself, on the second play through --- Kings of Leon are just that kings. While I did have to listen a second time, I am completely sold on the non hits of my KINGS. Very very wonderful surprise for me and like Phoenix I will buy every album the kings have ever put out.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 2011
Just five albums into their recording career, Kings of Leon is a completely different band than it was seven years ago. With the 2003 release of their debut album Youth and Young Manhood, the Kings emerged as the latest torch-bearers for Southern garage rock. They sounded like a combination of the Strokes and Lynyrd Skynyrd, with often unintelligible vocals and a straight-ahead rock sound. They honed that sound on the 2004 follow-up Aha Shake Heartbreak and reached new heights on their best album to date, 2007's Because of the Times, which showed them experimenting with new sounds while maintaining their heavy-rock sound (Black Thumbnail, McFearless, Charmer and Camaro are tremendous ass-kicking rock tunes).
While achieving great success in England, the band basically maintained a small but devoted following in the United States. That, of course, was until 2008's blockbuster on both sides of the Atlantic Only by the Night made them international superstars.
Buoyed by U2-esque anthems like Use Somebody and Sex on Fire, Kings of Leon sounded little like the rough and tumble rockers of their first two releases. Many longtime fans used the dreaded word "sellout" when describing the more polished sound. I'm actually a fan of both versions of the band, but I actually prefer the Kings' last three albums over their first two, simply because the songs are more developed and catchier as a whole.
Their latest release,Come Around Sundown, continues Kings of Leon's progression into a huge arena rock band. The first single "Radioactive" is the type of tune U2 used to turn out with ease but hasn't mustered in at least a decade. Big guitars reminiscent of the Edge coupled with a massive singalong chorus give it a bit of a gospel feel, and it's one of the best tunes on the album. There are a few stylistic departures, including the doo-wop flourishes on "Mary" and the down-home country charm of "Back Down South." The Followill clan (brothers Caleb, Nathan and Jared with cousin Matthew) keep maturing as a band, with the rhythm section of Jared on bass and Nathan on drums giving many songs a needed kick in the arse. Caleb has always been a dynamic frontman, adding an emotional edge and theatrics to tunes like "Pickup Truck," "The End," and "No Money." The one thing that Come Around Sundown and its predecessor don't really do is rock, and each album could have used a few stompers like Black Thumbnail to add more variety. But U2 (who they seem to aspire to be) often didn't rock hard but wrote majestic anthems that have stood the test of time. Kings of Leon aren't quite there yet. Lyrically, Caleb is no Bono, but they keep getting better as a band and hopefully will come up with another album as good as their third sometime soon.