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Kings of Leon: Because of the Times

 A l b u m   D e t a i l s

Label: RCA Records
Released: 2007.03.30
Category: Garage Rock, Southern Rock
Producer(s): Ethan Johns, Angelo Petraglia
Media type: CD
Web address: www.kingsofleon.com
Appears with:
Purchase date: 2012
Price in €: 1,00

 S o n g s ,   T r a c k s

[1] Knocked Up (Kings of Leon) - 7:10
[2] Charmer (Kings of Leon) - 2:56
[3] On Call (Kings of Leon) - 3:21
[4] McFearless (Kings of Leon) - 3:09
[5] Black Thumbnail (Kings of Leon) - 4:00
[6] My Party (Kings of Leon) - 4:10
[7] True Love Way (Kings of Leon) - 4:02
[8] Ragoo (Kings of Leon) - 3:00
[9] Fans (Kings of Leon) - 3:35
[10] The Runner (Kings of Leon) - 4:16
[11] Trunk (Kings of Leon) - 3:57
[12] Camaro (Kings of Leon) - 3:09
[13] Arizona (Kings of Leon) - 4:50

 A r t i s t s ,   P e r s o n n e l

Caleb Followill - Guitar, Vocals
Jared Followill - Bass, Background Vocals
Matthew Followill - Guitar, Background Vocals
Nathan Followill - Drums, Background Vocals

Ethan Johns - Audio Production, Producer
Angelo Petraglia - Audio Production, Producer
Lowell Reynolds - Engineer
Clifton Allen - Engineer, Second Engineer
Ted Jensen - Mastering
Mike Kemp - Cover Photo
James Minchin - Photography
Ken Levitan - Management
Abbe Chant - A&R
Steve Ralbovsky - A&R

 C o m m e n t s ,   N o t e s

Recorded in 2006 at Blackbird in Nashville; Sunset Sound in Hollywood.

Third album from the rockin' American quartet whose previous albums (2003's Youth And Young Manhood and Aha Shake Heartbreak from '05) have earned them a large worldwide following. Consisting of three brothers and a cousin, the Kings Of Leon mix their own brand of Southern Rock with touches of Garage, Punk and Alternative swagger. RCA.

They don't make seven-minute doomed-teen-lover melodramas like the Kings of Leon's "Knocked Up" anymore. This is the Tennessee band's big album-opening saga, building from quiet to loud with guitar licks that sound like the Edge fried in okra, with ominous thunderclap drumrolls. Caleb Followill chokes on his story: He and his cowgirl are gonna have a baby, her mama don't like it, they don't care, they're hitting the road in a Coupe de Ville, no doubt just one step ahead of The Man. "I've taken all I've had to take/This takin's gonna shake me," Caleb declares with his usual throaty passion, gunning for the border as the guitars weave between U2 and Uriah Heep. Car + girl + lots and lots of guitar = "Knocked Up." Kings of Leon make it sound so simple — and so funny — they make you forget how many other bands go soft trying to run this same road.

It's an excellent opener to an excellent third album from the Kings. Because of the Times, named after a Southern preachers' conference that the boys used to attend with their Pentecostal minister father, is a whole album full of songs inspired by the only topic the Kings seem to care about: no-good women, the kind who turn nice country boys into thieves, fugitives or corpses, and make them love every sordid second of it. These are sons of the preacher man: singer-guitarist Caleb, bassist Jared and drummer Nathan are brothers, while cousin Matthew plays lead guitar. The Followills grew up living in a car with their defrocked itinerant minister daddy, Leon, and they basically went into the same business, except they've got sticky fingers for sin. On anthemic shitkickers like "Black Thumbnail," "My Party" and "On Call," they flare up like Black Oak Arkansas on a jag with the Ozark Mountain Daredevils and the Amazing Rhythm Aces.

When the Kings first arrived on the garage-rock scene a few years ago, they whipped up so much interest right away, nobody really minded that they weren't any good. Their Grizzly Adams beards, their Bible-thumping family background — it all fed into their fans' Huck Finn fantasy of unspoiled backwoods boogie. Well, the back story was cute for about five minutes, but the songs didn't get the job started until their second album, the stunning (and sorely underrated) Aha Shake Heartbreak. From the sounds of the record, the Kings had met a few girls on the road and gotten their asses handed to them. There were all sorts of new energy and wit in the Strokes-Skynyrd music as the Kings unloaded their fantastic groupie tales — the girl in "Soft" would paint your toes and let her "perfect nipples" show, while the girl in "Milk" had an hourglass body and lent you her toothbrush.

Because of the Times is even better — the band doesn't fuss with any sort of rootsy purism, which is why it gets away with retro moves that would sound soft from anybody else. Matthew Followill keeps getting more expansive dynamics out of his guitar, with salutary Euro influences — "Charmer" has a driving guitar riff swiped from Wire's "Ex Lion Tamer," probably by way of Blur's "Song 2." "Trunk" has loony, high-lonesome oooohs over some serious swamp-blues guitar murk. Folksy ballads like "Fans" and "The Runner" remind you that the Kings could be as facile as the Black Crowes or Nickelback if they were content to aim that low. Caleb's vocals continue to defy description: Steppenwolf's John Kay after a nad-crushing motorcycle crash? The Band's Richard Manuel with scurvy? Dave Matthews getting ripped apart by wolverines? And did I mention the lyrics? Ridiculous little monsters, they are, fit to get brutally stomped into the dirt, which in fact is exactly how Caleb treats them. How good can the Kings of Leon get? On Because of the Times, they've already gone further than anybody could have guessed.

Rob Sheffield - March 21, 2007

How best to follow up a second album which captured perhaps better than any other that very particular second album mood of trying to hold onto an awareness that your actions have consequences, even as the riptide of success threatens to suck you into a maelstrom of amorality?

Kings of Leon have the answer. Kick it off with a brooding, seven-minute epic called 'Knocked Up', which drains every last drop of intoxication from impending fatherhood's potent cocktail of virility and helplessless ('She don't care what her mama says, she's gonna have my baby'). The lead guitar successfully reassembles the DNA of U2's the Edge into that of someone who would never wear a bandana, and the drums shuffle and lurch like a Staffordshire bull-terrier which has just seen a squirrel.

Then, just as this leisurely aperitif has lulled the listener into a woozy miasma of anticipation, knock them off their feet with the headlong head-rush of 'Charmer'. To say this song 'sounds like' the Pixies would be to do all parties concerned a grave injustice. It doesn't just sound like them. It moves into their house, eats everything in their fridge, and cashes in their life insurance. But it does so in such a playful, innocent way - 'She stole my karma - oh no!/ Sold it to the farmer - oh no!' - that even Black Francis couldn't hold it against them.

Like so many of the moments on Because of the Times when Kings of Leon briefly walk in another band's shadow ('My Party', for example, could be a bonus track from the current LCD Soundsystem album, complete with trademark cowbell), 'The Charmer' feels like a bold shot in the dark rather than a pointless act of homage. This song seems to be a serious attempt to find out if the Pixies could have squalled and scourged the way they did if they had happened before punk rock, rather than after it (they could, apparently). Just as 'McFearless' imagines what Lynyrd Skynyrd might have sounded like if they'd been produced by Factory sound-sculptor Martin Hannett (it turns out they'd have sounded pretty good).

Kings of Leon have spent much of the past couple of years in potentially soul-sapping support slots on extended US stadium tours by the likes of Bob Dylan, Pearl Jam and, most significantly, U2. But rather than be ground down by that experience, they've used it as the jumping-off point for a bold expansion of their own parameters. Not into the empty, monolithic bigness which has afflicted so many of those (from the Killers to Arcade Fire) who've fallen under U2's sway recently, but into the realm which Bono and co aspired to inhabit themselves in their early years, when they were Thin Lizzy fans whose grandest ambition was to be half as good as Joy Division.

The great four-song sequence which comes towards the end of Because of the Times - from the upward-fluking vocals of Anglophile rhapsody 'Fans', through the virtual gospel of 'The Runner' ('I talk to Jesus/ Jesus says I'm OK'), and 'Trunk"s the Band-worthy woozy 'ooh-oohs', to the classic car-song finale of 'Camaro' (Creedence Clearwater Revival with special guest Robert Fripp) - feels as honest and inspired as anything produced in the heady reassessment of trad-rock's possibilities which took place in Britain in the very early Eighties. By a further strange quirk of historical and geographic resonance, the UK so fondly namechecked in 'Fans' plays the same inspirational role for Kings of Leon - as a mystical land of unparalleled opportunity and indulgence - as America once did for the Who and Led Zeppelin. And if that's not a cause for justifiable patriotic pride, I don't know what is.

Ben Thompson, 18 March 2007
The Observer

Aha Shake Heartbreak may have blown open the doors of fame for Kings of Leon, but their third full-length album (named for a United Pentecostal Church ministers' conference) could well usher the Nashville foursome directly to rock and roll's zenith. There's hardly a change in plans for the three Followill brothers and their cousin, and that means producer Ethan Johns, a smorgasbord of musical influences, and a cacophonous ensemble of guitar, bass, and drums. A trio of relentless rockers--"My Party," "Camaro," and the sarcastic "Charmer"--are sure to pacify those familiar with the Kings' blueprint, yet there is ripening in the band's approach heard, in several of the record's 13 songs. Reverb guitar and vocals and a "woo woo" chorus add a sinister aspect to "Trunk," and "Knocked Up" features a laissez-faire Caleb Followill crooning "She don't care what her mama said/She's gonna have my baby." The seven-minute revelation of fatherhood that opens the album leads into the U2-influenced "McFearless," a reggae-splashed "Ragoo," and the rambling English blues of "Black Thumbnail." It's a rogue element that has always left every record fresh, and this time it has Kings of Leon teetering on the edge of rock renown.

Scott Holter - Amazon.com

Leaning even further toward a kind of post-punk meets prog rock aesthetic than on their first two albums, Nashville-based Kings of Leon have crafted a darker, less pop-oriented and somewhat cerebral affair with 2007's Because of the Times. In fact, if Alan Parsons lent the Allman Brothers his spaceship, Because of the Times would be the resulting space odyssey. While that leads to some intriguing moments, the general move away from strong, hooky choruses to a focus on expansive, intricate and percussive arrangements may challenge casual and even some longtime fans of the band's catchy, Southern garage rock twang. That said, cuts like the atmospheric and brooding lead-off track "Knocked Up" showcase lead-singer Caleb Followill's growing maturity as a singer and lyricist, and bring to mind favorable comparisons to such artists as Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen. Similarly, the moody single "On Call" and the roiling, dramatic "McFearless," while not immediately hummable, do sink into your memory, revealing layers of melody and emotion on repeated listens.

Matt Collar - All Music Guide

The songs of indie-influenced Southern rockers Kings of Leon have tended to be concise and traditionally structured. But their third CD, Because of the Times, is a more sonically ambitious beast, as evidenced by album opener ''Knocked Up,'' which is nicely loose and seven minutes long. Indeed, with the exception of the relatively straightforward ''Black Thumbnail,'' all the tracks here find the band experimenting, successfully, with spacey atmospherics. If less accessible on first hearing than its predecessors, the result is an epic wide-screen movie of a CD and the band's best to date.

Clark Collis - Mar 30, 2007
Copyright © 2014 Entertainment Weekly and Time Inc.

Remember Kings Of Leon? Or has it been too long? They were Tennessee’s very own apple-shaking, cinnamon-throwing, gak-hoovering answer to The Waltons, raised in the not-so-spacious backseat of a destitute 1988 Oldsmobile driven by their pa around the American south’s Bible Belt while he preached fire, brimstone and sulphurous lakes of flame to the faithful. However, after not unreasonably coming to the conclusion that all the best broads were probably in hell anyway, the Followill brethren eschewed the Christian life in favour of the dark, debauched ways of rock’n’roll. And stone the crows if they didn’t have a ball embracing it.

It helped that they were rather good, of course. Their whisky-soaked, nicotine-stained debut album ‘Youth & Young Manhood’ was one of the great records of 2003, and while its follow-up, 2004’s ‘Aha Shake Heartbreak’, had neither its predecessor’s element of surprise or its seemingly never-ending stream of singles, it was a triumph of substance over not-inconsiderable style nonetheless. But what really piqued our interest was the filth; the mountains of drugs, the fountains of booze, the veritable zoo of new and unheard-of genital parasites – it was one hell of a party, but one killer hangover. Especially when Kings Of Leon woke up one morning to discover they’d contracted the worst STD of all: children.

OK, not literally, although we’d be gobsmacked if there hadn’t been a few scares along the way. But when you consider that the last we heard, they were in a seedy hotel room drawling “You’re not so nice, but sex sells so cheap” on ‘Aha Shake Heartbreak’’s opener, the first lines of ‘Because Of The Times’ show that a little growing up goes a long way.

“I don’t care what nobody says”, croaks Caleb gently over the opening chords of ‘Knocked Up’, “we’re gonna have a baby”. Meandering in at over seven minutes long and with nothing that could realistically be mistaken for a chorus, it’s a dark, downbeat introduction to the band’s third album. Indeed, it could almost have been taken from Springsteen’s bleaker-than-bleak ‘Nebraska’, and it works perfectly.

Following on from the precedent set by ‘Aha…’, Kings Of Leon are revealing themselves to be one of those bands whose records get progressively more fascinating as they get older, unconcerned that the lack of tunes could see their sales slump like a penguin under Pete Doherty’s arm. Take ‘Charmer’, for example – driven by Jared’s plodding, Kim Deal-esque bassline, it’s a howling, primal, downright unsettling listen that’ll have the terminally short of patience reaching to reload ‘Molly’s Chambers’, and sharpish. Same goes for ‘McFearless’. Cut from the same oily, sulphate-stained cloth, it’s a million miles away from the Creedence Clearwater Regurgitated sound many would have expected them to return to after the experimentation of ‘Aha…’, and it demands perseverance before it pays off. Radical New Direction is a bit strong, but it’s clear that KOL, along with long-time producer Ethan Johns, have been striving to add a new dimension to a band previously accused of having all the depth of a puddle.

Not that everyone’s favourite doyens of prostate-endangering denim have gone all po-faced on us. After all, being in Kings Of Leon is a fucking riot, as shown by the shuffly-veering-on-violent funk of ‘My Party’, in which Caleb – rather hilariously for a man who appears to weigh no more than the average paperweight – threatens to “Flip you upside down and mop this place”. And on the rather fantastic ‘Fans’ – a semi-acoustic anthem-in-waiting that’s perhaps the closest this record gets to old-school KOL – he’s even forced to admit that London’s “Rainy days, they ain’t so bad when you’re the King/The King they want to be”.

Yet these dalliances are brief, as this is an album all about growing up and moving on – Jared’s almost old enough to buy his own drinks these days, after all. And so you get a triumvirate of truly special moments, from ‘True Love Way’’s epic, stadia-filling self-reflection, to ‘The Runner’’s ghostly Overlook Hotel-esque waltz, in which Caleb concedes that “I talk to Jesus every day”, to the sublime, slow-burning ‘Arizona’, which brings things to a suitably huge close. Boasting all the wide open space of U2’s ‘The Joshua Tree’ without any of the overblown pomp to spoil it, it’s without doubt the best thing the band have ever recorded.

As ever with Kings Of Leon, this record is a song or two too long and, in a rather alarming (for their record company, not you) continuation of form, worryingly light when it comes to the kind of tunes that’ll get you tearing the seams of your jeans on the dancefloor. But that’s a problem for the accountants. As it stands, ‘Because Of The Times’ cements Kings Of Leon as one of the great American bands of our times. It’s good to have them back.

8 / 10

Barry Nicolson - April 4, 2007
www.nme.com, ©1996-2015 Time Inc. (UK) Ltd.

The shaggy twentysomethings once heralded as the Southern Strokes have turned a corner. Long story short, the family act known for whipping up "The O.C."-friendly stews of Dixie rock and Detroit garage bravado has hopped on Bono's wagon. Maybe they dream of colonizing grander spaces by sanding their edges to capture a spacious, safe brand of rock'n'roll. Could arena rock be their ticket out of the 1970's? Will the matching body hair shtick follow?

Six minutes into the swampland soap opera of "Knocked Up" you begin to doubt, haircuts aside, whether they truly have morphed into the Southern U2, and whether the universe would permit that. After a long rattling by Nathan Followill's crisp percussion, broken by passages of wall-like fuzz, you still have a minute left, and your doubts remain. The song's bare rhythms distract you from the movie-of-the-week yarn tangled above the simple sounds. This week: A couple who, parents be damned, are gonna have that baby.

As a deathless testament to the father-to-be's devotion, or as a classic gesture of rebellion, the story just doesn't wash. It sounds a little stagey. Forays into romance like "True Love Way" and "Arizona" also tailspin into the ground. After all, despite their studio ambitions, the Kings still only have two subjects: Dangerous women and themselves. All their blurry visions of sin seem to zero in on girls who amused or wronged them, a train of femme fatales out of some sweaty bayou noir, forever pulling them off the straight and narrow. Poor country boys just can't catch a break, it seems.

Seeking stability amid the rough-and-tumble, Kings of Leon still lean on regressive sonics. After beginning with a ghostly prelude straight off a Popol Vuh record, lead single "On Call" congeals into a straight-ahead rock song, complete with an agreeably noodly bridge and echoing hooks. On "Black Thumbnail", the Followills warp us back to the era of hair-metal bombast, too caught up with itself to build on the template.

Unlike these one-dimensional time capsules, "Charmer" remains open to interpretation. First, as a sinister post-punk specimen, the bloody-murder shrieks of Black Francis slicing high above a subterranean Wire riff. Or second, as a recording of David Lee Roth being electrocuted à la the first Ghostbusters. Given the song's villain is another cardboard maneater stereotype ("She stole my karma, oh no/ Sold it to the farmer, oh no"), the latter reading seems a safer bet.

A cynical, acoustic sing-along, "Fans" slyly presents narcissism as gratitude. (Remember the two themes.) You know the routine: the band tours, generously measures its own importance, then transcribes journal entries about the cosmic emptiness of fame. With two stanzas ending with "Make a sound for me" and "The king they want to see," the song forms a heartfelt tribute to their real No. 1 fans: Kings of Leon.

Flirtations with big-sky atmospherics can hardly hold these songs together. What sounds like a hodgepodge of Edgy experiments and raised-Zippo nostalgia is just that: a hodgepodge. If there is a common strand, it is the ugly, faux-blues notion that women are the fount of pain and suffering, the cause of the Followills' "black as coal" hearts. It makes Because of the Times sound suspiciously like a counterattack on womankind, launched from somewhere in the mid-1990s, deep inside a bruised, stadium-sized ego.


Roque Strew - April 5, 2007
© 2015 Pitchfork Media Inc

Surveying the crowds of the summer festivals that Kings Of Leon will be playing in the coming months, it’s hard to imagine now that once upon a time the Followill boys were hovering for some time on the periphery of mainstream success, only on the radar of elitist indie kids and supermodels.

They are bona-fide Superstars in 2009, the direct result of their fourth album, ‘Only By The Night’, which heralded their true arrival as a Number One single and album band. However, that all-conquering long-player did not just appear out of the tequila-doused ether or the dusty back roads of Nashville. Their vision has been long-held, and achieved through an ambition and perseverance that evolved across their first three albums, finally penetrating a higher plane of sonic aspirations on ‘Because Of The Times’ – their final step forwards before kicking down the doors to the world.

For those who’d adored the sawdust roughness of their perfectly titled debut, ‘Youth And Young Manhood’, its follow-up, ‘Aha Shake Heartbreak’, tested their loyalty by noticeably expanding its musicality, its depth and its worldly scope. For those that were still in thrall, ‘Because Of The Times’ came sweeping away any doubts that Kings Of Leon would be cult darlings forever, and signaled another change in sound – this time in the walls of sound that served as a backdrop to each song – that marked them as one of the Noughties’ most interesting indie bands.

From the off, when one is expecting a chunky riff to open proceedings, ‘Knocked Up’’s shuffling and brooding intro makes you sit up and take notice. The icy guitar picks a chiming riff before the rhythm joins in with a rolling line that beckons Caleb Followill’s familiar voice to join us: “People call us renegades ‘cause we like living crazy,” he sings, before a snap of a snare drum throws the chorus at us like a swift jab to the chops. As first songs go, it’s a perfect example of the textures and terrain set to follow...

The one-two-three sucker punch of ‘McFearless’, ‘Black Thumbnail’ and ‘My Party’ arrives at the mid-point of the album where usually one falters, beating your eardrums into submission and sending your heart into a fluttering daze. By the time the eloquent remorse of ‘Arizona’ flies gracefully into space, there’s no mistaking that the last hour was spent in the company of a band that revels in poignancy, and holds dear everything that’s sacred about the art of song craftsmanship.

While the worst offenders in the realm of indie refuse to evolve and continue to stagnate, Kings Of Leon only improve with age, and now, with the phenomenal success of their latest album and the support of a dedicated nation behind them, one can only guess where their adventures in sound will take them – and us – next.

For its warm nature, its hopes, desires and sheer determination, ‘Because Of The Times’ is a worthy winner of this chart’s shiny bronze medal.

Simon Harper, 22/04/2009
ClashMusic.com Essential 50 - Number 3

Because of the Times is the third album by Kings of Leon. Because of the Times was released on March 30, 2007 in Ireland/Australia, April 2, 2007 in the UK and April 3, 2007 in the US (see 2007 in music). The album has received generally positive reviews and has appeared in numerous Top-10 lists for "Album of the Year. In 2009, Clash named the album number 3 on the "Clash Essential 50", a list of the most important albums released since the magazine's inception in 2004.

The album was #6 in NME albums of the year, as well as #31 on Rolling Stone's Top 50 Albums of 2007. NME said that the album "cements Kings Of Leon as one of the great American bands of our times" and Entertainment Weekly called Because of the Times "an epic wide-screen movie of a CD and the band's best to date." Another reviewer described Because of the Times as, "an accomplished album of unbelievable beauty and familiar, loveable grit. Kings of Leon is maturing wonderfully and with patience, not forcing anything musically or lyrically that doesn’t sound natural." However, some critics found the album inferior to their previous efforts. Dave Hood of Artrocker gave the album one star out of five, finding that "Kings of Leon are experimenting, learning, and getting a bit lost." Pitchfork Media contended that "Because of the Times sound[s] suspiciously like a counterattack on womankind, launched from somewhere in the mid-1990s, deep inside a bruised, stadium-sized ego."


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