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Kings of Leon: Mechanical Bull

 A l b u m   D e t a i l s

Label: RCA Records
Released: 2013.09.20
Category: Garage Rock, Southern Rock
Producer(s): Angelo Petraglia
Media type: CD
Web address: www.kingsofleon.com
Appears with:
Purchase date: 2014
Price in €: 1,00

 S o n g s ,   T r a c k s

[1] Supersoaker (Kings of Leon) - 3:50
[2] Rock City (Kings of Leon) - 2:56
[3] Don't Matter (Kings of Leon) - 2:50
[4] Beautiful War (Kings of Leon) - 5:09
[5] Temple (Kings of Leon) - 4:10
[6] Wait for Me (Kings of Leon) - 3:30
[7] Family Tree (Kings of Leon) - 3:50
[8] Comeback Story (Kings of Leon) - 3:59
[9] Tonight (Kings of Leon) - 4:33
[10] Coming Back Again (Kings of Leon) - 3:28
[11] On the Chin (Kings of Leon) - 3:46
[12] Work on Me (Kings of Leon) - 4:04
[13] Last Mile Home (Kings of Leon) - 4:11

 A r t i s t s ,   P e r s o n n e l

Caleb Followill - Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Matthew Followill - Lead Guitar, Piano, Lap Steel Guitar, Sitar, Vocals
Jared Followill - Bass Guitar, Synthesizer, Vocals
Nathan Followill - Drums, Percussion, Vocals

Angelo Petraglia - Acoustic Guitar,, Hammond B3, Piano, Background Vocals, Wurlitzer, Producer
Chris Coleman - Juno, Keyboards, Percussion
Russ Pahl - Pedal Steel
David Davidson - Violin
Sari Reist - Cello
Mary Kathryn Van Osdale - Violin
Kristin Wilkinson - Viola

James Brown - Engineer, Mixing
Brent Rawlings - Assistant Engineer
Nathan Yarborough - Mixing Assistant
John Mark Painter - String Arrangements, String Engineer
Ted Jensen - Mastering Engineer
Christopher Followill - Assistant
Britti Himelfarb - Assistant
Terry McClain - Assistant
Brett Kilroe - Art Direction
Tina Ibañez - Design
Dan Winters - Photography

 C o m m e n t s ,   N o t e s

Kings of Leon started out a decade ago as scraping, scrapping Southern garage-rockers, but they found their voice as the great American arena band of their generation – grasping toward U2 levels of spacious grandeur on songs like their 2008 hit "Use Somebody." Although their sixth album hardly feels like a comedown, or an apology, it's loose and down-to-earth; you can imagine them bashing it out in a shed, albeit a very large one. "Rock City" suggests T. Rex going down to Muscle Shoals, with grotty-glam swivel and Caleb Followill "looking for drugs" while evocatively advertising his ability to "shake it like a woman." It takes a true man to make that kind of boast.

The Kings fold lowdown, raucous moments into what's become their trademark sonic and emotional expansiveness. The guitars on "Wait for Me" ripple like a desert oasis reflected in Bono's wraparounds, and the single "Supersoaker" is a sterling road-dog anthem with dogfighting guitars. The production (from longtime collaborator Angelo Petraglia) has modern sheen, yet the songs quake with soul, country and gospel history. Vocally, Followill's gruff-mystic forebear is Gregg Allman. Personally, his self-aware manliness has a little Seventies Burt Reynolds in it, glinting at his own unimpeachable masculinity from a bemused remove. Over sky-blue guitar shimmer on "Comeback Story," he sings with a wry sense of humor about trying to get back into a woman's good graces: "I'd walk a mile in your shoes/Now I'm a mile away/And I've got your shoes." Hollywood strings kick in as the song crescendos, but like so many of this band's grand gestures, it doesn't feel corny.

Jon Dolan - September 24, 2013

Almost exactly a decade after their debut (read Clash’s ‘Youth & Young Manhood’ retrospective here), Kings Of Leon’s sixth album arrives amid a somewhat rejuvenated sense of interest in the band.

‘Youth & Young Manhood’’s vivacity was somewhat absent in 2010’s supersized ‘Come Around Somedown’ (Clash review), so its anniversary has provoked return visits and an assured hope that their belly fires are still burning.

‘Mechanical Bull’ is more instantly enjoyable than its predecessor – it’s less earnest, with clearer dynamics between dark and light in its varied rhythms, tones and personal touches.

Where ‘…Sundown’ eased in with the sombre ‘The End’, here we’re slapped in the face with the immediacy of first single ‘Supersoaker’ (video below): a ripping and relentless bounder that’s urged on by Caleb Followill’s serrated vocals.

Caleb’s whoops and squeals in the first seconds of ‘Rock City’, a frisky paean to the refuge of the Kings’ hometown Nashville, and the excitable scream during the count-in to the storming Stooges-like ‘Don’t Matter’ evokes the fun clearly enjoyed by the band in the album’s creation – perhaps in contrary to the foreboding shadow of pressure that 2008’s ‘Only By The Night’ (Clash review) cast over ‘…Sundown’. There’s less at stake here, and their relief is palpable.

Respite echoes throughout: The Cure-like ‘Temple’ and the shimmering ‘Wait For Me’ suggest absolution through hurt. “I take one in the temple / I take one for you,” goes the former, while the latter warns: “Take a shot in the rain / One for the pain / And listen up.”

Elsewhere, the brilliant ‘Comeback Story’ centres around an empathic realisation: “I walk a mile in your shoes / And now I’m a mile away / And I’ve got your shoes.”

‘Family Tree’ is the album’s irresistible highlight. It starts with Nathan and Jared’s driving funk rhythm – dark yet entrancing, just like Caleb’s vocals, which are double-tracked with a normal range countered by a low, rumbling growl.

The song’s Zutons-like chorus will be this album’s enduring legacy (especially live, with the breakdown and handclaps), so best memorise it now: “I am your family tree / I know your A to Z / This is a secret proposition / Lay your hands on me.”

The contrasting paces of ‘Coming Back Again’ (hard, fast, ’80s rock) and closer ‘One The Chin’ (laidback country-infused reflections) attest to the group’s high spirits. ‘Mechanical Bull’ may not be as wild as its makers’ debut, but it’s definitely as determined.

A strong, engaging return to form, ‘Mechanical Bull’ is made to ride. Strap in and enjoy.


Simon Harper, 06/09/2013

Kings of Leon hit it big in 2008 with their album Only by the Night and the accompanying one-two punch of singles "Sex on Fire" and "Use Somebody." The success of those singles propelled them into the upper echelon of arena rock bands and found them at a crossroads between the post-punk-influenced sound of their previous albums and the anthemic, U2-influenced approach that they'd begun to explore on Only by the Night. Perhaps not surprisingly, the band's follow-up, 2010's Come Around Sundown, while by no means a disappointment, seemed strained, as if the band was trying too hard to balance its early sound with its later hits, all while digging even deeper into its Southern roots. Which is partly why the band's sixth studio album, 2013's Mechanical Bull, comes as sweet relief. While still retaining Kings of Leon's penchant toward bombastic, hooky choruses and driving guitars, Mechanical Bull feels breezier and less labored than Come Around Sundown. Even the title feels like a cheeky double entendre that references both the band's Southern upbringing (lead singer Caleb Followill and his bandmate siblings were raised in Oklahoma and Tennessee) and the gear-like machinations of the rock industry. Front-loading an album with the leadoff single can often be a sign of weakness in a release, but not in this case. Kicking off with the passionate "Supersoaker" merely sets the tone for this album. In fact, two of the best cuts come midway through, with the yearning "Wait for Me" and the bluesy, Primal Scream-esque "Family Tree." Elsewhere, "Rock City" brings a heavy Mott the Hoople vibe to the fore and the raging "Coming Back Again" finds the band delving into War-era U2. Having grabbed their career by the horns with Mechanical Bull, it's clear that Kings of Leon aren't letting it get away from them anytime soon.

Matt Collar - All Music Guide

Kings Of Leon are the ex you can't forget about. As relationships go, it started so well – all wild passion, snogging on scuzzy street corners and staying up all night playing each other your fave Creedence Clearwater Revival deep cuts. But things ended messily. They decided they were too mature for you, and started cracking onto the popular girls instead, the ones with shiny hair and perfect teeth. They changed and you did too.

Even so, you still can't seem to get them out of your mind, and at the start of the year, they slunk back onto your radar, single and ready to re-mingle. NME accosted Kings Of Leon bassist Jared Followill at SXSW as they began readying their sixth album for release. He told us that the forthcoming new LP contained fevered flashes of their game-changing 2003 debut 'Youth & Young Manhood'. Cue much fluttering of the heart, primping of the hair and inevitable sighs of 'Yeah… but really?'

A lot has happened in the family Followill in the three years since the stadium pomp of 'Come Around Sundown'. Boys have become men, with Jared and Caleb both getting hitched – to supermodels, of course – and most of the band are shooting out babies all over the shop. Add to this Caleb's very public, booze-abetted meltdown of 2011, and you've got yourself a raft of reasons for Kings Of Leon wanting to regain some of their youthful, denim-tearing vigour. And while they certainly give it a go on 'Mechanical Bull', the record sees them only half-remembering how fun it is to make an album and remaining frustratingly wary of letting totally loose.

Some moments of brilliance, however, do thrive within these self-stacked walls of reserve. Gorgeous grime and grit thrums though the ripping, give-a-toss trucker stomper 'Don't Matter', which starts in the way all Kings Of Leon songs should: with a primal wail and the taut woody click of drumsticks. 'Temple', which sits neatly in the middle of the 11-track release, is perhaps the best thing they've written in five years, and certainly the most effortless. We've absolutely no idea why its melodic chug and Tom Petty-style exultation wasn't pitched as their comeback track – especially seeing as it's not, as title might suggest, about scaling Tibetan mountains and meditating, but rather taking a shot in the head for a prospective lover in the perfect game of rock'n'roll Russian roulette. 'Family Tree' is another gem, the album's Sly & The Family Stone moment, complete with balls-out bassline and a hefty handclap-assisted breakdown.

Those songs aside, the Followills' cup doesn't exactly runneth over. 'Tonight' is an uninspiring culmination of the histrionics and wailing guitar solos that made their last two LPs such incredibly hard work. 'Supersoaker' suggests old-school thrills and classic guitar chills, but it's played by numbers, a shadow of their earlier work. 'On The Chin' trudges by just as tritely, as does 'Comeback Story', which sees Caleb proclaiming "It's the comeback story of a lifetime" – wishful thinking, love – before glum pedal steel and wafty strings seep in. But the real downfall of 'Mechanical Bull' is its bluesy, indulgent balladry, as extravagantly overblown as Dolly Parton's wig collection. Only 'Wait For Me' fares well from this bunch, with Caleb getting fully stuck into the kind of yearning that suits the Southern accent so well.

'Rock City' is perhaps symptomatic of everything that's wrong with 'Mechanical Bull'. It boasts an opening gambit that essentially sounds like Queens Of The Stone Age's approach to Thursday afternoons. "I was running through the desert/I was lookin' for drugs", offers Caleb. But it never fulfils the promise of such debauchery. Further listens don't offer complex layers and hidden hooks, but draw attention to its plodding structure and hokey lyrics. It'll do for a fleeting one-night stand, but 'Mechanical Bull' isn't the rekindling of a romance that we'd hoped for.

6 / 10

Leonie Cooper - September 20, 2013
www.nme.com - ©1996-2015 Time Inc. (UK) Ltd

Kings Of Leon have put together a striking album in "Mechanical Bull," one that melds the most appealing aspects from a decade of evolution. The powerful, diverse record, which drops Sept. 24, showcases the elements KOL do best: turn-on-a-dime tempo changes, mysterious, atmospheric ballads, and ringing, hard-charging rockers. And, produced again by Angelo Petraglia, "Mechanical Bull," the band's sixth album, ventures into new territory while remaining resolutely a guitar rock album in the classic sense.

Drummer Nathan Followill calls "Bull" an "unofficial greatest hits," given how it taps into the finer points of previous KOL releases.  "In some weird way this record was kind of a reflection for us, kind of a trip down memory lane to where we didn't police ourselves so hard, 'that's not gonna fit on this record, that doesn't go with this or that,'" he says. "This time, it was just get in there and jam, if it sticks it sticks, go on to the next song and try to make it better than the one you played before."

Guitarist Matthew Followill agrees with that assessment. "Having made five albums, we know what we think is best about each record, and you can add that to it and then add new elements," he says. "Each time you build on it, make it a little more eclectic, little bit more well-rounded."

Billboard's Ray Waddell spoke with the Kings Of Leon at the band's Neon Leon studio in Nashville as the group was working up the songs on "Mechanical Bull" for the concert stage, and teeing up international album promotion commitments. Here's what they had to say about each of the tracks on "Mechanical Bull."


Chiming, thumping, and melodic, the debut single from "Mechanical Bull" signals that the Kings Of Leon are back.  Also notable are Caleb Followill's vocals, which come through with more clarity on "Supersoaker," and throughout the album, than ever before.

"I just think I'm more comfortable in my skin," says Caleb of his singing on "Mechanical Bull." "I could always sing the way I'm singing now, I just refused to do it, because I was a kid that wanted to sound like a man. I think now, these guys [in the band] have given me a lot more confidence in my singing. If I do something and get embarrassed, they say 'no, you've got to do that, people are gonna love hearing you be that honest and singing the way that you can.'

"Rock City"

Greasy bass lines, ragged whoops, and Stones-ish guitars accentuate one of the coolest tracks on the record, with Caleb delivering a Petty-esque vocal, whether he knew it or not.

"Tom Petty was the first album I ever bought with my own money," Caleb says. "I've been listening to him ever since, so I know there's a huge influence on me. Maybe that song is kind of showing that a little bit."
"Don't Matter"

A rock powerhouse, "Don't Matter" is where "Mechanical Bull" really finds its stride, evoking the Stooges with its punk bravado, go-for-broke guitars, and intense vocals with lyrics like, "I can f*ck or I can fight, it don't matter to me."

"You got it right," Matthew Followill says of the Stooges comparison. "Most people say it reminds them of Queens of the Stone Age, and it's definitely the Stooges"

Adds bassist Jared Followill, "I've still got scars from where we recorded that one, I rubbed my wrists raw because I'm doing down strokes the entire song. We just nailed it."

The song fits nicely into the record as a body of work, injecting a thunderbolt into the sequencing. "We were kind of going through everything, and we needed a rocker," Caleb recalls. "We've got a lot of mid-tempos, but we needed something that rocks really good. Me and Matthew sat there and came up with a riff in about 15 minutes, and I just went in there and just sang it off the top of my head. We played it three times and we ended up keeping the first take."

"Beautiful War"

An atmospheric, mid-tempo ballad which, with its sterling, confident Caleb vocals, sibling harmonies, and understated power, seems destined to be a classic and a mainstay in the KOL setlist.

"That song was written years ago, the same weekend I wrote 'Use Somebody,'" Caleb says. "It was a slow, country song. Angelo had a bunch of notes, reminders of what songs were, and he had one that said, 'what is this?' I started strumming it on acoustic and playing it, and the guys listened and thought it was great. They had heard it for years, they just didn't realize it, and as soon as everybody picked up their instruments, it completely transformed from a slow country song, to a tempo, as soon as Jared started I was like, That. Feels. Awesome.' That song came together pretty quickly, too, and it's definitely a song that I'm very proud of."

A somewhat different melodic stance for the Kings, with cool tempo changes, and a nice breakdown before the outtro.

"That song and 'Walk A Mile' were written the same night in South Africa in the hotel room," Caleb says. "Obviously things changed when we got in the studio, like the intro, but it felt like a '90s song to me. That's when we were listening to a lot of music, and still when we play it, we crack up the whole time, this the most radio friendly song…"

"We call it 'smiling rock,'" Nathan adds. "Then you get to the breakdown, and it's our ode to Thin Lizzy."

"Wait For Me"

A gentle guitar intro morphs into a pulsing, rhythmic love song, with the bass and drums standing out here, and elsewhere, as "Mechanical Bull" is a rhythmic album from a naturally rhythm-oriented band.

Regarding the bass/drum interplay on "Mechanical Bull," bassist Jared says, "we never say, 'ok we really need to step up the rhythm section,' or 'we really need to step up the guitar.' And nobody every writes a part for Nathan or me, we just do it. The reason our rhythm section is what it is is because Nathan's really good. I'm not a normal bass player, I've always played guitar on bass, and as I get better and write more intricate parts, Nathan has always been good enough to where he follows me. So almost always I'll write the bass line, and then he plays his drums to the bass. So if there's ever anything where people think, 'man, the kick pedal is so synched up with the bass,' most people would think, 'man that bass player's locked in,' [but] it's really not me, I'm just playing my thing and Nathan locks in to me."

"Family Tree"

A funky boogie shuffle, "Family Tree" is another showcase for the KOL rhythm section and arguably the most fun track on the record.

"It's my favorite song to play live in a long time," says Jared. "You kind of look dorky up there, I kind of look like the way my mom dances, but you can't help but get into it."

For Matthew, "Family Tree" is, "a weird one for me, because it's so rhythm heavy that  there's not a lot of space for anything else, everything's covered," he says. "There's nothing I can do that sounds cool, it sounds cool just being like it is, with just the bass and the drums it sounds great. So I didn't write any big parts for that, a lot of it is kind of noodling."

The song also features a greasy Caleb vocal, with lyrics like "I don't understand why everybody gives a big hot damn where I'm goin to/don't mean a thing to you," a song that could easily be construed as relating to the band's past couple of years. "A lot of these songs, the lyrics are kinda off the top of my head, but I think there's a little bit of psychology in there," Caleb says. "I'm talking to myself, and I'm talking to the world."

"Walk A Mile"

Spritely cadence and dual guitar lines, "Walk A Mile" has a harmonic musicality, with the refrain "Comeback story of a lifetime."

The line "comeback story of a lifetime," is kind of sincere," Caleb says, "but at the same time it us kind of laughing off the critics, -uh oh, we took a year, come back story of a lifetime.'"

Perhaps more importantly, "Walk A Mile" finds a home for a lyric Caleb always wanted to include in a song. "I knew that I wanted to tell my Grandpa's joke in a song, 'never talk about a man until you walk a mile in his shoes. That way you're a mile away, and you've got his shoes.' I knew I was gonna say that at some point in a song, and it so happened I was playing something pretty and it worked with it."


Guitars, guitars, guitars, with tempo changes, an all-in Caleb vocal, and a sense of urgency throughout.

"That one was kind of a toughie," Caleb admits. "The vocal's really high, and at one point I remember saying, 'let's lower it, let's go down a key,' and we did that, and everyone was like, 'that yearning of the vocal is gone when you put it in a key that is easy.' It's one of those songs that feels like nighttime, it feels like tonight.  The first time I said 'when I see the lights on Broadway,' I thought, 'I know a lot of people won't know that I'm talking about Broadway in Nashville, which is a lot different from THE Broadway.' It's kind of like when you've just been good for long enough to where it's, 'alright, tonight, all the crew together, this is gonna get ugly.'

"On The Chin"

A dreamy, gently loping ballad, with some of Caleb's most evocative vocals and powerful lyric writing, including a chorus that says, "I'll take it on the chin for you, my friend."

"It's a beautiful feeling to play that song," says Nathan. "The beauty of it is in its simplicity. The thing I like about that song the most is [Caleb] could sit down and just play it all by himself with an acoustic guitar and it would be just as moving as it is with a full band. I think that's what makes it such a great song, it is a full band song, but it can still have that feel and that emotion of super-broken down, nothings forced, no one's jacking off all over the song trying to make it more than it has to be. That one will be fun to play live because even if the crowd doesn't get it at first, I think it's great for every set list to have at least two or three songs where we can play just for each other."

"We've always been each other's best friends, because that's all we had," Caleb says. "We were picking up and moving, every town we went to we knew we weren't gonna be there too long, so we knew, 'don't make too close of friends, and don't fall in love.' Being in Nashville, I finally had a buddy outside of the band, and he was just kind of  always, no matter what you need, he's there. He's just a good guy. And that song kind of came at a time when I needed a friend, and I wrote it about him. And he's scared of the water. He's scared of sharks."

Ray Waddell - September 23, 2013
© 2015 Billboard.

Mechanical Bull is the sixth studio album by American rock band Kings of Leon, released in Ireland, Germany, Sweden and Australia on September 20, 2013, in the United Kingdom on September 23, 2013, and in North America on September 24, 2013 by RCA Records. In late 2013 the album received a nomination at the 56th Grammy Awards for Best Rock Album.

The first single to promote the album, "Supersoaker", was released on July 17, 2013. This single was followed by the release of the second single titled "Wait for Me" on August 6, 2013. During the Heineken Open'er Festival 2013, Kings of Leon performed "Don't Matter", another song from this album. The third single "Temple" impacted US active rock and adult album alternative (triple A) radio on October 14, 2013 and modern rock radio on October 15, 2013. The band released the Official Video for 'Beautiful War' on November 22, 2013. The song has been described by the Guardian as "a slow-grower about love and fighting," and a "distant cousin of U2's With or Without You". "Beautiful War" and "Don't Matter" were released as singles exclusively in the United Kingdom on December 9, 2013 and June 16, 2014 respectively. "Family Tree" was sent to US modern rock radio as the album's sixth overall single on June 17, 2014. An adult album alternative release followed on July 1, 2014.


RCA Records announces the September 24 release of the new Kings of Leon record, Mechanical Bull. Angelo Petraglia produced the album, which was recorded at the band s studio in Nashville, TN. Kings of Leon are fresh off three acclaimed headlining performances at American festivals, Bottle Rock in Napa, CA, Hangout in Gulf Shores, AL, and, most recently, this past weekend's Governor's Ball in New York City, during which the festival cancelled the band's Friday night performance due to Tropical Storm Andrea. The band, upset over the cancellation, worked through the night with festival organizers and management to figure out a way to come back on Saturday. The festival found a place for them on the main stage right before the Saturday headliner, during which the fans were treated to the live premiere of Mechanical Bull's first single, "Supersoaker."


Mechanical Bull , so heißt das mittlerweile sechste Studioalbum von Kings of Leon, welches nun drei Jahre nach dem Nummer-Eins-Album Come Around Sundown veröffentlicht wird. Produziert wurden die Aufnahmen in bewährter Zusammenarbeit mit Angelo Petraglia im bandeigenen Studio in Nashville, Tennessee. Hier wurden die Kings of Leon im Jahr 2000 von den Brüdern Caleb, Jared und Nathan Followill sowie deren Cousin Matthew Followill gegründet. Welche Erfolgsgeschichte sie erwartete, konnte damals noch niemand abschätzen, aber bereits 2008 gelang es der Band mit dem Album Only By The Night in die Riege der größten Rockbands aufzusteigen. Der Song Use Somebody ist bis heute einer der beliebtesten Tracks der Band. 2010 schafften sie es, dann erstmals mit dem Album Come Around Sundown in mehr als einem Dutzend Länder Platz 1 der Charts zu belegen u.A. in Deutschland, Österreich, der Schweiz und Großbritannien.


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