Sometime between their mid-teens and early 20s, Caleb, Nathan, and Jared Followill fell out of their father's traveling evangelical ministry, joined up with their cousin Matthew Followill, and formed the profane Kings of Leon (Leon is their dad's name). Now, after one indie album, two dizzying years, and three lost virginities, this Tennessee family band has amassed double-platinum sales in the U.K., signed with RCA for its second full-length, Aha Shake Heartbreak, and been invited by Bono to open U2's current tour, from which it makes this momentary digression to grace the Beachland stage.
In many ways, the Followills' music is as classic as their rock-and-roll backstory, but that doesn't mean it's as good. Singer Caleb yowls with a contorted, bluesy burr, and drummer Nathan flails with maracas and high-hat rattling, an overwrought combination beloved by southern-flavored hippies from Black Oak Arkansas to Blues Traveler. The Kings give it hipster cred by adding unexpected musical changes and flashing a gift for quick, Strokeslike rave-ups. Yet for almost every winning mid-range riff, Aha Shake Heartbreak also offers a deadening dose of crude machismo. From the album opener about using an underage groupie to the line "Girls are gonna love the way I toss my hair," these redneck reprobates are a reminder that the green hills have always harbored preachers' sons ready to bluff their way into sex and the city. Fun for a ride, maybe, if you know when to get off.