Saturday, October 18, 2008

Week 19: "On Call" by Kings of Leon

The band Kings of Leon consists of four members, three brothers and a cousin, Nathan, Caleb, Jared, and Matthew Followill. The three brothers grew up as the children of a southern Pentecostal preacher named Leon. Now the four make up an alternative rock band drawing their influence from southern rock and blues.

KoL have released four albums. Their first, Youth and Young Manhood, was a bold announcement of their arrival. Its debut single, “Molly Chambers,” is one of KoL’s strongest songs. The next year (2004) they released their sophomore effort, Aha Shake Heartbreak, which I found to be largely a disappointment. Three years later, they released Because of the Times, an album that found the band embracing a new, somewhat less Southern sound. (They recently released their fourth album which I have not yet had the opportunity to listen to.)

“On Call” was the first single off Because of the Times and probably the best song on the album, although the song “Ragoo” is a very close second. “On Call” leads off with a celestial-sounding synthesizer that is then augmented by exposed vocals. As the full band kicks in the music carries with it a herky-jerky quality. The bass line and guitar riffs are composed of shortened notes. It is only later in the song that the band releases the fullness of their sound.

Lyrically, “On Call” is rather repetitive. However, the lyrics do carry a certain sweetness to them. The song is a promise to be there. “I’m on call, to be there.” “When you call, I’ll come a running.” This oath of loyalty and dependability is perhaps what makes this song stand out.

You can see the somewhat odd looking original music video here.
You can see Kings of Leon perform on the David Letterman show here.
You can also see them perform “Molly Chambers” on David Letterman here.