They're one of the biggest bands on the planet, but Kings of Leon have modest roots. A family affair that fits all good rock star narratives, the band is made of three brothers, Caleb, Nathan and Jared Followill, and their cousin, Matthew. The boys spent their early years driving around the Southern states of America, pitching up for a few weeks at a time while their traveling evangelist dad preached.
There is definitely a not so discreet divide in Kings of Leon's music, from the Southern garage rock and blues sound of Youth and Young Manhood and Aha Shake Heartbreak, to the arena ready alternative rock that followed, the band have certainly evolved. Their 2003 debut was followed by four years of classic rock star debauchery, with drink and drugs aplenty.
By the time their third album Because of the Times dropped in 2007, the band had settled in to a more subdued but ultimately alluring style. They now effortlessly bag headline slots and arena tours all over the world, and are set to grace Leeds Festival this year, heading up the main stage. We looked back on some of the our favourite Kings of Leon tracks.
'Red Morning Light' - Youth and Young Manhood (2003)
It's where it all started. Out of the depths of Tennessee came four hairy, tight clothed rebels, who had a penchant for gritty garage rock and by their own admission, lots of cocaine. Youth and Young Manhood's raw sound is what made most fall in love with KOL, and 'Red Morning Light' is the perfect opener. With its indelible starting riff and heavy southern drawl, it sets the tone for an album that has gone down in history as one of the best debuts of all time.
'Joe's Head' - Youth and Young Manhood (2003)
We think it's a thing of beauty, so it didn't seem fair to pick just one track. 'Joe's Head' is a prime example of why we love this album, with its stomping drive and whiskey tinged vocals. It's lyrics like 'And now they're both dead, people can be so cold when they're dead' when talking about an adulterous relationship put to a murderous end, that give Youth and Young Manhood its irresistible draw.
'Taper Jean Girl' - Aha Shake Heartbreak (2004)
Jump to late 2004 and we have KOL's second offering, where they build on their signature saloon brawl chaos for a more subtle blues sound. Aha Shake Heartbreak is overall more grown up and sees them edging towards maturity. 'Taper Jean Girl', the album's namesake, is a blast of energy, with hand claps (who doesn't love a good hand clap), staccato rhythm and an inescapable double time storm to finish.
'Sex on Fire' - Only by the Night (2008)
The true turning point for the band, 2008's Only by the Night is the album that saw them go from cult-like adoration to the big time. 'Sex on Fire' really needs no introduction, in fact you couldn't escape it for a good five years, but the track is credited with propelling the Nashville natives to global fame. Topping charts around the world and winning them a massive raft of awards, it currently stands at over 268,324,000 plays on YouTube and was the catalyst for the album's success, which went a staggering 9x platinum in the UK alone.
'Molly's Hangover' - Wasted Time b-side (2003)
And finally, the token b-side. Included on the 'Wasted Time' single, 'Molly's Hangover' re-imagines Youth and Young Manhood's key track, 'Molly's Chambers'. An acoustic version of one of early Kings of Leon's best known tracks, it twists its fuzzy energy into good old fashioned morning-after melancholy.