Over Kings of Leon
Although the media pretty much ensured that their music would have the shelf life of a banana by pegging them as the "Southern Strokes," the Kings of Leon's music really owes much more to the latter-day songs of Eddie Vedder than they do to any boogie-rhythmic Southern Rock. Sure, they sport John Fogerty-style bowl-haircuts, boot-cuts and beards, but the actual sound of their recorded music is truly more rooted in tasteful post-grunge pop (more Pearl Jam than Creed). Brothers Caleb, Nathan and Jared Followill and cousin Matthew Followill comprise the Kings of Leon, and they did actually grow up in the south under the musical influence of their evangelist father, Leon (hence the moniker). But when you look past how they (and the music media at large) incessantly label themselves up as southern rockers and when you really listen to songs like "Molly's Chambers," "Holy Roller Novocaine" or even the Strokesesque "California Waiting," the guttural growl of the vocals and bent Neil Young and Crazy Horse influences seem to point more toward Seattle in 1992 than the 1970s heartland rock they wear so proudly on their tight-fitting thrift store T-shirts. But this is hardly a bad thing. When bands like Seven Mary Three and Puddle Of Mudd drive the grunge sound into the ground with over exaggerated baritone throat gymnastics and crunchy, new, Guitar Center six-string distortion, the Kings of Leon's music is a breath of fresh air with its toned down soulful vocal yelps and vintage tube-amp guitar tones. And they can write some pretty catchy songs to boot.