(Road) Kings of Leon
What is the best music to listen to while driving? Clearly it’s Josh Groban. Okay, it depends, right? Is it intended for the morning commute? Have you had enough caffeine yet? Rush hour Friday night? Going straight home or out after work? A road trip? Are you alone or do you have passengers? So many different factors.
Some music just seems meant to be played in the car. And I don’t necessarily mean those soundtracks of yore that music labels think automatically denote “road music.” Foghat? Steppenwolf? Hey, one man’s Steppenwolf is another man’s Zac Brown Band. One woman’s Lucinda Williams is another woman’s Ke$ha. (Note: I don’t know what those last two sentences even mean.) Music is integral to going somewhere.
I recall a long ago, midnight road trip through a stretch of Arizona desert highway that was highlighted by the blasting sounds of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game.” It was a song that made me feel like I was either in a scene from a David Lynch film or a Herb Ritts video shoot (and preferably both). Nowadays, I might like to start my early mornings with some NPR/BBC updates followed by bone-rattling hip-hop beats from some hyphy-inspired act that I can’t recall the name of at the moment, but that’s just me. Let’s face it, the best music for driving is that which turns your own personal crank (or the crank of that vintage digital Victrola equivalent you call a CD player). To each his own. You might wanna roll out to the sounds of Gnarls Barkley, while your significant other pulls into the driveway to the strains of Vivaldi. What gets your motor runnin’ does not necessarily make them wanna head out on the highway.
That said, here’s a band that sounds great on everyone’s Victrola: Kings of Leon.
In my younger days, I recall road trips to college with the most successful being those filled with the sounds of AC/DC, the Cult, the Cure and Guns N’ Roses. It is to this quartet of bands that I would add the Kings of Leon. Capable of rocking as hard as Angus and Axl with the angst of Astbury and Smith, the Followill Brothers in triplicate-plus-one have been steadily building the fanbase for their brand of Southern rock since just before the turn of the millennium. A trunk full of GRAMMY® Awards for Record of the Year, Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group hasn’t slowed them down any either. Two perfect road trip anthems from their fifth album, Come Around Sundown (in our coffeehouses now): the first single “Radioactive” has the requisite U2-ish jangle to make it their “Where the Streets Have No Name,” while the open road standout “The Immortals” is meant for rolled-down windows.