Kings of Leon
Wed Jan 26
Aladdin Theater
3017 SE Milwaukie

AND THEN IT COMES TO YOU. Some combination of caffeine or booze or being up too late or getting up too early. Clarity. Your mind opens, your brain clicks over, and fires like pistons--and you realize Kings of Leon is really the Velvet Underground, but Southern-bred, and this time Lou Reed looks less like a monkey, and sounds like he's sucking crawfish heads, throwing shells on the floors of sawdust saloons. And he's singing about vanity, limp dicks, and Oklahoma, instead of heroin and getting blown by trannies.

The first song on Kings of Leon's Aha Shake Heartbreak is so propulsive that you talk faster or type faster or drive faster "til your engine stinks or your hands carpal themselves into crab claws or your jaw just aches. The record makes sense because now you're a genius, now you get it--the guitars chug like the buggy bawl of semi-trucks, swaying in hot summer gusts. Lyrics are all hep slang, slurred by cool or liquor, as singer Caleb Followill yowls, "You paint my fingers/You paint my toes/You let your perfect nipple show."

Then you're gutted and strung onto a guitar--your shit-flecked intestines become strings shredding solos as American as wind rippling wheat fields--though sorta British, too. But British who're aping black bluesmen, who're aping sweaty, maroon-painted tribal African drummers, who're aping nomads banging rocks together at an ancient campfire, hitting river stones by flicker of red ember light, and feeling Rhythm for the first time since Earth's birth.

And then you're fucked, twisted, too involved to think about the record anymore. So you sit back and keep driving.

"The only thing that could ruin this band for me is if they didn't move around and stood still onstage like The Strokes," says your girl, in the car seat next to you, idly thumbing liners. And that's it--case closed. As says old dead Ronnie VanZant, long-ago nose-dived into loamy Mississippi soil, "Turn it up."