Monday, December 01, 2003

Hey, look ... a non-football blog

So I was out at lunch today and decided to swing by Media Play. I've been on somewhat of a mini-quest to legitimize my music collection by buying CDs of artists whose music I've borrowed through Kaaza and have begun to dig. [NOTE: The mini-quest is not driven by MP3 guilt, fear of the RIAA or anything like that. This is how it's supposed to work - get exposed to music, figure out which music you really like, then go buy it.]

My target today was Kings of Leon. I read about KOL some months back, jumped on Kazaa for some tunes, dug 'em, put their songs in heavy rotation on the work PC ... and today bought their stuff.

At Media Play, I found both the Youth & Young Manhood LP and the boys' Holy Roller Novocaine EP. The LP includes 4 of the 5 songs from the EP, but I figured I'd go ahead and pick up both discs, if for nothing more than to see the band's sound evolved in the 6 months between the release of the EP and the LP.

Both the EP and LP were produced by Ethan Johns, this odd little British alt-country producer. So how can the same band working with the same producer record the same 4 songs twice within 6 months ... and make the second set sound so much worse than the first?

In fairness, I'm much more a fan of DIY, straight-forward, low-production-value independent records (i.e. the EP) than major-label studio efforts (the LP). So on three of these songs (Molly's Chambers, Wasted Time, Holy Roller Novocaine) some might make a case that the LP versions are better.

But California Waiting (my favorite song on either disc) is so damn much better on the EP, I had to double-check that the crappy version was on the big-label LP.

The LP version literally sounds like a demo. Uninspired vocals, uneven riffs and bad production elements turn the best piece of the EP into one of the worst spots on the LP.

The bad news with KOL is that the band's big-label debut didn't capture the greatness of these boys. But the good news is they got it right the first time.

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