37.50 to 66.25
Kings of Leon:
The biggest mainstream southern rock band to come about in recent years is Kings of Leon. The group's unique performances of southern rock in an indie style has brought them success worldwide that has been widely imitated. Despite being around for years, they reached mainstream success with the release of their 2007 album, Because of the Times.
Kings of Leon was formed by brothers Caleb, Nathan, and Jared, along with their cousin Matthew. The three brothers led a nomadic childhood, as their father was a traveling Pentecostal preacher. They would often sleep in a church or the family Oldsmobile and were home-schooled by their mother. After their parents divorced in 1997, the boys were free to indulge in the rock-and-roll that they had been previously denied by their religious upbringing. Only six months later, Nathan and Caleb received a record deal from RCA on the stipulation that they would find more members to form a full band. Younger brother Jared was recruited, despite being only fourteen and not knowing how to play any instruments. The brothers then invited their cousin Matthew for a one-week visit and never let him return home to Mississippi. Nathan took up the drums, Caleb taught himself the guitar, Jared slowly adopted the bass, and Matthew became the guitarist as he was the only member that knew how to play an instrument. Kings of Leon took their name from the brothers' preacher father, who was named Ivan Leon Followill. The band's members then decided to use their middle names as their stage names to keep with the concept.
After a month spent in a basement, working on songs and smoking an ounce of pot, the group had written music for their debut Holy Roller Novocaine EP, which was released in 2003. Despite Jared still not having mastered the bass, the EP was a big success and garnered the group a sizable following. The EP bolstered the popularity of Kings of Leon's debut LP, Youth and Young Manhood, which was released in the UK later that year. While the album made only a little splash in the US, it became a huge success in the UK, reaching #3 in the charts, and in Australia where it went three times platinum. Kings of Leon furthered both their success and their southern rock sound with the release of their 2004 album, Aha Shake Heartbreak. The album once again performed excellently in the UK and Australia, as well as warmed American audiences to the up-and-comers. The album also allowed the Kings of Leon to tour with some of their musical idols, including opening concert dates for Bob Dylan and Pearl Jam.
Kings of Leon's sound became more developed and matured by the release of Because of the Times in 2006. For the album, Kings of Leon polished their rough, garage-rock sound to let their folky, southern sound shine through; a decision that would serve them well from that point on. The album received recognition from a wider audience, but a more mixed reception from critics due to the group's experimentalism. Critics were changing their tunes upon the release of Only by the Night in 2008. The band had fully evolved and the harmonious experiments from the previous album showed on Only by the Night. The album debuted at the top of the UK charts and #4 on the US charts, despite only slight recognition in the states before the album's release. The success was due in part to the popularity of the hit lead single, "Sex on Fire." The album contained other hugely successful singles, including "Use Somebody," "Revelry," and "Notion." Despite the popularity in the US and UK, the album exploded in Australia as it became the continent's best-selling record ever and went platinum nine times. Kings of Leon cleaned up at the Grammy Awards in 2010, as they won for Record of the Year and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal and Best Rock Song for "Use Somebody."
The group returned to their earlier, heavier sound on their most recent album, Come Around Sundown. While the album has received mixed reviews, positive accolades have been given to Kings of Leon for once again experimenting and innovating with their style.
British indie rockers Arctic Monkeys have cultivated a sound that embodies the classic British rock sound that has been hugely popular over the last sixty years. Internet publicity and numerous tour dates definitely helped the band pay their dues, as their first full-length album didn't release until five years after their formation. The momentum necessary to become a mainstream hit has definitely not waned, as evidenced by the anticipation over the release of their new 2011 album, Suck It and See. Fans around the world are also excited about the announcement of 2011 tour dates beginning in May, and tickets for select concert dates are already in danger of selling out.
Arctic Monkeys formed in 2001, all the members being from the High Green suburb of Sheffield. None of the band's members knew how to play any instruments and the assignment of roles in the band is depicted like a game of musical chairs. After releasing a demo CD that spread like wildfire across the internet, Arctic Monkeys released a single, Five Minutes with Arctic Monkeys, in 2005. The band scored a tour date at the Reading and Leeds Festivals, where an unusual amount of people showed up to watch them play.
Arctic Monkeys released two singles -- "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor" and "When the Sun Goes Down" -- which rocketed to #1 on the UK Singles chart and brought fame to the band's members before a single LP was released. When Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not did release in 2005 it was an instant success, prompting numerous tour dates for fans that had been waiting to see them live. A year later, bassist Andy Nicholson began to feel the pressures of continuous tour dates and decided to leave the band; he was replaced by Nick O'Malley of The Dodgems.
Arctic Monkeys' second album, Favourite Worst Nightmare, was released in 2007 to critical acclaim. As with their previous album, this one shot to #1 on the UK Albums Chart and has since gone double platinum. Arctic Monkeys' third album, Humbug, was released in 2009 and co-produced by one of the band's musical heroes: Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age. The album once again went to the top of the UK charts and was critically praised as a masterful evolution of the band's sound. Having one of the most popular albums in music meant that Arctic Monkeys have some of the most popular tour dates in the world right now.
With Humbug as a sort of cliffhanger in the evolution of Arctic Monkeys, fans can't wait for Suck It and See. The album is set to release on June 6, but not before Arctic Monkeys play concert dates throughout the entire United States. Tour dates in 2011 will begin on May 17 in Washington, D.C., with concert dates set for a handful of major US cities before heading to Sheffield, UK on June 10. Arctic Monkeys will play concert dates at a number of European music festivals before the end of scheduled 2011 tour dates on September 3. Fans in the US should take this opportunity to catch Arctic Monkeys tour dates in 2011, as the group doesn't visit the states for concert dates very often.
Vampire Weekend is an indie rock band from New York City signed to XL Recordings. Despite the band members' occasionally preppy style, they are influenced by both African popular music and Western Classical Music. They describe their genre of music as "Upper West Side Soweto", performing such songs as "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa," which references Congolese soukous music.
The members of the band -- Ezra Koenig, Rostam Batmanglij, Chris Tomson, and Chris Baio -- met while attending Columbia University.
The young New Zealand artist whose real name Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O'Connor was signed to a record label before she was in high school. Her first EP, The Love Club featured the now infamous hit single "Royals" made her the first New Zealand solo artist to have a #1 song in the US. Her debut album, Pure Heroine was released a year later in 2013, and received an enormous amount of praise from critics, as well as two Grammy Awards. Not only has her record garnered acclaim, but she has been praised for her vocals and stage presence at live shows.
Queens of the Stone Age:
This hard rock band started out jammin' in the California desert before hitting it big, first in the United Kingdom, and then in the United States with their hit, "No One Knows." Queens of the Stone Age tour dates are booked internationally, so don't miss out on the chance to catch them in your area.
Frontman, Josh Homme, started QOTSA in 1996 under the moniker "Gamma Ray." After a lawsuit from a German metal band with the same name, they decided to change their name after their producer, Chris Goss, joked that they were like "Queens of the Stone Age." The name stuck and the band released their self-titled debut in 1998 on Loose Groove records. While it received a silver certification in the United Kingdom and four stars from Rolling Stone, the album failed commercially in the United States. It is slated for a re-release in 2011, hopefully this time around, American fans will listen.
QOTSA returned to the studio and recorded their sophomore set, "Rated R", which was released in 2000. This album proved to be more successful than its predecessor, with the band charting a single on the US Modern Rock survey, "The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret," which was also featured on the HBO series, Entourage. With this mild success, Queens of the Stone Age tour dates were booked as the opening act for the Smashing Pumpkins, The Foo Fighters, and Hole. The Queens of the Stone Age concert schedule also featured a spot at the annual rock festival, Ozzfest, in 2000.
Their breakout success occurred with their third effort, "Songs for the Deaf." While on tour with the Foo Fighters, the band befriended Dave Grohl who joined the recording sessions and played drums on the album. Grohl even toured with them on the US portion of the 2002 Queens of the Stone Age Tour. The album was released in 2002, with the hit singles, "No One Knows," and "Go With the Flow," propelling the album to platinum status and becoming their highest performing album to date. Critics loved the album's schizophrenic sound and were especially praiseworthy of Grohl's legendary contribution on drums. The album's songs, "No One Knows" and "Go With the Flow," were respectfully nominated for Best Hard Rock Performance at the 2003 and 2004 Grammy Awards.
The band toured extensively in support of the album. The Queens of the Stone Age concert schedule included headlining stints at the Coachella Valley Music Festival and an international headlining tour in 2004-2005. The band returned to the studio and released their fourth album, "Lullabies to Paralyze," in 2005. To support the album, the Queens of the Stone Age concert schedule included a performance at Saturday Night Live where they also performed a skit, and the opening spot on the Nine Inch Nails' "With Teeth," tour. The album spawned the hit, "Little Sister," and debuted at #5 on the Billboard 200, their highest charting entry to date.
Following the conclusion of the tour, the future of the band was in limbo following a series of line-up changes, the firing of bass player, Nick Oliveri, and a general slump in the band's cohesiveness. They took a couple of years off but returned in 2007 to release their most recent effort, "Era Vulgaris." which featured the Grammy nominated single, "Sick, Sick, Sick." Since releasing the album, the band has focused solely on touring and other musical side projects. The band is currently in the studio working on their long anticipated sixth album and trying to define the new direction that their sound will gravitate towards. Frontman, Hommes described what they are trying to do as "trancey" and "bluesy." In the meantime, you will just have to catch these guys on the road to hear what they're trying to create in the studio. Queens of the Stone Age tour dates are available, their concert schedule has them touring over forty international dates this 2011. Use Eventful as your source for Queens of the Stone Age tour dates and concert schedule news.
"Crash Love is certainly not a concept album or rock opera by any stretch, but the songs are generally connected by a greater theme... The album title itself can be construed as a command, as a destructive kind of love, or as a desire for a relationship that's heading inevitably toward disaster or flameout. The lyrics of some songs trace an arc from adoration to the desire to tear down the object of affection. These songs are written from perspectives both sympathetic and critical, as well from both the inside the relationship and outside."--Davey Havok
Crash Love, AFI's eighth full length studio album, due out September 29 on DGC/Interscope, is indeed informed not only by the ever-evolving chemistry between the musicians in the band but also by the members' personal lives and perhaps most of all by the always intense relationship between AFI and its fans. The latter has intensified considerably over the most recent of AFI's 18 years as a band, with 2006's decemberunderground entering the chart at #1 with first week sales of nearly 200,000 and subsequent sold out shows at the Long Beach Arena and Bill Graham Civic as well as appearances on Saturday Night Live and at Live Earth--not to mention 2003's Sing The Sorrow going platinum. These experiences were bound to have an impact on four kids from Ukiah, California who formed a rudimentary punk band in 1991 with aspirations of playing in the SF Bay Area and possibly releasing a few singles and an LP or two.
"The record is really more about how the great attraction to inappropriately shared intimacies, carefully constructed personas, and the loss of a sense of self can affect an entire world," Havok explains. "As well as how this loss of self is sought after rather than resisted... With today's media, we have such quick and pervasive access to the trivia of anyone's lives. Everything is intensified and indulged, this desire and ability to know everything you possibly can about anyone, from what thread-count bedsheets they sleep in to whether or not they believe in ghosts."
While Crash Love is the first AFI record to feature such prevalent sociopolitical and observational perspectives, the darkly personal AFI lyrical strain is distinctly present on standout tracks like "Medicate" and its stark portrait of a user/enabler relationship, as well as throughout the ill fated death ride scenario of "End Transmission." Elsewhere, the newer approach shines on the self-explanatory "Darling I Want To Destroy You," "Veronica Sawyer Smokes" with couples Jade Puget's Smiths-esque guitar signatures with a tale of heartbreak brought on by disappointment with a teen idol, "Beautiful Thieves" with its privileged characters whose actions carry no consequences, and "Too Shy To Scream" which sets yearning, distanced adorations against the backdrop of a drumline-inspired shuffle propelled by Hunter Burgan's bass and Adam Carson's drumming.
Crash Love, it has to be said, features AFI's Puget, Burgan and Carson playing at their most focused and direct. Where Sing The Sorrow and decemberunderground saw the band's compositions increasingly steeped in atmospherics that created a moody-heavy realm that often threatened to engulf the songs, Crash Love is, according to Carson, "the sound of the four of us playing in the same room. It's by no means stripped down but you really hear the band. Sing The Sorrow--and to certain extent decemberunderground--gave us our first experience with big budget recording, which led to some really dense arrangements, electronics, overdubs and so on. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but this time we came in with 14 songs we were playing really well and wanted to capture that energy."
Having entered the studio with fully formed and woodshedded songs, Puget and Burgan were freed to come up with novel approaches to each of their instruments--reducing their dependence on strings, keys and other embellishments both organic and electronic. Following a writing process that Puget recalls taking "the better part of a year," the band convened in late 2008 with producers Joe McGrath and Jacknife Lee to begin work in earnest on what would become Crash Love. "We don't jam," Puget explains. "But we had the material so completely formed by the time we began recording that we were able to do things more on the fly this time, to concentrate on sounds as well as performance, to contribute anything that worked, that made a sound that was interesting. So we ended up with sort of a 'Shabby Chic' recording aesthetic: The sounds we came up with separately could be really rough and abrasive but assembled together they created an end result that was really beautiful."
Carson adds, "Personally I'm more interested in the way AC/DC sounds big: Tones that are really big but don't necessarily need a stadium, that sound just as big in an 800 capacity club."
Carson speaks from experience. Having co-founded AFI with Havok in 1991, he's seen his share of clubs that size and considerably smaller.
Within a year of forming, the original AFI lineup pressed up about 200 copies of the split 7-inch Dork with fellow Ukiah High students Loose Change (of which future AFI guitarist Puget was a member). A smattering of singles, EPs and compilation tracks followed, as did the early AFI albums Answer That And Stay Fashionable (Wingnut, 1995) and Very Proud of Ya (Nitro, 1996), all showcasing a youthfully exuberant, often sophomoric East Bay hardcore punk style that began to cultivate a following as the band hit the road, playing virtually anywhere in the world that would have them.
The first hints of AFI's more diverse and mature current direction would appear on the band's third album and first to feature Burgan on bass, Shut Your Mouth And Open Your Eyes (Nitro, 1997) and the subsequent A Fire Inside EP (Adeline, 1998). It would be one more year, however, until the present AFI lineup and sound would truly coalesce with the addition of guitarist Puget and the release of fourth album Black Sails In The Sunset and the All Hallows EP (both Nitro, 1999). Another year later, fifth album The Art of Drowning (Nitro, 2000) would provide a breakthrough, as the fully realized and unmistakable AFI sound already having built a following in the hundreds of thousands, would receive its first taste of mainstream exposure as that record's "Days Of The Phoenix" found its way onto modern rock playlists.
With sixth album Sing The Sorrow (Dreamworks, 2003), AFI made an exceedingly ambitious leap forward, enlisting co-producers the late Jerry Finn and Butch Vig and expanding their musical palette in all directions: First single "Girl's Not Grey" represented the band's most infectious "pop" moment up to that point and became a bona fide hit, while live favorite "Death Of Seasons" incorporated pounding industrial rhythms and mournful choruses before dissolving into a cacophony of screaming anguish. Elsewhere on the record, "Silver And Cold" provided bittersweet balladic verses that exploded into an irresistible chorus, while "Leaving Song Part 2" and "Dancing Through Sunday" showed the familiar AFI chant-along choruses to be as fierce and frantic as ever, even while couched in increasingly sophisticated musicianship.
As with AFI's previous surges forward, their dedicated legions of fans made the leap with them as new ones joined in droves: Sing The Sorrow sold in excess of one million copies in the U.S. and "Girl's Not Grey" won the 2003 MTV2 Viewers Choice award. Critics joined in for the first time as well, with best of 2003 accolades awarded by the likes of the NEW YORK TIMES, USA TODAY, GUITAR WORLD, SPIN and REVOLVER, as well as from longtime supporters ALTERNATIVE PRESS.
"I was completely in awe then and still am now," Burgan recalls. "It all seemed to have come naturally from our efforts and honestly that's really hard for me to comprehend."
The band was stunned yet again when the seventh AFI album, decemberunderground (Interscope, 2006), released on 6-6-06, stormed into the U.S. album chart at #1, selling 182,000 in its first week and unseating the Dixie Chicks from their multiple week perch atop the charts. Also produced by the late, lamented Finn, decemberunderground yielded the band's biggest anthem to date, "Miss Murder," which went on to be named #7 in ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY's 10 best songs of 2006 and #15 in ROLLING STONE's 100 best songs of the year. Other decemberunderground tracks that instantly assumed fan classic status alongside longtime AFI fan favorites included the frigidly beautiful "Love Like Winter," the hyper aggressive "Kill Caustic," and the infectiously melodic "Summer Shudder" and "The Missing Frame." decemberunderground went on to sell over a million copies, providing AFI with its second consecutive platinum album, as the band sold out venues on the level of California's Long Beach Arena and San Francisco's Bill Graham Civic Center, made its debut appearance on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, and played the New Jersey installation of 2007's Live Earth festival.
The members of AFI readily acknowledge the debt their success story owes to their fiercely local following, The Despair Faction. AFI and The Despair Faction have long enjoyed an intimate relationship that goes beyond more conventional fan club perks such as exclusive merchandise and ticket pre-sales to soundcheck parties regularly organized and attended by DF members who come bearing gifts ranging from homemade AFI artwork, clothing and other keepsakes to vegan baked goods for Havok and Burgan. "They're not really a fan club per se," says Puget. "The Despair Faction was conceived to be more interactive than that, to have more of a direct connection with us."
This connection was inverted and intensified with the Begin Transmission experiment that took place during the recording of Crash Love. AFI solicited videos from the band's fans, each giving a glimpse into the life of the video's maker, with the understanding that a handful of entrants would be chosen to contribute backing vocals to the new record. Havok, Carson, Burgan and Puget personally went through over a thousand entries, ultimately choosing six winners who were then notified in person by longtime AFI tour manager Smith Puget and flown to Los Angeles to guest on Crash Love (where they can be heard prominently on the "Flash Flash Car Crash" refrains of "I'm Trying Very Hard To Be Here," for example). Honorable mention runners-up each received handmade Valentine's Day cards from members of AFI.
"We turned the dynamic around," says Burgan, who was voted Top Music Twitterer in this year's Shorty Awards. "We looked into the lives of the fans. Real people doing real things. It was very interesting to see who's out there, what they're feeling and what they're doing with their lives. They already know who we are, so it was good to get to know them for a change."
Carson adds, "The idea was to engage the fans and make them a part of the process. I didn't expect to be so floored by the effort that went into these kids' videos of their lives. It was a great state of the union, so to speak. And we came away from it feeling that much more of a bond with them."
If the quality of Crash Love is any indication, that bond will only continue to intensify. "I am so proud of this record," Havok concludes. "I really believe it's the best AFI record. It honestly feels like we've made our first truly timeless record. We didn't set out to do that--you can't set out to do something like that--but it definitely feels like that's what we've achieved: created the album by which we'll be remembered."