Their first record, Reading Festival Holy Roller Novocaine EP was released on February 18, 2003. At this stage, Jared was only 16 years old and had not yet learned to play the bass guitar. The release of Holy Roller Novocaine gave the Reading Festival Kings of Leon a significant amount of exposure prior to the release of their debut album, Youth and Young Manhood, receiving a 4/5 star rating from Rolling Stone magazine. Four of the five songs would later be released on Youth and Young Manhood, however the versions of “Wasted Time” and “California Waiting” on the EP differ, with the first having a more tense riff and different vocal style than the same track off Youth and Young Manhood, and the latter being recorded in a rush to finish the record. The EP contains the B-side “Wicker Chair” while another track titled “Andrea”, was discarded prior to its release. All the songs released on the EP were co-written by Angelo Petraglia who also produced the record.
Youth and Young Manhood Reading Festival was released in the UK in July 2003, and in the United States in August of the same year. The album was recorded between Sound City Studios in Los Angeles and Shangri-La Studios in Malibu, California, with producer Ethan Johns (son of producer Glyn Johns who most notably worked with the Rolling Stones and the Eagles).The album received some critical notice domestically, but became a sensation in the UK and Ireland, where NME declared it “one of the best debut album of the last 10 years”. Following the release of the album, Kings of Leon was chosen to tour with The Strokes and U2.
The band’s second album Aha Shake Heartbreak was released in the UK in October 2004 and in the United States in February 2005. Building on the southern-infused garage rock of their first album, the album broadened the band’s domestic and international audience. The album was again produced by Angelo Petraglia and Ethan Johns. “The Bucket”, “Four Kicks”, and “King of the Rodeo” were all released as singles, with the “The Bucket” rising into the Top 20 in Britain. “Taper Jean Girl” was also used in the 2007 movie Disturbia and the movie Cloverfield in 2008. The band garnered accolades from several of their rock peers, including Elvis Costello, and also toured with Bob Dylan and Pearl Jam during 2005 and 2006.
Youth and Young Manhood and Aha Shake Heartbreak Reading Festival (2003–2005)