When you think of Las Vegas, images of casinos, money and bright lights come to mind. Sure, maybe a few musical acts too, but they tend to be the show tunes—you know, Wayne Newton type of music—not necessarily the stuff you hear on current radio. You don’t often hear of up-and-coming bands playing the side stages of Vegas hoping to get noticed by a major label…but that’s exactly what happened for today’s $5 album and featured band, The Killers.
They were looking to be discovered and if you attended any their shows in the early 2000s, you’d have been given a free copy of their four track demo because they were hoping it would get into the right hands. Their sound was definitely unique to the Vegas area. There were a lot of punk rock and rap acts touring at that time, and The Killers came across as a unique blend of pop and British rock. They found a drummer who was attending University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and used a campus band room to perfect their style. The band wrote much of today’s discussed album while in that very room.
The Killers’ debut, Hot Fuss was released on June 7th of 2004. It has sold roughly 25 million copies worldwide, with the most coming in the UK and Ireland. A unique fact about this record is the first three singles were all nominated for Grammy Awards. Ultimately they were shut out, but that’s a great accomplishment from a band’s debut record.
Another interesting fact: because there was a long lead up to the release of Hot Fuss, two of the three major singles came out before the album itself. This isn’t all that uncommon nowadays because artists use this strategy to create buzz. However, in this case, they delay was because the The Killers spent so much time tinkering with their sound.
The album has a very intriguing blend of pop music that sort of has that indie rock feel. How a group of guys from Vegas imitate a British rock sound so well is sort of confusing, but when you listen to this, you’d swear they came from the UK. ‘Somebody Told Me,’ and ‘Mr. Brightside’ were two of the bigger singles, and if you had a radio in 2003/2004, you probably heard them at some point. They certainly generated a lot of buzz on the pop stations and put The Killers on the map.
Similar to last week though, this album sticks out to me for one song—‘All These Things That I’ve Done’ is simply put, a masterpiece. While it may not particularly fit with the rest of the songs, if you listen to it on its own, it’s just a riveting five minute track. A simple piano opening, hollow-sounding vocals start it up, then the drum line kicks in and the song goes up a level. Midway through, the guitar riff stands out, and we hear a sudden chorus of, “I got soul, but I’m not a solider.” From there, it’s just a wild ride to the song’s end. It’s a dramatic track and it’s very different. What else can I say? Just give it a chance sometime.
Lots of accolades for this record, as you may expect. Gigwise has it as the best debut album ever, and Drowned in Sound has it as the best album of 2004. Even the prestigious Rolling Stone has it in their top 100 albums of all time. I’d recommend picking it up for $5 bucks today, talk about it tomorrow with your other music friends around the water cooler.