Kings of Leon Holy Roller Novocaine

The story of Kings of Leon is almost too rich. A band of three brothers sired by a Pentecostal minister and a cousin with the same surname, all hailing from Tennessee. And while the spirit of the South courses through each track, the spirit of the Lord certainly does not. It’s obviously because the boys were skipping Sunday school to practice "Molly’s Chamber” and "Wasted Time,” which jump out of a rickety, wooden wagon house like all good Southern rock should. But just when you think you’re dealing with a bunch of derivative, incestuous hillbillies they drop a golden nugget called "California Waiting” smack dab in the middle of the EP. Whether intentional or not, the bass line is tugged straight from New Order’s "Ceremony” and the shimmering, jangly guitars are urgent enough to offset the EZ rock vocal stylings of Caleb Followill. This makes the second half’s syrupy but endearing, "Wicker Chair” and fuzzy, foot-stomping title track a whole lot easier to swallow. Like bittersweet bourbon with a smooth beer chaser. (BMG)