Kings of Leon Youth And Young Manhood

This debut from the four Followill brothers is steeped in the fire and brimstone of primal rock and roll, befitting their upbringing as sons of a Deep South evangelist. It’s an interesting back story that helps put the album’s balance of the sacred and profane into perspective, but it’s not necessarily needed to appreciate their overall sound, one that hijacks the currently fashionable NYC swagger and drops it squarely on Beale Street in Memphis. The difference is all in lead vocalist Caleb Followill’s delivery; a boozy, over-the-top drawl that evokes everyone from Howlin’ Wolf, to Ronnie Van Zandt, to Bruce Springsteen circa Greetings From Asbury Park. Musically, Kings Of Leon play with the unschooled passion of vintage Replacements, and hit particular peaks on the majestic "California Waiting” and "Genius,” which has them sounding almost like a modern-day Creedence Clearwater Revival. All that should be enough to position them for classic rock immortality, yet if there’s one drawback to the album it’s that for all of Caleb’s conviction, he really doesn’t have much to say apart from recycling some (mostly unintelligible) southern Gothic clichés. Overall though, a highly promising debut, and quite possibly the first serious sign of a rebirth in Southern rock. (BMG)