Kings of Leon

Record Review

Phases and Stages

Kings of Leon

Youth & Young Manhood (RCA) Not since two brothers from Atlanta grit their teeth on Otis Redding 13 years ago has the Robert E. Lee wrapped itself around Southern siblings so ripe to bear the standard. If Alabama's Drive-by Truckers are the Second Coming of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Tennessee's Kings of Leon are ZZ Top -- barons of boogie. Boy kings. When the hopped-up, burp-gun burst of opener "Red Morning Light" goes off, a new generation of beer-drinkers and hell-raisers fires another round into the heavens. Mrs. Robinson had nothing on mother Followill, who, with roving Pentecostal preacher Leon Followill, bore Nathan (23), Caleb (21), and Jared Followill (16). Aided by cuz Matthew Followill, the Kings of Leon have grown into true believers, sanctified by a fervor reminiscent of a bunch of British exiles holed up in the basement of a French villa circa 1971. Rocks off. The Stroked goodness of "California Waiting" betrays half of Youth & Young Manhood's origins, but no matter. Caleb's thick-tongued slur proves harder to decipher than Jagger frenching an ice sculpture, but all cowbells and maracas come in loud and proud. Guitars bow to less is more: more spank, less wank. Righteous: the scabrous twang of "Happy Alone," ripe thrust of "Wasted Time," Allman intro of "Joe's Head." Royal: the dissolute mumble screech of "Trani" and veggie-bin slap of "Dusty." Revelatory: the dead man's curve steel railing around "Molly's Chambers," which led off February's five-song Holy Roller Novocaine EP, and the linger-fickin' Aussie bar hop of its title track and LP closer. Finally, the saloon lope of hidden track "Talihina Sky." Fit for kings. (Kings of Leon play the Austin City Limits Music Festival Sunday, Sept. 21.)

****

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