Kings of Leon
Kings of Leon’s biography reads like a made-for-TV movie. Three sons of a United Pentecostal evangelist and their cousin grow up nomads (sometimes living out of the back of a car) and hone their musical skills in churches between Oklahoma City and Memphis, then settle in Nashville and eventually earn a record deal with big-city label RCA. Now a gang of longhairs who sport the bell-bottoms and haircuts punk rockers gobbed on in the 1970s, the Followill family — drawling singer and rhythm guitarist Caleb, drummer Nathan, bassist Jared and lead guitarist Matthew — supports its backstory and hippie retrofitting with an equally interesting debut. The rollicking Youth & Young Manhood echoes the frenetic pace, twangy hooks and country-fried jangle of Southern rock gods such as Tom Petty (especially on “Joe’s Head” and “Molly’s Chambers”), and “Red Morning Light” and “Happy Alone” testify at the bluesy altar of the foxiest Rolling Stones tunes and the Strokes’ garage-rock flair. Only the album’s few slower tunes, such as “Trani,” suffer from a dearth of energy. Otherwise, Manhood echoes the authentic urgency of the gospels the band soaked up as young ‘uns, shaking furiously with earnest intentions and no-frills, whistlin’-Dixie pride.