Kings of Leon

Youth & Young Manhood

Already a hit in Europe, the Kings of Leon mix catchy Strokes-like garage rock hooks with the wild, whisky-lipped presence of a true front man, Caleb Followhill (two shots Bon Scott, one shot Ronnie Van Zandt, dash of Muddy Waters). On their debut full-length, the Kings keep things rolling with a bluesy assault of banging tambourines, a tight swamp-boogie rhythm section and erratic but blissfully sloppy guitar work. My only complaint with retro rock like this is in the production values. New-age digital cleanliness just sounds wrong with these songs—the group would have been better off recording on vintage analog equipment, and you’d think with an RCA budget, they could find it. Instead, they produce a raw rock gem of 2003 that’s analogous to two cups of cherry-flavored sugar dumped in a bottle of Jack Daniels.