Kings of Leon are four members of the Followill family, three brothers and a cousin. The title Youth & Young Manhood
is an accurate summary of their places in life--the oldest member, drummer Nathan Followill, is 23, while the youngest, bass player Jared Followill, is just 16. The brothers had a childhood that was both eccentric and peripatetic, living out of a car while their preacher father toured the southern United States, and have most recently been living in Nashville; they don't appear, judging by this startlingly assured debut, to have been unduly traumatised by either experience.
Kings of Leon, up to and including their haircuts and moustaches, are steeped in the rock & roll of the American south: Youth & Young Manhood is largely four-square boogie whose ideal setting would be a bar with sawdust on the floor and chicken wire protecting the stage. The Kings of Leon do not have a single formative influence drawn from within their own lifetimes--they clearly whiled away their father's long road trips listening to radio stations that broadcast an unleavened diet of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Allman Brothers and a pre-sequencers ZZ Top (although vocalist Caleb Followill sounds more than anything else like AC/DC's Bon Scott). Perhaps Youth & Young Manhood manages to be significantly more than an exercise in pastiche because the Followills are still too young to be jaded by these old noises. Whatever the reason, this is a fine start. --Andrew Mueller
KINGS OF LEON Youth & Young Manhood (2003 UK 11-track CD album includes the singles Wasted Time California Waiting &Mollys Chambers plus Hidden Track Talihina Sky with fold-out picture sleeve HMD27JC)