Kings of Leon succeed with ‘Manhood’

By Gus Bode

Sometimes good music can come about as a byproduct of hardship. For the members of Tennessee’s Kings of Leon, it came out of growing up on the road.

As if growing up with having to live up to the expectations of a father who was a Pentecostal preacher weren’t enough to produce jaded views on life, literally growing up in the back of a car would.

Kings of Leon is composed of three brothers, Caleb (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Nathan (drums) and Jared Followill (bass). Joining them is their first cousin on lead guitar, Matthew Followill.


Kings of Leon’s latest release on RCA records is “Youth & Young Manhood.” The album has been flattered in the recent issue of Rolling Stone magazine as a must-have album. This remark is inarguable, considering the CD contains basic rock elements that are not only catchy but also memorable even after the first listen.

But the biggest thing “Youth & Young Manhood” has going for it is its dedication to roots rock, blues and the familiar sounds of early AC/DC, George Thorogood and The Stooges. More than anything, the group’s sound is similar to that of New York Dolls. Almost fittingly, Kings of Leon vocalist Caleb Followill’s vocals are almost a dead match to those of New York Dolls singer David Johansen’s vocals.

At its most intense, with the songs “Red Morning Light” and “Spiral Staircase,” “Youth and Young Manhood” is a fine representation of rock’s tendency toward classic garage rock from the ’60s and ’70s. Given that Kings of Leon is from Tennessee, the presence of classic southern rock such as Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd can be detected throughout the album.

The sixth track, “California Waiting,” is one of the few calm moments on the disc. Otherwise, the album is a rather straightforward attempt at capturing the sound of late ’60s, early ’70s southern roadhouse rock. And it succeeds.