If you're looking for the heirs to the southern-rock throne, the Kings of Leon could be it. On a royally good sophomore effort, this Tennessee quartet—which consists of brothers Caleb (lead vocals/rhythm guitar), Jared (bass) and Nathan Followill (drums) as well as their cousin Matthew Followill (lead guitar)—produces a distinctly homegrown sound that is rootsy, retro and raw. The band, which has snagged the opening slot on U2's tour kicking off March 28, brings to mind what the Black Crowes might have sounded like if they were just getting started today. Songs such as the shimmying "Taper Jean Girl" and the infectious, sexually explicit "Soft" have a lo-fi grit that harks back to the days of '70s AM radio. And Caleb's countrified drawl on cuts like the dusty lament "Day Old Blues" is as down-home as the Piggly Wiggly.—C.A.
DOWNLOAD THIS: "Soft"