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CD Reviews:  Review of Holy Roller Novocaine by Kings of Leon

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It is not completely out of the question to think that Kings of Leon will have the surprise hit of this rock and roll year…twice! Last month, Nashville’s newest darlings offered up their debut Holy Roller Novocaine, but it’s a scant five-song EP that only hints of the greatness these three brothers and a cousin are capable of unveiling. Their full-length debut is set to hit stores in July, and if it lives up to this appetizer then I could forsee donning it with, say, a nine-star review.

For it’s part, Holy Roller Novocaine is terrific. Over the course of five short tracks, the young Followill brothers manage to pack a wallop, boasting more pure rock and roll brilliance than headline-grabbers The Hives or White Stripes could ever hope to. Flirting somewhere just beyond the musical reaches of The Strokes, these Kings of Leon merge southern twang, rockabilly and 1970s classic rock with intermittent dashes of The Velvet Underground. Believe me, the quick comparisons are not easy to draw here. A friend in the Heartland suggested Full Moon Fever-era Tom Petty was a fitting likeness for the catchiest “California Waiting.” While I initially disagreed, I’m now finding more and more similarities between the Kings and that whole Tom Petty/Crosby, Stills, and Nash/The Byrds category.

“Molly’s Chamber” and “Wasted Time” are comparably charming, brandishing clean and revved up melodies and no more cluttered instrumentation than is absolutely necessary. You can thank producer-of-the-moment Ethan Johns (Jayhawks and Ryan Adams) for the flawless guitar work and taut compositions. The slower, grinding “Wicker Chair” evokes Eric Burdon and The Animals, not to mention the fictitious Stillwater from the movie “Almost Famous.” It then makes sense that these young rebel rousers look as if they stepped off the set of “That 70s Show,” but know there is nothing staged or rehearsed about these songs. Instead, Holy Roller Novocaine embodies the kind of fresh new alt-rock album that I hoped The Strokes would have delivered a couple years back with their overly hyped Is This It. July can’t come soon enough. 

~Red Rocker

other Kings of Leon reviews:
Youth and Young Manhood (2003)

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