DARIUS RUCKER Charleston, SC 1966
Capitol Nashville, $19
Rucker, of Hootie & the Blowfish fame, surprised everyone in 2008 by releasing a country album, Learn to Live. The disc went platinum, earning him a number-one hit (“Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It”) and a Country Music Award for New Artist of the Year. He’ll try to match that success with this follow-up, named for his hometown. The album’s first single, “Come Back Song,” is a promising start.
KINGS OF LEON Come Around Sundown
Despite being an instant hit overseas, this Tennessee family band enjoyed only moderate success in the U.S. with its early albums. But 2008’s Only by the Night, bolstered by the hugely popular “Use Somebody,” catapulted the band from being “big in London” to being, well, big everywhere. Standout tracks from this much-anticipated fifth disc include lead single “Radioactive,” the anthemic “The Immortals” and “Back Down South,” a nostalgic ode to young love and lust.