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Early Man

In The Village Voice's 2005 Pazz and Jop poll, critic Bud Scoppa writes, "The new challenge for rockcrits: sitting in a label conference room and reviewing an album in real time through headphones." Challenge accepted, sans the comfort of the Matador conference room.

Is this Metallica? Or Black Sabbath? While the guitars in "Four Walls" are shredding up my speakers, let's reflect upon the song titles: "Feeding Frenzy," "Thrill of the Kill, "Brain Sick," "Raped and Pillaged," and my favorite, "Like a Goddamn Rat." Could this record reflect even more heavy-metal clichés? The riff in "Feeding Frenzy" makes me want to slam-dance with my velvet sofa. I do believe this is a feeding frenzy on the crazy train. Cliché alert: "I guess it's just another day to do what the voices tell me to," sings Mike Conte on "Thrill of the Kill." Live, this band probably burn whomever they happen to breathe/sweat on. Perhaps that is not what the press materials mean by "They're hot."

The real question remains: Why is Closing In on Matador records, of all places? Is the indie rock world so far removed from our hair-metal ancestors that this actually sounds fresh? "Brain Sick" just started, and Conte screamed, "Why aren't you listening to me?!" How did he know? Freaky. The beginning of "Raped and Pillaged," like the rest of the album, is the perfect music for a NASCAR race: It just keeps racing round and round in circles.

More by Annie Holub

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