In addition to being cyclical, pop music is counterintuitive, as the marketing of Early Man demonstrates. The band's two-person lineup mirrors the Jack and Meg White configuration, yet on Closing In, their new album, guitarist/vocalist Mike Conte and drummer Adam Bennati eschew modern rock for heavy '70s sludge and the more rapidly paced '80s-vintage subgenre that birthed speed metal. What's more, they present their material with extremely straight faces: Anyone who laughs at the melodramatic way Conte belts "Death is the answer to my prayers, yeeEAAHH!" needs to have his irony meter recalibrated. So why is this disc on Matador Records, an indie-rock tastemaker that's got little, if any, background in metal? Is the label trying to hype the Conte-Bennati approach as "alternative" even though it's anything but? Looks that way -- and if the company succeeds, other imprints will undoubtedly try to turn the same trick. This prospect places a large burden on Early Man, which will be joined at the Larimer Lounge by Audio Dream Sister, Unloader, Invisible Orange and a heaping helping of historical revisionism. But that's the way the cycle turns.
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