Burly Men


Someone should explain how the Heather band survives. Players of bona fide Midwestern mid-to-late-’70s boogie metal in NYC in 2005? They must be as crazy as the Raging Slabbers were when they lived in Manhattan and RCA coke fiends briefly thought of themselves as fans of Southern rock by way of Pennsylvania in 1989. Whatever is going on here, the city crowd sure sounds ebullient on the live-in-NYC Heather EP.

Twin gnashing guitars are deployed on “Here Ta Rock,” and “Slow Down” is just the thing that shows off subliminal Led Zep “Rock and Roll” chops. If you’re in the know you’ll believe Heather must have heard of Riot. Riot, once upon a time, were from Brooklyn and wound up big in Texas and Japan. I said Texas, men: It’s the place you ought to be so you’ll load up the truck and move to Bis-a-bee, or San Antone, swimming pools, old raunch and rollers, Texas weed, and those who get happy over Dirty Tricks reissues, like
me. It’s always going to be pearls before swine in the boroughs, fellows. But Ted Nugent would invite Heather to his woodland home for a biltong-and-barbecue dinner if he heard this CD, and that’s real good.

In another philosophically odd place are Brooklyn’s Early Man. Being advertised as a classic heavy metal band—on Matador—arouses suspicions of the hard-rock-for-people-who-don’t-like-hard-rock trick: metal for snobs, sophisticates, and lovers of new age sound tapestries. Not the same as a humiliating and coarse love of Def Leppard. But, lo, Early Man aren’t jokers unless they’re great shammers. In sound if not category, they’re a second- or third-tier New Wave of British Heavy Metal group, imitating bigger-selling betters. In 1984, the duo would have been Cloven Hoof or Witchfinder General. “Death Is the Answer” mimics Sabbath, with grinding brio and excellence, an eerie reverse effect on the vocal lending more vintage Ozzy-ness. The best tune on Closing In is “Thrill of the Kill,” propelled by a killing shuffle, so you can dance to the sentiments of a schizophrenic killer, an always reliable purist-metal theme. Complete with their own stencil, the Early Men are not girlie men and perfectly prepared for gigs at Wembley.

Early Man play the Bowery Ballroom December 3; Heather play Northsix December 9.