Cage the Elephant Cage the Elephant

Revolution be damned, the UK loves an ostensibly American band (see the Strokes, Kings of Leon, second-phase Killers, etc.). Teetering on the edge of Brit fame, upstart Kentucky combo Cage the Elephant released their self-titled debut in the UK almost a year ago; it only now arrives in North America. Immediately, it separates itself from shtick-y contemporizes, kicking off with the volatile "In One Ear." By the time singer Matt Shultz gets to the screaming bridge, the band's funked up, muscular sound sets them entirely apart. Shultz has an aptitude for cadence, his vocals careening between rapid-fire incantations ("James Brown"), cavalier chastisement ("Back Stabbin' Betty") or desperate repetition ("Judas"). Bravado abounds, though never standoffishly so. "James Brown" works fittingly hard, flexing a twirling riff, ramping up a vocal assault and sweating out a bluesy dénouement. Earnest, Red Hot Chili Peppers-evoking poli-misfire "Lotus" is the only real gaffe but it's a forgivable misstep on a record full of dirty, beefy riffs and confidence. (Universal)