Monday, November 14, 2011

REVIEW: Caveman - CoCo Beware

Caveman - CoCo Beware

When you’re a band based in a city that never sleeps – a city that is more than little congested, as well – it seems only natural that escaping this bustle would be found in the creativity of the mind. Skyscrapers turn into mountains, endless city blocks give way to brilliant green pastures and vast plains, and valleys subdue the noise. This spaciousness is reflected in the 10 tracks that make up CoCo Beware, the new album from New York City quintet Caveman. And like Grizzly Bear and Fleet Foxes before them, Caveman have produced an incredibly well-crafted debut that sounds less like a band struggling to find its place and more like a confident, seasoned group.

There’s great pastoral beauty to CoCo Beware, befitting the band’s simplistic name. But contrary to what you might assume hearing the name “Caveman,” this particular Caveman works golden, ‘50s to ‘60s multipart vocal harmonies over relatively simplistic frames that allow room for a myriad of tones and textures. Swirls of dream pop and psychedelia color the corners and negative space of their music, adding a bit of a mystique and hypnotic edge to the sound. With memorable, and even haunting, melodies on songs like “Thankful” and “Great Life,” CoCo Beware becomes all the more infectious with the addition of surf rock’s ease and more mellow natured side.

Each track here has something noteworthy to offer, except the instrumental breaker “Vampire,” which seems somewhat unnecessary and more of a gap in momentum. It’s a small misstep, though, when placed against the other nine tracks. "My Time" is driven by an upbeat bounce of a beat and sounds as if Americana decided to take a swim in the Atlantic and let loose -- and it features a great hook centered around the word "whoa" to boot. The melancholic yet warm "Great Life" is chilling with its enchanting harmonies and sees a pitter patter of tom drums underscoring distant, reverb-drenched piano. Much as its name might suggest, the gentle, soothing "Easy Water" is an incredibly fluid track with a tuneful drone of guitar chords and feedback swimming in waves of reverb and tremolo.

If there’s one thing to say about Caveman’s sound, it’s, well, cavernous. And it’s because of this openness that the various styles are able to blend together. By mixing the pop sensibilities of ‘50s and ‘60s-based multipart vocal harmony-heavy pop, the rustic charm of folk, and the euphoric, hypnotic air of both dream pop and psych, Caveman have made a distinctive first statement. There’s certainly more room to grow, but, as an introduction, it’s clear that this is a band poised for great things in the future. CoCo Beware is not only one of the year’s best debuts, it’s also one of the year’s best albums.

CoCo Beware is out now digitally and comes out tomorrow in physical format via the band's own Magic Man! Records.

Caveman - "Decide"

Caveman - "Old Friend"

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