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Cerebral Paleolithic indie pop

Caveman - Coco Beware
(ORG Music)
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: November 14, 2011

Review by Tony Bonyata

You can't always judge a book by its cover, or in the case of the Brooklyn indie group Caveman - a band by its name. Rather than pounding out some type of troglodyte metal or plodding hard-rock, as the quintet's name might imply, they instead mix cold, gray ambient soundscapes with warmer pop melodies, soothing vocals and lush harmonies on their full-length debut, Coco Beware. It's a mix that should appeal to fans of both experimental pop music and woodsy hymnal folk acts like Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver.

Amid the otherworldly guitars, synths and angelic four-part harmonies, there is one trait, however, that connects Caveman's music with their Neanderthal namesake, and that's Stefan Marolachakis' propulsive and primitive delivery on his drums. Often tribal, as on the opening track "A Country's King of Dreams," he also manages to pull back on some of the album's more esoteric numbers while still generating arresting rhythmic textures, most notably on the gentle "Easy Water" and dark, intoxicating instrumental track "Vampirer," which wouldn't have sounded out of place on side two of David Bowie and Brian Eno's 1977 experimental masterpiece Low.

Coco Beware also features the two more pop-leaning tracks, "Old Friend" and "Thankful," which have already been generating an early buzz for the band. They're both pleasant enough songs that do a good job of showcasing frontman Matthew Iwanusa's ability at crafting lush modern indie-pop songs, not to mention his soft and welcoming vocals, but it's when Caveman goes hunting and foraging into unknown musical realms that really sets this promising new band apart from their contemporaries.

Me like Caveman.

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