Release Date: Nov 15, 2011
Record label: Original Recordings Group
“Listenable” is the best way to describe Caveman’s debut album, CoCo Beware. The album, with all of its clacking drums, gently strummed rail-thin guitars and careful, pleasant melodies, is instantly catchy and likable on a first listen. Songs like “Decide” “Thankful” and “Easy Water”—easily the album’s standout cuts—plod along like lazy, slowed-down versions of early Shins tracks, and that’s a great thing.
The concept of “dad rock,” like a lot of the stickier pejoratives circulating music blogs these days, doesn’t truly mount a criticism of the genre it describes or the bands that are said to skirt its boundaries a bit too closely. Instead, it bypasses the hopelessly subjective conversation about the quality of the music, and shifts our attention to questions we can answer pretty much by reflex: What kind of people like this music and are they cool? Naturally, dads aren’t cool. Even forgiven their tendency to like the Eagles and talk at length about “the Boss,” dads would remain the villains of online music criticism, which is defined by its Oedipal revolt against the standard of importance established by Rolling Stone and classic-rock radio.
What do an indie rock quartet and a professional wrestler have in common? No, this isn’t the beginning of a groaner, but rather a genuine inquiry about what inspired Brooklyn band Caveman to reference WWE Hall of Famer Koko B. Ware with the title of their full-length debut, Coco Beware. No immediate connections emerge upon listening, but the moods and textures of the record prove every bit as colorful as the pugilist namesake’s costumes and novelty parrot.
Remember Local Natives? Me, neither. All right, that’s not quite fair. The Los Angeles quartet, they of syrupy harmonies and auxiliary percussion, had a bona fide hit on its hands with Gorilla Manor, its 2010 debut. That record came out in February, and by the time year-end lists rolled around in December, many of the writers who expressed such love for Gorilla Manor’s breezy pop somehow forgot entirely about the band when doing their final calculations.
CAVEMAN “Coco Beware”. (Magic Man/Orgmusic).
Your average band will focus on one unique trait—an especially skilled guitarist or a strong vocalist, say—in its music and run with it for a debut album. Caveman’s debut album, CoCo Beware, is unique for another reason: The band shows off a variety of crowd-pleasing aspects. Four-part harmonies backing up lead singer Matt Iwanusa? Check. Booming drums on almost every track, lending a hypnotic rhythm to the proceedings? Check.