Release Date: Jun 17, 2016
Record label: Relativity Entertainment
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Indie Pop
Is this the same Caveman we met on 2011's WWF-referencing Coco Beware? Is it even the same group we were re-introduced to two years later on their self-titled sophomore LP? The former was like The Beach Boys by way of The Jesus and Mary Chain, with vocal harmonies lovingly laid overtop rough-edged, shambling rhythms; the latter tightened things up a bit and brought synthesizers into the mix, but didn't stray too far from their debut. But, what's this? Is this... a dreamy rock epic with ever-so-slight science fiction overtones? No one saw that coming, but it's hard to say no to their current direction once you've heard the results.
After three years between albums, Caveman return with a new label (the first rock outfit to sign with hip-hop label Cinematic Music Group) and a new attitude on their third full-length, Otero War. The Brooklyn quintet still use atmospheric synths and a layered approach to their warm indie rock, but emerge from the wallowing haze of 2013's Caveman with crisper, more assertive production. Right from track one, the propulsive "Never Going Back" delivers melodic hooks and more pronounced drums, encouraging toes to tap.
Some bands make you listen to an entire album before fully revealing themselves. Fortunately, Caveman don’t keep you waiting long on their third full-length, Otero War, revealing a full hand within the first few minutes. On album opener “Never Going Back”, frontman Matt Iwanusa declares that he’ll “Change my mind just to see what’s new.” Moments later, on “Life or Just Living,” he offers a similar revelation: “How come you always keep starting over? It’s just the way I am.” Change is certainly this Brooklyn quintet’s modus operandi.
Otero War exists in two alternate universes: the first is a sci-fi dystopia helpfully described by Caveman on their website and illustrated by Marc Ericksen, the guy behind the cover of Mega Man 2 and, more importantly, Twitter cult favorite Bad Dudes. But that’s not the real story here. Like the two Caveman albums before it, Otero War could be an accessory to a generic and fictionalized network-tv retelling of “indie rock in the 2010s.