Caveman @ The Independent 3/26/13 - photo by Nicole L. Browner

On March 26th, NYC’s Caveman continued on their SxSW-induced tour with a headlining performance at the Independent with Portland’s Pure Bathing Culture and local opener Steakhouse. Although not completely full, which can be forgiven due to the fact that it was a sleepy Tuesday night, Caveman delivered both their new and old songs in an equally polished manner.

Caveman’s follow up to their incredible first LP is now streaming on NPR, and will be officially released tomorrow (4/2/13) on Fat Possum. Caveman is a solid successor to Coco Beware. The first record’s strengths are really simple: consistency and a super dialed-in sound characterized by soundscapey guitar parts, tight song structures, and vocal melodies that linger long after the songs end. The first single on Caveman — “In The City” — demonstrates the more synth-heavy direction the band is taking, but it doesn’t stray far from the clues dropped on the first record.

It’s been an interesting run for Caveman so far. Being one of the few bands that truly felt like a “discovery” at CMJ in 2011, they’ve matured as a live band incredibly early, as if they’d been together at least twice as long. Their confidence during Noise Pop’s SxSW day party this year, despite playing in a small sweaty room to a bunch of slightly attentive drinkers, showed promise that the supreme qualities of this band are further blooming with the new songs. “Over My Head” was probably the biggest shocker – singer Matty Iwanusa ditched his guitar and the floor tom he usually switches between, taking only the mic for a soulful, slowed down ballad with fuzzy synth, melodramatic reverb and tranquil 3-part harmonies. He did it again at the Independent, with repeated charm.

If there are any areas to improve, my claim would be that Caveman is still just scratching the surface of a potentially higher dynamism that could be achieved between all the talent in the band. The guitar parts are creative, but leave you feeling a little underwhelmed at times. You want to buy them a round of whiskey shots and tell them to let loose a little, maybe extend one of their songs an extra couple of minutes. At this point it’s acceptable; if the confidence is there, surely they can develop some more energy down the road.

Overall, Caveman will be on heavy rotation this year as long as the volume is turned all the way up, exposing all of its mesmerizing subtleties.

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