Back in the magical times of 2013, Brooklyn indie band Caveman released their sophomore album, simply entitled ‘Caveman’. Despite no brazen cutting edge, no genre-squeezing flagrance, songs like ‘In the City’ and ‘Where’s the Time’ proved that the band are fully capable of compiling great songs whilst tickling a few indie fancies. ‘In the City’ was fantastic, devilishly unique with sun-burning synths, an unsung indie gem of the year. Now, here we are in 2016; a few Caveman-less years have passed us by and it’s time to fill that emptiness with…with…well, let’s find out…
Well, this is different, the first track of ‘Otero War’ – ‘Never Going Back’ – opens with a poppy, staccato piano line, soon joined by synth strings and ripping electric guitars; nothing too out-there, simple but pleasing. Most tracks that follow have a running kind of wannabe-atmosphere guitars with some pedal-use – nothing competently rocky, nothing crazy or experimental, and after a while it hits you…no ‘In the City’.
The middle-of-the-road approach to rock music is complimented by middle-of-the-road song titles like ‘On My Own’, ‘All My Life’ and ‘I Need You In My Life’. Sound-wise, the latter actually comes close to a post-rock, shoegaze sound; not quite hitting the nail on the head, but at least there was one song on this album where Caveman tried to do things a bit differently.
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Some of the first few tracks like ‘Life or Just Living’, ‘On My Own’ and ‘Project’ seem to take a bit of influence from some of the alternative rock bands that never really offered much in the way of nuance or mass, sound-defining significance. Infuriatingly U2, infuriatingly Killers. Sometimes infuriatingly Coldplay. That’s not to say these aren’t great bands in their own right, but take too much from them and you’re just going to sound like a wishful-thinking, humdrum clone.
Even if you’re just treating ‘Otero War’ as a pop album, it’s not like there’s any long-term memorability on offer. Nothing is going to make you hum, little is going to make you tap your foot. It’s pseudo indie-op, no distinguishable melody.
The better songs on ‘Otero War’ are safe at best. No composition is downright poor, no performance is without its flashes of talent, but as far as Caveman are concerned, ‘Otero War’ is a major step back.
‘Otero War’ is out now via Cinematic
This Caveman article was written by Ben Malkin, a GIGsoup contributor. Photo by Philip Di Fiore