Bands to Catch: Caveman

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Caveman Band
From left: Sam Hopkins, Jeff Berall, Michael Iwanusa, Stefan Marolachakis, and Jimmy Carbonetti

If you’re one of those people who has a hard time keeping their ears to the ground of indie music hype while also keeping them up and open to WRGW, you just might have missed what began as excited murmuring across the blogosphere three years ago with the release of Caveman’s first record, CoCo Beware.

Mixing curiously airy but big beats with reverb rock, synthesized soundscapes, and beautiful folk-driven harmonies, the initially self-released CoCo Beware launched Caveman into the public eye and my ears as something fresh and unfamiliar. When I first introduced some of my friends to their music, their smooth and ethereal echoes of mellow indie rock came to be affectionately known among us as “Jellyfish Music”. For CoCo Beware, this was oddly fitting; the record runs so smoothly, but with clear tonal shifts reminiscent of the type of placidity found in nature, with legato progressions similar to jellyfish’s distinct undulations.

With their newest record, self-titled Caveman, the band’s sound has evolved into something a little heavier, a little cleaner,  and a little more exploratory. The record is more atmospheric, Sam’s synth is more prominent, and Jimmy’s guitar rocks harder, but Matt’s vocals and harmonies are just as sweet. Jimmy is not just a guitarist however, he is a master of his craft. As the man behind Carbonetti Guitars in lower Manhattan, he is responsible for hand-crafting the beautiful instruments his band-members use, bringing an even more rich and personal sound to their music which reverberates through their silky electro-folk opener “Strange to Suffer”, which is followed by tracks like “Chances”, “Pricey”, and “Where’s the Time” with addictive riffs and evocative lyrics which speak to our daily doubts and discourse.

And live? Well in the four times I’ve seen Caveman perform, they seem to get more animated and excited with each new tour. Catching them last Wednesday night, on the kickoff of their US tour with Phosphorescent (after a month’s break from their Iceland/UK tour), was incredible. The energy, skill, and laid back attitude they bring with their professional performances is nearly unrivaled, and they seem to approach life in general with the same sort of impatient-yet-mellow appreciation. I’ve had the great pleasure of becoming friends with the guys, who truly enjoy what they do and have a passion for their fans, as well as their music. We’re working on bringing them in-studio for all of you listeners out there, but that lovely Hazy Shade of Winter that came through on Tuesday prevented it this time around.

It’s surreal to think that I first heard them on Bob Boilen’s Tiny Desk Concert series two years ago, and in a full circle that only the music industry is capable of, had the great pleasure of watching Phosphorescent’s set with Mr. Boilen and the band.

Caveman is: Matthew Iwanusa (Lead Vocals/Guitar/Hand-drum), Jimmy Carbonetti (Guitar), Stefan Marolachakis (Drums/Backup Vocals), Sam Hopkins (Keys/Backup Vocals), and Jeff Berrall (Bass/Backup Vocals), with Matt Clark (of White Rabbits) joining them on tour.

Follow Caveman and Carbonetti Guitars here:

And stay tuned to WRGW for updates, including a future in-studio performance and interview allowed by the music/weather gods.

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