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Cayucas, ‘Bigfoot’ – Album Review

Music fandom has many peculiar aspects, but the the desire to lay claim to a band or an artist is among the most ridiculous. Rarely can one single source rightfully claim to have discovered a new artist, and many times, it’s not the discovery that people want credit for, but rather the long-term backing they’ve given bands, even before they were cool.

Still, we tend to credit certain critics or websites for bringing bands to light. For instance, Gorilla Vs. Bear helped to increase Grimes’ public profile, and in 2011, You Ain’t No Picasso named ‘High School Lover’ by Oregon Bike Trails — then the solo project of Zach Yudin — as their favorite song of the year. After catching the attention of the respected blog, Yudin drew a bit of flak by annoucning that he would change his name to Cayucas for the recording of this, his (and his assembled band’s) debut LP for Secretly Canadian.

‘Bigfoot’ arrives with the a vague sense of familiarity, regardless of one’s experience with Oregon Bike Trails, though fans of that project will be happy to see that a number of its strongest songs have made the transition to this new outfit. Tracks like ‘Cayucos’ and ‘A Summer Thing’ sound refreshed. Principally, they’re the same songs, but Yudin has added an unaffected, almost hypnotized attitude that generally gets simplified as “laid back.”

Some will bemoan the increased production quality, but the shift seems in the best interest of the songs, and Yudin’s vision for his originals has not been compromised. And once listeners get a sense of the direction of the records, they stand a chance of looking past the fusion of influences that is easy to get caught up on. Cauycas, you might say, sound like Animal Collective jamming with the Police in a ’60s beach-party movie or on the island where ‘Weekend at Bernie’s’ takes place.

Yudin’s melodies are generally hard to predict, and he seemingly treats the extensive histories of reggae and beach rock more as obstacles to avoid than as tools to use. He’s constantly on guard to not repeat what other artists have done, and his obsession with originality can actually be a detriment. ‘East Coast Girl’ has a strong enough chorus and vocal harmony hooks to survive on, but the song’s verses are aimless and too self-aware. On ‘Ayawa ‘kya,’ Yudin releases a sung rap that only Beck could really make work.

Ultimately, ‘Bigfoot’ is slight, and its best purpose might be uniting gatherings in feelgood vibes. But writing it off for these reasons is not fair, and ‘Will “The Thrill”‘ is worth the price of admission alone. With the weather getting warmer, ‘Bigfoot’ just might join the recent album from the So So Glos on the heavy summer rotation. Maybe we all owe You Ain’t No Picasso a tip of the hat.

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