Sound — 7
St. Louis-based band Cavo is an act that has been gaining plenty of buzz and momentum since releasing its first EP back in 2002. Thanks to playing several showcases (including an opening slot on a Stone Temple Pilots gig), the quartet finally caught the attention of big-time music execs. And it's easy to understand why the reps at Warner/Reprise wanted to snatch Cavo up, particularly considering a good deal (if not all) of the tracks on their major label debut Bright Nights Dark Days are radio-friendly and have hit potential. Is there anything necessarily out of the ordinary with their approach to rock? No, but that does not mean they won't easily find a niche market for their music. The single Champagne has all the makings of a chart-worthy success. Between the catchy bass groove starting it all off and the instantly memorable chorus, it's the kind of song that's a guilty pleasure. While there are nice little ambient/effects-driven lines from guitarist Chris Hobbs, it's usually vocalist Casey Walker that stands out in each track. Walker is a highly capable vocalist whose harmonies are scattered all throughout the record, and those elements usually steal the attention away from anything else happening for good or bad. Let It Go may sound extremely familiar to many of you, as it was a featured song in the film Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. If you weren't aware of that fact, however, you would never guess that it's the kind of track to land in an action film. It is driven by a Daughtry/pop-rock type of sound, which again, will probably pay off big-time in terms of sales. There are quite a few of these mellower rock tunes on Bright Nights Dark Days, and that can get old if you're looking for something with a little more edge. There is a solo in Let It Go and it has a slight bluesy quality toward the end, but it's still fairly benign. Besides Champagne, the standout track on the CD is Blame, which has a similar funky feel to Finger Eleven's Paralyzer in the beginning moments. It quickly goes in a very distinct direction, but it still has redeeming qualities. The low, grooving guitar part comes out heavily throughout the entire track, and it's perfectly mixed. In contrast to a few other tracks that are fairly formulaic and don't lend themselves to the musicians, Blame brings a bit more instrumentation to the forefront.
Lyrics — 6
Cavo's lyrical content won't necessarily wow you in every track, unfortunately. There are quite a few tracks that revolve around the usual introspection or talk about relationships gone wrong (Wait around to find the time; Only you can take what's mine; But don't ever go away), which is pretty standard fare for rock artists. The track Champagne does take a slightly different turn for the raunchy with lines such as, Could've been the champagne; The champagne; Could've been the cocaine; The cocaine. Again, not the most original, but I have a feeling it will still be quite the sing-along at their concerts.
Overall Impression — 7
Cavo is essentially pop rock, which certainly has its place in music. If you're expecting something a bit more groundbreaking, you're going to be disappointed. The album, however, is not devoid of catchy choruses (particularly in Champagne), occasional bluesy guitar lines (Blame), and the driving talent of Casey Walker, and those aspects should guarantee an audience.