Written By: Ben Millikan
Label: Reprise – Rating:
One shouldn’t be too hasty in judging a band’s major record label debut. More often than not, the songs are taken from the band by the aforementioned record label and manufactured to such a radio-friendly degree that they end up being void of any and all creativity or originality. Point in case: if it took Nickelback an album or two to hit their stride, the same could be said for Cavo.
Although “Bright Nights * Dark Days” (released under Reprise Records) suffers from these typical rookie ailments, the four-piece rock outfit from St. Louis still shows signs of promise. “Champagne,” the opening track and first single off of the album, opens with a catchy little bass line that leads right into a huge blast of distortion. The album continues it’s momentum into the ultra-catchy “Crash,” but the majority of the tracks that follow lack the energy that are needed to make a well balanced album.
Fortunately, just as all famous frontmen are expected to do, vocalist Casey Walker does a stellar job in keeping the listener engaged with his dynamic vocal range. Walker knows how to move with the motion of the music, appropriately calibrating the intricacies of each song, knowing when to back off of the mic a bit and when to let his vocal chords rip.
“My Little Secret” is an emotional power-ballad where, despite its questionable lyrics (“I hope she doesn’t see the lipstick stain on the edge of the wine glass / I hope that she can’t see it in my eyes”), Walker’s range still shines through.
Navigating through the waters of mainstream radio rock can be treacherous, especially when it requires bands to stifle their creativity for the sake of making hits. This isn’t necessarily a bad formula, but in the instance of Cavo and “Bright Nights * Dark Days,” it’s a learning experience.
The foundation is there: the band has nine years of playing experience, their songs are rhythmically tight, and Walker has proven he is capable of being a prominent front man. All that Cavo has to do now is find their own way in the already crowded world of mainstream rock.