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DavenportThere are myriad reasons Coheed & Cambria is one of my favorite bands: not the least of which is the fact that the group is virtually brimming with artistry. A prime example is the considerable quantity of material that flows out of the group… and not always with the Coheed branding attached. The group’s lead vocalist Claudio Sanchez is well publicized as a prolific writer for crafting comic books, a novel or film here and there while also founding a musical side-project, The Prize Fighter Inferno. What is not often emphasized are the efforts of the group’s guitarist, Travis Stever.
 
While performing with Coheed, Stever has also engineered several projects of his own. The first was a side-project entitled The English Panther, which released an eponymous full-length album in 2006. While the project itself would endure, the name would not. As Stever himself stated, “I realized that I had no connection to the English Panther name. It was a joke name given to me a long time ago and I used it purely out of convenience. Frankly I think the name sucks now. Recently I found a name that is a better fit to the project.”
 

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The group’s name was changed to Davenport Cabinet after a famed illusion performed by a pair of American magicians— brothers, to be precise— in the 1800’s. In the feat, the brothers would be bound and placed into a large cabinet with an assortment of musical instruments. As described on the group’s Facebook page, “Once the cabinet was closed, the instruments would begin to make sounds as if they were being played by the brothers. Upon opening the cabinet, the brothers were found tied in the same positions in which they had started the illusion. Those who witnessed the effect were made to believe that the magicians had channeled spirits to play the instruments.”
 
This fact makes the name a rather apt descriptor for the group, as Stever records the material for these efforts with his cohort Tyler Klose in a bedroom in his home. Often footsteps and random sounds will emanate from the room when it is unoccupied. Strings will vibrate on ostensibly unstirred instruments. Thus, Stever has pondered whether he has a personal Davenport Cabinet.
 

 
The band’s third release under the Davenport mantle, Our Machine, is a distant cousin to the material Stever produces with Coheed. The features are similar, but these are definitely pieces of a different breed. Collaborators Tyler Klose (vocals and guitar) and Rory Hohenberger (drums, percussion) bring their own unique skills and voices to the group that add to the overall tone of the project.
 
Folk and southern-rock elements play a more prominent role in the sonic landscape of Davenport’s material, but Our Machine is certainly not lacking the frenetic leads and blistering distortion CoCa is famed for. As with Coheed, the moods and themes are diverse, yet certainly act as sympathetic strings to one another. Ornate acoustic arpeggios and haunting vocal harmonies meld with synth elements, driving percussion, while cutting electric leads and thick, resonant bass tones permeate the record. Groove and funk find their place in the compositions as readily as they do in CoCa efforts as well. Overall, the tone and style of the material is refreshingly eclectic.
 
Choice cuts: “Drown It All”   “Simple Worlds”   “Sister Servant”   “Black Dirt Burden”   “These Bodies”
 Travis
 
The songwriting is instinctive, with a fabulous sense of melody and no lack for infectious chorus-lines. I took a bit to acclimate to Stever’s voice, but upon repeat listens I certainly warmed to it. At moments the album shows a strong similarity to material from CSNY or Warren Haynes, which is a real treat to hear from a contemporary act.
 
 
Listening to this record I feel the way I did the first time I listened to a David Gilmore solo disc; you can see the threads that lead back to the band, but you can understand why the individual effort stands apart from it. There are so many tributaries that stem from any musical project that it must be incredibly liberating to be able to veer off the beaten path from time to time.
 
Fans of Coheed will definitely do well to give Davenport Cabinet a listen. There are so many aspects of the compositions that accentuate and embellish the Coheed catalog found on Our Machine that you’ll want to dive back and forth from one to the other for days. Luckily, with a individuals as prolific as Travis Stever and company, you’re perfectly able to do so.
 
For fans of: Coheed and Cambria, Neil Young, Warren Haynes, CSNY, Seven Mary Three
 

 

 

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