Travis Stever is a pretty busy man. You may have heard his name before as he is one of the founding members of some small, little band called Coheed and Cambria. When he is not touring the world playing to his die hard fans, Stever has his own solo project called Davenport Cabinet. Earlier this year, Stever dropped his second solo release titled Our Machine. Full of a folk alt-rock sound at times, the album is quite catchy and just further showcases how great of a musician Stever really is.
Now when say I folk rock, don’t go thinking I am talking about the folk rock that is stealing the music scene these days. This is a much more intriguing sidestep into a great genre of music. When listening to this album, I thought of everyone from Pink Floyd to Rush, as well as Queensrÿche and even Van Halen. Sure, combining all of those bands might sound a little off, but I tell you, this sophomore release by Stever is far from that.
Starting the album was the instrumental “Night Climb” that kind of set the level for what I was about to hear. Acoustic guitars played over electronic sounds for less than a minute while someone beat on on a drum. I really was not sure what to expect from this.
“Deterioration Road” was the song that for whatever reason reminded me of Van Halen and honestly, it was because of the singing style. The music however was very much more progressive and just well put together. In fact, the beginning of the song is where I could hear Pink Floyd.
“Simple Words” was an acoustic folksy jam with Stever’s cousin Tyler Klose (thanks for the correction via tweet Travis!) sounding a lot like Geoff Tate. Don’t let that discourage you in any way though, this was a great jam especially when Stever’s other cousin Laura Tsaggaris met Klose making for a great duet. The harmony those two created was just perfect. You can tell that a lot of thought was put when recording this track, it is flawless. If there is one track on this album you need to check out, make it this one. Hands down, this was my favorite song on the album.
“Sister Servent” followed with a certain Coheed and Cambria sound I have grown so accustomed to but instead of Claudio Sanchez taking on vocal duties, Klose however did his own thing and pulled it off quite well. The drumming and the guitars on this track were so captivating switching from a distorted riff to a modest jam on guitars while impressive beats backed them all up.
Stever dabbled with some electronics in “These Bodies”, and interesting track that really was a lot darker than previous tracks. Seeming to talk about redemption and dying, the track sounded good but just caught me off guard. Then came “Our Machine”, a poignant and fun acoustic song that really screamed folk rock but also did not let go of the progressive feel. This track was a foot-stomping jam that I enjoyed quite a bit. Once again, you can literally hear the all the hard work put into this track. I especially loved hearing the banjo being plucked throughout.
“Black Dirt Burden” once continued with the banjo and one of my favorite effects that Stever played with Coheed and Cambria, the talk box. Immediately following was his trademark tearing-apart-the-guitar-solo, but only for a moment. Once again I am could not help but think of 80s rock throughout this track, but not without gracious amounts of guitar solos and even a little more talk box. This track really proves how talented Stever really is and not just because he busted out the talk box.
I liked the change up in “Drown It All”, a more country folk sounding track. Use of the slide during the song was perfectly ok to this listener. Leaving behind the progressive sound, this track sounded quite cheerful yet I have reason to believe it was speaking of addiction. I could be wrong of course. “Dancing On Remains” sounded like Peter Gabriel took over singing duties for a moment. This track seemed to lose some of the momentum captured in many of the previous tracks. I just could not get into this song at all.
Thankfully “At Sea” caught my attention again, but not entirely. Of all the tracks on this album, this was the one I felt just had too much going on. “Our Father” ended the album with a slow start that soon morphed to a overly-distored guitar riff that soon was met with some smooth guitar solos. The instrumental soon faded out leaving me wanting to hear more of the chaotic experimental guitar playing.
I’ve seen Coheed more times than I have fingers on my hands and I have always enjoyed watching Stever just kill it on guitar solos and play the talk box during select tracks. It is no surprise to hear from him the exceptional musicianship on Our Machine. Sounding prog-rock at times, many of the songs really remind me of a distant Queensrÿche relative, but the folk sounding tracks are what captivated me the most.
If you could accept The Prize Fighter Inferno from Sanchez, then you have no reason not to do the same for Stever. This album is full of great tunes and really should be dismissed as a solo project as Stever, with help from friends, has really put together a solid album for all to hear.