Kait Eldridge, back in Brooklyn after several years in Seattle, has returned with a renewed purpose and a revamped supporting cast. While Almost Famous found Big Eyes adding quite a bit of rock to its appealing mix of punk and power pop, Stake My Claim takes that direction even further. No longer a power trio, Big Eyes are now a proper hard-rocking four piece with thundering dual guitars. The resultant new album is a true statement: a good, old-fashioned hooky rock record that speaks to the importance of taking control of your own life. While still totally in touch with her punk roots (no song on the album exceeds three minutes), Eldridge has molded Big Eyes into precisely what you'd expect from a band named after a Cheap Trick song. In tandem with Paul Ridenour, she has kicked up both the power and the finesse of the band's guitar attack. The concept of the "rock star" might as well cease to exist if she isn't considered to be one.
More "rock" or not, Stake My Claim is no less tuneful or hook-driven than previous Big Eyes albums. In fact, this release is one of those rare cases where power pop is exactly what it claims to be. Eldridge has written some of the best pop songs of her life, and with her band she has rocked the living hell out of them. "Behind Your Eyes" and "When You Were 25" are immediately identifiable as classic Big Eyes type songs - but with a bigger, fuller sound to them. If "Giving It Up For Good" sounded any more like '80s Joan Jett, I'd be checking the credits for a guest appearance. "Curse of the Tides" is one of Eldridge's finest achievements as a songwriter: a tune that clocks in at under a minute but doesn't leave you feeling cheated. And in the excellent album closer "Alls I Know", we get the kind of song that Kait Eldridge can do better than just about anyone else out there. It's everything I love about pop and punk and rock mixed together without any regard for unnecessary divisions between genres.
Call it power pop with an emphasis on the power. Call it hard rock with hooks. Call it whatever you want. Stake My Claim is the work of a long-promising band fully stepping into greatness. Order a copy today from Don Giovanni Records!