BIG EYES: Stake My Claim: CD

Big Eyes has drifted away from Cheeky’s scrappy pop punk (Choke on a Cheeseburger still gives me warm fuzzy feelings, though) and evolved into a full-fledged hard rock band. Stake My Claim opens with a riff that requires a power stance to perform, then shifts gears with pop gem “Behind Your Eyes.” The opening two songs embody singer/guitarist Kait Eldridge’s songwriting: one part ‘70s and ‘80s hard rock, with thick Gibson SG power chords, and another part sugary pop rock punctuated by epic choruses. The album is populated with chuggy mid-tempo bangers that evoke Tom Petty, Joan Jett, and Cheap Trick, which is not exactly my cup of tea. Although I admire (and envy) the airtight execution, I miss the unpredictability of Big Eyes’ first full length, Hard Life. –Sean Arenas (Don Giovanni, dongiovannirecords.com)