A south-coast power-pop quartet delivering big hearted jams and sweet harmonies with a visceral live energy and more volume than is strictly necessary.
The Stayawakes return with their second album 'Pop Dreamz', which sees the band more focused with intent on delivering an immediacy and urgency across eleven great pop-punk tracks.
The album was produced by Jimmy Cooper at The Lightning Bolt (Southsea) along with some additional sessions with Nicholas Bowen at Quay West Studios (Gosport).
The album was mixed by Bob Cooper at The Chairworks (Leeds) and mastered by Grant Berry at Fader Mastering.
'Pop Dreamz' is released through Engineer records who first got involved with the band after inviting them to be on volume three of the 'Lamp Light The Fire' compilations with a superb acoustic version of 'Oh, Telephone'.
FFO: The Ramones, Green Day, Fiendz, Hard-ons, Blink 182, Beezewax, Motion City Soundtrack, Fall Out Boy, Jimmy Eat World, Wact, MTX, All Time Low, etc.
Transporting listeners back to the beautiful indie-pop punk scene of the early 2000s, The Stayawakes latest release Dogs and Cats/Living Together delivers an upbeat album full of harmonious melodies and punchy riffs.
From start to finish, the sweet vocals of lead singer Andrew Ricks bring the poetic and heartfelt lyrics to life. The catchy stylings of Peter Foulk on guitar, Steven Hart on drums, Jimmy Cooper on bass, and David Pryce on synth compliment Ricks’ flawless delivery of the bands signature sound.
The entire album is endlessly-playable but the band’s true colours really shine in ‘Jake’ with its muted verses followed by the louder than life chorus. In ‘Little Explorer’, the band shows its playful side and it pays off greatly.
The true standout on the album is the ethereal ‘High School Weirdness’. The song really pulls on the nostalgic memory and innocence of what it’s like to be young and full of hope and creates something that’s unexpected yet brilliantly inspired.
The Stayawakes manage to create an album that pulls listeners in from the very first note and keeps them intrigued all the way through. All ten tracks of Dogs and Cats/Living Together offer something unique yet on theme. It’s a cleverly composed album worthy of repeated play.
I was a big fan of Day of the Fight back in the earlier 2000s. At a time when I was mostly gorging on Epi-Fat Californian vibes and the South Coast UK Hardcore scene, they brought (I felt) a modicum of accessible emotional sophistication to my record collection. Here was a band with the underground credentials I was desperately hankering after, but who also wrote legit pop-oriented songs which other people might be impressed by. Of course nobody was, the crushing herd mentality of the student crowd was only interested in the big names of the day masquerading their ‘indie’ cred, and I turned back to the lonely dark side of punk.
Anyway, skip a decade and the cold, largely forgotten ashes of Day of the Fight have coalesced to form The Stayawakes, and after a couple of years spent honing their hooks and rocking Superchunk covers, they are releasing their debut album Dog and Cats / Living Together and it’s really great.
The Stayawakes sound like exceedingly well crafted college rock ala Norway’s Beezewax or Motion City Soundtrack. Successfully hooky and nostalgic for the early 00’s indie kids, and easy to imagine supporting The Get Up Kids or sound-tracking a dance in a high school movie. If you’ve made it through the second series of Stranger Things without Facebook ranting about the death of Barb then I’ll bet you’ve owned at least one album that sounds a bit like this. And if you haven’t sang along to it in a kitchen drinking wine from a Tupperware container then you were probably dead inside to start with and there’s no saving you.
Album opener Slumber kicks in with a drum roll that immediately evokes The Wannadies, and a now-rare breed of guitar lead accompanies you into the verse where Ricksey’s breathy vocals immediately nuzzle close. The album is peppered with guitar solos (understated guitar/keyboard harmony solo in Jake is glorious, as is the highly-textured freakout/fallout towards the end of High School Weirdness and constant noodling in Sophie) but the real star of the album is the sheer craft of the pop songs and the serious dedication to the church of the pop album.
Frankly, The Stayawakes are going to make you feel better about getting older. They know that you were a stunted teen who briefly blossomed in your early 20s and haven’t really grown up since. They’re named after a 1980s horror film genre for christ’s sake. Everything about this record wraps its arms around you and drunkenly slow dances while you loll your head on its chest and it whispers that even though it’s 3 in the morning, your parents will have left the back door on the latch. Even though you know damn well that it’s only 10:30 and you have a dog and a mortgage.
Hailing from Southsea in Hampshire, the Stayawakes deliver an energetic, indie-punk sound twinned with infectious pop melodies and an overall hook that’s pretty hard to dislike. On ‘Dogs and Cats / Living Together’, the band’s debut record, there’s a sentimental, feel-good factor that’s evident on almost every track. Right from opening track ‘Slumber’, there’s a clear sense of familiarity from the tracks on offer.
For most bands, it could be argued that creating a record that sounds like others that came before them isn’t entirely an achievement. Yet, what works well for the Stayawakes, is the harnessing of an accomplished sound that’s disappeared from the indie-rock scene over the last 15 years or so. In this light, the record serves as a sort of flashback to the type of beloved music of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. It feels like a soundtrack to adolescence that isn’t overly brash, bullish or aggressive. Instead, ‘Dogs and Cats / Living Together’ carries a light-weight, stylistically soft touch, whilst still retaining an indie-punk sound.
Tracks like ‘Jake’, ‘Little Explorer’ and recent single ‘Inevitable Truth’ show off the band’s best qualities, all spiked with grooves and hooks, from swaying guitar leads to shifting keyboard swirls beneath the main mix of the tracks’ jumpy beats. There’s a focus on instrumentation here, with abrasive crashing cymbals and open hi-hats blushing beneath dynamic leads. While throwing plenty of guitar solos into the mix heightens the nostalgic vibe.
On first listen its the album’s good-nature that shines through. But beneath the tonality, there’s a concentration on growing up and reflection of the past that adds an extra dimension to the weight of the record. It’s personal, easy to relate to and all wrapped up in a neat brightly coloured package. With this release, there is a sense that the Stayawakes have managed to recreate a sound that has long been untouched.