HIGHLY ENJOYABLE Stay Seventeen are made for hot summer days.
Sure, hip-hop and bubble-gum pop are made for hot summer days, but nothing says "summer vacation" like radio rock, the sound that made WCYY (and WBLM before it). Do you miss Aerosmith and Journey? Too young to have ever heard of those bands, but like big sing-alongs and Brand New and Sparks the Rescue?
Check out Stay Seventeen, the new quartet Falling Skyward drummer Dan Dunham has joined, alongside Bostonians Dana Dibiasio (vocals, no relation to Skyward guitarist Anthony DiBiase; their names are spelled differently), Jayk Watson (bass), and Mike Sanders-DeMott (guitar), and produced by Too Late the Hero's Kevin Billingslea, who handled Harbor's debut record late last year at his Lion's Maine studio in Waterboro. This new project is neither as progressive and genre-bending as Skyward, or heavy as Harbor, but it sure is huge in the headphones and full of big guitars and a punishing snare.
Seventeen are also more mainstream than those bands, with no screamo or anything too challenging beyond some five-beat percussive bits that hint at metal. They're charming, even, with Dibiasio opening the five-track debut, Promises, downright endearing in "Yearbook," a classic tale of moving on. He's the boy next door who isn't there anymore for a girl named California: "You pick me up to let me fall/We grew up in such a small town [and this is two syllables, for extra nostalgia value], but I broke my way out."
His entreaty that "we've come so far from 18" is maybe a bit curious considering the band name, but "One More Night" is clear enough indication that this isn't all child's play. Here's the chorus: "Force my head into a pillow, I'm suffocating/Hard to explain, but only she knows, it's complicated/We rocked that headboard, the neighbors would complain about the noises through the floor."
And, of course, he can't understand why she'd want to give up all that good sex. "I wish we could talk about it, cuz I'm still craving you," he sings, and by "talk about it," he means "fuck."
Yes, it's unlikely these guys will be nominated for the 2013 Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction. But that's the genre, right? High school girls like cute boys and cute boys really like cute girls. And rocking that headboard.
But there is something quaint about naked adulation — this is not far in some ways from what Doc Astronaut was up to (or Doc Octagon before him), and in no way lewd in Astro's way. And if you can bang out a song like "Tidal Wave," well, lots of things are forgiven. Damn is the chorus fun. Sure, it's formulaic, but so is the cake I have every year on my birthday and that doesn't mean I don't want more of it.
Plus, it's such a nice antidote to something like Owl City's "Tidal Wave," where we get: "I forget the last time I felt brave." Oh, boo hoo. Stay Seventeen can "taste your bitterness, and I can see you're loving this." And by "this" they mean a guitar solo from Sanders-DeMott here and a big ol' "na-na-na" version of the verse as a bridge, so you can singalong before the song is even one play through.