Hockey Dad // Blend Inn [Album Review]

Album: Blend Inn

Band: Hockey Dad

Area: Wollongong

Date of release: 9/2/18

Genre: Indie Surf Rock

Reviewer: Andrew Brassington

Record Label: Farmer And The Owl

For Fans Of: long coastal drives and chucking a sickie

Next Gig: In store appearances this weekend, touring in March

“I thought I saw you on the train but the houses kept getting in the way”

Wollongong based 2-piece Hockey Dad are back with a new album! Subject to a lot of hype, the record titled; "Blend Inn", follows on from 2016’s "Boronia", which cemented Hockey Dad’s place in the Australian indie scene, and shows a diverse broadening of their songwriting styles, thus drawing away from their roots but still maintaining a strong beach going atmosphere.

The record opens with a strong, confident release of energy called ‘The Stride’. Its chorus is our first singalong moment on the album, and if it makes its way into the band’s live set I can see it being shouted back by thousands of adoring fans at festivals and shows all over the country. The bridge really takes this song off, and propels it into intense summer beachside jam territory, with Beach Boys-esque ‘ooohs’ harmonized throughout.

Next up we hear ‘Homely Feeling’, a track that has already become a crowd favourite. Having taken out Number 54 in Triple J’s Hottest 100 of 2017, this is going to be the song that people remember for years to come. It’s the first proper signal of the direction the band has taken on their sophomore LP, by keeping the garage surf vibes front and center, but drawing on more inventive hooks and chord progressions.

To end the opening trio of summertime smash hits, ‘I Wanna Be Everybody’ (found at the bottom of the review) burns brightly with its effortlessly cool 90s nostalgia vibes, along the lines of the classic ‘Semi Charmed Life’ by Third Eye Blind. Funnily enough, a lot of people have told me they feel the intro sounds like Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’. At its core though, this is a pop song, but dynamically the band show they can do the loud soft style popularized by Nirvana and The Pixies really well. One thing that also extends extremely well across the whole album is the luxurious guitar tone. While it’s distorted, it still maintains that open jangly sensation indie surf music has become accustomed to in the last few years, and Hockey Dad have managed to make it their own.

‘Danny’ is a bit of a change of pace from the first three tracks. It’s a lot more mellow and the track itself is shrouded in elements of ambiance, pushing the vocals towards the back of the mix and allowing the guitar to wash over you in a haze.

‘Join The Club’ raises the tempo back to the almost mosh-worthy pace we became familiar with at the start. It houses one of the best chorus’ across the album, however sometimes I wish the vocals were a little louder and more defined so I could fully take in the extent of front-man Zach Stephenson’s quirky nonchalant lyrics.

By midway through the album it almost feels as though they’re opting for a fast song, and then following it with a slow song so they can cool off. ‘Whatever’ is the exact half way point, a hazy tremolo driven escape to the Hawaiian Coast circa 1963, and feels a little bit lackluster and boring, but it shows the band aren’t just about being loud and fast all the time.

Lets just take a few moments to appreciate this pretty Vinyl. You can order your copy by clicking on the image above!

‘Disappoint Me’ raises the bar again, bringing very strong 90s vibes. I guess it’s no surprise the record does sound very 90s overall, considering they recorded it in Seattle with legendary producer John Goodmanson (Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney, Cloud Nothings).

‘Stalker’ is another high energy rocker, sometimes blending into Good Boy territory but always drawing back to that mid 90s or early 2000’s sense of Summer. This works in such a way that it could’ve even been the TV theme to something gone but not forgotten, along the lines of Blue Water High or Lockie Leonard, except now those grom’s have grown up.

Late highlight ‘Where I Came From’ is my favourite cut across the entirety of the record. It’s the strongest piece of songwriting present, showing the band stray into more shoegaze or dream pop styling, with the ambient drone in the verses shrouded in My Bloody Valentine-esque whammy bar ring outs and even some Aussie 80s territory with Australian Crawl style guitar stabs. I guess in a sense that bands like Australian Crawl were their predecessors from the last generation, a bunch of guys with a love for the surf and just making good rock n roll.

This track also contains my favourite lyric across the whole album, the opening line of “I thought I saw you on the train but the houses kept getting in the way”. It harks towards the mystery hidden under all the different layers of guitar, where, by the time the second chorus hits, it takes an instrumental turn on you and the band go full Slowdive for a moment. The only downside is that this track only clocks in at just over 3 and a half minutes, leaving me wanting more, and only dreaming of the possibilities this epic jam could’ve taken.

As a whole, "Blend Inn" is not overly consistent, but it has its moments that make you want to quit your job and jump in the ocean, swimming for the summer you’ll never forget.

It’s out Friday February 9th, and Hockey Dad are touring across the country in March.

Vocals: 7/10

Guitars: 9/10

Bass: 8/10

Drums: 7/10

Lyrics: 3.5/5

Would You Go And See Them (WYGAST) 5/5 (already have, and I am again)

Mixing: 8/10 (vocals could be louder at times)

Production: 18/20

Structure: 15/20

Overall: 80.5/100

Personal Enjoyment: 7.5/10

#TheSmithStreetBand #HockeyDad

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