Album Review: Hockey Dad – Brain Candy (BMG)

The third album from Australian duo, Hockey Dad, and they lay down their indisputable credentials as a life-affirming Power Pop force to be reckoned with.

Zach Stephenson on guitar and voice, and Billy Fleming on drums, both hail from Windang in New South Wales. They have been raised on surf, skateboards and beer. Somewhere, or all over the place, they have been described as a surf music band, but their sonic pallette is much wider than that.

 In this State opens this particular Brain Candy box. A strummed guitar begins, and then the drum assault. Solid time-keeping with explosive lightning flashes of drum rolls and fills which powers up the music. Keith Moon would shed a tear in recognition of his child.

Have a look at the mess you’ve made/ I don’t want to see you in this state.

I Missed Out has the guitar ringing the bells on opening, but it is a more nuanced Pop song that you hear inside the music. Stephenson sings like a teenager who has fallen in love with Liam Gallagher’s voice and has somehow also tapped into the inspirational energy. Straight of out Sixties Garage Rock and the Shadows of Knight.

Milk in the Sun is essence of Power Pop, and I notice there is no bass guitar. The drumsurround provides the bottom.

Good Eye and the guitar lay’s out waves of electric mantra. Some space is given in the middle for the Voice to shine, and has a bit of the bratty snarl of John Lydon.

Germaphobe starts with a guitar riff sounding straight out of the Oasis playbook, before it settles in with an electric drone. The anthemic chorus matches it to late seventies Punk classic Germ-Free Adolescents by X-Ray Specs.

Itch is a complete change of texture and begins with a slow, moody, cinematic guitar intro and then settles into a Pop song. This allows the singer to shine. The music builds to a crescendo as Stephenson tries to convince us I’m okay/ I’m okay.

So, the guys have cast the net wider in terms of varying their sound on this third studio album.

Heavy Assault and Tell Me What You Want are Pop songs with simple melodic grooves with subtle shifts of dynamics thrown in to dramatic effect. Stephenson’s vocals stand out, and although I compared him to Liam Gallagher, on Reno he can reach back to the raw soul of John Lennon. That also has a genuine Surf guitar riff.

Dole Brother stands out as a Pop classic of the kind The Who pumped out in the Sixties with great Pete Townsend style guitar riffs and accapella vocal harmony thrown in.

This is my city/ This is my life/ I ain’t no tourist/ I’m always on time/ Give me money/ Give me everything that I could want. 

Keg is softer and quiet and the guitar twangs and rings with slide. Alt-Country, and there is a bass guitar in there.

They complete this dive into the past influences with closing song Looking Forward to the Change. The intro is Everly Brothers Walk Right Back. The voice manages to sound like the brothers, and the whole tune is haunted by their presence.

A great album and I sort of love them like the Ramones. I say this with some justification as I also got completely hooked on the live album released a few months ago, triple j Live At The Wireless – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne 2018.

The all-encompassing band sound they make comes from just the two guys. They have taken musical styles and influences from Fifties right the way through, honed it and compressed it and then present it with an overwhelming power. You will hear it the first song of the live album My Stride.

Hockey Dad the name comes from a Simpson’s episode. Brilliant.

Rev Orange Peel            

Click here to watch the 13th Floor Interview with Hockey Dad