Album Review: Hockey Dad – Blend Inn

The town of Windang in New South Wales, Australia is just south of the somewhat gritty industrial port of Port Kembla in the city of Wollongong, and paradoxically the gateway to the extraordinarily beautiful South Coast of NSW.

This is also the home of one of the most exciting new bands coming out of Australia: duo Hockey Dad. I confess to having missed the boat when it came to their 2014 EP, “Dreamin'” and their debut album, “Boronia” released in 2016. During that time, they caught the attention not only of national radio but they ended up travelling extensively through North America playing headline and support shows, including showcases at SXSW and a Canadian tour with Dune Rats. 2017 also took them to the UK, Europe, plus an Australian tour with Wavves in some of the country’s biggest venues.

Hockey Dad, consisting of childhood friends Zach Stephenson (vocals and guitars) and Billy Fleming (drums) are about to release their second album, “Blend Inn”, a fitting title for a band that is coming to terms with their success and the challenges of straying far from home.

The 12 tracks on the album exhibit an extraordinary level of maturity for such a young band. The album consists of a wide range of highly infectious and assured songs, ranging from the punky pop feel of “Homely Feeling”, “Running Out” and “Sweet Release” (sung by Fleming and reminding me of Courtney Barnett‘s laconic Australian-infused delivery) to more restrained and intricate songs like “Join the Club” where I am reminded of bands like Supergrass or Manic Street Preachers. It is a reflection on their songwriting skills that every song on this album could be a single, with rousing choruses, great harmonies and Fleming’s inventive thudding drums underpinning Stephenson’s rippling guitars.

Lyrically, the album reflects the band’s foray into international touring, the feelings of nostalgia for home while dealing with the excitement of life on the road and the challenges of finding your place in the world. The first release, “Homely Feeling” and the accompanying video certainly reflects the tag of surf-rock placed on Hockey Dad, but this should in no way define them: they are far more complex and intriguing than than that.

The album is due out on 9 February 2018 through Manchester’s Lab Records and you can pre-order or stream here.

Track Listing:

My Stride
Homely Feeling
I Wanna Be Everybody
Join The Club
Disappoint me
Running Out
Where I Came From
Sweet Release

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