Hockey's debut, Mind Chaos, was initially going to be released by Sony Records -- the band even got as far as reworking some of its demos in the studio with producer Jerry Harrison -- but the album's fate was left in limbo when the label dropped the band. Mind Chaos got a new lease on life when Hockey's songs made their way to BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe, whose championing of the strutting "Learn to Lose" helped earned the band another major-label deal. It's easy to hear why two big labels were interested in Mind Chaos; Hockey's angular basslines, chugging guitars, and washy keyboards call to mind tried and true, new wave-tinged acts like the Strokes, OK Go, and the Killers.
Hockey are from Portland, but they sure sound like they're from New York. Well, they sound like a mix of popular New York sounds from the last decade-- like the precise midpoint between the Strokes and LCD Soundsystem. Now, you could of course play "spot the influence" as easily with the Strokes and LCD Soundsystem, but they've both been so great at reshuffling the deck, it's hard to mind when the same card keeps coming up.
Judging bands on the way they look: we all do it. I remember the first time I saw Hockey. It was on some TV station in a crowded living room where I could barely hear the music, but what I could make out was a group of fashionably dressed young men, one of whom was wearing a headband. Based purely on headgear, my conclusion there and then was that they were opportunistic MGMT copyists.
"This ain't no Roxy Music," chirps Hockey's Ben Grubin on the first album by his currently hot foursome from Portland, Oregon. He can say that again. He could also add that, despite the wild-eyed comparisons flying around the internet, this ain't no LCD Soundsystem, either. Mind Chaos is the product of a guitar band who occasionally let their bassist and drummer get into a slouchy, hip-swinging groove (hence the purported similarity to LCD), but mainly stick to the alt-rock blueprint of clanging guitar and sardonic lyrics.
With a name as dumb as Hockey, these Portland hipsters tempt me to dismiss them as having overdosed on irony. But to their credit, there are a few decent new-wavey pop hooks here. Emerging from that trendy confluence of indie rock and electro, Hockey sound like a less serious version of the Strokes and Phoenix. [rssbreak] Lead single/opener/obviously-their-best-song Too Fake - a self-aware meta-comment on the band itself - builds a catchy, party-rawk chorus off an unlikely bass hook, while Work's downtempo groove features an unexpected, satisfying mellow turn.
They seem to actually give a puck. Lou Thomas 2009 Hockey singer Benjamin Grubin’s slippery way with a fast lyric is one of the most appealing aspects of his band’s debut album. During 3am Spanish, a snappy new wave relative of The Rolling Stones’ Miss You, Grubin coolly intones: “I got the money, but the money got me… I made the money but the money made me.” Later, on Song Away, there’s an equally cool couplet: “See what man has done to the world, see what the world has done to your man.” These snippets epitomise the appeal of Mind Chaos succinctly.
The government wants to bring in ID cards and independent businesses are crumbling to nothingness everywhere we look, but last time we checked we weren’t actually living in George Orwell’s [i]1984[/i]. Why, then, does there seem to have been a nationwide uniform memo circulated dictating that everyone has to dress the same? It’s not indie snobbery or fashion elitism but, since we all learnt how to walk vertically, clothing’s been a fair indicator of like-mindedness. [a]Hockey[/a] are the aural manifestation of this: they look like [a]MGMT[/a] but sound more like [a]Mika[/a].