In 2016, Australian duo Hockey Dad, consisting of Zach Stephenson (vocals, guitar and bass) & Billy Fleming (drums) released their debut full-length album ‘Boronia.’ It revealed the bands major surf-rock characteristics with underlying punk tones. With their newly released sophomore album, ‘Blend Inn,’ the band has managed to retain many of their signature sounds, while also conveying a more introspective manner among their playful grooves.
The opening track ‘My Stride’, begins with a driving guitar riff that gradually builds up with a bashing drum beat and sliding bass. Within this song, Stephenson speaks of both the past and the future, and how both he and Fleming have struggled to claim control over certain aspects of their lives.
When you first listen to the next track on the record, ‘Homely Feeling’, you hear and feel the duo’s tribute to home with lines like “Seeing faces in the crowd getting caught in that homely feeling”, yet the lyrics quickly change into something more serious. They also reveal a growing interest in current political matters, including real and growing fear of guns. It’s an odd tune and feels like a new direction from a band that we as listeners are so used to just rocking out. They continue to speak of these new underlying fears in songs like ‘I Wanna Be Everybody’. This gritty rock song dives into a variety of social issues along with the fear of not fitting in. However, even within a song that deals with aspects of social anxiety, there is an overlying message of hope in which even in struggling times, there is always someone to help you and be by your side.
On tracks such as ‘Sweet Release’, ‘Stalker’, and ‘Join the Club’, the duo returns to the energy and sounds from previous album, but continues to build a more mature awareness and sophistication with their words. They speak of the evolution of growing up and having to abandon traits of individuality that you grasp as a child, and how they are dealing with the pressure to conform and change their behavior to suit the approval of others. They use lines like “There comes a time within your life when you would do. Absolutely anything they ask from you.” As a band gaining influence within the music industry, they are most likely faced with the common challenge that many artists face, as record labels feel the need to change your sound and look in order to appeal to a preconceived image and gain the approval of listeners. This powerful song can also be applied to many other areas of life.
The band continues to enter unknown territory with tracks like ‘Danny’. With warbly tones and a vintage sound, this song feels very personal and describes a story from the past of one person. Like the album expresses in many of the songs, Stephenson and Fleming continue to advance through their lives with no intention of going backwards. They may still be trying to figure out who they are and where they belong, but this new collection of songs makes it clear that whichever way they proceed to go, they will continue to look to the future with optimism and excitement about the possibilities that are yet to come.
Review by Eva Maria Burns