Album Review

Hockey, 'Mind Chaos'

November 9, 2009

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Hockey Mind Chaos
ESSENTIAL: “Preacher’’

Midway through Hockey’s debut album, “Mind Chaos,’’ Ben Grubin proclaims that he “stole [his] personality from an anonymous source.’’ A tossed-off couplet, perhaps, but possibly an allusion to the laundry list of bands that Hockey has been compared to after a national tour with the Friendly Fires. The five-piece outfit from Oregon proudly wears influences like the Arctic Monkeys and LCD Soundsystem on its sleeve, all the while trying to forge its own brand of hipster-friendly, punk-inflected dance rock. Bubbly new-wave synths wrestle with slinky guitars and taut bass riffs on numbers like “3am Spanish’’ and “Work.’’ “Curse This City’’ slides between start-stop funk and rollicking pop-punk, while the gospel-tinged “Preacher’’ is a roller-coaster ride of dramatic church organ, peppy piano rolls, and fuzzed-out vocals. Grubin displays diverse chops throughout, taking stabs at falsetto, soul-crooning, and even raspy folk (“Four Holy Photos’’). “Song Away’’ borrows liberally from the Hold Steady, with idiosyncratic spoken-word verses bursting into cathartic Springsteen-style arena-rock choruses, but that doesn’t make the tune any less fun. “This is on-the-rise music,’’ Grubin sings, with a wink. Derivative? Maybe, but at least it’s deftly derived and delivered with purpose and spunk. (Out now) ADAM CONNER-SIMONS