Hockey Dad is the result of two childhood friends, guitarist Zack Stephenson and drummer Billy Fleming jamming in Stephenson’s garage in the Australian suburb of Windang, New South Wales. Hockey Dad is also a deep Simpsons reference to the episode ‘The Regina Monologues’ in which Bart plays a video game of the same name. Mentioning The Simpsons in any creative manner will get a listen from me. It’s worth noting that Hockey Dad landed a deal with the booming Brooklyn label, Kanine Records who are responsible for releasing some the best albums of 2016 from the likes of Beverly, Fear of Men, Weaves and now Hockey Dad!
Boronia, named after the street where our two friends grew up, the Australian duo’s debut full-length effort is about 40 minutes of energetic melodic gold that makes you want to grab a surfboard after listening. Maybe there’s some subliminal messaging present here with a lot of ‘yvan eht nioj’ (another Simpsons reference) tracks that made me want to learn how to surf and finally ask out that girl I’ve been thinking about. On the surface, Stephenson and Fleming have created a pleasant, coastal aesthetic that kicks off abruptly but ends with a gentle touch that doesn’t sacrifice any of the bright and catchy sunshine set in place. It’s hard not to get behind the crunch of Zack’s guitar and the snap of Billy’s drums telling stories of lovers that came and went all while catching some waves!
‘Can’t Have Them’ starts off bright with this pleasant aroma that brings you right-to-the beach. You can almost smell the ocean if you listen long enough. Zack’s beautiful sustaining falsetto vocals serve as a soothing welcome to this album. ‘Jump The Gun’ literally made me jump out of my seat when I was playing this track while on the air at Radio Free Brooklyn. There’s this bouncing guitar riff that makes you want to start dancing wherever you are at the time. Don’t believe me? Listen for yourself. The chorus of this song isn’t the catchiest part of this song. Don’t get me wrong, it is catchy, but what really hooks you in is that bright, beach party flavored riff. I appreciate the never-wanting-the-party-to-end theme of this song but the chorus ‘I don’t wanna go home, I’m having too much fun’ is a little cheesy to me, but that didn’t stop me from repeating this song endlessly.
While we’re on the subject of hooks and choruses, ‘So Tired’ has one of the best ones on this album. It’s so catchy it’s deadly. “I’ve got a secret in my mind!!” I can’t get that out of my head, and let’s not forget about Billy’s punching drum beat smoothed out by Zack’s sailing guitar playing here. Good stuff, guys. I have to respect the heavy amounts of romance evident on Boronia. Especially on songs like ‘I Need A Woman’ and ‘Honey Bunny’. “Don’t make me cry, I need a woman in my life” is very cheesy but I do admire the feeling of longing for that right woman that you don’t have yet and the background tambourines that add to the sandy texture of the seaside atmosphere on this track.
One thing that you can get out of Hockey Dad is how much fun they have and that’s very important. Yes, some of their songs mention a lover in some capacity and so many other songs do the same but at least they have fun with it. The band name references The Simpsons, one of the most entertaining TV shows of all time! You know how many friends I’ve made on Simpsons conversations? Quite a lot. I believe Hockey Dad is trying to do the same, but with music. Boronia is a great album for a summer drive that’s extremely catchy and wants you to take it easy every once in a while.