By Samuel Stevens
Release Date: July 31, 2020
Label: BMG Canada / Farmer & The Owl
The renowned Australian rock duo Hockey Dad are set to finally release their much anticipated -and slightly delayed- third album Brain Candy. Hockey Dad is made up of vocalist and guitarist Zach Stephenson and drummer Billy Fleming, who have been friends for over two decades. Over the last seven years these two friends have been making music together as Hockey Dad, in which time the two have previously released their EP Dreamin’ and two albums, Boronia and Blend Inn.
Zach and Billy’s success has been felt for a few years now and has lead to four songs from Blend Inn making triple j’s Hottest 100 list. The duo have surpassed half a million monthly listeners on Spotify, have toured the world extensively with particularly large shows across their home country of Australia, and have garnered over twenty-four million streams collectively across Spotify alone. Stephenson and Fleming recorded their brand new full length album at the infamous Robert Lang Studios with producer John Goodmanson at the helm. Goodmanson is best known for his work with Death Cab For Cutie, Sleater-Kinney, and Wolf Parade.
Hockey Dad’s newest collection of music, now known to all as Brain Candy, is a reference to the chemical intake required to sooth one’s mind. Whether that be serotonin, antidepressants, or anything else that could be used. To the band, their ultimate brain candy is music itself; music that they have and haven’t created themselves. Their brand new album is also in no way any type of reiteration of their previous efforts. While there’s many aspects that are similar to their prior releases, Brain Candy is a well-thought-out, well textured, and recognizably mature album that acts as a reflection on life written by both Stephenson and Fleming, who have practically grown up within the public eye.
The album begins with the fun little opening tune, “In This State.” Opening with just guitar, it all leads up to the song’s true colours rising to the surface. Zach’s lyrics show a cause of worry or anxiety, and further reveal that all these feelings are just the start of something greater yet to come.
“Feeling sorry for what you saved / You had a fight and your knees got grazed / But at least you saved something / And somethings better in every way,” sings Zach Stephenson.
Following is the fast paced track “I Missed Out.” Fans were first made aware of brand new music from the band with the release of this single just prior to Hockey Dad’s Canadian tour in December of 2019. The tour featured fellow Australians DZ Deathrays and Horror My Friends.
“Good Eye” is an infectious and catchy rock track all around, while Stephenson is belting out across the song’s lyrics on the reasons why he has a good eye for catching things. “Germophobe” is another catchy track that doesn’t need much of an explanation at all, as the song touches on Zach being exactly as the title suggests. “Itch” is a bit of a departure for the duo, featuring a slowed down and emotionally charged tune, with a 90’s rock vibe rather than the band’s staple indie rock/surf rock sound. “This is it, there is no other moment better than this promise,” Stephenson sings with emotion.
Hockey Dad’s final three tracks on Brain Candy are a further departure from what you’re used to hearing from the duo as they slow themselves completely down to the bare minimum. First is the third last track, “Keg,” featuring some of the album’s most obscure sounding guitar riffs with some delayed backing vocals giving it a very spacey feel to it. “Reno” follows suit with “Keg” with an other very melodic, atmospheric alternative rock track. Now we have the album’s final song, “Looking Forward To The Change.” This one and final track is Zach’s spotlight, solely of his vocals and his slow melodic guitar, before Billy comes in with his drums in the last moments of the track to give listeners one big energetic go home instrumental piece to close the album out.